Ever since the bombing of the Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt on New Year’s Eve that killed 23 and injured over 80 other people every other Coptic person I know around me and across oceans has been on edge. I particularly have been on edge since I have a good chunk of family that lives in Egypt who are also parishioners at the church that was bombed.

The week that commenced from January 1, 2011 leading into today, January 7th was filled with meetings on security, meetings on mobilization, meetings on memorials, meetings that poured into meetings and debates, countless debates on the best way for a people who have never had a voice in the past to now voice their need for equality and peace. The Coptic Church has existed in Egypt for what reads in my mind as nearly eternity without making so much as a peep on the radar of the world. Quiet and steadfast in the face of wave after wave of persecution from different groups, she has been ever-peaceful, ever-strong, and dare I say, ever-defiant in the face of those who wished to burn her presence away from the face of the earth. In the face of ages of violence, she has never cried out in rage against her assailants, confident that her King would protect her.

When that bomb ripped through the church in Alexandria shortly after midnight on January 1st, the slumbering world turned and looked for the very first time at the Coptic Church in wonder as her beautiful face was mutilated and her clothes were torn and blood-stained. And then they stuck a microphone in her face asking her to speak out, cry out, scream out against her heartless aggressors. But royalty always takes the high-road.

Yesterday I and every Coptic Christian I know went to Christmas Eve services surrounded by bomb-sniffing dogs, helicopters sweeping the perimeter, and walls of police officers because of public threats made by extremists against the Coptic Churches across the world, not just Egypt. And so the normal, Christmas Eve celebration was transformed into a life-risking experience. If I, nestled here in the Land of Freedom, felt this way, how must the Copts in Egypt feel on a daily basis in a country where simply being yourself means that you risk your life on a daily basis?

And so in the aftermath of the explosion heard round the world, I would say to anyone reading this, now that you have heard, raise your voice against hatred and intolerance around the world. Do not allow this history of violence to continue. Raise your voice and effect change because you can while so many others cannot. Raise your voice and change the world because if you do not, then you are simply aiding the virus of hatred spread.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery for the mimiced party then it must be the highest manifestation of admiration from the one enacting the reproduction. Of course, not every form of copying is praise for the original producer. Claiming the work of others as your own without due credit being given can oftentimes be an outright criminal act. But somewhere on the scale of orginality, there lies a space for one individual to come in and take the work of another and make it his or her own work (without incurring criminal charges, of course.) And that space, my friends, is commonly referred to as the cover song.

Cover songs illict a wide range of reactions that run the gamut from cringing to absolute joy. Some make you realize just how good the original song is (because the cover is just that bad) while others make you wish the original had never existed. Then there are some cover songs that just make you pause and think. And then think some more. About the differences, the similarities, and how if a different perspective can really change one song so much, then maybe, just maybe, a different perspective can change the world.

When my favorite band, Disturbed, dropped their new album recently, they covered one famous song by the favorite band of many of my friends–U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for.” Below you will find first the original then the cover for your listening pleasure. Take a good listen and see the different perspectives. Then maybe today you can go out and change the world.

…fitting you with weapons in the form of words…

That’s where the Fall Out Boy song trails off in my head.

And this is where I pick it up where it leaves off. Right here. On this page.

Stay Tuned.

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.” – C.S. Lewis

I don’t pray it nearly as often as I should.

*******

Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.

Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

HE who knows Love—becomes Love, and his eyes
Behold Love in the heart of everyone,
Even the loveless: as the light of the sun
Is one with all it touches. He is wise
With undivided wisdom, for he lies 
In Wisdom’s arms. His wanderings are done,
For he has found the Source whence all things run—
The guerdon of the quest, that satisfies.
He who knows Love becomes Love, and he knows
All beings are himself, twin-born of Love. 
Melted in Love’s own fire, his spirit flows
Into all earthly forms, below, above;
He is the breath and glamour of the rose,
He is the benediction of the dove.

By: Elsa Barker

Life can be quite overwhelming. So much so that days blur into one another, memories become hazy, and everything barely makes a connection. I, for one, can fully attest to the fact that I often get caught up in the whirlwind. While studying for finals, I literally forgot what day of the week it was and missed an appointment I had to make. So lost was I in the task at hand that nothing else seemed to matter. If that’s how bad I got with the days of the week, you can then make the conjecture as to how I’d gotten with everything else including my spiritual welfare.

Things consume us and we get sidetracked from the path we must tread to reach Him. We all stray for one reason or another. I know I do. And because I do, I take great comfort in the following verse from Psalm 119: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” It is a short admission–I have strayed like a lost sheep coupled with a prayer–Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. It seems like such a counter-intuitive thing to ask of God. “I have strayed so come find me” as opposed to “I have strayed and shall return.” But God makes it easy for us… as long as we do not forget His commands, when we stray He will seek us out and encircle us in His loving arms. All we have to do is ask and remember. We must remember His commands and inscribe them on our hearts so that way when the world begins to spin at a pace that knocks us off the path, when we cry out “Seek your servant” He will come speedily. We all get sidetracked sometimes, but God is ever-faithful and hears the cries of His children.