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.

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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.

Snippets of my day…

*Phone call from a number I didn’t recognize around 2:30 in the afternoon:*

Me: Hello?

Lady: (words incredibly slurred, she was definitely intoxicated) Hi… Peggy. It’s Miissssssss Vio–t.

Me: Um, I’m sorry who are you looking for?

Lady: Pegggggyyyyy!

Me: I think you’ve got the wrong number.

Lady: I don’t got the wrong number. I know what number I dialed! (She hangs up)

*Later in the day, two older women in identical leopard printed shirts are walking in front of me having the following conversation:*

Lady 1: I’ve never been to church in my entire life, and I don’t like people who go to church.

Lady 2: I hear ya. I don’t get crazy church-goers.

*******

And so it seemed to the drunk woman, that I had no clue what I was talking about when it came to my own phone number, even though I was sober. To the leopard clad ladies, I was nothing but an insane church-goer they could never understand. Moments like these remind me that I am not at home in this world. You and I simply don’t belong here. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes that we are never made to feel too comfortable in this world so we always remember that we belong elsewhere, so our souls and spirits long to reach heaven.

So the question arises, where does the soul find rest on this earth? I found my answer to the question in Psalm 84 that speaks about the joys of being in the tabernacle: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”

The church is often referred to as a little piece of heaven on earth. It’s also a little bit of home on earth. For there the soul finds comfort and rest in the House of the Lord. There the soul finds company and has communion with others who seek the same thing. There is a reason so many throughout the ages, believers and non-believers alike, have sought sanctuary in the church.

Dear Fellow Human Beings,

Please start acting like what you are. You are people, given reason, logic, and grace, not wild, savage animals driven by primal instinct. Today a Walmart worker was trampled to death as he opened the doors for Black Friday shoppers who had been waiting on line to get their precious flat screen TV’s and digital cameras for a whole $10 less than they would normally pay on any other sale day. The man was pushed down as he opened the doors and screamed in pain and agony as 200 people trampled him underfoot to get to DVDs on sale for $9. When shoppers were told the store had to shut down because of the death, they yelled at officials and continued shopping.

At least wild animals have the viable excuse of survival instinct when stampeding, but what happened today is inexcusable. Have we become so blind to what truly matters in this world that human life is worth less than a stupid DVD player? As India still deals with the painful aftermath of a heinous terror attack, a whole new shape of terrorism was manifesting itself here right at home in the US. And this time the enemy isn’t some radical terrorist cell, it is our own greed and apathy.

Others were hurt in this crazed stampede at the Walmart including a woman who is 8-months pregnant. Thankfully, she and her child are both doing fine. I suggest you read up on this story here and internalize it.

It’s time to wake up America. There are plenty who which to destroy us from without, let’s not help them by destroying ourselves from within. If the free world crumbles, it will begin with the internal fall of each and every single one of us.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Woman

I just came across this article about the conditions in Egypt at the moment as they relate to the conditions in the United States–mainly or rising gas prices and shaky economy. I was born in Egypt and spent about 4 years there, so I feel compelled to follow its ups and downs…

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/opinion/15friedman.html?_r=2&ref=opinion&oref=slogin&oref=slogin