Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Church of Egypt Prayed for Egypt

It was a new idea and, to be honest, I was a bit sceptical about it. Would it work? I am talking about a prayer day for Egypt, but with a twist; this prayer day would be shared by several of Egypt's churches (those who have presence in the UK), with their congregations under one roof. The idea was initiated by HG Bishop Angaelos who, on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church, invited leaders from other Egyptian churches to gather and join in prayer for their beloved country. As I said I had my doubts! The reason was the different praying styles that each of these churches had. In addition, having spent the majority of my life (18 years), and being brought up, in Egypt, I never really heard of such a union and I guess, for it to happen, everyone had to step out of their comfort zones a little.

Well, I was wrong. It was amazing! In fact, without exaggerating, everyone I have spoken with about the experience also agreed with me. We started with the Divine Liturgy, followed by what all Egyptians did best - FOOD! It was lent, so the Coptic Orthodox Church, being the host of the day, prepared all sorts of fasting food, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Then we started the prayer programme for, in total, about 300 participants.

Each church had two 20 minute slots, filled with prayers, hymns, songs and talks, lasting for about 3 hours in total. They were a homogenous mix of languages, style, instruments, age groups and churches. Attendees were also a mix of Egyptians and Sudanese and, I believe, a mix of Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Jordanians, amongst other countries.

Having said that however, there were many common things:
1. We all gathered around our Lord and His word, in prayer and solidarity, putting our lives in His hands and praising His name
2. We all prayed for Egypt’s security and stability, as well as other countries in Africa and the Middle East. We also prayed for all of our brothers and sisters, Christians, Muslims and others; our brother and sisters in humanity.
3. We all shared love, and as God is love, I am sure that He was present amongst us throughout the whole day.

The day was powerful. It reminded me that even when we are different (each church had its unique praying style, that would not normally be used in another church), yet we are very similar. It might have taken us a huge event like what happened in Egypt to realise that, but I am glad that we broke the ice and came together to pray under one roof in Christ's name. All it took was genuine love, respect and acceptance.

Everyone agreed that this should be a good start to a long-term journey of greater fellowship. I pray that this seed is watered and nourished so that it bears fruit and becomes an example of how this unity can be achieved. We may remain varied and unique, each keeping an independent identity, yet we are united in Him.