Thursday, 28 August 2014

Revive 2014 - Hidden Treasures

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2 Timothy 2:1-3

Revive 2014 ‘Hidden Treasures’ (22-24 August) was yet again another unforgettable and epic weekend of fellowship and joy! With youth aged 14-21 split up into four age-specific groups, the ‘traditions’ and ‘Traditions’ of the Coptic Orthodox Church were unpacked and explored, and the theme sought to reveal the beauty of Orthodoxy, the Church  and its heritage. His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke to us about the Church being a means to an end, not an end in itself. He spoke of the Church as a vehicle for us all to become, and guide one another closer to God in our words, actions and lifestyle.  There was a variety of things for people of all ages to engage with, including a variety of sessions, vespers, Tasbeha, contemporary worship, and of course the Liturgy on Sunday morning. The activities were also great fun, with obstacle courses, basketball, volleyball, and the beloved bonfire on Saturday night. All in all it was a wonderful experience, but you do not need to take our word for it; read below to hear what a couple of youth have to say about Revive2014, and we hope to see you next year!

Veronica Amin, from Saint Mary and Saint Shenouda
I would like to take a minute to say thank you to Sayedna, all the servants, especially Sally Tadross and Mina Badawi, and everyone who came to Revive 2014 for making it such an enjoyable weekend, with beneficial talks, fun activities and the opportunity to make lovely friends! I came away from this weekend spiritually and personally nourished due to the talks that were led by the committed servants who tried their very best to help our every need throughout the entire weekend. For me I found the talks to be spiritually beneficial because they increased my knowledge of the traditions and culture of the Coptic Orthodox Faith. The activities were a means to make new friends and have loads of fun with old ones, and they were very well organised with lots of creative games that even the rain couldn't ruin! I would personally like to thank my strand servants; Shanuda Abadeir, Mina Mansor, Mina Arsanious and Kiroulus Abadir for the fun, interesting sessions and for helping us all grow spiritually over the weekend.

Marina Facouri from Saint Mark’s Church, London
Starting off the conference was great as we were reunited with friends who we haven't seen for over 2 years. Sayedna started off the conference with an introduction about tradition and how there are 2 types of tradition, "T" and "t" tradition. The "t" can be changed or adapted according to the time, era and place that you are in, however the "T" tradition cannot change. There are 3 traditions which cannot change, 1) Theology 2) Faith 3) Dogma.

We learned that over time, we have adapted the language which we use during the liturgy depending upon the era and place we are in, however this does not mean we forget about Coptic, it means we build up on what we have, thus building up the Church together. He then explained how the word "Orthodox" means straight, which goes back to Saint Mark who received the message directly from our Lord Jesus and passed it to us, giving us a direct link to our Lord. He concluded saying that we should not pick and choose what we want from God, like we do in a supermarket, but that we should just embrace the whole treasure that we have been given.

Amir Michaeel then gave us our first talk based upon praise and how our Church is always praising God. He showed us that the Holy Bible, depending on the translation, says "praise" 250 times (150 of those are said by David in the psalms). He then explained that if we are praising without understanding then we are missing out on the treasure; but if we understand the praise then we become more engaged in Church and will not be bored.

Abouna Shenouda then gave the 2nd talk about the treasures found in the Liturgy. He explained that if we do not know the value of what we have, we don't realise that we have a treasure. For the treasure to be of value, it must be shown and not hidden. The word " Liturgy" in Greek means "Work of People" , so we should all work together in order to show people our treasures.  He then further explained that the Liturgy prepares us and sanctifies us in order to be ready for Holy Communion. If we only arrive in time for Holy Communion, then it is pointless; if we learn to value the Holy Liturgy and attend it, then we are sanctified and prepared for Christ to enter into our hearts, and thus in the future we will be able to pass on the right message to the next generation.

In our 3rd session, Adam Wahba spoke to us about why we follow traditions in Church. He explained that there are 3 reasons, which are :
1) We are in fellowship in one Body(Kononia), the Body of Jesus Christ.
2) We have a strong foundation to build on.
3) Living traditions daily draw us close to God, and Him to us.

He also spoke about icons, fasting and candles in the Church. He clarified in the end that these traditions are all Biblical, although some may not be written as clearly or directly as others, but still in the Bible. Sayedna wrapped up the conference by saying that the Church is a means to an end; to be gathered together to reach God's kingdom. To reach God's kingdom we must do it all with ONE mind and ONE accord.

The conference was full of fellowship, and it was a great idea to split into age groups rather than churches, in order to allow us to bond with people of the same age from all the churches. The activities were great and a wide range of activities were available to all. Team leaders were very friendly and supportive and were constantly giving out sweets throughout the conference which I believe many people enjoyed! The leaders of the conference came up with great ideas to keep us entertained and the theme overall was excellent and definitely needed to be covered. The barbecue was also amazing and delicious!
Overall, Revive2014 was great, as was the environment and the people serving. I would definitely recommend this conference to others in the future as people benefit from it spiritually and socially as well. 

To summarise the conference in one word, I would say it was treasurastic! :)Thank you and God bless.

More photographs from Revive 2014 can be found via the CopticYouth-uk Facebook group.

For more information on Coptic Youth Mission visit @CopticYouthUK