Fr. Doru Costache
Note: This short text, on the perseccution of Christians in general, and the maartyrdom of the Coptic Church in particular comes from one of my favourite Orthodox theologians, the Romanian Fr. Doru Costache, who serves now in Australia. In the context of the present hysteria, especially in the US, on how they, poor good Christians (who brough foolish Trump to power), are persecuted by the secular world, which does not understad how precious they are, I believe the common sense gospel words in this text have to be heard more largely than on the academic website where they were published. Of course, I do this with the kind permission of Fr. Costache, to whom goes my gratitude.
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14 April 2017 © AIOCS Doru Costache
No, you do not have to expect me to say that the current circumstances are new and that these days Christians must take some unprecedented action or to abolish their past. Neither should you expect me to say something like Christianity being in need of a radical reform today more than yesterday. My interest is in pointing out the need to retrieve something that we seem to have lost in history: our capacity to discern the times and assess our circumstances in a genuinely traditional manner. But let me be more specific.
Just recently, on Palm Sunday, our sisters and brothers of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt have been once again the object of hate attacks on the part of their non-Christian neighbours. And the day before more Christians have been put to death in Syria. And the day before that more Christians have been put to death elsewhere. And days before that a Catholic priest was slaughtered during the celebration of the eucharist in France. And I hear of cases of Christians harassed by their non-Christian neighbours in some parts of Sydney. All this because they, indeed we, are Christian.Read More »
Father Boules George gives a sermon during the Eve of Monday Pascha following the two bombings on Palm Sunday that took place at Saint George Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta and Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.
Find below the transcription of this powerful sermon.
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What will we say to them?
The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.
You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.
You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.
We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.
We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.Read More »
Despite controversies, Elimar Brandt of Berlin, a Baptist pastor and long-time director of Christian health-care facilities, see reasons for hope within the Baptist church of Georgia. After five years of post-graduate studies in Oxford/UK, its long-time head, Dr. Malkhaz Songulashvili, returned to Georgia in April 2014. Yet soon he was no longer archbishop: that position is now held by a more conservative colleague, Merab Gaprindshvili.
Even prior to the return from England, a grouping calling itself the „Evangelical Baptist Association of Georgia“ had broken off from the mother „Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia“ (EBCG) in October 2013. The Association has roughly 30 congregations and 800 members; the EBCG according to some reckonings may have as few as 2.000 adult members.
„I don’t notice any front between Merab and the other three bishops,“ Pastor Brandt maintains. (Brandt has visited Georgia frequently in the course of the past two decades.) “Merab was and remains a pupil of Malkhaz, who always has been a strong influence on him and Bishop Ilja (Osephashvili). It’s a kind of father-son dispute. I find it very laudable that the (stay-home) bishops did not attempt to resolve everything in Malkhaz’ absence. All sides are attempting to find a way back to each other – that’s my reason for being optimistic. The experiences they have gathered during the course of the controversy have been very challenging and formative.”Read More »
The latest discourse of Secretary of State John Kerry on the danger for peace in the Middle East represented by the constant extension of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territorries stirred again the debate on the lack of solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the obvious resistance of the Israeli right wing government to come to a peaceful two-state resolution of this conflict.
I am sure many of you, especially those who have been influenced by Zionist propaganda – whether Christian Jewish or secular, or by the suspect dispensationalist interpretations of the sacred text, wonder what is the big fusss with these seettlements.Read More »
Liberal Saudi journalist Nadine Al-Budair, who lives in Qatar, penned an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai in which she wondered how Muslims would have acted if Christians had blown themselves up in their midst or tried to force their faith on them. She called on the Muslim world to be introspective and enact reforms, instead of condemning Western attitudes towards it.
The following are excerpts from the article:
“Imagine a Western youth coming here and carrying out a suicide mission in one of our public squares in the name of the Cross. Imagine that two skyscrapers had collapsed in some Arab capital, and that an extremist Christian group, donning millennium-old garb, had emerged to take responsibility for the event, while stressing its determination to revive Christian teachings or some Christian rulings, according to its understanding, to live like in the time [of Jesus] and his disciples, and to implement certain edicts of Christian scholars…
“Imagine hearing the voices of monks and priests from churches and prayer houses in and out of the Arab world, screaming on loudspeakers and levelling accusations against Muslims, calling them infidels, and chanting: ‘God, eliminate the Muslims and defeat them all.’Read More »
The roots of the Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine (LIRIP) go back to the Third Lausanne Congress, Cape Town, 2010. The second day was devoted, through a range of plenary speakers and seminars, to one of the six major congress themes “Reconciliation: Building the peace of Christ in our divided and broken world.” The…
Source: Introducing the Larnaca Statement – Lausanne Movement
Chris Wright on the recent Larnaca Statement signed by Messianic and Palestinian Christians in the conflict in Israel-Palestine.
Over the course of time I’ve noticed a troubling trend: it’s *almost* impossible to have a reasonable discussion with fellow Christians who believe we are called to give unwavering support the modern secular nation state of Israel.
This of course, has led me to try to figure out why this is the case. Why do so many Christians reject basic facts about Israel? Why do so many of us have an aversion to believing truth on this issue?
As your list-maker-in-chief, I have a few ideas as to why this seems to occur. So, here are my 5 reasons so many of us irrationally support Israel– in spite of truth or biblical ethics:
1. Bad theology regarding Israel has led us to become victims of our own confirmation bias
2. We don’t listen to Palestinian voices– not even our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine
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Dear Mr. Falwell,
In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.
Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.
For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, justt and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.
Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises.Read More »
Fr. Luke comforts us with the teaching that radical love for the other, not fear or hatred, is our Christian response.
Source: Terror, Violence, Fear, and Our Christian Response
Source: These Men Tried To Kill Each Other. Now They’re United For Peace.
This is an amazing story of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in NIgeria. I have written previously about this on my blog. You may find HERE a link tothe documentary.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, colleagues and partners of Kairos for Global Justice,
It is at such hard times as the ones we are living in Palestine/Israel that we need to have the assurance that we are not alone. Many of you have expressed genuine support through prayers, Facebook messages, letters and sharing of footages of actual or alleged stabbings and the inhuman reaction of the “moral army” of Israel and settlers. On behalf of Kairos Palestine and myself, I would like to thank you for all the advocacy efforts that many of you have been engaged in through marches and demonstrations or BDS activities, in order to alleviate our pain and suffering.
Kairos for Global Justice brought together all those engaged into achieving justice for Palestine/Israel and in your own regions, but all our joint efforts have still not yielded the impact needed. Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah has renewed his call for one effective way to confront the increasing violence: organized SILENT large marches all over the world with the participation of prominent leaders, peace activists, and people of all faiths as a joint effort to regain and preserve humanity. This is a real challenge in Palestine/Israel where all non-violent actions are rewarded with live bullets in violation of all international laws.Read More »
Rev Mitri Rageb
NOTE: Here is a timely message on the current violence in Israel/Palestine that Lutheran Rev. Mitri Rageb, from Bethlehem, has published three days ago on Facebook.
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Palestinian Lives Matter
A new wave of political unrest is here. Within the last five weeks over forty young people from Palestine were killed and over 1100 injured. These are not mere numbers, but young people with faces, names, and dreams. Yet, as if their lives do not matter , the Israelis are easing their already loose laws on using arms with a clear message of shoot to kill. For the Israeli government, these young Palestinians are rebels that do not deserve to live. They must be taught a lesson. To add salt to injury, you hear the western politicians talking about Israel’s right to defend itself, and stand shamelessly with Israel. Thus, to those international players the lives of Palestinians are worthless while the life of an Israeli is so precious. This pattern reminds us of how the world viewed the lives of black people under apartheid and how racism against blacks is felt in so many countries around the world. The same applies to Indignous peoples, and the oppressed. The most dangerous thing however, is when young people from those oppressed groups are pushed to the point where they start looking for a life after death but do not believe any more in a life before death that is worth living. In this context, we have three messages to share:
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Source: The Illusion of Calmness – HLT
Sami Awad, from the Holy Land Trust, on the current surge of violence in Israel/Palestine:
‘Real calmness in the Holy Land can only manifest itself if a real peace emerges between the communities of the land, not the politicians. It is a peace that is founded on the principles of mutual trust and respect and a desire to truly bring a sense of justice, equality and equity to all those who live in the Holy Land. It is a peace that addresses the existential fears of the past on both sides and does not allow that fear to be manipulated by the political establishments.
The structures of oppression, control and fear must be dismantled and if not dismantled by choice of the leaders, then dismantled by the force of the people through nonviolent engagement, working in unity and/or separately. A leadership must emerge that is motivated by a vision of peace and justice, not of maintaining calmness, making false promises, and creating space for prosperity of the few.’
Take a first look at HE NAMED ME MALALA, a documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s life, story and personal journey as an education activist. Pledge to see the film only in theaters this October at http://bit.ly/1IlDIMg
Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”), the film shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education worldwide.
AS Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded cantankerous negotiations to finalise his right-wing cabinet, Palestinian-Israeli evangelicals were hoping for something better.
Alienated by campaign rhetoric stigmatising Arab citizens as an electoral threat, they turned in response to the source they know best: the Gospel.
In doing so, they seek to reverse a disturbing trend of isolation from society as a whole, and in particular their Jewish neighbors.
‘Are we not asked to be the salt and light of the earth?’ asked Revd Azar Ajaj, president of Nazareth Evangelical College, in an open letter shortly after the Israeli elections.‘How important, then, to show love to those who have been styled as our “enemies”. In fact we are asked to be peacemakers.’
And from April 16-18, he gathered 60 local and international leaders to discuss how.Read More »
Turkish Christians take first step toward embittered Armenians
Turkish and Armenian Christians circle the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan,
Armenia, on April 11.
NOTE: faces have been blurred to protect identities (photo, Ricardo Pessoa)
“We came to share your pain,” Turkish Christians declared in early April, standing before TV cameras at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.
“We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness,” two spokesmen for the Turks went on to say.
Shocked viewers across Armenia watching the Azdarar TV news channel on April 11 could hardly believe their eyes and ears.
Turks, claiming to be Christian? And laying wreaths at the nation’s genocide memorial? How could Turks, of all people, come to Armenia to honor the memory of more than a million Armenian Christians who had been slaughtered 100 years ago by their own forefathers, the Ottoman Turks?
Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.”Read More »
The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its regional committees in the Diaspora,
– expressing the united will of the Armenian people,
– based on the Declaration of Independence of Armenia of 23 August 1990 and the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,
– recalling the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, whereby recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
– guided by the respective principles and provisions of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96(1) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9 December 1948, the United Nations Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of 26 November 1968, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 as well as all the other international documents on human rights,
– taking into consideration that while adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the United Nations specifically underlined the importance of international cooperation in the struggle against that criminal offence,
– emphasizing the inadmissibility of impunity of the constituent elements of the crime of genocide and the non-applicability of statutory limitation thereto,
– condemning the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide, all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them, as a continuation of this crime and encouragement to commit new genocides,
– also considering the 1919-1921 verdicts of the courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire on that grave crime perpetrated “against the law and humanity’’ as a legal assessment of the fact,
– appreciating the joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime perpetrated against the Armenian people as a “crime against humanity and civilization” and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide:Read More »
This lecture was delivered by my World Vision colleague Dr. Chawkat Moucarry, on Thursday 19 February 2015, at the Patriarch Ilia II Foundation in Tbilisi, Georgia, as part of its intellectual and spiritual development programme for youth. Over sixty young people participate in this lecture, which ended with a question – answer session and a little reception.
Please watch this video presentation of my friend Aziz Abu Sarah, co-founder of Mejdi Tours. By the way, if you ever want to do a tour in order to really understand the complex reality of the (not so) holy land, ask help from Mejdi Tours staff. I’ve done it more than once. It is really worth it. Many thanks to Aziz and Shira. You are doing an extraordinary work, my friends.
Aziz Abu Sarah is a Palestinian activist with an unusual approach to peace-keeping: Be a tourist. The TED Fellow shows how simple interactions with people in different cultures can erode decades of hate. He starts with Palestinians visiting Israelis and moves beyond …
TED Talks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in an exclusive article for Haaretz, calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land.
The past weeks have witnessed unprecedented action by members of civil society across the world against the injustice of Israel’s disproportionately brutal response to the firing of missiles from Palestine.
If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin and Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.
A quarter of a century ago, I participated in some well-attended demonstrations against apartheid. I never imagined we’d see demonstrations of that size again, but last Saturday’s turnout in Cape Town was as big if not bigger. Participants included young and old, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, reds and greens … as one would expect from a vibrant, tolerant, multicultural nation.
I asked the crowd to chant with me: “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”Read More »
Dr. Mubarak Awad
Amid the smoke, rubble and blood, the idea of nonviolent protest in Gaza seems as preposterous as it is naive.
Indeed, those Palestinians who preached nonviolence and led peaceful marches, boycotts, mass sit-downs and the like are mostly dead, in jail, marginalised or in exile.
Mubarak Awad is one of the latter. Often dubbed “the Palestinian Gandhi” or “Palestinian Martin Luther King Jr,” Awad now teaches the theory and practice of nonviolence at American University in Washington, DC, far from his Jerusalem home.
Israel kicked him out in 1988. Five years earlier, he had opened the doors of the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the goal of fomenting mass resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Do not pay taxes, he lectured. Consume only local goods, like the Indians who followed Gandhi’s movement against British colonial rule. Engage in peaceful protest. Plant olive trees on land coveted by Jewish settlers. Above all, do not pick up the gun. March, and sit down, like civil rights protesters in the American South in the 1960s. Take the beatings, clog up Israeli jails.Read More »
Iarael’s wall of shame
Hope and despair. For years, we were tossed back and forth between one and the other. Today, most Israelis and Palestinians seem to be in a gloomy, flat, state of mind, one with no horizon; dully comatose, a self-induced numbness.
Today, in an Israel that has known so much disappointment, hope (if ever mentioned at all) is always hesitant, a bit timid, and apologetic. Despair, on the other hand, is utterly confident and self-assured, as if speaking on behalf of a law of nature, an axiom that states that between these two peoples there shall never be peace, that the war between them is a heavenly decree, and that altogether, it will always be bad here, nothing but bad. As despair sees it, anyone who still hopes, who still believes in the possibility of peace, is at best naïve, or a deluded dreamer, and at worst, a traitor who weakens Israel’s wherewithal by encouraging it to be seduced by false visions.
In this sense, the Israeli right has won. The right, which adheres to this worldview – certainly over the last decades – has managed to instill it in a majority of Israelis. One could say that the right has not only vanquished the left: It has vanquished Israel. And not just because this pessimistic worldview is pushing Israel into paralysis in the area most fateful to its survival, the area where boldness and flexibility and creativity are required; the right has vanquished Israel by crushing what once could have been called “the Israeli spirit”: that spark, the ability to remake ourselves, that “nevertheless” spirit, and courage. And hope.Read More »
22 July 2014
The World Council of Churches is deeply saddened and gravely concerned by the continued escalation of the military operations in Gaza, human devastation on every side, and the disproportionately high number of Palestinian civilian casualties, including women and children.
As well as the Israeli strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the Council condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli civilian targets by Hamas and the positioning of rocket launchers in close proximity to civilian populations.
The Council appeals to all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The indiscriminate and disproportionate killing of civilians in the context of an armed conflict is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law.Read More »
Map of West Bank
I believe it is important to start recognising the right of Israel to exist as a state, however ambiguous was its beginning. It is obvious we cannot go back to the situation before 1948.
Also, I really doubt a two state solution is viable anymore. A short glimpse at the Schweitzer-like map of West Bank above, with the separating wall of shame, with all the Israeli settlements and roads, built on stolen Palestinian land, should convince you of that. Peace and occupation, with its apartheid-like separation is totally incompatible with peace. Violence, on both sides, as condemnable as it is, is unavoidable if the present status quo continues.
The right to return for the over 700,000 Palestinian pushed out of their homes in the Nakhba is very problematic, and controversial, because of its demographic implications, which would make impossible the present anachronistic and unsustainable definition of Israel as an ethnic state. But its a priori refusal by the Israeli government makes impossible for the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to exist.
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Sermon delivered on 17 November 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church [the underlining in the text is mine]. Please find the time to browse through this amazing sermon. You will not be sorry.
I dedicate this to my many enemies (they know who they are) and I pray that, by God’s grace, I love them as Jesus calls me to do it. Kyrie eleison!
I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.Read More »
The violent conflict between Israel and Hamas has now claimed the lives of nearly 600 Gazans (estimated 70% civilians) and about 30 Israelis (including two civilians). Last week, the Israeli military expanded its assault with a ground incursion, which drastically increased casualties on both sides. Israel’s stated goal for this war is destroying tunnels that Hamas can use for terrorism and stopping rocket fire from Hamas. Both sides have turned down cease fire proposals. Israel claims to be warning civilians to leave targeted areas, but in cramped conditions in the Gaza Strip, where would they go? One interesting twist is that this time around, portrayals in the media aren’t going quite as well as the Israelis would like.
How should the people of God respond to such horrors?
Please keep both people in your hearts as we yearn for war and conflict to give way to peace and understanding. May the same Jesus who came to break down the barrier between “us” and “them” bring peace and comfort to all who suffer and live in fear.