Christ and the Peace we need today!

Christmas Message from Bishop Mouneer

Christmas is always linked with peace, at the day Christ was born the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14).

800 years before the birth of Christ, the Prophet Isaiah prophesied about Christ: “For to us a child is born,  to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  “The Prince of Peace” is how Isaiah described Christ who is coming to our world.  In the same way, Zechariah the High Priest prophesied about Christ saying he will “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79).

When Jesus came, he said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).  On his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ also said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).  He also instructed his disciples that their message to the people should be a message of peace.  This was clear in his saying, “When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” (Luke 10:5).

However, some may ask, “where is this peace?”  Is it possible to sing today, as did the angels at the first Christmas: “on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”?  These questions are reasonable because the world where we live now is characterized by wars and conflicts.  This is particularly clear in the Middle East where we live.  Every day we hear about explosions, killings, the shedding of blood… Where is this peace of Christ, the Prince of Peace?

Before I try to answer this question, let us first think of the meaning of the word “peace.”  Some define peace as a state of no-war and no-conflict.  Others define peace as a state of wholeness, especially in regard to relationships.  There are also different types of peace: peace between countries, peace between the people of a society, inner peace, and peace with God.

Peace with God can be achieved when a person has an intimate relation with God and when there is no separation, like sin, between us and God, similar to the sin of Adam and Eve that separated them from God.  In my opinion, peace with God is the main source of inner peace, peace of a society, and peace between different countries.  The person whose heart is distant from God, and I say whose heart because one can be close to God outwardly in front of people but the heart can be far away from God.  Such a person cannot experience the inner peace and as a consequence of this, such person cannot be in peace with others.  This in return has its impact on the whole society.  Jesus Christ came to demolish all barriers between us and God.  He came to reconcile us to God as our sins separated us from Him.  That is why he is truly the Prince of Peace.

The Apostle Paul says “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:13-18).

Jesus Christ came in a form of a human in order to pay the wage of our sins on the cross and reconcile us to God.  As a result of this reconciliation, peace with God is achieved.  This reconciliation is not limited to a nation, or a specific people, but in Christ it is available for the whole world, for all who believe.  The Apostle Paul says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

In his speech on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace Former President Carter said: I worship Jesus Christ, whom we Christians consider to be the Prince of Peace. As a Jew, he taught us to cross religious boundaries in service and in love. He repeatedly reached out and embraced our Roman conquerors, other Gentiles and even the more-despised Samaritans.

My beloved… as we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Prince of Peace, if we want to experience true peace with God, we ought to open our hearts to Him and believe the work of redemption and reconciliation which Jesus Christ completed on the cross.

If we already have experienced this peace, we ought to be ambassadors for Christ in the society where we live.  As ambassadors, we ought to carry the message of peace and reconciliation that is in Christ, for the whole world around us.  As the Apostle Paul said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Indeed the message of the church should be: be reconciled to God! And we must exert every effort in order to make peace in our country.

My beloved… at the birthday of the Prince of Peace we ought to pray for our beloved country Egypt and our great people in order for real peace to prevail and for violence and terrorism to cease.  Let us also pray for the people of our region who suffer from tension and instability.

May God fill our hearts with the peace that Jesus Christ gives, so that we can sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Diocesan Newsletter November 2013

asc75-all-saints-mural

Dear friends,

On the 1st and 2nd of November, we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of All Saints Cathedral. When we reflected on the history of the Cathedral we were able to see the hand of God in every step. We celebrated this great heritage of God’s faithfulness, the devotion of believers who committed themselves to serving God and the generosity of Muslim leaders who provided the land. It was a real joy to welcome my friend Archbishop John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, to preach the Gospel during the thanksgiving service.

This last month was one of the most difficult times for us here in Egypt. The terrorist attacks in the north of Sinai became more frequent. There was an attack during a wedding service at a Coptic Orthodox church in Warraq, Giza, where a dozen people died from the same family. Two state security police officers responsible for monitoring the activities of extremists Muslims and terrorists were assassinated. When of these terrorists was arrested, he had in his possession a list of organizations, churches, politicians and media people to be targeted. This is enough to make people fearful and uncertain.

However, I see that the Egyptian people are more hopeful than before. We believe that as it took two years for these extremists to emerge, it will take another year or two for the security situation to improve. Security personnel are now more visible on the streets to maintain order.

Pray for us as we look forward to the future, trusting in God’s faithfulness and grace.

May the Lord bless you!

+Mouneer


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Diocesan Newsletter – September 2013

Click the link to download the newsletter: Diocesan Newsletter (September 2013)

 

“But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” Numbers 14:24

The Need for a Different Spirit

My dear friends,

When God’s people left Egypt and travelled to the promised land, Moses send twelve people ahead to see the land they were about to enter. Ten came back with a report that although the land was wonderful and rich, it would be too difficult for us to enter and possess it. They said “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we”.

The other two reported “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us.”

We can see two different attitudes here. The first is logical and is based on the real facts on the ground. The land is good, but the people are much stronger than us and it will be difficult for the people of God to defeat them. The second attitude is based on  trusting in God’s promises. As we know, the two men that gave the second report are Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh. This story reminds me of the proverb ”Two people behind bars. One saw the mud and one saw the stars.”

God examines the hearts of human beings. After listening to these reports he decided that out of all the people of Israel, Caleb and Joshua would be the ones who would enter the promised land, because they have “a different spirit”.

The circumstances around us are not easy. The economic situation is dire, there is a lack of security, there were attacks on churches, and many terrorist attacks, especially in the Sinai. The government is doing its best, but fighting terrorism is a very difficult task. Some people see that the future is very grim. They want to leave Egypt and emigrate to another country.  However there are other people who have “a different spirit.” They see the situation through eyes of faith. They trust that the Lord will guide us to the best place where we can witness for Him and glorify His Name.

In a time like this as the Middle East goes through turmoil we need a different spirit. A spirit of trust and faith in God’s promises.

May the Lord bless you!

+Mouneer

 

 

 

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