My Favorite Books, Concerts, Albums, Movies, Experiences of 2010

Though creating these lists always seem to fall short in some ways, it’s been a good year.  Here are some of the “accessories” that have accompanied me on the journey in 2010 and towards the end of the post, a few of the experiences that marked the year.

Five Favorite Books I Read this Year:

5. Discovering the God Imagination – by Jonathan Brink

4. Church of the Inventive Age –  by Doug Pagitt (everyone should read this – it’s brief and excellent).

3. Untamed by Alan Hirsch

2. The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

1. and all the NT Wright books for my independent study at Biblical Sem.

Honorable Mentions: The Teaching of the Twelve by Tony Jones. The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and Beyond Empire: Postcolonialism & Mission in a Global Context by Jonathan Ingleby, Manifold Witness by John Franke, and Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell.

Five Favorite Albums of the Year

5. The Resistance – Muse (it came out in 2009 but I rocked it 2010)

4. Go – Jonsi

3. Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens

2. Sigh – Mumford and Sons

1. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

Honorable Mentions: The Medicine – John Mark MacMillian, High Violet -The National. – and the self-titled Broken Bells.

Five Favorite Concerts of the Year:

5. Over the Rhine at the City Winery

4. Andy Zipf – here in Montvale!

3. Zach Williams at Bowery Ballroom

2. Arcade Fire at MSG

1. Sufjan Stevens at the Beacon Theater

Three Favorite Movies of the Year

3. Avatar – (not sure if I saw it late 2009 or 2010)

2. The Social Network (so much better than I thought it would be that it may not be as brilliant as I think it is.)

1. Inception (of course)

Saw a bunch but not enough good ones. Looks like some better movies just came out like True Grit, Black Swan and The Fighter.

Five Favorite (Non-Family) Experiences of the Year

5. Sr. High Winter Retreat on Religulous.

4. The Theology of NT Wright Wheaton Conference with my nerdy homeboys.

3. Watching our students serve in New Orleans and sharing the experiences back at Montvale.

2. Graduating Seminary with the cool kids of Cohort 10.  (Here’s my graduation speech)

1. The ‘Nambodia Seminary Trip Experience

Honorable Mentions: The Q Conference, Montvale’s 50th Anniversary, and our Sr. High Fall Retreat with Greg “Killamockingbird”‘s Westminster Pres.

There were some other brilliant moments that cannot be simply put on a list, from participating at Evan Curry’s ordination service to performing the wedding of some dear friends – the Peterhoffs, babies of great friends and family being born (Curry’s, Turners, Battles, Malaty’s), annoucements of good news and sharing of some tougher news. The Lord is always good and this year was no exception.

Our little Ghali family enjoyed much of 2010 and we’re looking forward to what’s next. Happy New Year’s everyone and grace to you in 2011!

My Over-Achieving New Year’s Goals

1. Read one book …. a day.

2. Jog 20 miles … five times a week.

3. Benchpress the weight … of ALL my books (and I have got a lot of them)

4. Read through the Bible … in their original languages (I only know a year’s worth of Greek and know a few characters in Hebrew but I’m on it!).

5. Be the best X-Box 360 player in my youth group. I figure if I train hard while they are at school, I’ll have an edge. And if I pray for my students as I am destroying them in Madden and Call of Duty, I can call that ministry.

6. Give more in the offering plate, as in suggestions. Sometimes the trustees don’t respond to my emails, I may have to step it up.

7. Blog more Seinfeldly. Like the other day, I was getting out of my car, and I wasn’t sure if my phone fell out because it felt like something fell out, but when I looked, I didn’t see anything. I looked again, and still nothing. Are you familiar with this? (Enter my George Costanza-like friend). “Yes, that would be the ‘fake something out of your pocket’ drop. The only way to avoid that feeling is to either wear clothes with no pockets, thereby insuring that nothing can fall out or wear clothes with loose pockets, cramming them with loads of stuff, thereby increasing the probably that something will actually fall out.” (Enter Kramer-like friend), “Check it out, I found an iPhone next to your car – Giddy up!”

Reconciling the Post-Christmas Blues and the New Year’s Ambitions

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has always been interesting for me. It’s a week of recovery, reflection and personal revolution!! At least that’s what I want it to be. For years, I would take my endless to-do list, unread book titles, and Men’s Health cover model goals and resolve to accomplish all that the calendar had failed to complete – not my fault really, I just ran out of time ;-)

I have read about and used time management programs, devised reading plans, and joined a gym. One year I got really serious and bought a new watch, bookcases and contacted Brian McNamee but as it is, I still have a huge todo list, shelves of unread books, and employing a team of lawyers to keep my name off the Mitchell Report (and I still never made it to the cover of Men’s Health or played in MLB).

But here’s what I noticed over the years. In the reflection and resolving, I found goodness but many times I also found discouragement from the chronic failure of accomplishing certain tasks. Eventually, I joined the club that proudly said, “We don’t make resolutions.” You can dress that up by saying, “We are the content and confident. We don’t need silly resolutions.” It may work for others, but in my “life culture,” it felt like quitting. There were things that needed to be done in my life and things like resolutions are part of the process.

I’ll be honest, part of this is cathartic for me. I prize reflection, I like dreaming, and I enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, in fact I make them almost weekly (admittedly, majority are not world-changing, but small improvements can be life-altering, like flossing). Maybe it’s because I am constantly analyzing and resolving to do something different that I subconsciously know not to take these resolutions too seriously. Or maybe it’s because I really need it but having resolved to not drive myself crazy, I landed on this simple maxim I believe it is wise to never forfeit an opportunity to better your life.

Which leads to the question of what leads to a better life? Which leads to needed reflection. The satisfaction of checking off tasks on the to-do list will never provide complete satisfaction. Frankly I want to feel fulfilled not done. Reading books, though extremely important, have their limits.  There are some extremely well-read people that will bore every single fiber of knowledge out of you. And aside from being healthy and so forth, I am completely kidding about any desire to grace a cover of any magazine (unless the Pat Robertson Quarterly of the Benny Hinn Gazette or the Osteen Journal decide to take a different directions, then I might pursue those).

But seriously, as I followed the road down to created purpose and became further convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, my greater resolves is to become more like Him – hence, the need for “weekly resolutions.” And that’s why Jesus instructed His followers to carry their cross daily. Not because we are gluttons for failure and punishment but because it’s the path to the “everlasting” life (“everlasting” = “the life of ages,” “the abundant life,” etc). I believe with all my heart, in being more like Jesus, I become a better husband, father, son, brother, friend, pastor, and citizen of the world.

So go on, journal your thoughts, create goals, dream big, dream small, dream in between, spend some time in prayer and in the Scriptures. It’s a good week – I’d like to be among those that encourage you take advantage of it.

Beating the Post-Christmas Blues

Primary Audience – To those not feeling the yuletide cheer lately.

Well in some sense, Christmas, the observable holiday is over. For many, there is a sense of relief. For others, they’ll miss it because it was a great time. For me, it’s a bit of both. But for some others, this begins a rough patch called the post-Christmas blues.

What are the post-Christmas blues? To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. I used to think it meant that it was a cute way of recovering from the hectic holiday season. But over time, it has come to mean more as an actual letdown marked by emotions like bitterness, hurt, loneliness and anger. A couple years ago, a person I respected told me, “Now that Christmas is over, I don’t have anything to look forward to and this one wasn’t that good!” Intending on a discussing the deeper meaning of Christmas, I asked, “What about the promise of the New Year?”  The person, being a bit older than me, condescendingly explained that when I got to be his age, I’ll feel like him too, “It’s the same thing every year, Christmas too ….”.


Because of who he was, he should have known better.

I do not believe that celebrating Christmas magically takes our problems away. Further, I understand the complications brought from families gathering, awkward moments of gift-giving at work, and mounting credit card bills. Celebrating the “occasion” of Christmas may be the reason for these things, but I am not sure that celebrating the meaning of Christmas was actually done. If there wasn’t a moment where your heart said, “We are so blessed that Jesus came into our world …”, you really missed something. This is among the reasons that I love Advent, it invites me to participate in discovering the many beautiful aspects of Christmas – some for the first time and some for the seemingly hundredth time.

It’s been years, since I have felt the true letdown after Christmas. Eventually, I remember the guilt catching up with me. One year I was in college and I went to Israel the day after Christmas. A few days later it dawned me that I had been student of Christian religion the entire semester and for the beginning of the trip as opposed to being a worshipper and a Christian pilgrim.

Another year, I remember thinking thatI I could not wait til Christmas was over.


Because of who I was, I should have known better.

My conscience still flinches when I remember those words. I was in ministry and burning out. Israel not being an option that year, I eventually sat down and asked myself what was it that I should have been dwelling on this month. Later, I made several solid resolutions that year, among them was to live my life in a way to never feel that way. Among other factors, observing Advent (& Lent, etc.) in a deeper sense, was very helpful for me.

These past few years, the blessings have been reading through the Gospels, an Advent devotional, spending adequate time in prayer, reflection, journaling. While I do not think there has ever been an Advent that I have done those things ever day, the beauty has been found in the consistent practices of a combination of them. This time has culminated in a beautiful Christmas Eve service then spending Christmas with Susan and my family (and now also kids!).

For those that find themselves fighting the post-Christmas blues, I encourage you to take the book of Matthew, read through the Christmas story, take out a journal, and reflect on what is the goodness of it all? How did such a preposterous story change everything? And among the many roads the mind races down, consider what has Christmas changed for you. I think the answer to that is the answer to the blues.

Loving Christmas By Ignoring Meaningless Billboards

I am a firm believer that for those that understand the meaning of Christmas, the holiday cannot be ruined. The celebration of the coming of Jesus cannot be tarnished by commercialization, Santa, the battle for nativity sets, or billboards put up by atheists.

As you probably have heard by now, the atheist advocacy group, American Atheists put up a billboard on the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel stating that Christmas was a myth. When I first heard it, I didn’t really have much of a reaction. These types of things simply don’t bother me and I do not find these attempts to discredit faith threatening.

Not everyone agrees with me and here’s a comment I saw on a Facebook thread:  What about the guy who saw the billboard and stopped believing in the existence of God and the birth of Jesus? Let God be His judge. But this being a blog, I’ll throw out a few other thoughts. One, if a billboard pushed him over the edge in not believing, chances are he was struggling with doubt for a long time. Secondly, I also assume that he ran out to the store and bought the toothpaste that was advertised on the next billboard and is probably watching whatever show the one after that was featuring. I think it’s safe to say that those who formulate their worldviews based on this type of advertising change their minds quite frequently.

Fortunately for him, the Catholic League put up a counter pro-Christmas billboard (which probably only confuses this poor commuter). Unfortunately, I see that as a waste of money. Had this been something that the Catholic League done annually to spread the Christmas cheer, I suppose that would have been their prerogative but using this to fight back against the atheists is lame for a couple reasons.

One, these types of reactive responses only validates the original attack and emboldens the atheists. Second, it demonstrates that many in the Church still actually believe that the way to fight the culture war is through these types of tactics.

If you want to convince atheists that Christmas is real, ignore these feeble “attacks”, pray for them, serve them, engage them relationally and donate the money that you would have used to fight against them to the poor. If you want to enjoy this beautiful Advent season, spend some time in prayer, read the Scriptures, spend less time stressing about gift-giving and spend more time giving and serving others.  I am telling you, Christmas cannot be ruined by these types of things.  It can be missed because we are pre-occupied, or focused on the wrong things but the Incarnation is too powerful a story to be ruined.

Post 6 – “Everything Has a Reason” – Why Does God ALLOW Evil?

Whenever you talk about determinism and God’s sovereignty, this question is going to come up – Does God allow terrible things to happen? And if so, why? If you have been reading along, you know I keep emphasizing that sadly, we live in a flawed world. One filled with natural disasters, disease, genocide, a world where children are abused, women are raped, men are destroyed, elderly are neglected, people are cheated, and many others marginalized. While we could make the case that God “allows” such terrible things, this is does not mean that God hopes, wants, orchestrates such atrocities. Far from it. Further, I am insisting that God is out to redeem all things.

So does this point to a weak or distant God. I feel that it doesn’t. if anything is weak or distant, I would suggest that it is a projection of our faith but God is anything but. I could list numerous names and adjectives, but my favorite is He is Emmanuel, the God who came near. I hope these posts have been making the case for a sovereign and loving God that would rather allow us as people to seek HIs will (or not to).

I think it brings greater glory to God to allow atheists to post billboards that mock the incarnation because a God who really is sovereign is unafraid of such feeble attacks on His existence. Now should that billboard somehow collapse and crush a vanful of heartless protesters from Westboro Baptist cult, I am sure I would pause and wonder. But should that same billboard crash onto a van-full of Mennonite church planters, (or a car filled with people that you highly respect), I would remember the words, “Billboards fall on the righteous and the unrighteous” and pray the words of the poet in Psalm 40, “How long must we suffer, how long must we sing this song?”

It’s almost as if some have this picture of God sitting in some type of oval office where papers describing human events are brought to His desk in a constant stream and with one hand He has a stamp that “vetoes” a tragedy from happening in the other hand, He has a stamp, entitled, “I’ll allow it”. (I may be guilty of exaggerating this mental image, perhaps someone can comment and offer a more suitable one?). I feel that if our mental picture that resembles anything like this, we have a very poor image of a loving God.

In any case, do people learn lessons from things like unemployment, cancer, and the loss of loves ones? Yes, absolutely, many times very powerful, life-giving moments but that is because God is good and His grace is there and it is sufficient, not because He manipulated the employer to scale back or because He sabotaged internal organs. For me, this is an incredible distinction.

I believe that sometimes God intervenes and heals. And sometimes He does not. I do not believe this is a condition based on our level of obedience, or a direct correlation of our intercession. Sometimes an entire church prays for something good and pure and the result is not desirable. And sometimes the Lord hears the prayers of a humble, uneducated grandmother and a miracle is unleashed. Should we send our grandmothers to seminary and combine their intercessory skills with reformed theology? I suppose it’s something to consider (and then would we let them preach?;-) Both my grandmothers were of the godliest I knew, and if they were here today, I speculate that things like seminary would have been quite boring to them.

In my life, I have seen a handful of what I would call miracles. From what I can tell, they were moments where the Hand of God was at work. I am humbled and overwhelmed at such a thing. But even these grand spectacles have not allowed me to think that there is a demon behind every bush, an angel behind that bush desperately trying to counteract, and a God sitting in a heavenly control room directing the details. Further, I think of the divine encounters throughout Scripture – God is there but He is not in constant micro-communication with the prophet. Consider the stories of patriarchs like Abraham to apostles like Paul and Peter, they have amazing encounters with God but He was never “on-demand” for them as if He were a genie.

I believe that God is there in all circumstances. In the beautiful times of life, He celebrates with us, receives our praise, and showers us with joy and grace. In the tougher times, He mourns with us, receives our cries and protests, and annoints us with peace and hope. Among many aspects, this is a God that is working on the behalf of those that love Him and those that don’t. The story of Jesus articulates this well.

I hope these posts have been helpful in some respect. As always, feel free to comment whether in disagreement or in whatever you are thinking but thanks for reading.

Post 5 – “Everything Has a Reason” – What About Divine Providence?

The question was asked, where does providence fit in? I mentioned very briefly in my second post on the “everything has a reason” topic that I did believe in providence and divine intervention, I’ll try to elaborate a little more on that.

I certainly do not believe in a God that is sitting in a hammock drinking lemonade or Iced tea. I am not sure it would make much sense to 1. pray to a “god” like that and 2. believe in one either. I believe that God is at work. Further, I celebrate the truth that all good things are from God. Over the years, I have heard many point to Romans 8:28 as a text proof of “everything has a reason”. While that it is a much longer, more complicated story, the short answer is yes,” all things work together for good”. However, I find that testifies to God’s sovereignty over all creation, not what I should have for lunch or what moral should I learn from today’s misfortunate. God’s sovereignty and His 24/7 micromanaging of the 6 billion plus people on our planet are different things. “God is in control of all things” – sure, but not all things are ordained by God, therefore I am not willing to say, “God has a reason for everything”.

Great theological minds from Augustine, Aquinas, to Calvin and Luther have always believed in divine providence and its connection to election. It is my understanding that they are speaking more towards the broader aspects of salvation than the singular events of our lives and the details of our day. For instance, Karl Barth wrote that the greatest act of divine providence is in the person of Jesus Christ (II, I’ll update with full reference later). When approaching divine providence from that sense, it hardly seems appropriate to seek a sign from God regarding, “Should we vacation in the Caribbean or Europe?”

What I am really protesting against is our simplistic approach to life than God’s intervention. I tell our college-bound students to pray for which college they should attend. I am confident that the Lord does not want or need all of our students to attend a private Christian school. I am just as certain that He doesn’t want all of them to attend public universities either. Frankly, I am not sure God cares in the sense that we may think He does. Should one of our students decide to attend Grove City over Gordon, I doubt that it would be outside of His will and He will be so angry that those taking the SAT’s the following day best beware. I still remember that little boy called Simon Birch saying, “God doesn’t’ care about our coffee and doughnuts”.

I pray about our mission trips, our service projects, our retreats, etc. But I pray more for my/our faithfulness and motives more than whether or not we should go to Mexico, Appalachia, or New Orleans. Sometimes you get into an elevator when you are teenager and the door suddenly opens and you meet a beautiful girl that ten years later, you end up marrying and enjoy a beautiful life together (a true story – I did the wedding). Is that providence? The romantic in me says it is. Then there is the story of a friend of mine that married “the girl next door”. “God brought them together for all these years”, and one day back from Christmas break, they fell in love, got married a few years later, and then a few years after that, got divorced. Is that providence? Ouch (and no, I didn’t perform that wedding).

One of the best things that I learned from the emerging church conversation is that we as believers should have a strong pneumatology, meaning we ought to have a robust faith in the work of the Holy Spirit. So where does divine providence really fit in? The wise-guy answer is that it fits in the moment the Holy Spirit decides to intervene. I think sometimes God speaks to you while you are on the warm beach marveling at the blue water. But is not true that God speaks to you when you stand in the hall of a gothic church in the Czech Republic as well? And is it also not true that God speaks to us as we partake the sacrament of communion together, or in the laughter of our children, the embraces of our spouses and at much less dramatic times, when we stare out the car window.

It seems clear to me that we need to live our lives in faithful submission to the Spirit, take responsibility for our actions, seek what is good, just, and godly. But to label everything has providence and dissect the everyday occurrences and label them “of God” or “not of God” and to spend more time in finding the “reason” seems more like Christian horoscoping and a Christian version of astrology than the Spirit-filled life of a disciple.

As always, feel free to disagree, I have one more post on this – as always thanks for reading.

Part 4 -“Everything Has a Reason” Makes God Sound More Like a Soteriological Mad Scientist than “Emmanuel”

The previous post left off with my belief that God grieves with us. This one aims to unpack that and delve deeper.

I know it’s a “Captain Obvious” statement to make but let’s begin somewhere: Our human nature tries to avoid pain, grief and the aftermath of death at almost all costs. We are willing to live in denial, sleep excessively, medicate, and look for any opportunity to escape physically and emotionally. For those of us who are fortunate, we have family, friends, perhaps even a church, that will come alongside us and help in some way. Though many times they are incapable of feeling the same pain, their love brings them near. I find that to be “godly” as in “god-like”.

One of my favorite things that I know about God is His “nearness”. The name we sing about every Christmas time, “Emmanuel”, is a proclamation of a God who came near. I am seriously moved by this. What does Emmanuel have to do with “everything has a reason”? I’m getting there.

I don’t believe that God flings planes out of the sky to teach the grieving on the ground that the skies belong to Him. I don’t believe that He shakes the earth to remind the watching of His sovereignty. I do not believe that when we hear the words, “miscarriage”, “malignant”, “positive” that they are meant to be God saying, “I’ve been trying to teach you this lesson but you are so stubborn, and so I have had to resort to the following actions.”

When I hear people say, “A loved one died so that the gospel could be preached at the funeral”, I usually nod and say nothing but inside I question this type of God’s understanding of evangelism. I thought one of the basic premises of Christianity is that Jesus died, so the world could know the Father. Has that plan failed?

When I hear people say, “God gave me this terrible disease so I could learn patience, dependance, grow in faith”, I think this is only a half-true. God didn’t give you the disease. Sadly this is a part of our flawed, sin-stained, death-driven world. Always, remember, it’s the world that sucks, not God.

The beauty in the pain that we experience is not out the deciphering of God’s painful message to us. The beauty in the pain is the very presence of Emmanuel, a God that is with us regardless of circumstance or condition. The Gospel message preached at the funeral is not God’s mad-soteriological scientist plan coming to fruition; it’s a proclamation of Hope where there should not be any. And that hope screams at the top of its lungs, “Because of Jesus, death has not won! Because of the Resurrection, we can be with Him, now and forever – He is the God that is with us!”

Part 3 – “Everything Has a Reason” Contradicts a Loving God Who Grieves

Here’s where we abandon the tweets and jokes and get a bit more serious.

So far I have mentioned that the everything happens for a reason thing is flawed because it insists on a “cause and effect” outlook on life and is practically impossible to be consistent with. I understand why many like it and while I admit, the allure of being able to comfort myself that everything is happening right on schedule is appealing.  However, when given some thought, there are severe shortcomings.

One is that it diminishes the human experience. Are we created humans in God’s own image with some capacity for free will or are we simply pre-programmed robots? Second, it proclaims a weak God. As if He is a being that seems so afraid of human decision and action that He must stop them! Third, it implies that God is mean and contradicts His benevolence. Frankly, what kind of a God would pre-program us (read foreordain) to fail at the one thing He detests above all – sin?

These assumptions undermine the characteristics of omniscience and omnipotence. And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, it makes God sound infinitely insecure and a galactic jerk. Further, when I sing about His Might, how can I also sing about His love without at some level feeling that He is a bully? And what becomes of prayer but a pre-determined routine that voids the beauty of communion and only reminds the Listener of His own manipulation?

Frankly, this is not the God that I believe in and I find it disgraceful to suggest that this type of pre-programmed human experience is a reflection of His image breathed into us.

I could go on but the the area that I find this faulty theology to be most damaging is in tragedy. I do remember the dark times. I remember the pain and the hopelessness. And I remember the difference between grieving and thinking that God wanted this and later thinking that God didn’t. Further I remember the beautiful comfort when I realized that God too was grieved.

Of the many accounts of Jesus’ life, among the most that have struck me are the moments is when the Gospel writers say that Jesus was filled with compassion. And of course, of those moments, I am moved by John’s account of Jesus weeping over the loss of His friend Lazarus, even though He knew He would bring him back to life. A God that weeps, a God that mourns, a God that knows love is a God that does not take the easy way out.

I know for those reading this will be a hard line to read, “Everything has a reason” sounds like an escapist motto to me. Not escapism like heroin but rather, escapism like denial. What if when someone died, God too was grieved? Not just because he/she may have suffered but because you and I suffer when we grieve their loss. And to take it a step further, what if God grieved every loss because it was yet another nail being hammered into the order of creation that death has infiltrated the ranks? What if God grieved when we grieved because He too, never wanted to experience the possibility of death? I praise the Lord for countless reasons, and among them is because the story does not end with a grieving Supreme Deity helpless to offer hope to our meaningless existence.

Part 4 soon – til then, feel free to comment, disagree, discuss …

A Call to Prayer for the Persecuted Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Believers Everywhere

My cousin sent me this call to prayer for the persecution of Christians in Egypt and as I post this, I will be joining millions of believers in intercession. I invite you to pray for the Christians of Egypt, in Iraq (NY Times article yesterday), throughout the Middle-East and in all places of persecution around the globe.  Also, as Jesus taught us, we ought to pray for our persecutors as well.

From the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles site

Ecumenical Day of Prayer and Solidarity for Christians Suffering in Egypt

As the world follows the unfortunate events affecting Christians in Egypt and experiences the pain and injustice they face because of their faith, the Coptic Orthodox bishops of the United States, including Their Graces Bishop Serapion, Bishop Youssef, Bishop Macarious, Bishop David, and Bishop Michael have called for a Day of Prayer and Solidarity on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.

Confident in the promise of God that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church]” (Matt. 16:18), all of the bishops, priests and people will celebrate Divine Liturgy on this day to express solidarity with Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt who are undergoing painful circumstances because of their faith.

This Day of Prayer and Solidarity is an ecumenical one, reflecting the words of St. Paul the Apostle “that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor.12:25–26).

On this day, there will be a joint prayer at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral (Corner of 34th St. & 2nd Avenue, New York, ny). In addition, all Coptic Orthodox churches in America will celebrate Divine Liturgies on the morning of Tuesday, December 14.

We call upon all members of the Church to pray for Christians in Egypt. We call upon anyone who wishes to express feelings of outrage and solidarity with our brethren in Egypt to be objective and do so in a manner worthy of the Christian teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. We call upon everyone to pray for the following:

Pray for the peace of the Church and for our beloved father and shepherd, Holiness Pope Shenouda iii.
We pray for the souls of the martyrs and their families, and those who are unjustly imprisoned, injured and all who are suffering.
Pray for peace and security in Egypt, and for our beloved President, and all officials.
Pray for those who mistreat us and persecute us, as our Lord taught, that they may see the beauty of God in justice and equality.