A Message For You --
Our Church is So Holy
Do we really understand what it means to be in our church?
Some might think that coming to our church is just like coming to any other place that we go to during the week.
Some might think that coming to our church is just something that we do on Sunday.
Some might think that coming to our church is just something we have to get through until we can eat some food, talk with our friends, and play games.
But what is our church really? What does it mean to come and worship here?
Let's talk about this a little bit.
Do you realize that when we worship in our church we are standing in the upper room of the Last Supper, where Jesus came to His apostles and disciples after His Resurrection, where they stayed in prayer after Jesus ascended into heaven (the Ascension), and from where the apostles and disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost?
Do you realize that when we pray in the Liturgy, Jesus Himself comes down on the altar with the Body and the Blood of the Communion and that we are in heaven while still here on earth?
Do you realize that, by the incense, our prayers are lifted to heaven and to God while we stand in the Liturgy at worship?
Do you realize how very special this is?
Under the Old Covenant in the temple, only the priests could enter the Holy Place (the sanctuary of the temple), and only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place (the sacred tabernacle) and then only once a year and only with a sacrifice of blood given for his sins and the sins of the people.
But Jesus Christ, our Savior and eternal high priest of the New Covenant, through the blood of His death on the Cross, tore open the curtain of the temple and opened the Most Holy Place to us, so that, by His sacrifice and in Him, we all now can come to the tabernacle in celebration and receive Him in the Communion of His Precious Body and Most Holy Blood.
The fathers of the Church teach us that everything in the church is holy and that everything we do and say in the Liturgy has a special, spiritual meaning.
All the words of the Liturgy are from the Holy Bible and are a prayer to the Lord. In the Liturgy we are in heaven and we are praying before the throne of God.
In the Old Covenant, before they could serve at the temple, the priests had to be prepared. This was done by a sin offering, a burnt offering, a peace offering, and a grain offering. The sin offering was an atonement for their sins, the burnt offering was a sacrifice of obedience to the Lord, the peace offering was a sacrifice for peace, reconciliation and thanksgiving, and the grain offering was a sacrifice of fellowship unto the pure life of the Lord.
And, as Abouna has taught us, it is the same with us in church at the Liturgy. We must come to church as offering sacrifices:
We must come in regret and confession for our sins.
We must come in openness to the light of the Lord and obedience.
We must come in peace with God and one another and with thanksgiving to the Lord.
And we must come in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ in His pure life. (1John 1:3)
Our church is so holy and so special because we are in heaven, in the Holy Spirit and with our Lord. He is here with us and sees us, and we are with Him in prayer and worship.
How can we worry about food, or friends, or games when we know that the Lord Jesus is with us?
How can we make noise and jokes when we know that He sees us and has invited us to be with Him in this most special way of our worship in the Liturgy?
And how can we run around and laugh when we know that He allows us in the Communion to take Him -- His very Body and pure Blood -- into ourselves?
At church we are not in the world and so we should not be worried about the world or act as the world acts. As is said at the end of the reading of the Catholic epistle (the Katholikon) at every Liturgy, "Love not the world or anything of it, for the world and its lustful desires will pass away, but those who do the will of God abide forever." (1John 2:15-17)
We are with the Lord in the holiness of heaven on earth and, in all seriousness and respect, we must act in the way of the Lord to the very best of our ability.
In Christ Jesus may we be blessed.
A Quiz To Do --
Since St. Anthony the Great is the patron saint of our church and since we are beginning our new St. Anthony Coptic Church web site, let's see if you can answer some questions about the life of St. Anthony.
Mom and Dad, please feel free to help the younger kids:
1. On what day of the Coptic Church calendar do we commemorate the departure of St. Anthony?
2. In what year was St. Anthony born and in what city?
3. What verse from the Gospel did St. Anthony hear at church that helped him decide to follow a solitary life in asceticism?
4. What did St. Anthony do with his wealth?
5. Where did St. Anthony first live in asceticism?
6. With what afflictions did the devil fight St. Anthony?
7. Where is the second place that St. Anthony resided in asceticism?
8. What did the devil do there to St. Anthony when he perceived his ascetic life and intense worship?
9. Where did St. Anthony go to become a martyr? Did he succeed?
10. What place now stands on the spot in the inner wilderness of the eastern desert where St. Anthony went to live?
11. What two things did St. Anthony see an angel doing that taught St. Anthony how to overcome boredom?
12. How many years did St. Anthony live?
(Here's a hint: The answers to all these questions are somewhere on this web site.)
Answers to the Quiz
And Some Useful Links --
Coptic Kid Corner (Stories, quizzes, word search, puzzles, games, Coptic language lessons, Sunday school lessons, and more)