CWN - The Grand Imam of al-Azhar condemned recent terrorist attacks on Coptic Christians “in the strongest terms” and called upon Egypt’s Muslims to celebrate Christmas to show their solidarity with Christians.

The Coptic Orthodox Church (background) celebrates Christmas on January 7.

“All Egyptian people are urged to stand firm against this evil conspiracy” and to join “their Coptic brethren in celebrating the anniversary of Christ’s birth,” said Ahmed el-Tayeb, whom some Muslims regard as the highest Sunni Muslim authority.

On December 29, gunmen on a motorcycle attacked a Coptic Orthodox church in Helwan, a city of 640,000 near Cairo, leaving 10 dead, including security officers. Egyptian state media reported that one gunman was killed by security forces in a shootout, while the other was arrested.

That same day, two Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on their store in Helwan.Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, decried the “treachery and cowardliness of the evils that were the reason for this painful incident.”

“All condolences to their families and to the police, the church and to Egypt, which will still be strong and capable of defeating insensitive and dark and violent forces which have no conscience,” he added.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, condemned the attack, stating that “the sign that Christians can give to the world is that of a great faith, a choice of life lived in the mystery of Christ.” Referring to persecuted Coptic Christians, he said that “we can learn many things from these believers.”

“The government is doing everything possible to protect churches, but fear remains,” added Archbishop Bruno Musarò, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

Following the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 31, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to Coptic Christians and prayed for the conversion of “all violent hearts.”

 
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Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge praise You in song: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Theophany is a Greek word meaning "manifestation or appearence of God".

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: "What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head." 

St. Seraphim of Sarov