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In the woods surrounding the Sea of Galilee on the edge of a hill, three young trees stood together dreaming about what they would become in the future. The first tree said to the others, “One day I wish to be made into the finest treasure box to house the greatest treasures of the earth; gold, diamonds, and precious gemstones of all kinds.”

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It is amazing how we sometimes in our reading of scripture pass by words and verses which convey themselves with such simplicity of flow and meaning, yet when we spiritually contemplate on those very words and verses we are stopped in our mental tracks. For our hearts and our minds are left gazing at the most amazing wonders ordained by God. In the end we are left praising with King David saying, "The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple." Ps 119:130 and "I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but your commandments are very broad" Ps 119:96.

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It is amazing how the journey of the Son of God on Earth for our salvation was designed from its beginning to its end. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea...behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying ‘where is He who has been born King of the Jaws?’ For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him. They came from far away having seen the extraordinary appearance of a star that signifies the birth of the Messiah and followed it until it stood over the place where the Babe Jesus was born. They then entered the place rejoicing, worshiped him and presented him their gifts: Gold (representing royalty), Frankincense (representing priesthood) and Myrrh (representing sorrow). The story then takes us through almost thirty three years of Jesus’ life until we meet him again during the Pascha week where we can clearly see the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Magi’s gifts.

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The Copts have seasons of fasting matched by no other Christian community. Out of the 365 days of the year, Copts fast for over 210 days. During fasting, no animal products (meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, butter, etc.) are allowed. Moreover, no food or drink whatsoever may be taken between sunrise and sunset.

There are seven fasting seasons practiced by the Coptic Church throughout the year, they are:

  1. The Advent (Fast of the Nativity)
  2. The Paramoni,
  3. The Fast of Nineveh.
  4. The Great Lent
  5. The Fast of the Apostles
  6. The Fast of the Virgin Saint Mary.
  7. The fast of Wednesday’s and Friday’s There are rules for the fasting, that rules are strict, but those strict fasting rules are usually relaxed by priests on an individual basis to accommodate for illness or weakness.

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I was inspired and convicted recently by a number of quotations of one of the modern church fathers, Elder Porphyrios, on the upbringing of children.

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A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".
The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"
The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".

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One evening in March of this year, we had a guest speaker give a talk to the youth on how we can change the Mind of God. When he told us that the meeting would be on this topic, I was very excited not only because the speaker himself is a very spiritual and loving man who I had heard before but also because the very concept of human (or anything) being able to change the Mind of God seems almost outrageous. And, yet when considered that perhaps I could change the Mind of God, I realised that I already believed this to be possible for otherwise what meaning do my prayers have if they cannot have a real affect on God and what He will do. Anyway, with these questions in my mind we started a Biblestudy on Exodus 32 and 33, to read and see how Moses once did truly chage the Mind of God.

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We have all felt recently in our hearts that the Spirit of God is calling for us to move from our comfort zones. He doesn't want us to simply care for ourselves and our own spiritual well-being but is eager for us to go out and learn from and encourage those in other churches throughout Europe, and then to go out and share the good news with those who haven't heard of Him. So responding to this calling, a trip to Milan was quickly organised.

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St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in London is one of the oldest Coptic churches in the lands of the immigration, and one of the first to be supported and cared for by our beloved patriarch, HH the late Pope Shenouda III.

  • St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church
    Allen Street, Kensington
    London W8 6UX