“Your crying baby is distracting me at church” — What should the church do?

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Who hasn’t experienced the distraction caused when a young child cries or gets too noisy? From the priest, to the deacons, and all the way down to the people surrounding the father and/or mother with the child, the tension and frustration is almost palpable. The parents too are distracted, not just by their noisy child, but by the emotional disturbance they feel when inundated with all of the varying glances they receive, with all those eyes telling them: “Quiet that child down, or leave.” And if it is deemed a sufficient nuisance to the priest (at least in the Coptic Church), many, if not most, will give the parent the “silent treatment”—that moment in liturgy when the priest stops praying, joining the chorus of dissenters in silence, sending a clear message to the parent(s) in the absence of prayer: “Your baby is distracting me and the entire church. We won’t move on until you’ve done something about it.”

What is the church to do? From the clergy to the lay person attending the service, how has the church historically viewed noise in church, and the place of children? Today, what should be our stance? Continue reading

Orthodox Conversion Stories—Why my friend Franny joined the Coptic Orthodox Church (Part 2 of 2)

FrannyJohnOrthodoxChristianMeetsWorldBlogPost2Here I continue the second and final part of relaying Francella Brown’s conversion story, from a life lived away from God, to one that was closer to Him and developed further in her joining the Coptic Orthodox Church. For part one, please click here.

Here is part two of her story:   

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Orthodox Conversion Stories—Why my friend Franny joined the Coptic Orthodox Church (Part 1 of 2)

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Recently, through a mutual acquaintance (Fr. Anthony Messeh), I was introduced to Francella Brown when she planned a trip to Atlanta to visit the St. Mary & St. Demiana Convent. In spite of a very short time knowing her, it’s hard not to immediately embrace her infectious personality, and I regard her as a very dear friend. Of course, after confirming she was a convert to Orthodoxy, I had to ask her about her background and what led her to wanting to come visit a Coptic convent. With her permission, I recorded her inspirational story so that I may share it with others, for the glory of God. I’m providing her story as a recorded podcast, as well as in written blog posts, in two parts.

 

Here is part one of her story:    

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Get Rid of Coptic? When Coptic Is Not Edifying…

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“We should stop using Coptic in the Coptic Church,” is what I’ve been hearing these days by many. How did we get to this point? Should we stop using the Coptic language in the Coptic Church in the diaspora? Recently His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and previously the late Pope Shenouda III seemed to express support for adapting to new cultures to include allowing no use of the Coptic language (see videos below). I’m curious to get your thoughts.

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God and Sports: Does He Care Who Wins?

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At the end of the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks were a yard away from victory when, to the surprise of everyone, a rookie named Malcolm Butler intercepts a (very ill-advised) pass and the game ends with a New England Patriots victory. What many may not have noticed is how Butler reacted on the sideline after the play was over. As he is being congratulated by teammates, an extremely emotional Butler continued to shake his head in disbelief and then points up, towards the heavens, apparently to either give credit to or thank God for the victory. Later on Butler gave an interview and said this:

I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play, and it came true. And I’m just blessed. … I don’t know how I knew what was going to happen, but I did … I just read the play and made a play.”

How many times do we see players thanking God in some form or fashion for winning a game, or asking that He make them victors? Or how about when a pastor prays for a particular sports team to be victorious, or when a team gathers before a game to pray? What is the purpose, and should we be involving God in this way? More importantly, should we believe He involves Himself in this way? Continue reading