My Intriguing Visit to an Ethiopian Orthodox Church—A First-Time Coptic Visitor’s Perspective

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What a remarkable experience I had visiting the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church! A friend of mine gave my name to an Ethiopian Orthodox priest, suggesting that I give the after-church sermon to the youth. He invited me to attend the service, which I did, and by the end of it I had so many questions I wanted answered due to all the intriguing things I witnessed! Here are all the fascinating things I learned, and my observations upon further reflection:

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Why and How We (Copts and Eastern Orthodox) Fast Before Nativity (Christmas)

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As Americans approach the Thanksgiving holiday, many Orthodox Christians openly or secretly grumble about how the Nativity (a.k.a. Christmas/Advent) fast interferes with their holiday eating plans. So let’s take a moment to understand why and how we (should) fast before celebrating the incarnation of our divine Lord, taking flesh and living among us.

Basics 

How many days do we fast before Christmas?

  • 40
  • (and if you are Coptic Orthodox, add an additional 3 days [reason explained below])

Spiritual basis for length of fast 

The Coptic Church as well as the Eastern Orthodox agree regarding the spiritual basis for the length of the fast. Continue reading

Why the Resurrection Is the Reason for the Season, More So Than Christmas

Resurrection the Reason for the Season, Not Christmas

As we approach the Christmas season, I can’t help but think of the oddity, especially of the western world, in the way people celebrate Christmas more than Christ’s resurrection. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Christmas season. Santa Claus, Christmas movies, the trees, the lights, the smells, the sounds, the food, everything. But what does the Resurrection get? A bunny? Some egg picking? Pastel colors? Seriously?

If you don’t believe me when I say things are flip-flopped, look at what I read on Al-Ahram Weekly’s website about how people in the middle east celebrate Christmas, as exemplified by Egyptian Christians: Continue reading

When Men Should Be Silent in Church, According to the Apostle Paul

Coptic Church in Egypt

Photo courtesy of Katherine Nawar.

The apostle Paul is too often (and unfairly) criticized as being a male chauvinist (i.e., excessively displaying prejudiced loyalty for men over women).

One of the main remarks leveraged against him is what he says regarding the need for women to be silent in the church (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-35). While I could attempt to alleviate much of the discomfort or distaste you may have by providing you a lengthy discourse on the historical context of his statement and how it was understood by the early Christians, I would rather focus on leveling the playing field by telling you something you may not know: he told men to keep silent in church too! Continue reading