Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christians Standing Defiant for Jesus

My pastor has asked me to preach the sermon this Sunday 27th December. My topic is Matthew 2:1-12, the visit of the Magi.

I have decided that I'm going to talk on the theme of trust - that the Magi trusted Jesus as a future saviour, even though He was just a baby and it would be 30 years before he even began His ministry.

Matthew tells us that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were forced to flee to Egypt, and in my sermon I shall point to the Egyptian Coptic Christian church as a church that has survived centuries of persecution - continuing to the present day - thanks to trust in Jesus.

Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote earlier this year:

Egypt holds a special place in the history of the church. Mary and Joseph fled there with the infant Jesus. Saint Mark founded the Egyptian church just a decade after the death of Christ, possibly wrote his gospel there and was martyred there.

In addition, few places better symbolized the third-century church father Tertullian’s famous statement, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.

In the words of the Tour Egypt website: “It was in Egypt that some of the greatest defiances of the Romans by Christians were done. While their Roman counterparts worshipped in catacombs and underground vaults, the Egyptian Christians built their churches openly and performed their ceremonies in full view of the Empire. And for every one that the Empire struck down, more would be converted by the example of the martyr.”

For several hundred years Egypt was a proudly Christian nation. Then the Muslim invasion of the seventh century saw the country slowly turn into an Islamic state. Today Christians number only around 10 per cent of the population.

But the martyrdoms continue. Recent years have seen some particularly grotesque attacks on Christians from Saudi-inspired Islamists. The Islamists even try to deny the Christian heritage of Egypt.

Yet Christians in the West generally know little about the Coptic Church. This is unfortunate, as it has much to teach us.

In the early centuries it taught that to become a Christian was possibly to enter a world of suffering.

Now, with persecution on the rise in many parts of the world, we see a praying church that, despite enduring many centuries of hardship and martyrdom, stands strong, proud and defiant. For nearly 2,000 years it has remained true to its calling - true to Christ, true to the Bible, true to its teachings and unafraid of death. This should be an inspiration to us all.

No comments:

Post a Comment