I thought I might post this again, to remind myself to pray for those truly suffering throughout the world for the cause of Christ. My silly first world self is embarrassed even to post this. But I wanted to remind myself as I celebrate Ash Wednesday and what has become a very meaningful church day for me, that there are many who cannot worship in freedom or truth but who still do. There are those who still suffer for the sake of telling others about a King of kings and Lord of lords, about a Messiah for the world, a Savior, He who suffered, was crucified, buried and risen on the third day, who will come again and make all things new. Long ago in a midwestern galaxy far, far away, I memorized this as a sort of “life verse” Galations 2:20: For I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live. Yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” “Happy” Ash Wednesday!
Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I can’t put words together well today. Every time I try to think about any thing about the endless irritating meeting today or the fight I had with my child or how old I look these days. I think of the families of these 21 men:
- Milad Makeen Zaky
- Abanub Ayad Atiya
- Maged Solaiman Shehata
- Yusuf Shukry Yunan
- Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
- Bishoy Astafanus Karnel
- Somaily Astafanus Karnel
- Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
- Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
- Girgis Milad Sinweet
- Mina Fayez Aziz
- Hany Abdelmesih Salib
- Bishoy Adel Khalaf
- Samuel Alham Wilson
- Worker from Awr village
- Ezat Bishri Naseef
- Loqa Nagaty
- Gaber Munir Adly
- Esam Badir Samir
- Malak Farag Abram
- Sarneh Salah Faruq
Since seeing their names on Monday after their martyrdom Sunday February 15, 2015, I have been going down the list holding each name and each name’s family in prayer. These are my brothers in Christ who took up His cross in the realest way possible. These are my fellow humans who went to a dangerous country because they wanted work – a job – a way to bring food to their families. For bread, they embodied Christ’s body, the Bread of Life.
The one I can’t stop thinking about is “Worker from Awr village”. Did he refuse to give his name because he feared for his family if a name was given? Or did they simply not bother to find out his name? What is his secret name now, the name that Christ hands him written on a white stone?
The ones I cannot pray for, and God forgive me, but I can’t are the executioners who are as much in need of Light and Life as any of us. I managed a small little thought for them this morning on my 5:00 am jog – God help my violently angry unbelief. I felt some grief for those who kill others. But I just cannot focus on my “real life” today. I couldn’t jog today because tears kept blurring the pavement so I walked carefully, like there were hidden bombs.
I went to All Saint’s for early Lenten service. I’m sure they thought I was crying for something in my personal life—I couldn’t seem to stop. I thankfully saved myself from saying, “I am crying for the 21 Egyptian martyrs.” Thankful because I do not even deserve to mourn them, in my dress and boots and jacket, and my stomach turning from going one stupid day without gorging on food, and the beautiful well cared for church, and driving away in my Prius, off to a job in an office – Oh, God, how can I even claim your Son as my Lord when my offering is nothing compared to the world’s martyrs?
My cheap tears offered up on Ash Wednesday for the mothers of martyrs. My easy pride laid down next to the poorness of spirit –the heart – ache –of the fathers of the 21 martyrs. My worries about safety blasted to smithereens by the dangerous world my brothers and sisters live in daily so that they can eat. My old face staring back accusingly with my head wobbling still on my scrawny old neck while 21 families see in their hearts’ eyes the heads of their loved ones lying in the dirt. My paltry prayers for my four children as weak as kittens next to the Lion of Judah alive in these great saints.
My cheap grace – surely God would forgive me if I denied Him? Isn’t my life more important than the Truth? My Walmart Grace.
What is it like to be like Kara and Casey and Malak and Bishoy and Worker from Anw Village and untold others throughout history who love Jesus enough to lay down their lives?
I tried to explain my grief today to someone who told me, “Stop, I can’t think about that. I won’t be able to go on working if I let myself think about that.”
We should not be able to go on.
We should not be able to go on as if nothing has changed.
We should let every thing change in us.
Twenty-one. 21. Plus. Plus. Plus. Plus. Each day, across a “civilized”, “evolved” world, a human soul murders another human soul. Souls kill themselves with darkness and souls die because they will not deny the Light. Someone chooses death rather than The Life. Someone chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Someone dies because he or she will not deny the Lord. They are all souls. All souls. All saints. All created by The Word. All making choices that mean life or death. But we are still not understanding which ones died when the 21 were martyred and which ones lived — eternally. Twenty-one truly lived. Twenty-one died to live again. Twenty-one now truly and really live. Resurrected. Living with The Christ they love. And their families weep and weep and weep. And the families of the murderers weep, and weep and weep. Do I know what it is to die to Christ, so that “yet I may live”? My life was bought at great price but I live it so cheaply.
I have no words for my shame and my ignorance.
I have no words for a grief that should fill the whole world.
I am only thankful for this day, Ash Wednesday, to “mourn with those who mourn”.
Oh, God, forgive me for thinking I am worthy to someday stand near them and rejoice with them. I am too afraid to even pray to be made worthy.
Forgive me. Help me. Accept my cheap tears. Hear our prayers.