We were very blessed to serve alongside Peter, Monika, Maha and Edward (David Ensemble members) to explain the richness of our Coptic liturgy to our angels in primary school.
This was a unique experience for us and the kids. The retreat included diverse talks and lots of fun games and activities. The talks involved topics such as; the meaning of the liturgy, how to be prepared, church vestments, altar tools, church readings and many more.
The servants also led various workshops with an aim to explain the Coptic Church’s liturgy and prayer books as well as the sacred altar tools. The kids rotated around the workshops where two of them were on church books and the other two were focused on the altar tools. The servants have displayed lots of church books and explained to the children how and when it is used in the Coptic Church. Also, the servants explained to the children what the altar tools look like, what we call them, and why the priest uses them in the liturgy.
In addition, we had lots of outdoor and indoor games revolving around the theme. These helped the kids to gain more understanding of the theme while having lots of fun. Games were related to ideas such as; how to be prepared for the liturgy, how to follow the voice of Christ, team spirit and many others.
The children also enjoyed the lovely song Monika taught them. It is called “God’s love is like a circle”. They were all singing it and doing all the actions. We did too! It was amazing!
The children also loved Uncle Edward’s charming violin. Did you know that Edward’s violin can talk and imitate all sounds made by the children? The children were overwhelmed and kept talking to the violin!
Thanks to Monika and Peter, all the children received two booklets; a coloured booklet, which included all the topics covered in the retreat and another one for colouring.
It was a fantastic retreat. We all had a blast.
We were honoured to welcome to the Coptic Centre on Friday 21st October Eng. George Kyrillos, Maha, Edward, Peter and Monika for a conference on “Uniting With The Lord.” Now, one may be forgiven for questioning the link or relevance of hymnology to unity with God; however, if there is one thing that this team showed us, it was that they have everything to do with each other.
We were shown the great depth and riches of our Church, especially within its hymns, which are often taken for granted and dismissed as mere tradition. Throughout the weekend we were guided through a selection of hymns which were dissected into five dimensions: Theology, History, Ritual, Lyrics and Music! Without knowing the words, you can often understand what the hymn is about purely from the music. The melodies are so delicately composed that they hide in them elements of our doctrine. For example, When we sing the hymn “Ni Sherobim” we say “Agios, Agios, Agios” which is “Holy” three times, with the tune repeated in the exact same way each time - representing the equalness of the Holy Trinity.
The first hymn we looked at was “vol evol” - also known as the hymn of the group confession for any type of sin.
We started Saturday with a fun interactive game where Edward would play for us a hymn on the violin and we would attempt to name the hymn and be able to identify the occasions in which it is said. Afterwards, we took a plunge into the hymn “Kata Ni Khoros” which is said in the Feast of the Resurrection and the 39 days that follow it. We also were schooled in the distribution hymn, Psalm 150, praising God for His tender mercies and “Ton Sina” which is said in the Feast of the Resurrection and the Holy Fifty Days. We were taught that when we say this hymn, we should ask ourselves: Am I risen? Am I grateful? And am I joyful?
On Sunday we prayed the Divine Liturgy; it was truly uplifting to pray together as one voice and one body that understands and prays from the heart. Afterwards, Monika gave us a demonstration on our relationship with God - how we cannot concentrate and prioritise these treasures of our Church without Christ. Christ must come first, He must be the end to which they are a means and we cannot let ourselves be distracted from that.
The hymn “Eso Panagios” is said just before the confession in the Divine Liturgy in response to the Priest saying “The Holies are for the Holy”. The Hymn means to say that we are unworthy and that only God is Holy. The final hymn we looked at was “Erepo Esmo” or “May their Holy Blessings”, said after the commemoration of the saints.
The Church is often accused and criticised for having unnecessary rituals and tradition. What we must realise is what we have inherited, we have inherited for a reason. Our inheritance, which has been passed down to us by blood and suffering, aims to touch our souls, help us focus, unify us as the body of Christ, preserve our faith and praise God. Yes, we must not be distracted by the very things that aim to bring us closer to God, but we also must not neglect them as by them we can find ourselves inside Him.
Photos | Videos
The parenthood and children conference by Dr Magdy Issac was held over the weekend 8th -10th of July 2016 at Saint Mary & Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Centre in Birmingham. It was such a blessed and fruitful weekend, where many Coptic families came together from around the UK. Dr Magdy Issac is a prominent christian psychiatrist from Cairo, who specialises in conflict resolution particularly in the christian household.
The first session started on Friday evening with the title "Do not provoke" when we started our journey with Dr Magdy through the old testament. We started learning from the lives of Adam and Eve, Abram and Sarah; Jacob, his wives and kids, and David the king. Sounds tedious or too serious? Well think again because of the wit of Dr Magdy and the interaction amongst the congregation made these couple of days a spiritually enjoyable and challenging experience.
Not only we enjoyed the delicious food in between the sessions, but the heated discussions carried on as well in between the sessions. It was such an enlightening experience as we dived deeper and deeper into the human dynamics and the moral/psychological aspects in these stories. Most of us have read the Bible and know these stories by heart, but believe me when I say we all gained so much more insight about and made us think twice about the way we speak and behave in our families.
My favourite stories from that weekend is the story that Dr Magdy told us about his son when he was bullied one time at his school and how he stood for himself. It reminded me of the verse in 1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young". Our lovely Coptic church teaches us about love, humility and forgiveness. We should teach our kids about how to integrate within our society in a healthy loving and firm manner, reassuring them that our God is the god of love and that we are strong through him. We enjoyed a lovely Liturgy on Sunday morning followed by the last session by Dr Magdy, and he left us hungry for more tasty and interesting sessions to come...
The talks are all available for you to watch and listen to
The Couples for Christ conference saw several young couples and families from the Diocese get together in the beautiful and blessed church of St. Mary & St. Abaskhyroun, Llandudno, for what was to be an intriguing and exciting look into the psychology interactions within the family. Ever heard the phrase “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”? Well there’s some truth in that!
We arrived to the 4 Saints Hotel in Llandudno late on Friday, had some (deliciously seyami) dinner, then settled down for the night ready for a packed Saturday. This started with a fantastic talk by Fr. John about “The Role of The Holy Spirit in Our Family”.
Our guest speaker for the weekend was the famed Dr. Basma from St. Mark’s church in London. Now I can’t tell you how lucky we were to listen to the advice and wisdom of this lady. She is a psychologist and marriage counsellor by occupation, and in her spare time she spearheads the “Marriage Preparation Course” in London set up for the engaged couples in the London churches before their wedding day. Is there anyone more suited to give these talks?! Her first presentation was on “Communication Skills”, with many practical tips and advice on how to really listen to your partner. I for one definitely have some work to do…
We were also blessed to have a surprise visit by H.G. Bishop Missael who came just in time to celebrate the joint birthdays of Marina and Christine. Afterwards we had a few hours to explore Llandudno and get some food on board before heading over to church for the vesper prayers.
Once there, we were lucky enough to bump into the uni-grad group from Birmingham who by chance were also spending the weekend in Wales! After vespers we had an excellently delivered talk by Fr. Youhanna on “One Mind” with some powerful examples from both the Old and New Testaments. Definitely not one to forget in a hurry.
After this we had our second and final talk from Dr. Basma, this time on “Conflict Resolution”. Now believe me when I say this ignited some heated discussion! Remember when I said I still have some work to do on the old communication skills? Dr. Basma again brought the issue to life with some solid practical advice and an interesting perspective on what causes conflict in the first place, and how best to deal with it.
The following day started with the Holy Liturgy conducted by Fr. Antony and following this we all got together in the hall for aghaby and fellowship with our brothers and sisters from Llandudno who welcomed us into their church with extraordinary warmth. Thankfully the weather had mercy on us and we were free to explore Llandudno for a few hours before heading back home. Who knew it would be so windy atop a mountain next to the sea?