When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them...
“How long O Lord,” we find ourselves asking this as the news spreads and we learn of yet another attack on our Coptic church. How long O Lord until you avenge? How long O Lord until you pour out your judgement and wrath against those who persecute you. How long O Lord until we can attend church without fear. How long, how long?
The most common Coptic word you would hear during a liturgy or prayer service is Kireyeleson -Lord have mercy. It was never sung as loud and intently as it was last night during the Pascha. Lord have mercy. We have been singing it for centuries, pleading with God to protect us and have mercy upon us.
We know He is full of grace, the grace that extends to us which has saved us, but we plead for his mercy at every liturgy, and every prayer. On Palm Sunday, we cry out “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest” as Jesus enters Jerusalem. We sing it without reflecting on the meaning, Hosanna - “Save, Please!” an urgent and desperate cry for a saviour. We did not know how real our cry was when we sang this yesterday morning.
Explosives detonating in churches has become uncomfortably familiar with any Copt, our church is built on the blood of Martyrs, which has strengthened our faith. They try to shake us, but with every jab, they push us together and we stand stronger.
This is not an attack on the Coptics only, this is an attack on anyone who doesn’t adhere or uphold a specific set of beliefs, whether you are a Christian or not, this is an attack on democracy, liberties, freedom of religion, all the pillars that our western civilisation rests on.
The sun rises on Monday with tears and sorrow, a sobering morning emerges and Coptic families around the world are calling their relatives in Egypt with live news streaming in the background. Pascha services continue as we look to Sunday, when the Son will rise, wiping away all tears, bringing hope, and new life.