The roads to Damascus and Emmaus lead to Anafora!

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JC2033 Global Gathering, Anafora, Egypt Day 1 - More than 250 people gathered in the monastery of Anafora, the most recent of the many monasteries in the Wadi Natroun region, northwest of Cairo. 

"The vision of Anafora stems from its name, a word that means offering and lifting up. To lift each other up, we must learn how to kneel in prayer, humility, and communication," says Anba Thomas, the founding bishop of the place in 1998. He notes that the resurrection of Christ is central to the Christian faith: while it is a historical event, it is above all a continual event to be celebrated every year and Sunday, and even every day. 

Father Damaskinos, General Secretary of the Council of Churches in Egypt, conveyed the blessing of the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and recalled that this conference was organized jointly by the Council and JC2033.  

“Tonight," he said, "the roads to Damascus and Emmaus lead us to Anafora. Christ is knocking at our doors. His resurrection is the victory of life over death. It gives peace to the heart and introduces us to a new time, that of reconciliation.  

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Learning from each other

Olivier Fleury, president of YC2033, says he is happy to be in this place. This moment is the fruit of many meetings where he felt that the current of the Holy Spirit was flowing. He rejoice in the diversity of the churches represented in the room: "Let us learn from each other. I need you to better understand who God is," he says. 

This three-day gathering wants to put Christ at the centre. JC2033 is not the vision of one man, but that of the people of God who wish to celebrate together the 2000th anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus. It is therefore He who will unite His Church, provide the needs and give the impetus to proclaim his resurrection. He prays that the fruit of this meeting will remain well beyond 2033...for eternity!

Bishop Anba Daniel, secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, brings the blessing of Pope Tawadros and thanks for this great idea of preparing together the celebrations of the Jubilee of the Resurrection. He meditates on the rolled stone of Christ's tomb, a symbol of death defeated by Christ. "May we meditate constantly on this victory of life during the twelve years that separate us from 2033!

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A step towards the unity of the Body

Another bishop of the same name, Daniel, passes on the blessing of the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak. He says that the reason for our coming here is the resurrection of Christ, the pivot and central event of humanity: "It is a great idea to gather to celebrate it. Let this meeting be a step towards the unity of the Body of Christ. We are different but the risen Jesus is our light”. 

For Pastor Rifat Fikri, President of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Egypt and Co-Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, Jesus Christ is the central person of humanity and the three years of his ministry, death and resurrection are the most important in history. "Through his resurrection love, goodness and peace have triumphed. Jesus risen from the death is peace for the fearful and hope for the hopeless. He is a call to freedom, to salvation and to working together for humanity. The 2000 years of his resurrection deserve to be celebrated, without fear and with pride”. 

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"Living Anafora”

When the Anglican Archbishop Samy Fawzy heard the idea of a joint celebration of the 2000 years of Christ's resurrection, he felt great joy. Emphasizing the importance of his bodily resurrection, he says, "the resurrection is more than a miracle, for it has changed the venom of death into eternal life. Now Christ is alive forever and can therefore save us. Thanks to him we can live in life”.

This unforgettable evening was punctuated by dynamic musical interludes led by a group of young musicians and singers. It was prolonged at length by conversations in the gardens of this blessed place. 

When I returned to my home, I felt "lifted up", with a renewed desire to "offer" my life for unity. I had experienced something of the meaning of Anafora, it seemed to me! 

Martin Hoegger - Anafora, 30 September 2021 

 

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