In The Service of Reconciliation!

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JC2033 Global Gathering, Anafora, Egypt Day 3 - Anafora, October 2, 2021. The theme of unity was the common thread running through the third day of the Anafora International Gathering in the desert of Egypt. Together with the Egyptian Council of Churches, the JC2033 movement reiterated the importance of reconciliation for the mission of the Church.

Invited to give a video message, Casely Essamuah, the General Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, wondered why there are more than 45,000 denominations in the Protestant world when we have the same call to unity and mission: "that they may all be one...so that the world may believe"! "Mutual love is the heart of our vocation. We can then live Psalm 133, a symbol of hospitality and fullness. With it we must affirm that unity is above all good and pleasant and to remind ourselves again and again that what unites us is stronger than what divides us

In a very graphic way, the Coptic bishop Anba Thomas, founder of the monastery of Anafora, shows that life in Christ, according to John 17, is a vital relationship, "I in them and you in me" (v. 23) He takes a jug full of water and puts a glass in it. Until the water fills the glass, the water remains outside the glass. "So it is with our union with Christ," he says. We must immerse ourselves in him. Only then can we become agents of reconciliation.

Christ's reconciliation must be accomplished in us. To illustrate this, he lights a cotton ball that burns up in a few moments. This is what happens when we want to shine by putting ourselves forward. He then pours oil into the dish and sets it on fire: the oil burns, but the cotton does not burn. This is what happens when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. He alone enables us to enlighten others. Reconciliation is not achieved by politics or sociology, but by our "being light in Christ"! 

Using Paul's letter to the Corinthians as a starting point, the Reformed pastor Martin Hoegger shows that the Cross and Resurrection of Christ are the heart of the Christian faith and, therefore, the key to Christian unity. According to him, Paul's call to a divided community to "know nothing else but Jesus Christ - Jesus Christ crucified" (I Cor 2:2) is permanently relevant: "The key to unity is to live the humility of Jesus which is the characteristic of his love. His will is to infuse his humility into our hearts. He gives us his Spirit to make us workers of truth and justice. The fruit of his work in our lives is peace and unity in the community. (Read his talk here)

 

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From Egypt, crossing the bridges to all

In the great amphitheater of Anafora, Olivier Fleury, director of JC2033, invites us to bear witness to the Risen One with courage, crossing the bridges that separate us from one another. He says this while crossing the bridge that spans the basin in the center of this amazing building.

The 250 participants met for a festive meal and then for a final celebration. Testimonies from participants from four continents - Colombia, Russia, India, Tanzania and Egypt - were followed by a vibrant call from Emad Sami to pray for Egypt and the Arab world. "The Risen One is the hope of the 14 Arab nations represented in this conference," he said. 

"From Egypt I called my son. This word from the Gospel of Matthew is quoted by Sherin Helmy, member of the Focolare Movement in Cairo. She sees it as a call for the participants in this meeting in Anafora. From this blessed place of Anafora in Egypt," she says, "the Lord calls us as sons and daughters, as he called Jesus his beloved Son, to reach out to our contemporaries, whoever they may be. The Risen One sends us, but he does not leave us alone. He gives us this promise that concludes the Gospel: "And I am with you always, to the end of time" (Mat 28:29) (see here his message) 

The risen Jesus in our midst is the presence of God that brings us together. We have experienced this during these days. His presence transforms us and directs us towards a city where justice reigns, truth in human relationships, friendship lived and the capacity to recognize and love one another. 

Martin Hoegger

 

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