The entire area seves as a gathering place for Coptic people. Here, visible signs tell the Good News of Jesus, where in the public spaces of Cairo this would not be possible. Reliefs have been carved into the hillsides and there are chapels devoted to St. Anthony (the father of Egyptian monasticism) and other holy men. The picture to the left shows a small chapel dedicated to the Ascension depicted in a mosaic on the dome. On the hillside behind is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem which has the inscription underneath: "Blessed is he who comes....Jesus, command your disciples to be silent....if so, then the stones themselves would cry out!" There is an irony here - in this place where Christians can "display" their message openly - that the stones are called upon to help proclaim the Lord's coming.
This Sunday was set aside for baptisms and about 100 families had come to have their children become part of Christ's Church. One mother proudly held up her son (and hid behind him?) asking me to take a picture. Two things are interesting in this. You would normally not see women in public dressed in bright colors and without veils. But here in this worship center this is possible. Second, you would not normally see a display of the cross in public, but again since this is an area set aside for Christians to gather it is possible. One sign of the vitality of the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt. More on the practice of infant baptism and the impact of the "evangelicals" from the United States in a later blog. Peace and Justice, Roger
(I have formally signed on for another year at the seminary. Will be in the Los Angeles area late June through late July if you would like me to speak at your church. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org).