Egypt convulses with holy and unholy impulses these days. Freedom and the end of tyranny number among the holy. Mob violence and vengeance among the unholy. Sadly, many innocents suffer unspeakably when caught in the cross-hairs by the convergence of these competing impulses.
Christ-followers, whose hearts beat in sync with Jesus’ will celebrate every holy impulse and repudiate every unholy impulse. We will pray and work for freedom and the liberation of captives and we will stand against the mob (and world?) to reject violence and vengeance as solutions for the way forward. In this immediate crisis hour, we will pray for restraint and relief for all who are suffering.
At the least, and perhaps also at the most, Christ-followers will pray. They/we will enter into the spiritual fray that undergirds the tangible political, social, cultural and religious struggles now in play. We will enter the deep pathos of the Father whose heart breaks over the oppression and repression of people and the brokenness and hurt caused by their uprising. And out of such pathos we cry out to God for the coming of his kingdom, for the realization of Egypt’s best as God conceives it and plans for it.
As I have thought and prayed for Egypt it has been helpful to consider the story of God’s way with us and our world as a way of fueling prayerful imaginative pleadings for this great land that plays a prominent role in the story. For example:
The story attests to Egypt’s place among the nations as highly developed and civilized, as a center of learning and inquiry, a place where human creativity and accomplishment flourished. Surely it would please our Father to restore Egypt as a place where his beauty and creativity once again find a home for the world to see and enjoy.
The story tells us how Egypt became a place of refuge for the hungry and needy in times of drought and famine, among them our ancestors in the faith. Surely, our Father would love to pour his bounty over this land and through her to the world’s needy.
The story sadly reports that at times Egypt’s place of refuge also became a house of bondage, a place where those in power assuaged their fear of strangers among them by oppressing and enslaving them. Surely our Father’s hand would protect and provide for the strangers there (and everywhere) and save both the powerful and powerless from corruption.
The story celebrates Egypt as the place where awesome acts of God set people free, free to be who God created them to be, free to receive and share blessing with the whole world. Surely, our Father delights in setting captives free, and even now works to that end and invites us to join him!
The story pictures Egypt as the place of refuge when Herod, King of the Jews, sought to kill the newborn Messiah Jesus. Surely, our Father would smile on Egypt’s welcoming the One whose rule brings freedom and life that will be wonderfully complete, healthy and joyful.
And, as the story launched off the pages of sacred text, early first and second century Christ-followers came to Egypt to establish centers for vibrant Christian community and mission. Surely, our Father would claim this nation, now embroiled in birth pangs of new beginnings, as a glorious venue for showing and sharing his love and power with all the world’s peoples and nations!
O Abba, Lord and King of all, may you focus your grace upon this place and its peoples and do even more than we can ask or imagine. Amen!