calendar September 10, 2013 in Bishop, Bishop messages

Bishop’s Letter to Coptic Christians

Bishop Burkat send a letter of solidarity and prayerful concern to the saints of St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Church, many of whom have family ties to Egypt, Syria and other dangerous places in the Middle East. The congregation worships at St. Luke, Devon, and the letter is to be read at a joint Lutheran-Coptic worship service.


St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Church
c/o St Luke Lutheran Church
203 North Valley Forge Road
Devon, PA 19333


September 11, 2013

“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”  John 16:33

To the saints of St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Church,

Greetings to you in the name of our Triune God, the One in whom we live and move and have our being.

I cannot imagine the heartache you must be experiencing everyday as you see the reports of escalating violence and persecution of Christians living in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordon and Palestine, and the other dangerous places in the Middle East.  I know the people who are suffering are your mothers and fathers, your siblings and cousins, your neighbors and friends, and in Christ they are mine also.

I thank God you have a Church home at St Luke Lutheran Church and I pray you know it is the Holy Spirit which brought you together as brothers and sisters in Christ during these troubling times.

Your pain and grief is unfathomable, yet still you are being surrounded with love by those whose presence and prayers attend you in your fear and sorrow.  St Paul expresses the pain of overwhelming loss when he reminds us…

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Romans 8:26

It is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace who urges us to find peace in Him, and in His love which is stronger than hate – that has conquered the world.  It is the power of the Holy Spirit that binds up all wounds, soothes our anger, and gives way to dwelling together in peace and harmony.

I join my prayers with those of His Holiness Pope Tawdros II, His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whom I was honored to meet in person in Istanbul in 2010, and our own Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Mark Hanson, all great men of faith, courage and peace.

On this September 11, when faithful people all over the United States are working and praying for peace, we need to be aware that political and economic forces, as well as special interests often fail to take into consideration the well being of the people on the ground most affected by military action.  So today I pray that our United States leaders will seek first all manner of diplomacy using power and influence for peaceful purpose. For centuries in Egypt, Christians and Muslims lived side by side with neighborly good will. The recent attacks on churches, monasteries, schools, homes and shops are signs of a serious disintegration of civil society.  I know and believe there are faithful and just Muslims and Christians who need our prayers and support to resist the wrongdoing and proclaim the justice, mercy and peace that God desires for Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

This day, let us be firm in our resolve and promise to Christ, that in whatever sphere of influence we have either here in the United States or in Egypt to be of good courage, and to believe with sincere conviction that Jesus Christ has indeed conquered the world!

With and In Christ,

Claire S. Burkat, Bishop