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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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An Australian Christmas – Sushi and Kimchi

Rachel Cunliffe in New Zealand has asked non-American Christian bloggers to contribute to a blogs4God round-up of how we celebrate Christmas. Here are a few reflections from Australia.

Outdoor carols by candlelight concerts are a huge tradition. They’re on television, and many churches and schools run them. At our youngest son’s primary school I noticed a change in this year’s programme – they had turfed out virtually all the Christian carols. Silent Night was all that remained.

Thus, the hundreds of parents, sitting on picnic chairs in the school courtyard, sipping beer and chilled white wine, missed out on the lyrics of previous years such as these:

late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail, the incarnate deity,

and were instead entertained with “carols” like I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus and Jingle Bells Rock. I didn’t hear anyone complain.

We don’t have relatives here in Melbourne – apart from my mother, who moved here a few years ago from Auckland, and is returning there for Christmas – so will celebrate Christmas Day with two other families, all of us former Tokyo residents.

One of our number, the only one born in Australia, insists on traditional food, whatever that is, so she’s cooking a turkey. But her husband is Japanese, and will likely contribute a Japanese dish.

My wife is Korean and has been designated the vegetables. She has no idea what constitutes a traditional Christmas vegetable dish, so will probably make a few summer salads, and has already prepared some kimchi.

Another of our group is Scottish, and wants something traditional – while insisting that New Year is more worthy of celebration than Christmas – but his wife is Japanese, and may bring sushi.

Whatever, we’ll be eating outside in the garden, like numerous other Australians.

And that’s the trend of Christmas in Australia – a relaxed, multi-cultural affair with bits thrown in from all direction.

Otherwise, it’s largely business here as usual. The school year has ended and summer holidays have begun. Shopping centres are jammed, despite fears of terrorist bombs. On Christmas Day some people will go to church.

But do I detect another trend? A few weeks ago my wife and I went to Bulleen Baptist Church to hear Matthew Jacoby of the Sons of Korah group sing and talk movingly about the psalms. During the service, people got up to place gifts under a Christmas tree, to be given to the children of prisoners. The pastor later said more gifts than ever before were received.

The same happened at my own church, two weeks ago. More gifts than ever before. There are newspaper reports suggesting that some of the charitable organisations working to help the needy at Christmas are also receiving more support than usual.

Perhaps it is a one-off reaction to the Bali bombing. But is something else at work? A new spirit?

I’ve no idea. But it is a trend that surely is to be welcomed.

And on that note, I wish all my readers a happy and peaceful Christmas season in the Lord. May it be a time of great blessing.

December 23rd, 2002


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