Text: Genesis 9:8-17
This morning I want to tell you the stories of three people who have each left a lasting impression upon me, two of whom I met within the last few months.
Fr. Moussa Youssef is the pastor of the Virgin Mary Chapel in Egypt, a Coptic Orthodox Christian Church. He holds two bachelor degrees, one being in production engineering from Cairo University. He also holds a master’s degree in theology from The Ecclesiastical College, also in Cairo. Before his ordination as a Coptic Orthodox priest Fr. Moussa worked as an engineer. Now, along with being pastor of the Virgin Mary Chapel, he is also in charge of “interfaith-bonding” between Muslims and Christians in Greater Cairo. Fr. Moussa speaks Arabic and English.
I met Fr. Moussa on December 9 of last year. In a recent sermon, I shared with you a bit about that meeting. You may remember that he was here with a small delegation of Muslims and Christians who were participating in an international program focused on interfaith dialogue. The coordinator of the program had contacted me to ask if I would meet with the group because of their interest in churches in the US with a history of being involved in social justice and interfaith dialogue.
Fr. Moussa stood out to me from the beginning of the introductions on that December day. He had engaging eyes that communicated he was a man of deep thought and feeling and seriousness. The purple robe and Gandalf-like hat he was wearing reminded me a bit of my colleague and friend Malkhaz Songulashvili from the Republic of Georgia. Maybe that’s why he grabbed my attention. Throughout the hour-and-a-half conversation he sat listening, somewhat contemplatively without saying a word. It wasn’t until we were saying goodbye that he approached me and offered this statement. He said, “As Christians, we must find a way to be in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Our faith requires us to do so.” I agreed and then, at his request, posed with him for a picture standing in front of our communion table.