I received this from my friend Tim.
He and I have gone to the Holy Land six times together.
His note is fascinating.
When we were in the Middle East this past March the Coptic leader died. Pope Shenouda III was dearly loved and served the Coptic Church for 40 years. It was a very sad time for Egyptians and Copts the world over (there are, for example, over 200 parishes in the US).
While on the Nile Cruise I really enjoyed the Captain, who is Coptic. He explained the process by which the next Pope is chosen. Names are submitted - monks older than 40 years with 15 years or more in his religious order are eligible - there are 17 names at this time. A day long council is held and a vote is taken, choosing the top 3. What follows is a time of much prayer, asking God to select exactly the right man. The Sunday following the election the top 3 names are placed in a box on the altar in the front of Saint Mark's Church in Cairo. A blindfolded young child reaches into the box and picks one of the names. That man is the next Pope and Copts are absolutely certain he is God's choice. This is expected to happen within the next 2 months.
I have thought about this process several times since March. It certainly is not the way we in America choose church leaders. Can you even imagine a small child choosing your next Senior Pastor...a name out of a box?
Wow!!! This morning I was reading the first chapter of Acts, it says:
"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, 'Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.' Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles."
What do you think of that? Yes, Copts choose leaders differently! Much like the Apostles did. Maybe we are wrong! Perhaps we would have a lot less pastors who disgrace us if we followed the Acts and Coptic process!