Just back from a day off with friends at the famous Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St Mari Mina. Out in the desert about an hour south of Alexandria, the Monastery is a huge compound with lots of churches dedicated to St Mina, and is full of cheerful bearded monks, and lots of folk coming to walk, pray, worship and eat holy bread, especially on Fridays and Sundays. It’s expanding too, with building work all over the site, with new visitor centres, retreat houses, the usual shops with icons and crosses etc, but mainly with new churches for worship.
St Mina (sometimes known as Menas) is known as the Wonder Worker, and the place is full of depictions of him – the saint who turned to God wholeheartedly, lived out in the desert, became a Christian martyr, but whose life is still appealed to by the faithful. There are many stories about his life and death, which the Coptic Orthodox brothers and sisters hold dear, as my friends do.
On one of the websites telling me all about the place there is a section named ‘Miracles’, which gives a long list of extraordinary happenings around the site, in the name of the saint and the power of God. These are recorded happenings from the past, but also declare that miracles are happening now. Lots of testimony about the power of God.
I might not go the whole hog in terms of devotion to the saintly men and women of the past, as some traditions do…but this I know…we still need miracles, and we still need that testimony. We still need living saints of God to live out lives of holiness, power, courage, bravery, strength and faith, and we still need miracles of God to transform lives, heal the sick, change hearts towards peace, hold back evil, address injustice, intervene in situations that look impossible. We can only do so much ourselves. The rest is the grace and miracle of God.
Let’s keep walking, praying, worshipping and eating holy bread, like cheerful monks – and let’s keep praying for miracles.