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LETTER TO GOD (Selam Adugna)

Dear God,

You call me my Beloved Child. But my earthly parents named me Selam Adugna born in a place called Ethiopia few humanly decades ago in a one room muddy walled, grass-thatched roof, and dirt floored hut with no running water, no electricity, nor indoor rest room. I do not complain about my upbringing and the poverty that  my family and I endured. At early age I learned to appreciate life for what it is, and enjoy the wealth of health, love, and peace more than the material wealth. I am grateful and thankful to YOU for facilitating my being and allowing me to have the life I have now. As you know my journey in this life has been adventurous and amazing. How can I tell you that? Your presence throughout my journey of life has been witnessed and realized. You have always been within and with me and by my side in all my experiences of life. YOU smile at and pat me on my back when I succeed. YOU encourage, give me hope, and teach me to stay on course when the vehicle of life veers off its normal course. You console me when I feel down,  hopeless, and helpless. You forgive me whenever I get out of line, when I cause hurt and pain to others to cover my own personal frustrations,  weaknesses and failures. YOU teach me every day to love, to care for, to share with, to sympathize, to forgive others as I desire for myself. YOU never ask me to do anything for YOU except to be kind, merciful, peaceful  to myself and my siblings on this earth until you call me home. YOU do not ask me to erect a building to establish a church or to open a bank account for YOU or to decorate YOU with precious metals or to shower YOU with gifts. YOU do not lack anything. YOU are the ultimate creator and owner of the whole universe with all its contents. You never feel rich and wealthy or poor and destitute. You are not like the earthly rich and powerful who think they are the chosen few to lead, govern, and prosper on the expense of the many.  People translate your principles to their own fittings and advantages. For example Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” I do not believe that you choose and compare your children, and favor one over another. You are the GOD of Equality, Justice, Tolerance, Love, Peace, Togetherness, Unity, Sympathy, and Affection.  YOU do not reward few and ignore the many. That is why I say that your children interpret your teachings according to their own benefits, and that is why we, your children, swim aimlessly in the sea of turmoil from generations to generations without a break. For those who want direct communication, YOU are always available. YOU never limit to an office time schedule your children to communicate  with you. You never keep an appointment calendar for meeting with your Children. Your time is always open for any of your children to meet with you. There is no problem of commuting or problem of weather or work schedule or place to meet you. Your availability for your children is 24 hrs a day 365 days a year. YOU keep the conversation line open for us, your children, and YOU never erect a wall or fence around your house to limit the access to your Kingdom. The door of your kingdom remains open for anyone who wants to come in and worship,  consult, pray, or meditate  in your name. YOU accept your children for what and who they are.

GOD, so many chaotic and saddening  events happen to your beloved children on this temporary staying place called Earth. I know, GOD, that you never ask any of your children to harm, hurt, or kill their siblings for your sake or in your name. You are not the GOD of hatred or revenge or vengeance or sacrifice. When I see that your children fight so furiously with intention of demolishing and destroying the life you created, I look up towards you and wonder how you feel about it. It is my suspicion that as a Father, you absolutely get disappointed to see the kind of turmoil and chaos happening among your children. Your heart sinks into the pit of sorrow realizing this state of great commotion among your children. AH! Sorry GOD! I confused you with the earthly fathers. It is my wrong assumption . YOU never feel disappointed or saddened by the actions of your children. But YOU want them to behave and act according to your standards and principles if they truly accept and believe in you.  YOU, GOD, my Lord, The Almighty, The Maker of us and universe are not comparable to any father. YOU  are the ONE, the Only Father that all Christians, Muslims, and other God based religions’ believers recognize and accept. You do not impose your will  on us to recognize and accept you. You leave the choice to the individual. Those who follow and worship you will have the SAVIOR in their lives. You do not order us to obey you, your rules and regulations as the rulers, kings, presidents, prime ministers, dictators on this earth. YOU are the most liberal and democratic Owner of this universe. You leave the right of choice to individuals to be useful to themselves and the societies  they live in. You teach us to be one for all and all for one. You provide us thinking mind to distinguish good from evil to save ourselves from the pitfall that devil prepares for us.

GOD, do you think that your children are listening to you sincerely or giving you lip service? Though it is not appropriate for me to interject myself in the affair of Father and children, I like to be truthful with YOU by expressing my view on the above presented question. Your children mostly give you lip service. GOD, since I am a human being, my judgments are not always correct. I come to the realization sometimes what I consider  my best judgment ends up to be the worst. Then, you know, I come to you for forgiveness, and you always offer me what a FATHER provides to his child. I come to you to show and guide me the right way and you never deny me. I would like to pose here and say, “THANK YOU GOD FOR BEING MY SALVATION.”

Where were we? AH! GOD! I was talking about your children on their lip service. Pardon me, GOD! They are also my siblings. As one of them, their pain is my pain. Their hurt is my hurt. Their tears are my tears.  Their ailment is my ailment.  When one member suffers, all members suffer. That is why I am writing you this letter, GOD,  to tell your children to get their shits together. Tell them to look around themselves. Some are warmongers killing each other for absolutely nothing. Others oppress their own siblings for the sake of power as if they can be here on earth for eternity. Some accumulate wealth in different forms as if they are going to take it with them to heaven. I have not seen or heard of anyone rich or poor  carrying in his/her coffin a single dollar, mansion, car, plane, Armani suit, valuable jewelry, or Rolex watch in the last journey to eternity. I witness the verbal and physical fight everyday among your children for nothing. It is awful. But the most disturbing and heart wrenching  conflict that I observe and makes me sick to my stomach  is the one seen in the HOUSE built in your name. As I touched above, you never ask anyone to build a HOUSE in your name. Your children willingly get together and establish a church in your honor in order to have a place for their group prayer, praise, worship. You never demand anything except allowing your children to get together anywhere outside or inside for collective Sermon. Your order to us comes down to our ability to love, to care, share, and pray with each other in celebration of you and your Kingdom. You never ask us to fight for your name or anything. We have to stop to lie to you and each other about you.

God, for me – the uneducated of the Bible, your teachings are summarized in one page with ten phrases collectively called The Ten Commandments. The rest of the Bible seems to be the wide interpretations,  explanations and descriptions of these  ten very important guidelines to live our lives as Godly children. God, you teach  and guide me to live a life of purity, if not absolute, recognizing my humanly weaknesses  and give me strength to follow and abide by the principles stated in the Ten Commandments. For that I thank you again for giving me the courage to confess my humanly weakness and my ignorance on the Bible. For sure you will be within me and by my side all the time in my trials and tribulations of my existence to fulfill and obey the principles contained in the TEN COMMANDMENTS to live a valuable and fruitful life that you expect from me. GOD, I have to be clear to You that it is trying to overcome the humanly temptations. But with your continuous oversight and eternal help, I am destined to succeed in my convictions.

GOD, the reason I wanted to write you this letter is that our church Debre Selam Medehanalem Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Minneapolis in Minnesota has encountered a  huge turmoil that you never imagine to happen in the House built to praise and worship YOU. Schism has erupted among the worshipers. GOD, as you know that this blessed Church was established almost twenty four years ago by few of your children who immigrated for different reasons from a faraway place called Ethiopia to this freezing plain land. When they established this HOUSE OF YOURS, it was not because of the SYNOD, PRIEST OR PATRIARCH but to have their own place of worship which embraces their culture and tradition. It was not because of lack of Churches. There are zillions of churches in freezing Minneapolis or its surroundings. But there was none where the service and sermons to be conducted in their own language and tongue reflecting their tradition and culture. GOD, you know that. You have been with them all the time. Our Church grew and prospered to have its own building because of your blessing. Your children became happy and proud of their accomplishments. For the reason that I cannot understand, few years ago a schism was created and some of the members left our church and formed another House of GOD the way they wanted it. They respected the integrity of our Church and recognized that whatever donations they provided for years to develop Our Medhanealem was Medhanealem’s ownership. They never requested any monetary or material sharing from Medhanealem Church.  They never intended or wanted the fall or dissolution of our church. I salute them for their honesty and integrity.  I ask YOU to bless them. Now there is boiling another schism. This one seems to be very different than the previous one. The previous one was very civilized and peaceful. GOD, let me tell you what is happening. The issue arises from the premise of joining the Synod or stay independent, means the church should stay neutral without any affiliation to any Synod until the Synod resolves the confusion created by its political meddling. One group wants the affiliation with the Synod in Ethiopia, and the other group insists that the Synod itself is divided into two Synods, the internal and the external, and until the two Synods come in terms with each other to form a unified Synod acceptable to all sides, our church should stay as neutral as it has been since its inception. The no affiliation group cites the independent history of our Medhanealem of Minneapolis which has sustained its existence. The yes affiliation group  argues that by tradition the Orthodox Tewahedo Church should belong to a Synod. Otherwise it is not Orthodox faith we follow, but a Lutheran type of faith is. GOD, please explain to me. Shouldn’t Our belief be exclusively to YOU and YOUR KINGDOM? Shouldn’t we absolutely worship  YOU and YOUR KINGDOM instead of creating ungodly actions that dishonor the Church for the benefit of  the Patriarch and the Synod? GOD, do You see that? The problem arises when human beings focus on the power structure rather than the substance. For me the substance is recognizing YOU, accepting YOU, and worshiping YOU. Your Kingdom does not have any power structure, any hierarchy. You are the king, the patriarch, the synod, the gate keeper, the father, the glory, the savior, MY LORD. You are the ONE and the INFINITE at the same time. My allegiance is to you not to any human being when it comes to my Orthodox Christian Faith. That is where I differ from those who want to join the Synod.  Some might consider my opinion on this particular point as heresy in order to justify their line of argument. They are entitled to their opinion. But I say to those who are working to dissolve or to dismantle or to cause the demise of House of GOD for sinister purposes wrapped with biblical teachings indicates irreverence  and sacrilege in their part.

GOD, I know that you do not like any child of yours to bad mouth another of yours. I am not bad mouthing any of my siblings. I am expressing what I feel about the actions of some of my siblings. You see that a rumor is blowing with the wind and gets into my ears telling me that if the yes affiliation group loses in the upcoming General Assembly vote, they are planning to ask Our Church to give them their share of the money collected through donations and special fund raising. You see, GOD, if this is true, it means that they are in violation of your teachings. Asking ecclesiastical vestments to share when they leave is considered sacrilege. If this rumor is true, it is absolutely disgusting and shameful act.

GOD, everything is possible for you. You heal all moral ailments that affect your children. So I ask you to bring healing and Unity to your House of Debre Selam Medhanealem Tewahedo Orthodox Christian of Minneapolis in Minnesota. Please provide the enlightenment of your salvation to all factions of our Church to see the guiding light of unity, coexistence, forgiveness, love, and tolerance because all of them share your existence and presence in their individual and communal lives.  God, please keep our Church united and intact as it has been for so many years so we can worship and celebrate you together in brotherly and sisterly manner as members of the same family, and that family is our Church, your house, Debre Selam Medhanalem Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Minneapolis. GOD, please endow us with strength to be accommodating to and compromising with each other in this land of refuge.

GOD, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my rambling letter with great patience.  I know that you will not be bored. I could have said verbally whatever I put in writing. But I want to share my opinion with my brothers and sisters in this format because my siblings cannot hear my verbal conversation  with you.

Amen

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