For the Coptic Church practices, I might be able to help with the following explanations:
- As for taking off the shoes when taking communion, it has a simple meaning. It does not matter where communion is taken, whether in the women suite of communion (mistakenly called the altar, for it is not part of the altar) or outside it. Location does not matter, but the presence of God and feeling that one is approaching his Holy Body and as such approaching God himself is the dominent factor.
There are biblical references to taking off the shoes when God is present, and the most known incident in which this happened is when Moses was ordered by God to take off his sandals when he approached the God manifested in the burning bush. As such, and because we firmly believe in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, we follow the same example. In Egypt, in many places till this day, some people take off their shoes during the whole liturgy as sign for the presence of the Lord.
- The head scarf for ladies and women is a biblical command as you pointed out, yet the Great St.Paul was not concerned with the hair of the woman as much as with an involved teaching.
The man is the head of the woman as St.Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 11 "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.." In the church, in the presence of the Lord himself, a woman covers her head, the man, who is full of sin, in the presence of the Lord, the Head of all. Slightly related to this is the fact that the priests, head of their church, a Bishop, head of the diocese and the Pope, head of the Church , when praying the liturgy, cover their heads. They indicate that it is the Lord who is the Head but they are his stewards. It is not about the hair itself. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
I understand that some issues such as taking off the shoes are not always convenient, yet I believe that understanding the meaning of such practice changes the attitude towards it. It is also true for the long hymns and there are many in our Church . I used to get bored from the long hymns and the repetitions in the liturgy or on special days such as the Good Friday, a day when the service is about 12 hours with many hymns such as Omonogenis, Tai Shori, Bek Ithronos that take half an hour to chant. When I researched the origin of such long hymns, that are related to heritage but have a deep spiritual meaning and in have theological reflections, I began to actually enjoy them. A phrase in the Gregorian liturgy that is repeated three times , each time with a different melody and tone, seemed to be excessive. Once I understood that the Church has arranged it that way because the first melody signifies the sorrow over sins, the second repenetence and thirs tone is a symbol of joy for Lord's mercy, I began to enjoy the spiritual meaning that comes with chanting such hymns.