Abortion in the Teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church

November 01, 2016
The Beginning of Life

The Holy Bible tells us that Almighty God created man in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26) and because He wanted the humans to reproduce and fill the earth, He gave them holy matrimony. Since then, marriage has been the source of new lives in this world. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church teaches that matrimony is God-given sacrament by which a man and a woman live in unison and harmony to give birth to children. In other words, marriage is the field where the seed of life is sowed. 
The command God gave us to ‘multiply and fill the earth’ is fulfilled through lawful holy matrimony.  Every person is made of the blood of his/her parents. Job the tolerant says “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” (Job 10:8-12).  This shows that the semen from the father is sent to the mother’s womb to give out new life. 
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, one of the church scholars of the fourth century AD, taught the following:  

“O You, Who takes a child from his father’s waist to the woman’s womb, 
Who clots him after he is formed as fluid, 
You breathe out the breath of life into him
On the fortieth day, you designate him for wealth or poverty, for honour or condemnation 
You then take him out of there 
You open his eyes and show him his grave 
You open his throat and let him cry
 You move his hands and feet so that he reaches out to his mother’s breast 
O You, Who brings him up to adulthood and old age.”
(Liturgy of Athanasius, No. 113-115)
These words show us the means God created for humans to reproduce and perpetuate their race.  St. David restates this fact saying “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalms 100:3)
St. Athanasius’s words are explained in our church as follows: 
Athanasius makes reference to the forty days after fertilization not to mean that God determines whether the individual becomes rich or poor, righteous or wicked. Rather, it means that until the fortieth day, the embryo remains in a fluid state, almost invisible. On the fortieth day, the embryo takes the shape of a tail and acquires all its organs. After birth, the individual will enjoy wealth and righteousness or suffer poverty and condemnation depending on how he uses his body which is created on the fortieth day. That’s why St. Athanasius mentioned the forty days.  
Church fathers further elaborate the matter saying that after the baby is born it opens its eyes and throat; an angel reveals to it its burial ground and let it test the soil from the grave; the baby then cries bitterly without shedding any tears. It will later shed tears at its death.  
According to the teaching of our church, man is made of both body and soul. The church believes that both the body and the soul are created simultaneously; none is created before the other. (Genesis 1:26) This implies that children acquire both body and soul concurrently from their parents.  
Just as fire ignites when two stones collide, the human soul also comes into existence through sexual intercourse between parents. And just as butter resides in milk, the human soul is also embedded in the body. 
 Termination of Pregnancy (Abortion) 
Abortion is practiced in different parts of the world and there are different viewpoints regarding the practice. Let’s now discuss the stance of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church regarding abortion. 
According to the teachings of our church, termination of pregnancy (abortion) is totally prohibited. The church condemns any attempt to hinder pregnancy (fertilization) during sexual intercourse let alone abortion of a living foetus. Based on the story of (Awnan) Onan recorded in the Holy Bible, the church teaches that abortion is punishable by God. (Genesis 38:8-10)
Our church elaborates the story of Onan as follows:
Judah took a wife named Tamar for his firstborn son. But Judah’s son was unhappy because Tamar was a Canaanite, from gentiles with no prophesy told for them. He, therefore, stayed away from her and was unwilling to have sexual intercourse with her. God slew the first born for his arrogance and jealousy. Judah then told Onan to marry his brother’s wife. However, Onan knew that a child born from Tamar will not be regarded as his own son. So, when he slept with Tamar, he spilled his semen outside her womb. God also slew Onan for his envy and evil act. 
As we discussed earlier, if fertilization takes place after sexual intercourse, new life is conceived in the woman’s womb. Specially, on the fortieth day, as the foetus takes a human form, its right for life are supposed to be recognized. The church teaches that couples should suspend sexual intercourse since the time when the mother knows that she has conceived a baby. 
As the foetus takes the human form on the fortieth day, its rights are recognized by the church. Our church believes that the foetus will rise from its grave at the end of the world just as its parents do. In the interpretation of the Gospel, the church teaches that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and nights to atone for the sins of all who took the human form on the fortieth day of their conception.      
Our church also teaches that God visits humans even when they are in their mothers’ wombs. When St. John the Baptist was visited by the Holy Spirit before his birth, he prostrated for St. Virgin Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ Who was in the virgin’s womb. (Luke 1:41-45) God also said to Jeremiah " Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."  (Jeremiah 1:5) 
Therefore, the church condemns abortion because it believes that the foetus is a living human being though it is not born yet because it has not completed its period in the womb. It considers any attempt to abort the embryo as an act of killing a human being. In Exodus 20:13, God commanded us not to kill: "Thou shalt not kill."  This applies to the unborn foetus as well.     
The issue of tampering with pregnancy is further elaborated in Fitiha Negest. In chapter 24, it explains that couples who are interested in sexual intercourse alone try to abort the foetus using different tools and drugs. It also mentions that people might want to avoid pregnancy to keep the woman’s posture intact or due to fear that they might not have the resources to raise a child (children). However, all these are un-Christian assumptions and acts. 
The book goes on to explain that killing a foetus could be worse than killing a born person. Unlike those of us living in this world, foetuses are pure and have never had sinful experiences. Besides, no one knows their destinies. They can end up being popes or leaders. 
Fiteha Negest also issues a verdict on anyone who terminates a woman’s conception through witchcraft. It says “If a man terminates a woman’s conception through witchcraft and engages in sexual misconduct with her, let him repent throughout his life. When he is sick or he is on the verge of death, let him partake from the Holy Communion for he has committed three grave sins: sexual misconduct, murder and witchcraft."    
The book also adds a related verdict of church fathers: "If women abort children conceived through sexual misconduct and conceal their sins let them depart from their fellow believers throughout their lives."  But then it rules that the time be shortened to ten years for the sake of God’s love for us. 
 Abortion as a ‘ Right’   
In some countries, terminating pregnancy is viewed in light of women’s rights. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church does not accept this point of view. People who are tied together in holy matrimony are unified into one being and hence are supposed to have one will. (Mathew 19:6) The man has power over his wife’s body, and vice versa. (1 Corinthians 7:4) Both are responsible for what happens in their marriage. Hence, the church encourages consensus and tolerance between couples. It teaches that both parents share the same rights and obligations in giving birth to children and raising them. 
Plus, the church firmly teaches that children, though not born yet, have the right to life once they are conceived. None of the parents should consider abortion as their rights. The church never accepts abortion even if the parents might be in favour of it. And in any discussion on such matters, father confessors always rule out the option of abortion and reflect the church’s stance as they are its ambassadors. 
As the church has a firm stance on the right of the unborn child to life, the only option couples are left with to avoid pregnancy is abstinence. If couples decide not to engage in any sexual intercourse, they have the right to do so. 
However, it is highly likely that married couples engage in sexual intercourse though they might not give serious thought to the prospect of giving birth to children. They usually engage in such intercourse to satisfy their bodily desires. None of us can analyse how God uses this intercourse to bring out new life out of it.  
In Psalms 27 verse 10, St. David says "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up."  This shows that parents engage in sexual intercourse primarily to satisfy their sexual appetite, and that God, in His boundless wisdom, makes life out of that. St. David also mentions that God protects children starting from their days in their mothers ‘wombs. (Psalms 116:6) 
Source: this article appeared in one of the editions of ‘Hamer’ magazine published monthly by Mahibere Kidusan. The content of the article is taken from a study conducted by Deacon Zena Birhanu and presented at a symposium Mahibere Kidusan convened in 1995 E.C /2002 G.C at the Postgraduate Hall of Addis Ababa University.
Note: Fetha Nagast translated as "Law of the Kings") is a book of law that has been in use in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido church since at least the l6th. cent. The first part of Fetha Nagast deals with mostly ecclesiastic affairs. The second part, concerning issues pertaining to the laity, such as family law, debt, civil administration etc. It was compiled from the Bible, writings of early Church fathers including St. Basil and St. Hippolytus, and various canons adopted at the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Antioch, and others.
Abortion is equal to killing. In Exodus 20:13, God commanded us not to kill: "Thou shalt not kill."  This applies to the unborn foetus as well.     
  •   Translation: Tsegaye Girma & Kassa Nigus

The Holy Cross According to the Teachings of Ethiopian Scholars

October 11, 2016


The mysterious meaning of the word Cross in the theological context connotes the way how we achieved everlasting joy due to the great love of God, and the passion of Christ that we received for our salivation …

which cannot be seen in flesh but can be contemplated, and those Christians who received persecution as bearer of the Cross having faith of the only Son of God Jesus Christ. 

Literally, the Cross is a means for the proclamation of everlasting peace, the throne of love, a sign of peace, and our pride to resist the evil one. 

Based on these, indigenous Ethiopian scholars taught and wrote about the glory of the Holy Cross. St. Yared and the golden age figure Abba Giorgis of Gasicha are among the Ethiopian scholars who witnessed the glory of the Holy Cross. Hence, it is better to present their thought in the following subtitles for Christians when we celebrate the finding of the True Cross.

The Holy Cross is the power and wisdom of God that made devil to be ashamed and flee

“If Satan knew his defeat by the Cross of the Son, he wouldn’t urge Jews to crucify and kill Christ the Nazareth, who is the redeemer.” Satan was defeated by the Cross he implanted with mischief and felt ashamed by his own false advice to the Jews.

“He made a pit and dug it and is fallen in to the ditch which he made” (Ps7; 15) 
St Yared relate his hymn with this psalm of David and amplified the value of the cross for us to be purified from the evil mind and a means to have the sprinkling precious blood of Christ on the Cross which pushed Satan out from believers’ heart. (ICor1; 18) Zemare (a hymn of St.yared.p136) 

In relation to this, when he explained about what was hidden to us before the ages “How amazing is his deed about the Cross-which ashamed Satan, destroyed the consequence of sin on Soul and flesh, avoided corruption of the human body. The power and wisdom of the Cross is amazing and wonderful. “(I Cor 2:7 Haymanote Abew Ze Kidus Athnatewos, The book of Ziq and Mezmur: p.21)

The Cross is the accomplishment of love by which Satan tied up, the love of God for us is revealed. Condemning Satan, we believed in Christ and saved by his Cross. We have seen the love of God for us by means of the Cross.

“By the power of the Cross Satan was arrested. Today the Cross is glorified, the world is saved, God is praised, and man achieved freedom” (Degua-ze Meskel).

The Cross is an altar on which the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, is crucified (Jn. 1:29), a means of joy for those who were saddened, as sung by St. Yared. 

“He was crucified on the Cross by His own will like a meek lamb he followed the slaughterers to be slaughtered. By this the world became bleached, the sad for 5500 years rejoiced, first person Adam who became poor by losing his grace is saved from his poverty.”

By this he meant that the Cross is the way, God revealed His love for us on it, a means that changed the word in our Sinner ears “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rages…” (Isa.64:6/, and enabled us to hear the voice of mercy, accomplishment of love and unchangeable testament. St. Yared praised the Holy Cross in the above hymns that beautified Ethiopia and prospers the human bones. /Rev 13:18, Degua-Zemesekal/ Really the altar of our salivation, the Cross is a shield of body and soul, a real rest for broken heart, and a state of conciliation for disturbed minds, /Zemare: p.82/

The Cross is a charter of reconciliation in which we heard the merciful voice of God and a means of our restoration from migration. “While He was on the Cross, the Son of God, Christ cried to His Father and said “forgive your hand’s work, do not destroy your own creature, do not leave the creature of your right hand as wandering or disappearing.”

“Adam disobeyed the law and ate the fruit of the tree. But, O Father look at the Cross on which they crucified me as a sinner”  Saying this on behalf of Christ, St. Yared tells us that the Cross destroyed our transgression, and brought complete peace to our conscious. The Cross is a means to attain the mercy of God when we sinned against God. /Heb. 9:29/ and a means of restoration from our miserable life. /Gen. 3:22, Zemare Ze-Fasika: p.86, Luke 23:34/

The Holy Cross is an altar on which Christ, the arch priest of the Father, presented Himself as a chosen sacrifice to restore our original state, and to reconcile us with His Father, the Holy Spirit and with Himself. It is a permanent charter or reconciliation according to St. Yared’s hymn in the fifth part of Zemare called Mestir, which is specifically dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist. (p.163)

Of course, being a man of sorrows, surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, and crucified in order to free us from the bondage of sin. /Gen. 3:6, Isa 53:3, Saint Yared/

As it is written in the book called “Metshafe Kidan”, “our reliance is on the cross to praise it.” Because of the first Adam everybody was dead, but, by the Cross of  the second Adam all became alive. “We are ransomed by the blood of the Cross and sin will not rule on our body again.” /Rom. 6:8, Icor.15:2/  We are also heard that He opened the paradise by His Cross. (Saint Yared)

After St. Yared, who always remembers the cross in his entire life saying, “how sweet are the words of the cross to my throat” Abba Giorgis of Gasicha, the great scholar of the 14th century, explains the theology of the Cross in a very deep mystery as the following.

The Cross is a vessel which contains the bread of life, and in it the Christ’s mystery of salvation is fulfilled.” The Lamb of God was slaughtered on the Cross by the hands of the crucifiers and a dining table of blessing is prepared for the believers.”

“Truly, pure sacrifice is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of holy calf.” By saying this elaborated the role of the Holy Cross in our salvation in his detail and deep taught. /Eph.1:7, Metshafe Mestir p.140, Monday’s Arganon/ The one who eats from this meal of blessing will not be hungry again and will have an everlasting life. For this purpose, Christ Himself was the lamb for the sacrifice, the priest who presented the sacrifice and the Cross was an altar. With these circumstances our salvation is accomplished and He proclaimed His love by mercy./Jn.6:51/

The one who has no any blame, our paschal lamb, Christ was slaughtered on the Cross, Because, of this, the meal of life is prepared for believers./1Cor.5:7/ And again, Abba Giorgis, who is called the pillar of religion, when he explained about the perfect salvation acquired by the Cross, said, “the Cross, which is the redeemer of all humanity, deserves salutation”  By saying this, praise with contemplation, he translated Christ’s mystery of salvation by interrelating with the word of the Apostle. /2Cor.5:19, Teameho Egzi’e Zezeweter/

The Cross is the Foundation of Faith and the pillar of Religion
“Your Cross is the foundation of faith and a pillar of religion for those who believe and relay on you. Having said this he witnessed that the Cross is a pillar which cannot be shaken by demons, a means to mortify those who stood on us, and a sign which is given to skip from the face of the arrow.” Ps 59:4, Wedasie Meskel (Prasise of the Cross) by Abba Giorgis/  In addition, when he explained the glory of the Cross, he said: “Christ is the light which daily shines on His saints and His Cross is the stand of the light in the church. And the blood of Christ for the redemption of the world is shaded upon it.”

In general, though it is difficult to summarize the theology of the cross in this short article, as mentioned in the introduction, the Cross transmits a message of reconciliation and agreement, a means for the salvation of Adam, who was given for destruction, a tree of life which restored Adam to his original state. A tree for the remission of sin, a source of life, foundation of our salvation, above all things the prophecy of prophets, Apostle’s sermon, paradise of the saint’s joy, rest for sinners, and retreat for Satan. Having the inspiration of the Holy Spirit both these indigenous scholars taught the theology of the Cross as mentioned above./2pet, 1:21,Zemare P.155/

The church, who follows the footsteps of the apostles, on the bases of the patristic taught, witnesses saying “we received grace and we have gained life by the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Because of this witness, members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, who washed their clothe by the blood of the lamb, have special place in their heart for the love of the Cross./ Rev.17;14/ They say, “Our hope in the heaven and on Earth is this Cross.” With this song of victory, they have celebrated the anniversary of the True Cross for centuries and it will be continued without having lost its special place of honor until the end of the world. 

  Praise be to the Cross of Christ, the tree of medicine, which is our power and strength!

Source: Taken from “Bulletin” prepared by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Publication Committee for 2008/2016 anniversary of the True Cross. 

The Holy Cross in the Teachings of Orthodox Tewahedo

October 10, 2016 
The Holy Cross is a sign of peace and foundation of Christianity. The main purpose of this short article for 2008/2016 anniversary of the True Cross is to illustrate that true peace cannot be achieved without the Holy Cross which signify Christ’s passion and death.
When we celebrate the finding of the True Cross to get peace which we need desperately, we should keep in mind that Christ’s Cross is the foundation of peace, and we should announce its mystery to the world.
As we all know there are three basic necessities of human beings. These are: Food, Clothe and Shelter. One thing which is more important than these three is Air/Oxygen. Since oxygen is not countable or calculable in terms of money, economists did not consider it among these necessities. But, they do know how much it is necessary.
When it is explained in religious aspects, the very important thing is knowing God and to have faith in Him. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the month of God” Matt.4:4 This is the word of our Lord, the basic principle of our Religion, and a word which is a base for our life.
Without any difference peace is very significant to individual life of the human being, family, society, country and to the world. There are some people who try to classify peace as positive and Negative. But in Christian doctrine peace is always positive. With this perspective, there is no negative peace. A peace created by the agreements of people proceeds from peace seeking party and provider. Such kind of peace is based on common interests and is more productive. Also this kind of peace is long lasting.
Above all, a peace which is coming from reconciliation with God by repentance and by avoiding sin against God is not only long lasting but also a kind of peace from God Himself.  This is a basic concept when we preach about peace according to the Christian faith and doctrine. When the church uses this perspective on peace and when it is preached this why the effort to bring change on individuals, families, society, country and on the world, will be successful.
The Holy Cross is a Foundation of Peace
The Hebrew word “shalom” is found in many Semitic languages and can be defined as “wholeness” and “healthiness’. The word is used for greetings, to wish the best, and to say good bye. According to Kidanewold Kifle’s definition, the Geez equivalent word “Selam” connotes perfect health, rest, reconciliation, unity, wellness, joy happiness, greeting, benediction and  a word of good bye. The Holy Cross and peace relate each other by being a base one for the other. Also because of this meaning of peace, one is a fruit of the other as they interrelate.
Scholars say the Holy Cross is a means for reconciliation of the seven contradictory enemies. These seven conflicting enemies are soul and body, Man and Angels, Human beings and God, and Heaven and Earth. The major problem between these conflicting bodies is sin. Sin affected the magnificent relationship between God and Man and human relationship among themselves. The effect of sin is seen in disturbed relationship among human beings. At last, the Holy Cross restored the wonderful relationship between God and Man and between man and his neighbor. Because of this we say the Holy Cross is the foundation of peace and peace is the fruit of the Holy Cross. If we want to understand the relationship between the Holy Cross and peace, and if we want to understand the peace gained from Christ’s Cross and its value to our individual, family, societal, national and worldly life well, we should not try to see the Cross and peace separately.
It is true that the Cross was an instrument of criminals. But now, the Holy Cross is a mystery in which God saved the world by the death of His Son. Because of Christ’s death for the transgressions of humans, the mystery of the Holy Cross is salvation, reconciliation, providing peace, eradication sin- which was the reason for life without peace, destroying the wall of enmity between God and human beings, and preaching peace as the necessity of human life. The Holy Cross preaches peace when it is seen on the upper roof of the church, when it is in the hands of Christians when they tie it up on their neck, and when it is painted on the body and clothes of Christians. Off course, the peace which is not in our internal life cannot be achieved by this all. The cross will be a source of peace when we believe on the crucifixion of Christ by understanding eh mystery of the Cross, living the Christian life for the sake of God and by avoidance of sin.
The world’s Effort for Peace
Man is a peace seeking being in his nature. But there are reasons to fail what he wants to achieve and what he wants to give for others. These reasons can be religious, political, economic, cultural etc. But the major problem is religious. People do not give much attention for this major problem. In contrast, they try their best to bring peace by their own efforts. Religious institutions work with different international organizations and with governments in addition to their endeavors to teach people to seek peace. 
There are a lot of reasons not to have peace. Due to these the world is under the dangers of natural and manmade disasters. States are spending a large amount of money to protect their nation from internal and external enemies. “Peace, Peace…” is being broadcasted in world medias today. The usual sign white dove with olive leaf in its beak is being painted in different magazines, Newspapers, and mass Medias are discussing much about it. The United Nations’ messengers are trying to bring peace and reconciliation in different parts of the world. Awards are given for those who made more efforts to bring peace.
These all efforts were to minimize the tensions happened in the world. But human efforts didn’t help to achieve real and everlasting peace to the world. Because, this kind of peace is given only from God.
Peace is a Gift of God
As witnessed by St. Paul the Apostle God is a God of peace. “Now the God of peace be with you all” (Rom. 15:33) “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly (Rom.16:20) After His resurrection Jesus Christ himself revealed to disciples and said to them “Peace be unto you” (John.20:23-19) God promised about peace with the following words:-
“I will give peace in the land” Lev.26:6.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” Jn.14:27.
“The lord will bless his people with peace” Ps.29:11.
“He will speak peace unto his people, and to his saint” Ps.85:8.
“Lord thou wilt ordain peace for us; for thou also hast wrought all our works in us” Isa. 26:12.
“And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quite resting places” Isa.32:18.
God promised his people through prophets saying “I will give you peace”. Christ said to His Apostles “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give unto you”. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Jn.14:27. This indicated that true peace comes only from God.
When and how this peace will be acquired? The answer is when every individual believes on God with love which is revealed by His Son Jesus Christ. As a result of man’s disagreement with God, man hates and hurts himself and others and his environment as well. So let’s reconcile and agree with God. In the book of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite advises us saying “Acquaint now thyself with him and be at peace; there by good shall come unto thee” (Job.22:21)
In relation to this Saint Paul also said; “Now the Lord of peace himself gives you peace always by all means” Thess.3:16.
“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philip.4:7.
Christ is the Prince of Peace for He is Our Peace (Ephe.2:14)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, wonderful counselor, the Mighty God the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace”
As foretold in this prophecy, on the day of Christ’s birth Angeles and shepherds rejoiced together saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward….” Luke.2:14.
This is the fruits of Christ’s blood, who died on the Cross to bring peace between God and man and between man and his neighbors.
“And having made peace through the blood of His Cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” Col.1:20, as it is written Christ is our peace. Christ shed His blood on the Cross to give us peace. This shed of blood for love is a source of our peace. The Cross, the precious blood shaded on it, is a base and sign of our peace.
St. Yared said the following about the relationship between the Holy Cross and peace. “The Cross is a light for the whole world, a foundation of the church, giver of peace is savior of the world, and for us who believe the Cross is a remedy”.
God’s peace can control our heart. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful” (Col.3:15).  If we have peace that controls our heart, the other parts of our body will be controlled by our heart and this means all parts are surrendered to the real peace. Now, we can say man is at real rest. How sad it is to be outside this peace and how can it be explained?
Peace is the Fruit of the Sprit
 As we are told in Galatians 5:20 “Strife and emulation are fruits of the flesh.” And peace is the fruit of the Sprit. A person who has peace is spiritual; he tries for others to be peaceful and to live peacefully. (Matt.5:9, Eph.6.15) We should live God’s peace in our life. The word of God says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men” (Rom.12:18).
“And be at peace among yourselves” (Thess.5:13).
“Depart from evil, and do well; seek peace and pursuit it” (Ps.34:14).
The Sign of Peace
In one side peace is the ultimate desire of a community. Therefore, to have peace we have to do some other things. In another side peace is a precondition to achieve other societal interests. For example where there is no peace, there is no way to development justly and equally. In this case peace and development are inseparable things. 
The need for peace is also inseparable from the need for God’s word, Grace and Mercy. Because of our differences of understanding on the source of peace our position on peace will be different. According to Christianity’s teaching peace is the property of God, and a great gift from God to human beings. The main reason for the absence of peace is also disagreement with God, the source of peace.
Some people consider peace as their own production. Off course, man in his nature is peaceful and lover of peace. Therefore he pays his most effort to have peace. But Sin is always in between and misdirecting the world. The world, which is controlled by Sin, unable to see the source of peace, but understands the absence of peace which is the result of Sin.
The church teaches people that they lost peace because of their disagreement with God. And also the church announces that peace is restored by the prince of peace-Christ and by His Cross. Since it is a religious mystery, a common agreement is not expected. Those who will agree are people who know the word of God and who understand His will. These people should teach others about the need for peace, its source and with what people should do to achieve peace.
“But now in Christ Jesus who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken dawn the middle wall of partition between us. (Eph.2:13-14).
Based on the above verse, the church and church members should do the following to keep both the church’s and their country’s peace.
1. Teaching peace as the gift of God and how much it is needed.
Education can direct Man’s misconduct. Education makes sinners righteous, non-believers believers, and a way to change people’s mind to peace seeking mentality. In this case evangelization is God’s law to preach peace to people. So, we have to teach people the Gospel of peace.
2. All believers should have an exemplary life holding peace in their life.
The peace which we are preaching must be reflected in our life. This will have more convincing power than words.
3. Peace keeping is a common responsibility of the church and the government. 
Therefore we have to work together with the government. Peace is the necessity of human beings and a guarantee of existence. Peace is a common interest of human beings, not one group’s world view. The way to serve all human beings is to give peace to them. Hence, having the example of the God of peace Jesus Christ, the church should work on peace. This is the meaning of the Cross. 
May God protect our country’s and people’s peace!
O, king of peace Jesus Christ, gives us your peace. Amen!
Source: Taken from “Bulletin” prepared by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Publication Committee for 2008/2016 anniversary of the True Cross. 

The End of the Rainy Season

 September 10, 2016
   By Kassa Nigus
The last segment of the rainy season in the Ethiopian Church Calendar consists of 39 days from Nehese 22 – Meskerem 25 (August 28-October 6.) During this time, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church remembers, in her liturgical services, all living things and islands enclosed by water bodies. 

This is the time when the soil becomes less moist; the volume of water decreases; the clean earth, the clear sky and the clean water appear; and the earth gets decorated with flowers.

The end of the rainy season is divided into two parts;

The first part covers from August 22 – August 29 and is recognized by the following names:
A. Egule Qu’at (The fowl of crow): This is nominated after the teachings of St. Yared in his hymn saying “… the fowl of crow praise God….”, and the church associates it to the fact that when the eagle has incubated her egg, the fowl appears in the form of flames devoid of tresses. So, being afraid of the color of her little fowl, the mother crow runs away from her fowl.

During this time, the fowl feels hungry and opens its mouth so that pests and other insects flow towards its mouth, and then it satisfies itself by eating the flying insects through the generosity of God as it is stated in the following readings: “Who provides for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat” (Job 38 :41) ; “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds  them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  

The fowl of crow symbolizes all flying creatures in the teachings of the genesis. Among the common readings of these days are sited from the verse “who executes judgment for the oppressed: who gives food to the hungry. The Lord looses the prisoners” (Psalms 146:7).

B. Desseyat (Islands): This is also nominated after the teachings of St. Yared in his hymn saying “The islands are delighted in times of winter.”  Even if the islands are surrounded by water bodies, God saves them and all the creatures living in the islands from the calamities of winter, so they provide praise to their Lord. The church prays for the comfort of all creatures of islands as God saves Naoh, his family, and a remnant of all the world’s animals from the flood through the ark, which is the symbol of the church.

C. Ayne Kulu (The Eyes of All): Farmers patiently wait enduring all the temptations of winter to reap their harvest that is sown in pain (cold weather) of the winter, Christian farmers trust in Lord Jesus Christ that their hope of harvest will be fulfilled. So, the eyes of all wait upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  During this week, the church praises God with different recitals from Psalms:

“The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou gives them their meat in due season. Thou open thine hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalms 145:15-16)

“Who gives food to all flesh: for his mercy endures forever. O gives thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 136:25-26); (Psalms 104:21-27),

The second part covers from August 30 to September 25 which is termed as:

A. ‘Dawn’, ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Light’: it is because the season when dark clouds begin to move away and the sun resurfaces and shines in the sky.

B. ‘Fruit’ : it is because the seed that was sown early blooms to flower, evolves to budding and ripens to be ready for harvest.

Source:  በሙሉ አስፋው 2001 E.C. ማኅቶተ ዘመን ፡ ገጽ 214-221
Note: the rainy season in Ethiopia covers the period from Senie 25 to Meskerem 26 in Ethiopian Calendar (July 2 to October 6).

Nature of Relation between Father Confessor and Spiritual Child

September 1, 2016
By Mesfin Zegeye 
Each and every person has a biological father – the one to whom he owes his entry into this life.  Apart from his biological father however, a Christian also has a spiritual father. 

He is the one to whom he owes his spiritual rebirth – the one who introduces him into the life in Christ and guides him towards the path of Salvation.  Our biological birth brings us into this life; it introduces us into the community of human beings.  Our rebirth in Christ – a different kind of birth – introduces us into the community of the Church and provides us with the potential to actually live that life in Christ1

The example of the Apostle Paul allows us to perceive the mystery of spiritual paternity in all its spiritual splendor.  Paul is the spiritual father of the Christians of Corinth, as well as many other cities of his time.
When addressing the Christians of Corinth, he writes (in 1 Cor.4:14) : "I do not write these things to reprimand you, but advise you as beloved children of mine. For even if you have ten thousand teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers; for I have begotten you in Jesus Christ, through the Gospel."
Paul, therefore, to the Christians of Corinth was not simply their instructor and teacher in Christ; he was their father. He was the one who had given spiritual rebirth to them. He was the one who introduced them into the family of the Redeemed.  His apostolic heart was ablaze with his love for his spiritual children. That in-Christ paternal love was the motive power behind his apostolic concern.  He longed to transfuse not only the Gospel to them, but also his soul (1 Thess. 2:8).  

He struggled painstakingly to form Christ within them (Gal. 4:19). He never ceased to advise "each one individually" and "with tears", in his desire for their spiritual edification and their stabilization in the in-Christ way of life. (Acts 20:31, Ephes.4:12-16).
Priesthood is spiritual authority established by our Lord Jesus Christ and He bestowed upon them many spiritual tasks including helping the laity partake in His Flesh and Blood; as it is written, what is not done for Angels, is done for humans. Priests are given the authority to forgive sins or deny them, baptize, preach, (Math. 18: 19; John 20: 23, 21: 15). Priesthood is one part of the seven pillars of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC). 

According to EOTC, priests are ordained to perform many vital services within the Church and some of these are taking care of the laity through teaching the Word of God and inculcating Christian values; receiving confessions and cleansing sins, and teaching the laity to that end; baptizing and delivering the flesh and blood of the Lord. 

  Inappropriate Relations with Father Confessor 

Many spiritual fathers teach, rebuke, and do many other things to make their spiritual children good Christians and be in a position to partake in the Flesh and Blood of Christ. On the other hand, a few other fathers go out of this proper spiritual relationship and are seen engaging in inappropriate conducts. These have resulted in the soiling of the reputations of good fathers and the services of the Church. Examples of unchristian like conducts include the following:

(A) Establishing relation based on known ties /locality, acquaintance/. Some spiritual fathers and potential spiritual children look for such a person based on considerations locality of origin. Worldly benefits and issues, instead of spiritual considerations apply in these cases.   

 (B) Establishing relationship based on benefits. Love of money is the root of all evil. Tangled up with this many did harm to themselves, as it is written. Some members of the laity and our own observation also show that some fathers are going out of line and choose spiritual children for considerations of money. These fathers visit the people with money far more frequently and carry out the wishes of their spiritual children more readily.

Although this practice is found among very few fathers, the practice resulted in the soiling of the name of good fathers and the kind of service the EOTC is providing. It is self-defeating on the part of spiritual children to let their spiritual fathers do their bidding by giving them money. The laity need to realize that these fathers lack knowledge on teachings of the Church and would be harmed by it rather than getting what they hope to get. These are a few instances of the malpractices in this regard. Such fathers want to have as many spiritual children as possible and this results in their being unable to provide the necessary spiritual advice, and sometimes they even become unable to tell whether they are their children or not.  

There are things expected from both sides for spiritual father and child relationship to be along proper line. Spiritual fathers are expected to do the following, among other things: 
(A) Spiritual fathers need to recognize their duty. Taking care of the laity is an enormous responsibility for spiritual fathers. Providing many services within the Church is not the whole of their duty. It should not be forgotten that teaching and taking care of the laity to produce many disciples, preachers, and so on is an apostolic tradition that fathers shoulder. Because of our failure to reach out to bring back the lost, and strengthen the hold on the laity, we will be held accountable before God and people.  

(B) Having appropriate number of spiritual children. Due to lack of spiritual fathers in some places, which emanates from various problems, some fathers are obliged to have too many spiritual children. While some made lots of efforts and managed to follow up on their children, others reached a point of not being able to identify their children. The rationale behind being a priest is not to say “I have this number of children”. It is of central importance that we should have reasonable number of spiritual children taking into account the reality of each parish and focus on the spiritual growth of their children. John 10: 3 tells us that spiritual fathers need to know their children well and vice versa. 

(C) Teaching spiritual children (facilitate for them to learn).  In some monasteries and parish churches spiritual fathers undertake the exemplary work of creating a situation for their children to gather and receive lessons. These fathers are eye openers for the rest; as the prophet Hosea 4: 6 indicated. People lose their way for lack of knowledge. When the laity lack knowledge they become idol worshipers, sinners, blaspheme, etc. and hence fathers need to reach out to these people and build them in belief and good conduct.

When fathers carry out their duties it becomes possible to have well-established Christians. Learning buttresses belief and learning comes from the Word of God (Romans 10: 17). On the other hand, we should not forget that if we do not persevere in teaching and following up on spiritual children, we will be held accountable. The Word of God tells us that if we do not warn sinners and direct them to the appropriate path, the Lord will demand their blood from our hands. 

(D) Follow up on spiritual children and realize their spiritual development. A primary target of the relationship between spiritual fathers and their children is for fathers to upgrade the spiritual standing of their children. The follow up should not be discriminatory based on blood, wealth, gender, or other considerations. Instead, they should treat all similarly and provide support taking into account their age and spiritual knowledge of the people, and help them bear fruit. Like the farmer cannot obtain his fruit unless he follows up on his farm, spiritual fathers need to do the same. As St. Paul said to St. Bernabas, it is necessary to visit the people to whom they preached the Word of God to see how they are. (Acts 15: 36). Thus, spiritual fathers need to look into the spiritual life of their children.  

(E) Abiding by Church tradition. One of the major duties of Church fathers is preserving Church tradition. Sometimes, due to lack of knowledge or carelessness, the actions of some fathers are influenced by their attitude to some people instead of God’s wish and become careless and ignore their duties. The laity also bear the duty to avoid this sort of situation. On top of that, spiritual fathers who wish well for their children but do not teach and give them the support their need, let their children go through holy matrimony, partake in flesh and blood of the Lord, etc. The first thing such fathers need to do is learn themselves and follow the will of God rather than people.

However, the people that are let to partake in various holy services of the Church do not go far and benefit from taking part in these things. This is because like the land cannot give its fruits without being prepared well, without the proper spiritual guidance and support, people cannot bear the expected spiritual fruits. It is very important that one realize religion finds expression in one’s way of living and it is vital that one lives in accordance with the apostolic traditions of the Church. Everything needs to be done in the appropriate manners, as the Corinthians 14: 40 tell us. 

  Duties of Spiritual Children

The bond that is forged between the spiritual father and his spiritual child is one of mutual love. Spiritual bonds are far stronger than the natural ones, and the love that springs from Christ is far stronger than the one that is inspired by blood kinship.  

 We assign our entire self to our spiritual father. We acknowledge him as our guide on the path to salvation; therefore we must have faith in him, and follow without any hesitations and inner doubts whatever he advises.2  

Without a wholehearted trust in our spiritual father we cannot progress in Christian living. If the duty of a spiritual father is to remain alert for the soul of his spiritual child, it is likewise the child’s duty to obey and faithfully observe his guidance (Hebr.13:17).  God Himself speaks to us, through our spiritual father. With the obedience therefore that we show him, we are essentially obeying the will of God. Some of the duties of spiritual children are described below. 

(A) Confession is one more important duty of the faithful.  We trustingly confess everything to our spiritual father; not only the things have we done, but also our innermost thoughts.  Nothing concealed from our spiritual father. With humility and filial trust, we should place everything at his feet.  That is the only way our sins are forgiven by God.  We are freed of the burden of guilt. We uproot our passions. And the spiritual father thereafter guides us safely through our spiritual life.3

(B) Recognizing the importance of having spiritual father. In accordance with the Lord’s message that the one you have forgiven in this world will also be forgiven in the next, God anointed fathers need not only be aware of that but also believe that in their heart and guide their children towards the Kingdome of God. Understanding the reason why we need spiritual father has a role in establishing the appropriate relationship. St. Paul in Ephesians 4: 11 said that by believing in and knowing God all come to unity, become whole, and pure. The service some members of the laity want from their spiritual fathers is only to have their houses blessed, for burial and similar ceremonies. It is crucial that these people realize these things are no use to them and be provided the necessary lesson about spiritual and Christian life.  

(C) Relationship focused on spiritual issues. How much do we know about confession? Do we have confessions? Have we partaken in the Flesh and Blood of the Lord? Have we persevered in the good we started? Only spiritual fathers could answer these questions. They are assigned to identify our gaps and guide us in our spiritual life and development. Hence, their guide and support can be made available readily when we approach them and require from them such guidance. We need to learn God’s commandments and traditions of the Church from our fathers. 

(D) Approaching them with respect. God has anointed Church fathers and given them authority to serve with the Lord of Earth and Heaven. Therefore, Church fathers need to be respected because of the authority bestowed upon them by God. Romans 13: 8 tells us to respect those who deserve it. 

They need to be approached politely and addressed respectfully including appropriate use of their titles. They are held in high regard next to the Disciples; as Acts 16: 30; Anaphora of St Mary, no. 13 indicate. 

Although spiritual fathers have heavenly authority, since they are flesh and blood they are bound to have minor failings. Sometimes however, the inappropriate approaches by the laity become an obstacle and trap to them. Hence, it is important that we need to pay attention to what we say to them, or our clothing, what should focus on, how much time we should give. We need to be aware of what to do in regard to these issues and forge relation with fathers accordingly.  

(E)  Stick with one spiritual father, unless special circumstance arises. Crucial considerations in choosing a spiritual father should be: flawless belief, recognized by the Church and serving at the time, and found in a nearby parish. As long as the spiritual father could provide help through prayer, advice, and in other ways within his capacity, one should not expect him to be perfect. His service as a father and using the blessings he has is good enough. If he is unable to teach some important issues of the Church, one should try to learn those from other fathers rather than starting looking for another father. If we fail to find all the medication from a medical doctor, we do not deny that he is a professional.

Similarly, we should not expect to get everything we desire from our spiritual father. Since we do not change our flesh father and spiritual father, we should help our spiritual father who is doing his best to help us rather than rushing away from him for the flimsiest of reasons. We should not forget sticking with one father has a lot of advantages. Because he knows our strengths and weaknesses, our spiritual status and related other issues.

It is our duty to have a permanent and steady spiritual father. At the same time, it is our right to choose the one whom we will judge as being the most suitable.  Not the most "accommodating" one, but the most experienced one – a man who is truly of God – and one who we can feel spiritually "comfortable" with and with whom we feel safe.
The choice of spiritual father rests on our own free judgment and preference. Nevertheless, the God-bearing Fathers point out that a change in an existing spiritual father could entail risks to our spiritual progress, and even to our very salvation.  

It is therefore unacceptable and spiritually risky to wander here and there, changing spiritual fathers every now and then, without reason. However, according to EOTC tradition, important considerations that could lead to the replacement of spiritual father include:
1.If the spiritual father dies,
2. If the spiritual father or the child go to another country,
3. If defect is found in the belief of the spiritual,
4. If idol worship elements is found in him.

If the spiritual father is found lacking in ethical behavior and is excommunicated, he could be replaced with another. When we go away from our spiritual father while he is alive, it is necessary that we tell him that and depart in peace.  Unless, except the occurrence of these circumstances, it is recommendable to last together until one of them dies. 

We should pray fervently, so that God will make us worthy of such a superb gift – a guide on our course for the heavenly Kingdom.
• Mainly taken and translated from Sem’a Tsidk News paper, a bimonthly News Paper published by Mahibere Kidusan on Hamle 16-30, 2008 E.C (July 23-August 22), 2016. 
• Ibid1,2, 3,4 retrieved from: http://oodegr.co/english/psyxotherap/Spiritual_Paternity.htm [August 23, 2016].

Summer through the Lens of the Ethiopian Church

Kiremt (Summer) is the rainy season from 26 June to 25 September.

July 20, 2016

By Kassa Nigus

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church uses all seasons of the year and their peculiar features to illustrate its teachings in analogical and simple way. It seizes every moment and relates it to the lives of people so as to help them learn from the seasons and prepare themselves to be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Biblical words related to rain and sowing are frequently read in the rainy/summer season that we are in. Verses like “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalms 126:5) are recited in Holy Mass and other chants of our church. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church likens the summer season to the life of Christianity. Just as the farmer endures the hardships of the rainy season (cold weather, mud, etc), the church also advises its children to be devout Christians even in the face of tribulations. It encourages them to remain steadfast saying “We shall be ready to accept the calamity upon us for the sake of the Kingdom of God; you shall be alert for prayer, fasting and repentance for the body shall be governed for the need of the soul”. The church cites the following biblical words to highlight its message:  

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalms 126:5-6)

“Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.” (James 1:12-13). 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church categorizes the year into four seasons of three months. These are:

Matsaw (Autumn): the windy season from 26 September to 25 December2 

Hagay  ( Winter): the dry season from  26 December  to  25 March

Balg (Spring): the sowing season (that of the light rains) from 26 March  to 25 June; and

Kiremt (Summer): the rainy season from 26 June to 25 September

These four divisions are named after their peculiar features mentioned in the Psalms. Each of them is also divided into further sub-divisions. As we are in Ethiopia’s Kiremt (rainy) season, let’s see how this time of year is treated by the church.

A. From 25 June – 19 July
This period is known as ‘Seed’, ‘Cloud’ and ‘Summer’ based on its main features. During this season, the church recites biblical readings pertaining to seed and sowing. It draws analogies between the lives of Christians and farmland, and urges its children to bear fruit like the seed sown on good ground based on the following verses:

“And he spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Mathew 13:3-8);
“For the earth which drinks in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”   (Hebrew 6:7-8)

B. From 19 July – 9 August
This period is characterized by lightning, high humidity and rainfall. The following verse is among the common readings for this time of year:

“The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightning lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.” (Psalms 77: 17-18)

The church also dubs this period Mahiber (fellowship) and uses the moment to narrate the deeds of the 72 disciples. The lightning and thunder are mentioned to illustrate the teachings of the disciples who were sent to enlighten the world with their preaching.

C. From 10 August – 29 August
This period comes halfway through the rainy season when the level of rainfall decreases and the   ground gets less moist. Ethiopians highlight in their sayings that this period almost signals the end of the rainy season. Birds which hid themselves in the warmth of their nests begin to re-emerge as the rain fades away. And as Solomon the Wise mentioned in his Song, this is a moment when the call of birds is heard: “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” (Song 2:12)

During this season, the church praises God with different recitals from Psalms:
“Who gives food to all flesh: for His mercy endures forever. O gives thanks unto the God of heaven: for His mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 136:25-26)

“The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou gives them their meat in due season. Thou open thine hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalms 145:15-16)

During this period, the church also commemorates the passing away of three of the 22 prominent fathers3 who lived in the era of the Old Testament. The passing away of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is particularly remembered from 27 August to 29. Hence, this period is also named after Abraham, the most prominent of all the fathers.  The church also highlights Abraham’s obedience and the salvation of Isaac after he was taken to a mountain where he was to be sacrificed.  

D. From 29 August – 5 Pagumen4 (or 6 in a leap year)
This is the period when the year comes to a close. It is the season when dark clouds begin to recede and the sun resurfaces and shines in the sky. It is therefore termed as ‘Dawn’, ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Light’.  The initial verses of Psalm 50 constitute the readings and recitals for the period: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him.”

The miracle in which Archangel Rafael opened the eyes of Tobya who had been blind for some time is also part of the readings for the season. While recounting this story, the church also prays that God opens the eyes of His children and help them fulfil His will. 

E.  From September 1 – 8
This is the beginning of the New Year for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and the country at large. The day of the New Year is called Kidus Yohannes (St. John the Baptist). This is because St. John was the last prophet of the Old Testament and is considered a bridge between the Old and the New Testaments. He transferred the Gospel from the Old Testament to the New Testament and preached about the new life and salvation the world was to receive through Jesus Christ.

As this is a moment of transition from one year to another, the church narrates the story of John the Baptist who lived at a time when the world was ushered into the New Testament. St. John’s call for repentance is the main reading for the period: “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… Prepare you the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” (Mathew 3:1-3) Other readings for the season include:
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:10-11)

“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelling, banqueting, and abominable idolatries.”  (1 Peter 4:3)

F. From September 9 – 16
his period is known as ‘fruit’ because the seed that was sown during the rainy season begins to bear fruit. The following are among the verses read during this period.
“Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.” (Psalm 67:6); 
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.”(Mathew 24:20) 

G. From September 17 – 26
This marks the end of the summer season according to the calendar system of the church.  The summer season extends even to the New Year because light showers linger almost for the entire first month of the year. 

According to the tradition of the church, the true cross of Christ was also found in September by Queen Helena 300 years after it was buried by the Jews. Readings about the cross are recited during the season: 
“Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. That thy beloved may be delivered.” (Psalms 60: 4-5)

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  (Colossians 2:14-15)

As explained above, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church always teaches its children drawing lessons from the different seasons of the year and nature in general.

It preaches that Christians should embrace repentance to be worthy of God’s Kingdom. Whether or not we heed the advice of the church and act accordingly remains to be answered by each of us. 


  • ‘Hamer’ magazine (5th year, No. 2), 1989. PP. 6-7  
  • The liturgical year of the Ethiopian church. Fr. Emmanuel Fritsch, cssp.      2001: 304-305
  • In Ethiopia, summer is the rainy season when rainfall is at its heaviest and thunderstorms often occur. The period covers from 26 June to 25 September.
  • The Date is in Ethiopian calendar. 
  • The 22 prominent fathers of the Old Testament are: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are called prominent because Jesus Christ was in their lines of generation. (Gen. 5:1-32; 11:10-29)
  • Pgumen is the thirteenth and last month in the Ethiopian calendar. It is the smallest month with only 5 days (or 6 in a leap year.)


The Short Biography of Archbishop Abune Nathnael (1923- 2008 E.C)

March 10, 2016
By Kassa Nigus & Tsegaye Girma 

aba_natn.jpgHis Grace Abune Nathanael was born on May 12, 1923, to a pious Christian family in Eastern Tigray, Killite Awlalo province, parish of Awda Saint Giyorgis church. His father was Ato Gebre Hiwot Atsedu and his mother w/ro Welete Kristos Gibretu. His Grace was born when his parents in grief because of the death of their children born before him.

He grew in hardship since his parents died in his early age, first his father and later his mother. After the loss of his parents, he started to live with his sister. His sister planned to raise him in accordance with parenting habits of the localities, to shepherd livestock, engage in agricultural activities and eventually to lead a married life. But, God chose him to shepherd men.
His Grace once told his associates, “my father was a pious and had been called me, “Abatachin” to mean our father since my early age but I didn’t prefer it. My teacher and some men prophesized about my future fate saying, he will be a great man.
• He joined Nibab bet (where instructions are given to identify Ge’ez alphabet with their syllable and master readings of various religious texts) at Deriba Abune Asay Church, Yeneta Welde Gabriel. Then, he moved to different parts of the country to upgrade his religious education. Originally his name was called Kassa but later he was named Me’aza Kidusan in accordance with the custom of traditional school of the church which gave the disciples new names to protect them from their parents’ interference in their studies. 
 • He, then, went to Lasta, (Amera Mariam church) and Gojjam (Beyela Iyyesus church) and studied Tsome digua and Me’eraf from teachers in the respective parishes, Yeneta Hailu and Yeneta Mekonnen respectively. He further studied Zema, Qinie and Akuakuam in North and south Gondar, at Debark Deresge Maryam from Yeneta Menberu, and at Endabet Shime Giyorgis from Yeneta Tibebu.  
• He studied interpretation of Old and New Testament,  Wuddasie Maryam (Praise of St Mary)  and Kiddasie Maryam (Liturgy of St Mary), Fitha Negest (Justice of kings), Timhirte Hibu’at and Kidan commentary. 
• He also perused his studies for two years and received a diploma in Theology from Holy Trinity College. 
• Through the scholarship award by Emperor Haile Sillasie, he was sent to Jerusalem St Georg Anglican Church and studied Church History and Administration for two and a half years. 
• Through the facilitation of Ministry of Education, he also went to England Oxford Osherop Catholic College for four years and graduated in Bachelor of Dignity Basic Philosophy Super mental and Developmental Psychology. His Grace was among high-ranking intellectuals of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church fathers. 
• In 19 38, he was ordained Deacon by Abune Yeshak at Addis Ababa, Memorial of Minilik II, Ta’eka Negest Be’ata Lemariam Monastery. It is when he came barefoot from Gondar to Shewa. 
• In 1953, he was earned three levels of spiritual service: priesthood, monkhood and episcopate by Abune Baslios. 
• On January 13, 1971, he was among the 13 consecrated bishops and entitled as His Grace Abune Nathanael. He, was assigned archbishop of Tigray Diocese and served there till 1975. 
Teaching and leadership
He has been appointed to teach Ethical Education at Teferi Mekonnen School by the good will of Emperor Haile Sillasie from 1949 to 1954. This was rationally done to solve the religious variance between Jesuit students and their teachers after the Emperor found out the situation of the school. 
Following his return from abroad, he served as vice administrator at Holy Trinity Cathedral Church (the greatest and famous cathedral of the country) and from 19 57 – 19 60 and chief administrator from 1964 – 1967. 
At the time of Emperor Haile Silesia, he was also privileged to preach the gospel in a title, “Biblical studies and social life in the eyes of the church”which was aired in the church’s radio program. 
From 19 68 – 19 71, he served as a teacher in the department of Academy of Linguistic studies, at Ministry of culture. 
During the reign of Derg, he was the supreme guardian and member of the board of Sebbeta Bete Denagil Church. He was also persecuted for his teaching against the dictatorial rule of Dergue. During the Derg’s persecution, he said, “I am happy for God chooses me to share the fate of the Apostles and it is my apostolic responsibility.” 
During his service in Tigray diocese, he accomplished some from his plans despite his many responsibilities since the time was a time of war between the then military rule and the current government of Ethiopia (EFDR). Among his main accomplishments, he tried to rehabilitate churches in collaboration with Christian Relief & Development Associations (CCRDA) since church land was nationalized by the military rule; he also established parish council for churches that have no parish councils.  
After six years of service in Tigray diocese, he was assigned to serve in Arsi where he performed much apostolic service for about 33 years.  In his stay in Arsi, he was the very loved and respected father by the believers. When His Grace became archbishop of Arsi Diocese in 1975, there were only 117churches there.  Today, there are over 300. 
After the death of the fifth Ethiopian Patriarch H.H Abune Paulos in 2004, he was elected unanimously by the Holy Synod to be Akabe Menber (the keeper of the throne) and to serve the church till the current Patriarch Abune Mathias was elected in 2005.
One of the most remarkable contributions of His Grace in Arsi diocese is Debr Kidus Debre Me’aza Abune Tekle Haymanot Monastery which he established in Asella town.  
Previously, the land where the monastery is built was known as the palace of the officials of Emperor Haile Sillasie, but His Grace convinced current government officials and took possession of the land for the monastery. His Grace also established children development institute and clergy training center within the compound of the monastery. He has been raising orphans without religious discrimination till now. 
His Grace Abune Nathanael also established a health center in collaboration with European Union. The clinic has offered services to more than 25,000 people in the locality including orphans. His Grace also participated in helping the needy by collecting funds from the donors especially during the drought of 19 77. He takes part in conflict resolution efforts as well. 
His Grace passed away at the age of 85 on Yekatit 21, 2008 and was laid to rest at Debr Kidus Debre Me’aza Abune TekleHaymanot Monastery which he himself founded on Yekatit 24, 2008. The funeral service was attended by numerous archbishops, church scholars and the public at large. 
May the blessings and prayer of His Grace be up on us!
Note: the date is in Ethiopian Calendar (E.C.). 
• January 4, 1971 E.C. Zena Betekristiyan, monthly news paper published by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. 
• April 1998 E.C. Sem’a Tsidk, bimonthly newspaper published by Mahibere Kidusan. 
• Unpublished documentary life story film of His Grace Abune Nathnael. 
• Mahiber Kidusan Amharic website retrieved on March 3, 2016 at (http://eotcmk.org/site/-mainmenu-18/2079-2016-03-02-06-57-23). 

Jesus the Migrant: the hope of Migrants (Seqoqawe Dingil)

November 10,  2015
By ZeYared Zarema (zeyared2007@gmail.com)

   Part Three

In the last part of this continuing work, I only gave focus to the history of migration and the very hardship of the life of migration taking few examples. In the present and last piece, I will give emphasis to the migration of the second Adam, the hope of migrants, and the migrant Jesus as a hope of all migrants. Stay blessed!

  1.The Migration of the Second Adam

From the very definition of it, migration is moving from original place to another. Imagine what and where the place of the Word of God and the flesh or humanity He assumed are!? The place of the Word is, with no doubt, the Divinity and in the Highest. Contrarily, the place of the flesh is a creature and in the lowest. The difference is incomparable. Irrespective of this, the Word not only came to humanity but also into humanity and assumed human flesh.As to me, this is the very and ever distant migration in the totality of the history, but to find the migrant and grant him exodus. 

Thus, to my mind, the very migration in the God-human history is the humiliation of the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son, as recorded in the Pauline epistle to Philippians: “But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil2:7f). Really wonderful and magnificent is the migration of Godhead to mankind, though He did not left His Divinity at all!

This inwardly migration of the Son of God is also clearly seen to humanity when He fled to Egypt, being not a single personality but being a cosmic man, representing the race of humanity. He there suffered all the suffering that Adam had to suffer and to weaken the earthly suffering we fear. Today no suffering is frightening for all the frights were carried on the shoulder of the Migrant Human-God (Paulos Mar Gregorios 1992: 25)

2.  What is the Hope of Migrants?

To the migrants, life is not as such easy, as I tried to highlight their life in the last part, and in most cases they lead a hopeless life. I only imagine two hopes, add please if you do have, in the mind of migrants. One is the sense of homage in their place of destination and the other is returning to their origin. Let’s see these two hopes in the life of one of the patriarch of the Israelites.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, when he was in Egypt, not only was a migrant but also was a slave the Egyptians bought. Despite these, for God were with him, he did not loss his hope. His hope was on his creator; the One Who gave him grace first in front of his brothers and later amongst the Egyptians, and got the feeling of homage. He was first appointed over all the properties of the house of Potiphar, and then lastly over all the wealth of Egypt and the Egyptian themselves right under the Pharaoh. This is witnessed in the Holy Scripture when “Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house” (Gen41:51).
The Ethiopian singer and teacher of the middle age, St. Giyorgis of Sagla, on his very celebrated composition for the night timely magnificence of God (ሰዓታት ዘሌሊት)  said “ቅዱስ ቅዱስ ቅዱስ እግዚአብሔር ዘምስለ ዮሴፍ ተሰይጠ ከመ ይስፍር ሲሳየ ለሕዝብ፡ Holy, Holy, Holy God, He was sold with Joseph, purposefully to prepare food for the people.” (ገብረ ሥሴ ብርሃኑ 2000: 13)


The second hope of Joseph was his return to the land of his fathers, the land of covenant. His hope was not in partial faith, did he faithfully hope his return even after his death. This very full hope made, “Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” (Gen50:24)

Whatever the life stories of migration the migrant enjoys could be good or bad, every migrant hope for return back home. Who can fulfill the double hope of migrants, except the migrant human-God Himself. This seems what the composer of the “Lamentation of Virgin” made to say “Jesus the migrant, the hope of migrants.

3.  Jesus the Migrant: the Hope of Migrants

It seems paradox! How a migrant could be the hope for other migrants and how migrants could hope on another migrant!? This leads us to another question; why the Word of God (Son the God)  the wilderness of Africa? The church scholars articulate the purpose of the humiliation of Word the God; He traveled the negative way the first Adam chosen. Adam was created to go high into the life of godliness through faithfulness and obedience, but he traveled the contrary, by disbelief and disobedience, to sinfulness and death.  
God, being naturally merciful, followed the negative path of the designed way Adam had to follow and missed, down to humanity to reverse the direction of the path of all humanity that they able go high into the life of godliness. This made St. Athanasius the apostle write that the Son of God travelled into the valley humanity that the fallen man get an ability to go high into the son-ship of God (On the Incarnation, by the St. Athanasius).


Adam, as I have mentioned in part two, left the angelic life of the paradise and migrated into the cursed earth. What was his hope being a stranger in a strange habitat? There is a tradition in our church which shows that God have given a covenant of hope to fallen Adam before his withdrawal from the paradise that foretold his return and made him stay with hope.
This tradition is articulated in one of the hymns of our father, St. Yared: “ወይቤሎ ለአቡነ አዳም እትወለድ እምወለተ ወለትከ ወእድኅክ ውስተ መርሕብከ ወእከውን ሕፃነ በእንቲአከ And (GOD) said to Adam our father, I will be born, from the daughter of your daughter, and I will creep inside your dwelling [the world or humanity], And will be a child for your sake” (Diggua Ze-Astemhro) [If መርሕብ is literally translated, it is a place where someone dwells. But in this context, what is the mind of Yared that made him say “creep inside your dwelling”? The dwelling of Adam inside which the Son of God crept is nothing but the human flesh He assumed and the humiliated earth, by the curse resulted from Adam’s fall, inside where God revealed in the flesh of man.]

In our tradition, being Word the God was revealed to us through the flesh of the Virgin Mary, she is honored the position of “the means of salvation, ምክንያተ ድኂን” and for this reason the honored anaphora in her name attributed to Abba Hriaqos of Nhissa, treasured the following message, “አንቲ ውእቱ ተስፋሁ ለአዲም አመ ይሰደድ እምገነት፣ You are the hope of Adam, at the time of his migration from the paradise” (ቅዳሴ ማርያም 1990፣ 40). Thus, for five days and half a day, or the 5500 years, (Ibid, 41), Adam was hoping not other than the migrant Jesus that we say is the“hope of migrants”.

Our fathers, the Ethiopian exegetes, gave an aggregated reason of the migration of the infant Jesus together with His mother to the desert area in the exegesis of the gospel according to Mathew showing that His migration as a fulfillment of the migration Adam and as a means of undoing of the fatal life of migration, and redirect the way to the origin, that is the paradise. See the words of the exegetes:

በዚያውስ ላይ ለምን ተሰደደ ቢሉ፣ እንደይሞት ጊዜው አልደረሰምና፣ ከዚያ ሳለ [በገሊላ ሳለ] ድኖም ቢሆን ምትሐት ነው ባሉ  ነበርና። አንድም አዳም ከዚህ ዓለም አፍአ ከምትሆን ከገነት ተሰዶ ነበርና ለዚያ እንደካሰ  ለማጠየቅ፣ አንድም ለሰማዕታት ስደትን ለመባረክ፤ ሰማዕትነት  በእሳት መቃጠል በስለት መቆራረጥ ብቻ አይደለም። አገርንም ጥሎ  መሰደድ ሰማዕትነት ነውና። አንድም ጕየተ ሕፃን አጕየዮ ለዲያብልስ እንዳለ አጋንንትን ከሰው ልቡና አስወጥቶ ለመስደድ።

On top of that, why He migrated? Not to die, for His hour was not yet come. And had he was save being there [in Galilee], they would have said He is a spirit. Again, for Adam was migrated from the paradise, which is outside of this earth, [He migrated] to prove that He ransomed that. Again, to bless migration to the martyrs; martyrdom is not only being burnt of fire, being cut and cut off of blade; for leaving a country is also a martyrdom. Again, as it is said „the run of the Kid made the devil run‟, to chase demons casting out of the heart of man. (ተስፋ ገብረ ሥሊሴ 1988: 88)

Why chased the demons from human hearts? The intention could not be other than making our hearts His own homes. Himself not to migrate, but to settle in His own house; as St. Paul declared, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1Cor3:16f)


God loves the migrants, irrespective of their faithfulness to Him.  He did not differentiate between the faithful and the non faithful, but He ordered all humankind to respect any displaced, to accept them as ones guest and to help them in their time of tribulation and sense of hopeless.How beautiful are the words of God given to the Israelites through Moses, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut10:16-19)


Who could be the strangers that got mention in the teaching of our Lord? These strangers for sure are not the people whom do we know. They are displaced people, and to make them feel the sense of homage, we have to accept and host them. This hospitality is made on behalf of God and for God. This is the reason why Jesus foretold us that, in His second coming, He will utter “I was a stranger, and ye took me in… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Mat25:35, 40)

Today, migration can be of different. Other than the sufferings of the physical migration, there are additional migrations and their sufferings harder than that of physical. Some migrate from knowing God and suffer of their trial to know gods, others migrate from the church and suffer of the absenteeism of her Head, the migrant Jesus, others too, even being in the church migrate from the Eucharistic life and suffer of hunger and thirsty of the eternal food and drink. Who can be the hope of all these I mentioned and others I could not and I do like to mention? No other hope except Jesus the migrant, the hope of migrants.

4.  Conclusion

Migration is not a human fate. It is the result of the fallen nature of man as a consequence of disbelief and disobedience. Or it is a negative reward for the negatively practiced will. Adam chose to go away of God, and God having granted the free will cannot resist. But, the good God did not left him; He followed him, showed him that the life of migration is fatal, and instructed him how he can return, participated in his life of migration and its tribulation, and reversed his way toward Himself and the original life of godliness.

No more, today, fearing is the earthly migration. Our hope, not only of the earth but of the heavens, Jesus the migrant, the hope of migrants, is with us. Whether we are home or abroad, whether we are migrants in one way or the other, we never fill hopelessness, He is the ever and very nearer helper Who never neglects any migrant. Instead He calls us all, who in any case are away of his careful arms, to return as He called Adam from the sheol and the murderer on his right side into purity.

In every time and at every place, or at any time-space reference, the hope of all migrants is Jesus. He is always with them, to treat and comfort them; that is why He said “Inasmuch as ye havedone it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” and I, with the composer of the  “Lamentation of the Virgin”,  called Him  “Jesus the migrant, the hope of migrants”.

May all glories be to Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God!

May the intercession of the Virgin Mary help us all be always with the Migrant and the hope of migrants, for being near to Him leads being in communion with Him. Amen!


• St. Athanasius (4th c), On the Incarnation, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church

•  Holy Bible, King James Version

•  Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios (1992), A Human God, MGF Spectrum Book, India

•  Tsehaye Dedimas (2014), Soteriological teachings of saint Yared in his hymns of

Sundays, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (Unpublished)

•  መጽሐፍ ቅዱስ፣ የብሉይና የአዲስ ኪዳን መጻሕፍት፣ 1962 ዓ/ም፡፡

•  ተስፋ ገብረ (1988)፣ ወንጌል ቅዱስ ዘእግዚእነ          ወመድኃኒነ       ኢየሱስ  ክርስቶስ    ንባቡና  ትርጓሜው፡፡



 ብርሃኑ (2000)፣ መጽሐፈ  ሰዓታት   ከነምሌክቱ ምስለ  ኵለሉ ጸዋትዊሁ  ወባሕረ      ሐሳብ፣ አደስ አበባ፡፡

 ኤፍሬም (ቅደስ) እና ሕርያቆስ (አባ) (1990)፣ ውዳሴ ማርያምና ቅዳሴ ማርያም ንባቡና ትርጓሜው፣ ትንሣኤ ማተሚያ ቤት፣ አዱስ አበባ::

Jesus the Migrant: the hope of Migrants

November 9, 2015
By ZeYared Zarema (zeyared2007@gmail.com)
 Part Two

 In the last part, I presented to you my readers the introduction of the parts and treated what happens in the “Season of Flower” every year in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the economic implications ofmigration.  In this part, I am going to deal with the history of migration and its features. Bear with me esteemed readers. May God reveal His wisdom to us all.

   The History and life of Migration

  1.1.The History of Migration

The “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia”, as religious document, states the wandering over the face of the earth of the people of Shinar, later was named Babel for the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth, as the earliest migration recorded in the Bible (Gen11:1-9) in man’s history. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10291a.htm). On the other hand, the online secular document, “Wikipedia- the free encyclopedia” states that, “Historical migration of human populations begins with the movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia many centuries ago.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_human_migration) 

But, I disagree at all. The definitions tell all about the movement from original place to another, without showing the difference between physical migration and spiritual migration. When I send my mind to the Holy Scripture that it gathers an emigrational history and in a very fast speed it took me to the first book, the book of Genesis and to its third, line 8.  

The scripture reads “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Gen3:22f). For me, this is a very crucial evidence of physical migration as a consequence of the spiritual. Our ancestors, Adam and Eve, withdrawn from the Garden of Eden, their original dwelling place and moved to the earth, another temporary residence, though with a hope of return.

In addition to this, we encounter several personal, family and communal migrations in the scripture. The patriarch Abraham made three known migrations. He, answering the call of God, physically left Ur to Canaan, spiritually migrated from worshipping idols to worshipping God (Gen12), then from Canaan first to Egypt and later to Gerar, but returned, with wealth and grace, to Canaan, the land of honey and milk. The other patriarchs Isaac and Jacob too made family and personal migration to Gerar and Syria, in search of food and security respectively. (Gen26 and

 The most common and most referable migration in the Old Testament is of Jacob and his children and grand children; the 12 tribes of Israel and their children counted to seventy. (Gen42 to 46)  In the era of Christianity, we read an account of migration of the Christian community in the Acts of the Apostles right after the martyrdom of Archdeacon and first martyr St. Stephen and when the persecution of the Disciples of Christ increased. But, fortunately, it was useful for the spread of the gospel of truth all over the then empires.

Apparent from these physical migrations, there is, to my mind, another migration, mental or spiritual migration. Our spirit has no problem of moving up-down and east-west or vice versa. Some physically migrated individuals/community can have non migrated mentality or spirit. And contrarily  others  may  migrate  mentally  or  spiritually  while  their  physic  is  at  home,  or  or contrarily may physically migrate while their mental or spirit never left home. We may also face with both physically and mentally or spiritually migrated people or physically and mentally or spiritually non-migrants.

Prior to their physical withdrawal from  heaven to earth, by the wrath like goodness of God, Adam and eve moved mentally and/or spiritually from following God to following Satan; this is the fatal Adamic migration resulted to the rest of all other migrations. In the course of the time of the prophets the proclaimed to the people that God called upon them to return to Him (Jer3:14, 22, 18:11, 25:5, Ezk14:6, Joe2:12, Zech1:3f). Why? Because they were spiritually far from their origin of spirituality; they were worshiping idols and committing sin. The call of God for the return of His people continued even in the time of New Testament (Act3:19f, Rom12:1f, Eph4:22-32). The spiritual call of the apostles for spiritual return clearly shows the spiritual departure of the respective addressees.

The above short history show that migration, whether carnal or spiritual, exists to our present time. Do all have any hope at their migration time? If do not believe they have any hope, let them know the only primary hope of migrants. If they really hope, let them know the true hope of migrants. Wait please to the next parts of this little work of your little brother in Christ.

1.2.The Life of Migration
Not all, if I cannot generalize, those who did not test the life of migration conceive the very self of emigrational life. I strongly believe, experience matters. But through imagination and information, almost all know what migration and its life are, if not feel. It is, to my imagination, a life of divorce; a divorce from a country (or a very first origin of place), earthly speaking, and from  godliness spiritually. Chronologically, divorce comes, if happens,  after marriage.  Non official divorces resulted from non official marriages get no attention traditionally, apart from being rebuked as adultery.

A divorced woman/man, known for her/his marriage, feels unworthy of a first marriage, and truly is unworthy, except searching of another divorced partner. This feeling of unworthiness of the divorced life allegorizes, if it is not worthy the actual, the life of migration. S/he can compromise, but the happiness of the second marriage cannot reach the quality of the happiness of the first. In a like manner, the migrants cannot sense what they feel when at home though in a better life style. As the prophet Haggai symbolized dramatically, though in his case are the spiritual migrants, helpful to conceptualize the bad life of migration; the migrants can eat, but may not satisfied; can drink, but may not get quenched; can wear, but may not comforted; can lie on a comfort bed, but may not sleep (Hagg1:5f). Why?

The very entity that makes all work, being in home, is missed. Here, I remember the sayings of Tigringa languge, spoken in the  northern parts of Ethiopian told as, “ዐድማትካያ ጃኖስ ዳርጋ ዲኖ”, which translates approximately as, “Wearing royal attire when you are a migrant in a foreign land is not better than wearing hide (sheepskin)."   What makes the preferred royal wear downed to the raw leather is the feeling of being a migrant.

Let’s see the life of migrants taking Adam and the Israelites as an example. What happened to Adam when he started living as a migrant on earth? Has he led an easy and comfort life like that of his origin, the paradise? No, according to genesis account of God’s words to the fallen Adam, he lived a cursed life in a cursed earth. The account shows the life of migrants and is read: And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen3:17-19)

Adam’s life was full of sorrow, with the thought of his sinfulness. For this reason, it is witnessed in the introduction of the Ethiopian New Testament exegesis that “he had no other mind other mourning for his sin አልቦቱ ካልዕ ኅሊና ዘእንበለ ብካይ ላዕለ ኃጢአቱ” (ተስፋ ገብረ ሥላሴ 1988:20). For Adam the life on earth was a life of hardship, a life of sadness, a life of cry, a life of fear and so on. The same introduction more clarifies the migration of Adam and its life in the following manner: “ወተሰዱ እምድረ ገነት ኀበ ምድረ ሕማም፣ ከገነት ወደ ምድረ ፋይድ ወረዱ፣ (ሐተታ) ምድረ ፋይድ ማለት ምድረ ኃሣር ወመርገም ምድረ ድንጋፄ ወረዓድ ማለት ነው and they migrated from the land of Garden [heaven] to the land of pain; land of pain means land of humiliation and curse, land of fear and anxiety.” (Ibid: 19) But contrary to this unspeakable bad life of migration, hope was with him. What was that hope? It will be dealt with the coming part.

In the case of the Israelites, the life of migration was not less than that of Adam’s, if not harder. They unfortunately shared all the curses of Adam, and added their own surplus curses. Though for the mercifulness of God and the righteousness of their brother got rest for some times as gusted immigrants , but after a pharaoh who did not know [the honor of] Joseph, they suffered to the level of being killed at their birth day. (Exo1) But still within the heart of Israelites, hope prevailed; the hope of exodus and freedom.

The hardship of the life of migration is highly highlighted in the “Lamentation of the Virgin” (ሰቆቃወ ድንግል), in the life migration of the holy family from the persecution of the then crueler emperor. One of the hymns is read as follows:

እፎ ቇቍዐ በሐዊረ ፍኖት መከየደ እግርኪ ወርኀ ዘይሤዓን፣ ለባሲተ ፀሐይ ማርያም ወለተ ብርሃን፣

አመ አጉየይኪ ወልደኪ በጕጕዓ እምገጸ ሄሮድስ ተመን፣ ዘበጽሑኪ ምንዳቤያተ ሶበ ይሰምዕ በዕዝን፣

ሰብእ አኮ እምበከየ እብን።


How much! Your feet, that wear the moon, burst due to the [distant] way, Mary, she who wears the sun and is the daughter of light,The tribulation you faced, when you fleet in harry from the sight of Herod the anaconda, Had it heard by ear, A stone would have been cried, not only man. (ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ 2000: 685)

Today even, our world is suffering from the bad life of migration and its results. The racism and its consequences all over the world, from America to Arabia and from North Europe to South Africa, are in one way or the other the results of migration. It is reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that 232 millions of the population of our world are migrants (World Migration Report 2015, 2015: 17); this much people of our day lead a life of fear and discomfort. What and who could be their hope?

I took the number of migrant from the IOM report, but whom shall I ask the number of spiritual migrants? I do not know how a census for the spiritual migrants could be done. But, whatever the data could be, the life of spiritual migration is incomparably worrying than that of physical migration. The hardship of carnal migration may be ended when the migrant dies, but what could be the end of that of the spiritual migrant! The next parts will show us more on what and whom to hope.
May our Lord, the migrant Jesus grant us all to see, write and read the next part which is going to focus on the hope of all migrants. Amen!

•  Holy Bible, King James Version
• International Organization for Migration (2015), World Migration Report 2015 Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility, Imprimerie Courand et Associes, France
• http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10291a.htm).
• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_human_migration)
• መጽሐፍ ቅዱስ፣ የብሉይና የአዲስ ኪዲን መጻሕፍት፣ 1962 ዓ/ም፡፡
• ተስፋ ገብረ ሥላሴ(1988)፣ ወንጌል  ቅዱስ  ዘእግዚእነ  ወመድኃኒነ  ኢየሱስ         ክርስቶስ              ንባቡና    ትርጓሜው  
• ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ (2000)፣ መጽሐፈ ሰዓታት ከነምልክቱ ምስለ ኵሉ ጸዋትዊሁ ወባሕረ ሐሳብ፣ አዲስ አበባ፡፡

Jesus the Migrant, the Hope of Migrants

October 27, 2015

 ZeYared Zarema (zeyared2007@gmail.com) 

Part One: Introduction

The season which starts on the 26th of the first month of the Ethiopian calendar, the month of Meskerem (or October 6th in the other years and October 7th  in the leap year) and stays for 40 days is a season assigned for the commemoration of the migration of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary His mother, the old Joseph and Salome. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church liturgical calendar, the season is known by the name “Season of Flower” (ዘመነ ጽጌ).

 In this season the celebrated Ge’ez hymn poetries “Hymn on the Flower” (ማኅሌተ ጽጌ) and “Lamentation of the Virgin” (ሰቆቃወ ድንግል) get emphasis and sung for, the former, i.e Hymn on the Flower, relates the season and its wealth with the plant, the flower and the fruit, symbolizing Mary, the Mother of God, and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the later, Lamentation on the Virgin, mostly focuses on the hardship that Mary faced during their fleet, or flight, to Egypt and their wandering with great tribulations of fear, hanger, thirst and fatigue in the wilderness of their migration destination during their stay for three and a half years.

I took the title “Jesus the Migrant, the Hope of Migrants”, translated from the Ge’ez texts “ኢየሱስ ስዱድ   ተስፋሆሙ  ለስዱዳን”,  from  the  15th    century  composition  entitled  “ሰቆቃወ  ድንግል”  (Lamentation of the Virgin). This prayer book is known for its richness of the tribulations that Jesus and His Mother Virgin Mary faced during their migration to Egypt. It has 57 hymn parts, and one of them found in the 14th order reads as follows:

ኢየሱስ ስዱድ ተስፋሆሙ ለስዱዳን፣
ኢየሱስ ግፉዕ ምስካዮሙ ለግፉዓን፣
እግዚአብሔር ማሕደር ዘአልቦ  ከመ ነዳያን፣
ኢየሱስ ነግድ ወፈላሲ እንዘ ውእቱ ሕፃን፣
ወልደ አብ ፍቁር ዘበኀበ ሰብእ ምኑን፣
መኃልየ ብካይ ኮነኒ ዘእሙ ኀዘን።

Jesus the migrant, the hope of migrants;
Jesus the oppressed, the protection/shield of the oppressed;
God, the homeless like the needy;
Jesus the traveler and stranger being a child;
The beloved Son of the Father, but abandoned to men;
His mother’s grief become unto me the lamentation of cry. (ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ፣  2000: 686)

I have tried to assess different sources to get the central definition of migration and migrant, but found no unique meaning. Let me put some definitions with their references:

 Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling temporarily or permanently in the new location. The movement is  typically  over  long  distances  and  from  one  country  to  another,  but  internal migration is also possible. Migration may be individuals, family units or in large groups. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_migration)

The term migrant can be understood as "any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country." However, this may be a too narrow definition when considering that, according to some states’ policies, a person can be considered as a migrant even when she/he is born in the country.(http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international- migration/glossary/migrant/)

The Amharic Bible Dictionary almost agrees with the above UNESCO and WIKIPEDIA definitions. It states “one who forcefully emigrated from his birth country and resides in another country” for the migrant, but it identifies migration with tribulations and torments. (Ethiopian Bible Society, 1992: 84)
From these all, it is understood that in addition to the non-unique nature of it, migration in the case of man is the movement of man to different places home or abroad, and for different reasons, forced or voluntarily.

Migration or fleet from home is not an odd phenomenon to the human history and it is not new life in the course of time. The first man, Adam, fled from paradise to the earth but with hope of return and his descendants led their life with different migration from that time till now; the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, again made various fleet that He fulfills or to undo the flight of the first. God willing, I will deal with these issues and the like in the coming parts, in the present “Season of Flower”. You may expect more on the history and life of migration, on the duality of migration, on the migration of the first and Second Adam, on Jesus as a hope of migrants, etc. Till then, I beg you for your prayers that I may uninterruptedly witness the word of God.

O Mary! I am in need of your intercession to participate in your and your Son’s flight that I partake in the grant of the return from migration. I heartily venerate you, the Mother of God, and worship your Son, the Savior of the world; as one who owns you and your Son has not and will not be ashamed forever. Amen!


•  Holy Bible, King James Version
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international- migration/glossary/migrant/
•  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_migration
•  መጽሐፍ ቅ
ስ፣ የብሉይና የአደስ ኪዱን መጻሕፍት፣ 1962 ዓ/ም፡፡
• የኢትዮጵያ መጽሐፍ ቅ
ስ ማኅበር (1992)፣ የመጽሐፍ ቅስ መዝገበ ቃላት 6ኛ፣ ባናዊ ማተሚያ ቤት፣ አዱስ አበባ
• ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ (2000)፣ መጽሐፈ ሰዓታት ከነምልክቱ ምስለ ኵሉ ጸዋትዊሁ ወባሕረ ሐሳብ፣ አዲስ አበባ