The Descent of the HOLY SPIRIT

May 30, 2015

By Kassa Nigus

The Paraclete or HOLY SPIRIT is the third person of the HOLY TRINITY who among other things provides guidance, consolation, strength, and support to people.

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Pentecost is one of the nine Major movable feasts of the LORD. It is a church feast that commemorates the Descent of the HOLY SPIRIT upon the Apostles on the three hour of the day, fifty days after the Resurrection of CHRIST.

Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish historical holy day which is known as Harvest Festival (Be’ale Sewit) before the era of the apostles.

Harvest Festival (Be’ale Sewit): One of the major feasts during the Jewish year; it celebrates thanks giving for harvested crops. Israel commemorated it, fifty days – seven weeks to the day – after the sickle was first put to the grain there was a harvest festival. Fifty days after the grain harvest, processions of pilgrims bore baskets of their first fruits to the temple as a thank offering for the harvest.

After the accomplishment of HIS redemptive work, GOD made the harvest festival to relate to festival of the HOLY SPIRIT. Seven weeks to the day after JESUS died and rose from the dead, HE breath’s the wind and fire of HIS SPIRIT upon HIS Church. This is the fulfillment of the Harvest festival: Fifty days after the sickle had been put to the grain, comparable to fifty days after JESUS was hung on a cross, crucified and buried, fifty days after the promised Seed that had been buried in the ground sprouted to life. After the fulfillment of His salivation; JESUS had made a covenant with HIS disciples to establish a new covenant, to establish a new Church.

Before JESUS was crucified, He told HIS disciples that the HOLY SPIRIT would come after Him: “And I will ask the Father, and HE will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the SPIRIT of truth. The world cannot receive HIM, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM. But you know HIM, for HE lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  (John 14:16–18)

During HIS Ascension, JESUS has promised the Apostles saying, “I will send unto you another Paraclete, Who shall come from the FATHER. Wait ye and remain in Jerusalem until ye receive the promise of the FATHER.”

Accordingly, when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place when the promise was fulfilled as Peter and the early Church were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak in other tongues (languages) as the SPIRIT enabled them. (Acts 2:1–4)

According to the New Testament commentators of the Ethiopian Church, the Apostles had spoken perfectly in seventy two languages, whereas the other devout men who were dwelling at Jerusalem, uttered in not less than fifteen languages; some uttered fifty, the other twenty or twenty five or even some had spoken sixty. (Metsahifte Haddisat Selestu 1989, pp.22)  

After the Apostles were baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT, they were enabled or empowered divinely to preach the Gospel of Salvation "in CHRIST" fearlessly. As a result, three thousand souls were added to the Church that day, through sacred Baptism (Acts 1:5, 9:4; 2:41). Thus, the official inauguration of the Church took place on that day, and is considered the day of the birth of the Church.

This feast is followed with the "Apostle’s Fast" which begins on the Monday after; or immediately following Pentecost Sunday.  It has a fixed end date on the fifth of the Ethiopian month of Hamle [July 12]. The fifth of Hamle is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.


•  Holy Bible- King James Version

• The Three Books of New Testament Commentary: Acts, Epistles, Revelation (Metsahifte Haddisat Selestu in Ge’ez and Amharic), 1989, pp.22.

•  Synaxarium: The book of the saints of the Ethiopian Church

Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ

May 21, 2015

By Welde Gebriel
The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is one of the nine great feasts of the Church in the liturgical calendar, and commemorates each year the bodily Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Ascension Day is always celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter day (Acts 1:3). The story of the Ascension of our Lord is stated in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 1:3-11. It is also mentioned in the Gospels of Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-53).

In His last stay on earth, Jesus Christ was appeared, forty days after His Resurrection from the dead and commanded to His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the "Promise of the Father". He stated, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5).

After Jesus gave these instructions, He led the disciples to the Mount of Olives. Then, He ordered them to be His witnesses "In Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).  As the disciples watched, Jesus lifted up His hands, blessed them, and then was taken up out of their sight (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9).

Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Then two angels appeared to them and asked them why they were gazing into heaven. Then one of the angels said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him going into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

The Ascension of Jesus Christ was vital in a chain of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Old and New Testament times (Psalms 110:1; Matthew 26:64; John 6:62; John 7:33; John 14:28; John 16:5; John 20:17). A thousand years before the Savior’s birth, David prophesied the ascension of Jesus when he announced the Lord’s enthronement at the Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1).

The ascension of Christ into heaven endorses contrary to Jewish expectations, the coming of Lord to this world was not to overthrow Rome, and establish an earthly, political administration as stated in different parts of the Bible, (John 6:15; 18:36; Acts 1:6). In contra to the Jewish expectations the ascension of Christ approves the end of His redemptive work and the end of His public ministry of words and works (John 17:4-11; Heb. 1:3; 10:12)

Glory be to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ!

The Feast of the Departure of Saint Yared

May 18, 2015

By Tsegaye Girma

Ginbot 11 (May 19) marks the departure of St. Yared, the great Ethiopian composer who lived in the 6th century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church attributes its rich, age-old chant tradition to the Saint and commemorates his disappearance each year on this day. 

St. Yared was born in 505 E.C. in Axum to Abyud and Tawklia. After the death of his father, at the age of seven, his mother sent him to her priest brother named Gidewon to teach the lad and to look after him. As a child, St. Yared never seemed to succeed in his studies as he had difficulty understanding what his uncle taught him. At one point, he had even fled from Gidewon, an incident which led him to the turning point in his life.

While taking shelter under the shade of a tree, Yared saw a caterpillar (some claim an ant) trying to climb the tree. Despite its repeated failures, the insect finally managed to creep up the tree and ate its fruit. Yared drew an inspiration from the determination of the tiny creature and went back to his uncle to start learning afresh. His efforts then bore fruit and he managed to learn by heart whatever he was taught including both Old and New Testament with unbelievable brilliance, and grew in excellence as he grew older and older.

Saint Yared also gained melodic insight through divine revelation and composed melodious sacred melody which had never been heard before in this world. He created a system of chants in three modes (scores) called Ge’ez, Izil, and Ararary. There is no any sound system out of the category of the three modes of these hymns St Yared invented divinely. Saint Yared also wrote five volumes of chants for church services and celebrations. These volumes include The Book of Digua and Tsome Digua (chants for church holidays and Sundays services), The Book of Me’eraf (chants for major holidays, daily prayers and the season of fasting), The Book of Zimmare (chants to be performed after Mass) and The Book of Mewasit (chants for the dead). ST. Yared also created ten melodic notations for his spiritual melodies many centuries before the world-renowned composers Mozart and Beethoven.

There are two views among scholars of the church about the final days of St Yared’s life in this world. Some say he passed away while others contend that he disappeared like Saint Henok and Elijah the Prophet.

Despite that, every year on Ginbot 11 (May 19), the Ethiopian Orthodox Church marks the disappearance of the Saint who adorned its service with melodious sacred music.

May the blessing of Saint Yared be with us all!