All Hallows Church

ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH VISIT 2017

We are a community church in Huddersfield following the practices and order of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The event will be held to observe the fast of the assumption of Our Lady St. Virgin Mary. The fast lasts from August 7 – 21 2017. The Dormition (Assumption) of Mary, reckons on the 22th of August and is the climax of the two weeks fasting time.

Our services lasted for the two week and included various prayers throughout the day. Mass was held from 12pm – 3pm on weekdays and from 6-9am on Saturdays and Sabbath. Our final service on the 22nd ran all day and included mass followed by chants performed by our clergy. Our Choir joined in in the afternoon to see the replica of the Ark of the Covenant (upon which Holy Communion is prepared) around the facilities and back into the holy of holies, in light of the celebration.

The Ark of the Covenant too represents Mary and the words on it her Son. We have replicas of the Ark of the covenant in our Churches on which holy communion is prepared by the priests.

We grow up hearing stories of our many saints and how they achieved sainthood through their disciple and the power of the holy spirit. Therefore, we grow up wishing to imitate our saints as they imitated Jesus (1 Cor 11:1)
The Ethiopian orthodox tewahedo church teaches that our Lady, the Virgin Mary, was assumed into heaven in soul and body. Like the rest of humanity, she underwent physical death, but after her death, her body was taken up into heaven, and her tomb was found empty.

The death of the Mother of God is an affirmation of the reality of the humanity of Mary and in this way attests also to the humanity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the incarnation. It is through Mary that one beholds the human nature of her Son as the incarnate Son of God. Her death confirms that she is not a heavenly being but is truly our human sister. As our sister, she became a prototype of the Church, receiving from God a universal maternity over humanity as one who loves the whole world, longing for the perfect salvation of all.

The fast that we have been observing in All Hallows Church is one of the 7 fasts prescribed by our Church. It is one of the shorter fasting periods only lasting 16 days. The climax of the 16-day period is the feast of the assumption of our Lady the Virgin Mary on the last day. It is the most important feasts out of the feasts of the saints and is only second to our Lord’s feasts. Being able to come together for these 16 days as one family in Christ is truly wonderful. Nearly all of our congregation have come to the UK as refugees and we live scattered around England. It does a lot for our faith as we have access to clergy, those who have quarrelled outside of Church make peace within church and we can remind ourselves of the faith and order of our Church.
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is the most highly honoured feast among all the feasts of the saints. It ranks second only to the feasts of the Lord. Observed on August 16, the Feast of the Assumption commemorates the entrance of St. Mary's corporeal body and soul into heaven as she preceded the faithful believers, taking her seat at the right hand of her bridegroom and Son. The feast is based on the conviction that the Lord did not permit the body in which He Himself had dwelt to fall prey to corruption and dissolution: though Mary as a human being underwent death, she was taken up into heaven.

To Ethiopians, the celebration of this event bears a powerful witness to the eschatological truth of their faith. As members of the Church, they await the final consummation. on the Last Day, the righteous will rise from the grave and be united once more to a body--not a body such as we possess now, but one that is transfigured and "spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:40-42), a body in which inward sanctity is made outwardly manifest. The Ethiopian faithful, assured of their resurrection first and foremost by the resurrection of their Lord and Savour Jesus Christ, are being further assured by the Assumption of their sister, the Virgin Mary, and therefore observe the Feast of the Assumption with high honour and supreme joy.

The Ark of the Covenant too represents Mary and the words on it her Son. We have replicas of the Ark of the covenant in our Churches on which holy communion is prepared by the priests. Therefore, in Church we believe the Holy Spirit is present and so take of our shoes as we will be in the presence of God. Taking off shoes also reminds us to leave all worldly thoughts outside and enter with no grudges or any unchristian motives.

The biblical bases for all Orthodox Tewado Christians taking their clothes off when entering church is connected with the word that God gave to Moses in the wilderness of Sina when he appeared to him in a burning bush, ‘take your shoes off for the ground your standing on is holy’. The church building is considered very sacred among most Orthodox Christians it is therefore treated as such for example it customary to bow and kiss the ground of the church before entering in. We are also urged to be physically and morally clean e.g. bear no grudge or un-forgiveness before entering in to customary to bow and kiss the ground of the church before entering in. We are also urged to be physically and morally clean e.g. bear no grudge or un-forgiveness before entering in to the house of God.




Adonias Teshome
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