a terse note during the plague
the plague has been around for over a year, but we are still on the cusp of the lockdowns phenomena one-year anniversary. for some fifteen years or so, los angeles was thee diaspora spot to kick it in for epiphany / theophany; be you holy man, pilgrim, or lime-tosser. some secular ethiopian club promoters would hilariously stuff the ten thousand car windshields at dodger stadium, and before that the great western forum, with ads for their concerts in honor of the baptism of our lord and our savior jesus christ. after the reconciliation of the two synods a few years ago, people have been commemorating more locally.
there have been many firsts with this plague. and now, today is the first epiphany we haven’t been able to celebrate since its inception. epiphany is one of the nine great holidays of the lord jesus, according to the ge’ez rite. unlike other holidays, which stay in the church building, epiphany reminds us of the wilderness by selecting a spacious place as a site to place a large tent and several surrounding smaller tents (often filled with micro-entrepreneurial vendors), giving off the vibe of a wilderness encampment. whereas other holidays typically only have one tsilat (ark of the covenant replica), the epiphany ethos says bring as many as is humanly possible and congregate them together under one tent.
this high holiday reminds us of the interconnections of all of our parishes, as different parts of the body of christ. it reminds us that the living god is not a statue. he is not an idol. he is not a gargoyle. he is not a lawn jockey. he is not a lawn gnome. they have ears, and yet do not hear. he has no ears, and yet he hears our prayers. he is omnipresent, everywhere, and universal. the heavens are his seat, and the earth is his footstool, what type of beyt can we build him? (isaiah 66:1)
here is a selection from the mahilét (noneucharistic liturgy) of this high holiday. it’s referred to as the Timqet wayzéma; a service named after an expression of stupification at the beauty of the melody and lyrics heard by holy jared the aksumite. i wrote it out for you all in ge’ez, amharic, and english, and provided a video of one of my mentors, his beatitude bishop peter of new york (formerly australia) singing this selection eleven years ago at my home parish virgin mary’s eotc in south central los angeles.
ኀዳፌ ነፍስ ለጻድቃን : ወተስፋ ቅቡፃን : ክርስቶስ ኣስተርኣያ ውስተ ዓለም : እምድንግል ተወልደ : ክሡተ ኮነ : እንዘ ይትዔዘዝ ለኣዝማዲሁ : ከዊኖ ሰብኣ : በዮርዳኖስ ተጠምቀ ::
ለጸደቁ ሰዎች ኣሻጋሪያቸው : ተስፋ ለቈረጡት ተስፋቸው : ክርስቶስ (ባዕለ ቅባቱ) በዓለም ውስጥ ተገለጸ : ከድንግል ተወለደ : የተከሠተ ኾነ : ለዘመድዎቹ ይታዘዝ ዘንድ : ሰው የኾነው : በዮርዳኖስ ተጠመቀ
the navigator of the breath of life for the righteous ones, the hope of those who have cut it (hope), christ was revealed in the world, born of the virgin, became manifest, to be obedient to his relatives, becoming human, he was baptized in the jordan (river)