I wish I were there, home in Ethiopia, for the feast of Timkat today. I can almost hear the hum of the orthodox prayers and melodic chants and the heavy smell of incense. My mind recalls the hoards of people who gather in the streets, in the churches, and at home to pray and honor the work of Jesus. I love that Ethiopian holidays are based on actual Christian events. I love that these events are not diluted by the pressures of culture to commercialize it or inflate it to a play day. I ache for that culture that celebrates/worships the sacrifice of God's son through setting holidays. Timkat, an Ethiopian Orthodox celebration, marks the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The significance is not lost. Just imagine:
Last night, on the eve of Timkat, clergy donned their ceremonial robes, bright, colorful, and opulent (not for the sake of being showy rather as an act of honoring the one they worship).
Men and women clad themselves in shamma, traditional Ethiopian garb, and children chose colorful hats and crowns to wear as they joined in the festive processions. Breathtaking.
These throngs of people, wrapped in white, worshipfully flooded the street, abandoned sleep and food, and in reverent silence join the priests. The priests wrapped the Tabot, a symbol of the Ark of Covenant containing the 10 Commandments, in sumptuous clothing and paraded it from the church through the city streets and back. The hoard followed. Praying. Chanting. Worshiping. On they proceeded to a chosen lake, river, or pond. The priests and Orthodox Ethiopians celebrated the Divine Liturgy near this body of water at early dawn after the long procession. Finally, the priests blessed the water. The crowds that gathered were sprinkled with the hallowed, holy water. Then, as though in reckless abandon, some in the crowd chose to immerse themselves in the water as a symbol of renewing of their baptism. I wish I were there.