Reading of the Week : Sermon and Gospel

Reading
Ephesus   5 : 21-End
Revelation   21 : 1-9
Acts of the Apostles   21: 31-End

Sermon
Psalm 127 : 2-3

Gospel
John 3: 25 – End

The Seven Sacraments

1. Baptism

Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ lead His disciples by getting baptized by St. John Himself, but after preparing them to go out to guide and teach people to seek a spiritual life, He said to them “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in The Name of The Father and of The Son and The Holy Spirit. (Math. 28:19)

A biblical connection of Adam entering heaven 40 days after God created him and 80 days following the creation of Eve as well as the legendary practice for a mother to take a good 40 days rest after birth of a boy and 80 days after that of a girl, has possibly initiated our church to set the age for baptism at 40 days for boys and 80 days for girls. Debretsion Medhanealem church in its 45 years of establishment in Chicago, has baptized over a total of a thousand boys and girls and its priests and deacons as well as the family chosen baptismal fathers or mothers including the church family faithfully observe and participate in performances of baptisms. No wonder baptism is a highly respected religious practice as it is the first and most genuinely revered spiritual connection with the house of God for the child, of course unrealized by the child at performance, but for ever a mark of Christianity. It is only one baptism that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church gives.

Families of the newly born and God fathers and mothers to be would usually need to contact a priest after all settles down following delivery, for setting the date for baptism and for knowing more about procedural details to prepare for baptism of the infant. Parents would as well need to contact the church office so that a certificate confirming the child’s baptism will be prepared based on a form the family will be requested to complete at the church

2. Confirmation

God’s divine approval of setting our lives in the direction Jesus Christ has wanted us to is nicely expressed on Mark 16:20 “And the disciples went every where and preached and the Lord worked through them to perform miraculous signs, most often healing, casting out demons and speaking in the language of their audience”. The miracles validated the disciples as chosen or confirmed by God. Hence the sacrament of Confirmation aimed at healing, counselling and supporting, is given by the priest after the child receives baptism. Just like Baptism, it is only once that confirmation is also given.

3. Holy Communion

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith and Order book calls the Holy Communion the culmination of Christian worship, the summit of Christian experience where devout believers hold intimate communion with their loving Lord. Eucharist is also a word used for Communion from the Greek word Eucharisto, meaning thanks giving, thanks giving to Jesus Christ for giving us His flesh and blood for us to partake to clean ourselves from the sins we committed. The bread and wine that is divinely converted to His flesh and blood during liturgy (kidasie) should always remind us His teaching “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part in eternal life ( John 6:53) A week of preparation by reasonable fasting, prayers and abstention from all sinful acts is required of all adults taking the communion.

4. Ordination

Ordination, and the presence of a validly ordained person as one of the seven Sacraments is a requirement to administer the sacraments. By being ordained one is believed to have received the divine grace for fulfilment of a particular function and thus one is set apart for that priestly ministry. Ethiopian Orthodox churches prepare their priests adequately to perform the sacraments to members of their congregations

5. Holy Matrimony (Marriage)

The Sacrament of matrimony or marriage is the holy service through which the bridegroom and the bride are united together receiving the divine grace by the church which sanctifies their union, making it perfect and spiritual like the unity of Christ and the church. The sacrament of marriage does not only involve the lives of two persons, but the home, the state, the Church and the kingdom of God as well. It is not a sacrament to be regarded lightly or performed thoughtlessly and indiscriminately. Debretsion Medhanealem Orthodox Tewahedo church of Chicago gives series of matrimonial sessions to the couple preparing them for the communion they will be taking as well as for everlasting commitment.

The couple would need to contact the priest and the office of the church weeks ahead of the event for all prior arrangements and to complete a form for the certificate to be prepared

6. Penance

Penance is defined as a confession Christians make to a priest for a mediation to get forgiveness from God. Most humans, if not all, are prone to commit sins at various times. Jesus has given the right to the church and representing it, to the priest to give the sacrament of penance. The institution of penance is quoted to have occurred by the following promises of the Lord.

  1. After Peter confirmed to Jesus that He is the Son of God, Jesus told Peter “whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loosen on earth shall be loosened in heaven (Matt 16;19)
  2. Following resurrection after Jesus showed His disciples their great commission to the world, He said to them “ As my father sent me so do I send you too” and breathed on them blessing them to receive the holy Ghost.

7. Unction of the Sick

The word unction means anointing or applying healing ointment to the body often of a sick person for spiritual healing or as the last right. Like the rest of the sacraments it is only bishops or ordained priests that perform unction of the sick with accompanying prayers.

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