[Three questions in regard to the use of piano in hymns.]
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Your question simply is, if there is any evidence in the Bible whether Virgin Mary is intercessory or not. Our answer is an emphatic Yes! To start with lets take a look as to how the holy Bible addresses the role of Saints and holy ones as intermediators and intercessors. In addition we shall discuss the reason why the need for their intervention. Finally we will deal with the question concerning Virgin Mary; and in the process give answer to the frequently asked question as to why ordinary humans are not capable of addressing all issues directly to God.
Here we cite three examples for consideration.
1. The individual who has committed crime and sinned is full of guilt and remorse that he will be bashful and reticent to have a face to face confrontation with his adversary. Specially if some one he wronged is a higher authority he will be so perturbed he refrains from going at it alone and by himself.
2. The bad atmosphere he created would hurt his feelings and the feelings of others that he finds it almost impossible to face the reality alone.
3. The higher up authority makes the way and eases the situation by communicating through an intermediator.
As cited above a very humble person prefers the Saints' intercession who act as messengers to deliver his penance and other pleas to the Almighty. By doing so he will be relieved of his immense burden and any contemptuous and discourteous act. In addition, since the Saints and other principalities' prayer is well received in God's Kingdom our pleas likewise will be received appropriately.
There are several examples in the Bible which explain God's guidance
regarding those who seek intermediators who are near and dear to Him.
Genesis 20:7 " but now send back the man's wife; he is a prophet and will intercede on your behalf, and you will live."
Job 42:8 " Now take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job and offer a whole-offering for yourselves, and he will intercede for you."
Luke 16: " If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets they will pay no heed."
Deuteronomy 32: 7 " Remember the days of old, think of the years age upon age; ask your father to inform you, the elders to tell you."
Genesis 19:29 " When God destroyed the cities of the plain, he took thought for Abraham by rescuing Lot from the total destruction of the cities.
Also see Gen. 18:26-32 and 1Kings 11:9-13.
One may raise the question: how do saints and principalities know
human's wishes and aspirations? Again the answer is in the Bible.
We can cite several examples as to their knowledge and eternal honor
as follows. In 2nd Kings 5:25-27, 2nd Kings 6:12, Acts 5:3-9 "
those who buried your husband are there at the door, and they
will carry you away. See also 1 Corin. 13:12, Luke 10:16 and Rom.
The above Biblical references indicate what those God's prophets and holy men did in their lifetime as high and honorable devotees. One may ask again what about after their death?
Their role after they physically depart from this world need to be addressed. Most humans have not grasped the fact that redemption and salvation is inherent in those chosen and honored by God. Therefore, the saintly and redeemed can rule over the sinned and living ones. 2nd Kings 13:21 " Once some men were burying a dead man when they caught sight of the raiders, and they threw the body into the grave of Elisha and made off. When the body touched the prophet's bones, the man came to life and rose to his feet." See also Samuel 28:15-19,Wisdom 4:14-16
Those who are holy live after death just like the angels in the spiritual realm serving God incessantly and praising the Lord. Their services include praying and supplication for those who have sinned. Matt. 18:10 " See that you do not despise one of these little ones; I tell you they have their angels in heaven, who look continually on the face of my heavenly father." Luke 15:10 " In the same way, I tell you there is joy among the angels of God over the sinner who repents." See also Matt. 22:30-33.
In the above citations we have briefly described those holy ones and the prominent intermediatory role they play while serving those cast as sinners. Neverthless, we have not abandoned the fundamental question directed at Virgin Mary. The question that still remains is, " is Mary an intercessor? " Once we have established the above facts direct from the Bible, we deduce that Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, whose divinity is unquestioned, who is praised and honored by all is indeed the True Intercessor.
Although St. Mary's role is not widely revealed and stated in the Bibl, we find in John 2:1-6 a clear documentation for those who want a scoreboard- point and counter-point argument. " Two days later there was a wedding at Cana-in Galilee The wine gave out, so Jesus's mother said to him, " They have no wine left." Following her plea, she ordered the servants with confidence, " Do whatever he tells you." Soon after the water in the jars was filled, the water turned into wine. We think this example will be enough to satisfy any one who attempts to denigrate the divine Mother.
We should also pay attention to the fact that intercessory angels
and holy saints, have mediated while alive and have also continued
their services after their death as indicated in the Bible. Therefore,
since St. Mary's glory and power far exceeds those of angels and saints,
the answer is yes, The Immaculate Holy Mary is an intercessor.
First of all sin means wrongdoing, the transgression of the law,
evildoing, viciousness, unfaithful life and going about ungodly ways.
However, the biggest sin of all is to be unfaithful to God. Luke 15:18
" I will go at once to my father, and say to him, ' Father I
have sinned against God and against you'" Rom. 8:7 " For
the outlook of the unspiritual nature is enmity with God; it is not
subject to the law of God and indeed it cannot be." See also
Psalms 50:4, Rom. 3:11 Romans 14:23 "… But anyone who has misgivings
and yet eats is guilty, because his action does not arise from conviction
is sin. I John 3:4 " To commit is to break God's law; for sin
is lawlessness." See Jacob 2:10 and 8:11 for more.
1. Why people wear shoes inside the Mekdes? Owr church welcomes all - new and regular worshipers who are familiar with the Orthodox Church tradition. In most instances it is the new guests who step inside the worship hall without taking off shoes. As you stressed in your second question again and again this incident or "disrespect" takes place during wedding ceremony. As we learnt from the clergy and some board members the Church's tradition and the shoe discipline is often mentioned well in advance before the wedding arrangements take place. Very often the reason given is that the ceremonial cloth of the bride makes it hard to move barefooted. During such ceremony many foreigners who attend the wedding who have never been to our church before wear shoes. Thus wearing shoes during such service has become the norm and many feel that it has to change. So it is a matter of constant education and reminder that can change this reality. There is a manual being prepared to address this kind of issues.
2. Regarding the kids' participation; the only answer we have for the time being is that since the Sunday School is being conducted at the same time with the Sermon, after they receive communion they have to go to their classroom. This schedule has been maintained for a long time because the parents have to take their kids home after the service and the present condition exists due to time management. In the future we should give the kids opportunity at least to listen to the Choir via close circuit TV or live internet webcast of the program.
3.Here again you have a very good point. Why people don't get up and sing? The choir leaders and our priests have for a long time appealed to the members to show enthusiasm and sing together with the choir in a spirited fashion. Even better as you suggested to get up from their seats. The only way we can overcome and forget our shyness is when our belief is stronger and exceeds any fear for public opinion. Thru constant education and pressure we are heading in participatory worship program.
Your latest question is based on the difference between the Ethiopian and Western calendar. When Adam gave birth to Seth, he was 230 yrs old. In the same way when Seth gave birth to Henos he was 205 yrs old, this according to the Ethiopian Bible. But the question is… how come the Western Bible says Adam's age was 130 and Seth's 105? Obviously you have observed the 100 yrs difference.
The reason is that the Jews would not recognize Jesus Christ of Nazareth
as the Messiah- the one who descended from heaven and was born in flesh
from Virgin Mary. Thus, according to their proclamation they would wait
another 100 yrs to see the birth of their true Messiah instead of accepting
Jesus Christ who was their contemporary. In order to justify their calculation
they deducted hundred years from the elders' age in the Bible including
Adam's. Hence we witness the discrepancy. Our Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Church refers to the edited version of the Jew's Bible as perverted
fact written by those who are wicked. We believe the correct age for
Adam was 230 and Seth's age at that time was 105.
"… is that the Choir uses a piano, -an instrument
that is not allowed for worship- in their songs. I was also offered
to purchase a CD by your choir which actually ruined many legitimate
songs by adding a pinao. Why is this so?? Do you not regard yourselves
as adherents of the EOTC?? From what I saw during my presence amongst
you and what I am reading on your website everything about you is orthodox
tewahedo. Then whay are you including a reformationist (Tehadeso) elements
in your worship???? I am racking my brain trying to find out. First
of all it does not even sound good at all. Second it is foreign to our
church. Are you bitten by the "MINALEBET" bug???? I hope you
will come to youe senses and do the right thing."
January 21, 2003
"Surfing the Web, I came across you Page.
I was so impressed with the Style and the content of it. It feels so
good to see the Sons and Daughters of Orthodox Tewahido Church getting
together and build a beautiful Web Page like this. I hope other churches
in various parts of the World will follow your footsteps. Your Web site
is not just a nice page that is built beautifully. It is also a page
that contains many information. I learned a lot, and I make sure I spread
the word so that others would learn from it too. The only problem (question)
I have is with the Mezmurs. In many areas of our churches, Church leaders
and Preachers are strictly against the use of Modern Musical Instruments
like Keyboard(Organ) in our Mezmurs. Your choir, however, uses it in
some mezmurs. My questions is, who is right? how do you decide in using
those instruments? was there any oppositions? If I have to give my opinion
in this matter, I would say it(Keyboard) should't be used. To me, it
sounds very strange. Nothing like the sound of Kebro, Kirar, Masinko
and Washint. If those aren't found, to stay with ilelta and chibcheba.
But I am sure you have a reason why you decided to use it. I would really
appretiate it if someone explain this to me. I look forward to hearing
from you. Egziabher Ethiopina Haimanotuan Yitebek Dengil Mariam Hulgize
Kegna gar Tihun"
December 27, 2002
To answer these questions dealing with Yaredawi songs, the Choir and modern instruments, we need to differentiate between our Belief and the "Kenona" (Cannon Law) the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been administered under and preserved for centuries. Traditional instruments for songs and Yared's hymns are one of the Kenona's, which make the Ethiopian Orthodox Church unique and interesting. However, using a non-traditional instrument like the piano or organ should not be considered sinful. We have to also bear in mind that the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church used all the instruments available to it at that time. But it doesn't mean that these instruments will stay the same forever. They change with the change in society and technology. Let's first examine what the Bible says on these instruments:
Psalms 150: 4 - 6
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! LET EVERYTHING THAT BREATHES PRAISE THE LORD! However, in the equivalent Amharic version of these verses, we can argue that one of our traditional instruments, "Kirar" is not mentioned. So why is it okay for us to use Kirar when it is not specifically mentioned in the Amharic version of the Bible? But again it says, "estinfas yalew hulu Egziabeheren yamesgin!" Yes, this should be the key to these questions. Why bother how we praise Him as long as we are glorifying His name and practicing our Belief. All good things are from God and for the glory of God.
When we don't use Begena, Masinko or Kirar for the moment for logical and other reasons, it doesn't mean that we are undermining our tradition or worshiping Western culture. Aren't we all using the Internet, which is a creation of Western culture to stay in touch with the world? And why are we using CD's or cassettes to record our songs, which Dawit or Yared did not have in their time? Yes, we do use what the 21st century made available to us as long as it is not changing the essence of our FAITH. Isn't it preferred to use any instrument and praise one GOD in peace? One needs to appreciate the fact that people here come every Sunday from far and near, sacrificing personal life and worship according to tradition. It is this BIG SUCCESS we need to consider, the church's unprecedented services to the hundreds and thousands of Christians in southern California in more than twenty years.
A lot of times we seem to be fixated more on the visual things than what is coming out of our mouth or whether our heart is clean and doing what the Bible teaches us to do. Like fasting from certain food items by itself does not do us any good if we let our heart surrender to the devil's work as that would only make us hypocrites. It is what comes out of the mouth not what goes in to the mouth that matters. "From the same mouth come (both) blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way" James 3:10. If man is God's creation, aren't all these innovations creations of God's blessing? Who said they are sin and evil? If Kidus Yared had been present among us today, he would have used all these innovations and composed songs that would be heard in every corner of this planet and reached the stars and the heavens. We too are building a church in Los Angeles, a Hi-Tech capital of the world, using whatever is at our disposal, including the INTERNET bringing every body together to worship GOD and spread His "WORD" throughout the world. We have to remember that all good things are from our Creator for us to make use of.
There are so many scenarios that seem controversial but we tend to
do anyway. We can argue, why go to the doctor seeking help? Why use
anesthesia, bone marrow transplant, HIV treatment, etc.? Why don't we
use those medicines our great ancestors used to use? Of course, time
has changed and God has made us invent all these new technologies to
save lives. Would using these new happenings change our Belief in God?
Of course not! We know God sends His healing through the doctor and
all the medicines He let us invent. We should not make our life so complicated
dwelling on peripheral issues that do not harm our real Belief. No question
that we love Yared's hymns, traditional instruments and all the cultures
our church is teaching together with the religion and we have no intention
of changing any of it, but glorifying God by all means available comes
above all these. Let's not spend too much time on things that seem to
be politicized, but focus on our FAITH. We should rather spend our time
on substantial and constructive issues, worshiping God and keeping our
Unity, Love, Peace and Friendship. This is what the "WORD"
instructs us do!
Apart from that, it will be the choir committee's responsibility to
manage its members based on its bylaws. And all its members need to
abide by the committee's bylaws approved by the clergy and all its members.
However, we need to understand the fact that we may not be able to do
every thing exactly like we see in Ethiopia due to the life style we
are leading in this part of the world and because the 21st century technology
has changed things and life. We can only try whatever we can to keep
up to tradition as close to hundred percent as possible. This tells
us to focus more on the Belief than the Kenona and not be passionate
about comparisons of Churches in America and Ethiopia. And finally to
join the choir, you can always contact the group to get a detailed explanation
of what is required of you to be part of the group.
Born about 519 A.D. at Axum, he perceived his first inspirational awakening while resting at Menelik 1st gravesite and watching the struggling tiny creature succeed after several attempts and crawling to another branch. The young Yared soon went back to school, and in the subsequent years his genius ecclesiastical work started unfolding. Because of his celebrated work and fame, some foreign scholars distort history and attempt to claim him as one of theirs by stripping off his Ethiopian nationality.
His most noted contribution is the entire composition of the rhythm
the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church uses during the Liturgy, prayer
songs, and songs of the choir. Many historians talk about his divine
knowledge of songs as having their source in the Heavens. Many also
confirm the fact that his songs had so much depth, beauty and power
that their impact would be felt by all beings in the surrounding areas.
When he played, animals would freeze on the spot and rocks would crack.
He also played and sang his famous song, "ARAYAM BE SEMAY"
in front of The Ark of The Covenant at Axum Tsion.