The Mystery of Baptism
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk. 16:6). Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit he can not enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
In accordance with such writings of the Holy Scriptures, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church baptizes male infants at the age of 40 days and female infants at the age of 80 days, (Lev. 12:2-7). Yet if an infant is sick, so that the infant may not die before being baptized and be subjected to the unchangeable order of the Lord Jesus Christ, “unless one is born of water and the spirit he can not enter the kingdom of God”, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church baptizes infants just as they come even prior to the above fixed baptismal dates. In addition, if an adult believes and requests baptism, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church willingly complies and baptizes him or her.
Few words from the Holy Scriptures that testify Baptism
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 2:38). “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts. 10:48). “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into His death “ (Rome 6:3). “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves us (you), not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience…” (1 Pet. 3:12). Such words testify to the usefulness of our Baptism. (2)
The Mystery of the Holy Communion; what is Holy Communion?
It is a sacrament through which we are far off from the domination of sin and get nearer of attain to communion with God. It originates from the rites conducted by the children of Israel when they attained their freedom from the bondage of slavery and so killed a ritual sheep and sprinkled its blood on the door posts to protect themselves from sudden death and destruction. Based on this example, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world has founded the Mystery of the Holy Communion by offering. Himself as a true sacrifice on the cross. (Ex. 5-15 Isa. 53: 7 Jn. 1:29). “For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God,” (Heb. 7:19)
The Preparation and Presentation of the Holy Communion is in the form of bread and wine; i.e. like that of Melchizedek, King of Salem’s presentation to Abraham (Gen. 14:18). Why the Holy Communion is called Mystery is that by partaking of the visible Bread and Wine, we attain to invisible heavenly blessings and eternal life. “…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me; and I in him,” (Jn. 6: 53-57). “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread of drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, (will be examined by the Blessed Holy Trinity of being unworthy) and will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged’ (1 Cor. 11:27-32). It is, therefore, based on this teaching that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church calls upon her followers to be pure from sin, reveille strange thoughts, fornication etc. and to receive the true flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified upon the cross on Holy Friday for the salvation of the world.
The priest when putting the bread on the plate and the wine in the cup (chalice) blesses them. During the service of the Holy Liturgy, the bread turns into the true flesh of the Son of God and the wine into the true blood of the Son of God. Athanasius said, “we believe that the bread and wine before the priest blesses them are simple bread and wine, but after the blessing they are truly turned into the flesh and the blood of the Son of God, “Therefore, what the Apostles received on the night of Good Thursday, and what has been sacrificed upon the cross on Good Friday, and what is still being offered today and to the end of the world in the four corners of the world is one band the same. St. John of Chrysostom said that, the poor sacrifice which the priests offer every time is one and the same sacrifice, which has been offered upon the cross.
He (St. John) also confirms that it is not a symbol, but the real and blood of the Son of God.
Supporting scriptural words about the teaching Of the Holy Communion “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, take, cat; this is my Body. And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, drink of it, all of you; for this is my Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” (Mt. 26: 26-29; Mk, 14: 22; Lk. 22: 19). “Truly truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Jn. 6: 32; 35; 51-59), such passages confirm the doctrine of the Holy Communion. (2)