December 2021: Ethiopia / Lalibela: Ancient Holy Scripture Fulfilled

We Celebrate: Ancient Holy Scripture Fulfilled in Lalibela, Our Jerusalem

The Book of Baruch in the First Testament Chapter 5:1-9

For the past four months, my Lalibela, the second Jerusalem, has been occupied by the rebel group TPLF. Despite this unfortunate situation, the people waited for the fulfillment of God’s Scripture as written in the Book of Baruch 2600 years ago. And now, in our generation, the miracle can be seen with the naked eye.

Therefore, we all rejoice and sing, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God’s grace forever and ever.” We all kneel down and worship the Almighty God who sits on the throne! Yes, we cry out, “Amen, hallelujah!”  We all repeat, “Praise our God, all his servants, you who fear him, great and small!”

Now let’s consider the context of the reading from the Book of Baruch, chapter 5:1-9

“Take off the garment of your sorrow and sadness, Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory of God. Put on the robe of divine righteousness; put on your head the crown of the glory of the Eternal! For God wants your splendor to shine on the whole world under heaven. God gives you a name forever: peace of righteousness and glory of godliness.”

 Oh, my Lalibela, the second Jerusalem, lay aside all your misfortune, your sorrow, silently your disaster. Draw back to yourself your eternal beauty, your churches carved in rock, and come back. God Himself give you, through St. Lalibela, an eternal, indestructible church carved in rock. Be our God who sat on the throne and promise to watch over it forever until the Last Day. Set the crown of glory and honor on your head with all the grace, for your God, Jerusalem, shines its eternal light in its light. Praise your God, all you who are his servants, all you who worship him, great and small! Your gift is the churches carved in rock. The place, the king have a very special name Lal…Yibela (eat…honey/bee). The bees (the angels) surrounded the infant soon after his birth. God Himself sent the angels to protect and raise him, the defenseless one.

“Arise, Jerusalem, and mount up! Look to the east and see your children: from the setting of the sun to the rising, the word of the Holy One has gathered them. They are happy that God has remembered them.”

My Lalibela, the second Jerusalem arise and stand up. Behold, your children have been driven out and are suffering from this four-month war waged by the invaders from the setting of the sun to its rising. The word of the Holy One has brought the people together. Praise your God! All may be happy that God has thought of them.

“For on foot they departed from you, driven out by enemies; but God brings them home to you, honored as in a royal palanquin. For God has commanded: Let all the high mountains and the everlasting hills be lowered, and let the valleys become level, that Israel may walk securely under the glory of God. Forests and fragrant trees of every kind shall shade Israel at God’s command.”

My Lalibela, my Jerusalem, gathers its children who were driven out and taken captive, on foot they set out, driven out by enemies. Now they return with God’s grace and weep, treading their soil, the land of Saint Lalibela, Saint Naakutoleab, Saint Gebre-Mariam and Saint Yimrhane Christos, these four who are venerated in Lasta Lalibela.  They have scattered our enemies like a mist. Through their miracles, the occupiers lose their power. What comes out of the mouth of God is like a sharp sword with which He destroys the enemies. He, God, will rule with an iron scepter and drive the rebels out of the Holy City, my Lalibela, without any destruction at the arrival of the Ethiopian forces.

“Hallelujah! The name of God exalts forever and ever. For God brings Israel home in joy, in the light of his glory; mercy and justice come from him.”

Our Jerusalem at last, yes, God brings us home in joy, in His glory, all gifts and truths come from God, worshipped by our saints Lalibela, Naakutoleab, Gebre-Mariam and Yimrhane

Getachew Sale


Nota bene: this biblical text by the 1st Testament prophet Baruch is recited in the Western Church on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, very close in time to the events in Lalibela. 

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