In Eastern churches, Epiphany is the celebration of Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:16-17). Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are set to mark this occasion – known locally as Timket – on 19 January. Feben, from our Ethiopia Team, tells us more about the festival and how it gives us an opportunity to grow closer to God in prayer.
Timket – in celebration
‘Preparation for the day starts in advance,’ Feben shares. ‘On the eve of the celebration, followers escort their parish church’s Tabot (a replica of the Ark of the Covenant), which is transported by the parish priest, to a nearby pool, river or artificial reservoir.
‘Followers then spend the night attending night-long prayers and hymn services, including the Eucharistic Liturgy [a communion service].
‘Hundreds of thousands of people participate in the actual festival on the following day. The celebration starts early in the morning with pre-sunrise rituals. These are followed by the sprinkling of blessed water on the congregation, as well as other ceremonies.
‘At 10am, each Tabot begins its ceremonious return to its respective church with followers escorting with various traditional and religious songs.
‘The gathering of followers are dressed in cultural clothing to commemorate the baptism of Christ. There are Orthodox clergies singing the praise, dedicated to the rituals, hymns, while carrying the Ark, and preaching relevant texts. This ensures we continue to surround ourselves in the presence of Christ.’
Baptism and new life
‘This is a special celebration, one that my family and I observe yearly with great fondness,’ continues Feben.
‘We see it as an opportunity to pray for renewal and forgiveness and pass on the teachings of Christ to our children, so that when they come of age, they too will carry on this tradition and have the same love for Christ.
‘We grow our bond with our loved ones and in our devotion to Christ. My family and I feel the presence of Christ more deeply.’