The Power of the Cross

THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM IN THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX FAITH

lalibela4The Christian celebration of Easter is a time when the origins of RASTA as a Bible-based religion come under severe examination. Though RASTA beliefs are heavily founded in the Psalms, the Gospels and the Book of Revelation, many RASTA reject the Bible story, yet on the other hand claim Emperor Haile Selassie as a modern-day manifestation of Christ.

The contradiction is further compounded by the fact that following his visit to Jamaica 50 years ago, the Emperor made a significant gift to the RASTA nation by sending his personal priest Abba Mandefro to open the first branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston and teach the prayers and liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Faith, and to baptize RASTA in the ancient Christian faith.

maskel3While some RASTA obeyed the Emperor’s wishes, few today are baptized members of the EOTC and the program of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emperor’s visit does not include a memorial of this important gift from H.I.M.

The importance of Baptism in the Orthodox faith was underscored by Bob Marley’s baptism on his deathbed by Archbishop Yesehaq who reported in a 1984 interview I did with him in the Gleaner’s Sunday Magazine titled ‘Abuna Yesehaq Looks Back on 14 Years of Ministry in Jamaica‘ the following report about Bob Marley’s baptism:

“Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him. He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari. But he came to Church regularly. I remember once while I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face…When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob. Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so…he did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.”   Today, 40 years after Bob’s passing, it may seem that Marley received the everlasting fame he holds around the world to the blessing of his EOTC baptism.

power of the crossA book “The Power Of The Cross: Maskel of Lalibela” by Alfredo Johnson seeks to explain the importance of Baptism in the Orthodox faith.  I share excerpts from it here.

” The name Haile Selassie given to Ras Tafari on his Coronation means the Power of the Trinity, and that Trinity is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Before Christ left this earth after his ministry, he gave his disciples a command to baptize the nations in the name of this Holy Trinity.

“The name Haile Selassie is not just a name written on a piece of paper meaning nothing. The name means The Power of the Holy Trinity.  Haile Selassie then became the Defender of the Faith to uphold the gospel of the Cross which was preached by the same embodiment of the Holy Trinity.  When one gets baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity, one becomes one with the living embodiment of Haile Selassie 1st. For this reason the name Haile Selassie MUST be praised.

maskel6“To the many who claim to be following Haile Selassie 1st, but refuse to be re-born again (St. John 3: 3-21) through baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, the name Haile Selassie 1st will only be blasphemed by you, because one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the body of sinful flesh, nor stand in the presence of the consuming fire of Kidus Selassie because Eyesus Krystos has already destroyed that body/temple (St. John 2: 19-22) of sin/flesh and there is only but one baptism (Ephesians 4: 4-7) in the name of the Holy Trinity!

“After baptism each person is given a new name after his re-birth, this in essence means the person is changed from one level to another because the old man is done away with and the new man is born. The flesh of sin is destroyed and replaced with the new Christ.

“So one cannot have one foot inside claiming to know and serve Yahweh God, while having one foot outside, disobeying His call to perfection, because He requires righteousness and not unrighteousness. As His name means Power of the Holy Trinity, perfection is the ultimate attainment and one cannot come short of this.

selassie maskel“When Abba Yesehaq came to the West it was with the power and authority of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st with the Maskel (Cross), sent as a Shepherd for the Rastafarians primarily to be re-born in the Orthodox faith of which Haile Selassie is the head. But to many they are still holding on to the flesh and as it was shown in the Book of Isaiah 6: 1-13, Yaweh of Host was never seen in the temple (Church) until the King Ussiah died, meaning the flesh was removed out of the way so ones and ones could see Haile Selassie 1st in spirit and in truth in His embodiment of the Holy Trinity.

“Haile Selassie 1st was the living embodiment of the Holy Trinity, Kidus Selassie. This name is Amharic as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Name which all was commanded to be baptized in to be in one with the Holy Trinity Kidus Selassie.  One could enter the congregation of Holy Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, in the general assembly and Church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirit of the just men made perfect of Kidus Selassie (Hebrew 12: 21-24).  This Mystery of Yaweh God has now been revealing, and all are called to Baptism in the Holy Trinity.

lalibela3“There is a book called The Liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, English Translation of the Preparatory Service, 14 Anapahoras and Covenant Prayers.  Haile Selassie 1st set in order that these 14 ancient books be collected and printed at His own expense and produced from the ancient language, translated from Geez into English and printed by order of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I for use in the Church of which He is Head of: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and in the Anaphoras which outline the power of the Holy Trinity.

“In these 14 books are outlined the right and true order of Christ’s Church and the Divine Srvice to the people of which no man should alter or deny.  The fourteen books gave a strict revelation of Holy Mary with all her symbolism, with the Holy Trinidy coming together as One embodiment with the Holy Communion for the people who are baptized with its importance.

“Therefore, to my brothers and sisters who know nothing about these fourteen Anaphoras Books of Divine Service, one should go in search and find it, because it was commanded to production by Haile Selassie I, the embodiment of the Holy Trinity, whose ways is Baptism in the Church, who also is the Defender of the Faith for all in the name of the Holy Trinity which the Books outline to all, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit which exist before birth and man, Kidus Selassie.

lalibela5“And if the uprisers were studying Yaweh’s words they would have seen that if they touch the rights of Haile Selassie 1st they would be playing with fire which they are not able to quench, and so the written words of Yaweh sayings which link the seven spirits of Yaweh came to the Church and gave His warning of He who opens and no man shut, and shut and no man open, and there is only One who holds such title and rights, Our LORD GOD and Saviour Yesus Kristos in his embodiment of Kidus Selassie Haile Selassie 1st.

“As the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he came and stood in the Church who John also behold walking in the midst of the seven lamps which He reveals to John and the Church, and received all His titles and Honors and gave a warning:

“And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, write these things: He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the Key of David. He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength and have kept My word and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:7).

maskel5“It is therefore because the Holy Trinity name is denied by many and blasphemed every day by those who allow the diabolical war of Satan to poison their mind against the Holy Trinity Haile Selassie 1st. Christ is coming again to His Church with His eyes as flame of fire to judge the wicked (Revelation 19: 11-16) in which Anaphoras it is also written in a chant to the Holy Trinity.

“Therefore to all Christians who are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the name Haile Selassie 1st is present and always will be.  The name Haile Selassie 1st means the Power of the Holy Trinity, therefore He was there at the Annunciation, Baptism and Ascension, so how can one deny Haile Selassie 1st, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah? Glory and Honour are meet to the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit at all times, both now and ever and world without end. Amen.”

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” (John 3:16-17)

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(c) Barbara Makeda Blake-Hannah

 

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Cayman Break

 

IMG-20140411-01580TAKING A BREAK    I’ve been in Grand Cayman for the past few days, taking a well-deserved break from Jamaica’s problems.  It’s my first visit, invited as part of a team of entertainers and media for the 2014 Cayman Spring Splash presented by Youngblood Productions, and I’ve had an eye-opening look at the surprising contrasts between this Caribbean nation and my home Jamaica.

The Cayman Islands used to be a dependency of Jamaica, governed as another part of our British colonial system. However, at Independence, the Cayman Islands chose to remain as a British colony and still retains that status. Cayman also enjoys tax free status, hence the higher standard of living of all, but I still wonder how Cayman is so much more advanced in simple ways that Jamaica should be. People obey the speed limit, stash their garbage, and mostly live without fear of petty crime. There are few fences, actual or social, and Jamaica’s reggae music plays continually from radio stations and relaxation spaces everywhere.

IMG-20140406-01474Little touches show the difference. Take for instance, the Cayman policy that preserves their native turtles. Jamaica’s turtle population died out when development came to our beaches and turtle nests were raided for eggs by beach boys to sell to tourists. When baby turtles hatched and turned instinctively towards the light, they headed towards the lights of the hotels on the beach, while any survivors that grew large enough soon became lampshades, belts and other tortoise shell ornaments.

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Columbus landing marker

In Cayman hotels must by law turn off their lights at night during turtle hatching season. Turtle shell ornaments are illegal and turtles are a tourist attraction, so the natural sea life is preserved. I saw more fish in the sea in Cayman than I have ever seen in Jamaican waters and the abundant sea life is part of the island’s attractions. Another impressive fact is that few hotels are all-inclusive, so restaurants and entertainment spots off property are well supported as part of the tourism product.

IMG-20140411-01572Among the magnificent mansions that line the main roads, there is always pride of place for the original wooden Cayman houses with pastel paint and gingerbread trim that have been there for up to 100 years, maintained as part of the nation’s beauty. The sight made me think what Spanish Town or Port Antonio could look like with the same thoughtfulness and pride! Roads are well maintained, no potholes. At one spot being dug up for a new road I saw why: the asphalt is 6 inches thick, not just a thin black ‘icing’ spread over marl.

On board 'Keepin It Reel' with Big John of Slackem Charters

On board ‘Keepin It Reel’ with Big John of Slackem Charters

Cayman is truly a tourism island with an emphasis on water sports. Spending a day on board a super deep sea fishing yacht anchored off a sand bar so we could swim with the stingrays, seeing a young child pick up starfish from the sea floor, admiring a beautiful conch shell I found on the beach, all made me realize how much Cayman life is tied to the sea. There are many accessible and free beaches all around the island and sea craft of all kinds are everywhere.

camana bayThere was a lot that impressed me in Cayman. But most impressive of all was the Camana Bay development – a visionary new city created by US Billionare Ken Dart that surpasses any I have seen anywhere in the world. Think upscale Palm Beach mixed with Fifth Avenue, Manhattan in a setting rivaling the beauty of Jamaica’s North Coast, and you will have Camana Bay.

IMG-20140408-01562My first sight was at night, as the concert was held on the grassy Camana Bay entertainment field with its own helicopter pad beside the man-made lagoon and marina. Beautiful by night with the buildings lit up, it was even more beautiful when I visited by day, first by deep-sea fishing yacht to pick up a passenger at the marina, then the following day on foot to explore its many spaces.

IMG-20140408-01560Ground floor shops, offices and restaurants have balcony apartments on top with a 2nd floor swimming pool overlooking the marina. Fountains spurt in strategic corners, streams flow beside walkways, flowering vines flow down the sides of buildings and you can recharge your electric car in the basement parking lot. A great deal of innovative design has gone into making Camana Bay a spectacular 21st Century city with artistic touches everywhere and a cultural programme that attracts residents and visitors. The open spaces on land invite relaxation, while the lagoon and marina give Camana Bay a water-based option for fun.

Childrens art exhibition

Childrens art exhibition

The Dart family earned their fortune by inventing and manufacturing the foam plastic cups we all use.  Ken Dart has invested some of his financial resources in Grand Cayman, with Camana Bay being just one of his several major projects that include a massive new hotel. Before Camana Bay construction started, Dart created nurseries growing the trees and plants that would eventually be needed, thus, he can plant a highway of flowering trees to beautify the meridian of a new highway passing his new hotel. If only Jamaica had such a developer!  It’s the kind of place everyone would wish to live.

acaymanIt was a pleasure to see the relaxed prosperity of this small Caribbean nation, such a contrast to the fear and economic uncertainty of Jamaica today. I truly enjoyed my short break from ‘reality’ and definitely plan to return.

maskel2EOTC TROUBLES       When Marxist dictator Mengistu took power in Ethiopia, he broke the Canon Law of the EOTC by removing the sitting Patriarch (the EOTC equivalent of a Pope) and appointing a new one. The Archbishop of the Western Hemisphere, beloved Abuna Yesehaq, objected to the breaking of the Canon Law and ‘removed’ himself AND the members of the EOTC Churches he had established in the West from the governorship of the Head Office. The faithful members, especially of the Jamaican and Bronx churches, sided with and supported Abuna Yesehaq’s stand and continued operating without the official sanction of the EOTC in Ethiopia. However, some Jamaican priests did not agree with the Archbishop’s action and established another venue where they have held EOTC communion services since then.

The controversial Patriarch died recently, having been predeceased by Abuna Yesehaq (who is buried at Maxfield Avenue), and a new Patriarch has been appointed. Now the head office of the Church in Ethiopia has sought to bring the Jamaican church into the fold again and has appointed Jamaican EOTC priests who did not agree with Archbishop Yesehaq’s actions, to take over the Maxfield Avenue building and operations of the church in Jamaica. Despite a Jamaican court case that ruled that the present administrators should hand over the church property to those appointed by the Head Office, this was opposed by some Church members leading to recent activity at Maxfield Avenue, where keys to the office and church documents were siezed under Police supervision and belongings of residents of the care home on the premises put outside (though later replaced until the end of Lent). The change has been inevitable, but not easy for the Maxfield Avenue faithful.

howellPINNACLE          There is uncertainty about the status of  Pinnacle and also the OCCUPY PINNACLE movement.  The Government has approved the allocation of the original 5 lots which will be under the control of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, on the board of which still sits one of the Pinnacle real estate developers. There is as yet no notification or plan of how these lots will be developed or by whom.  On the other side, a major issue is how to find a solution to the question of WHO are actually the authorized and accepted leaders of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica and therefore qualified to represent RASTA in any or all the necessary forums.

Meanwhile, the Howell Family continues their legal battle to reclaim the entire Pinnacle Property once owned by their father Leonard Howell, and fund-raising continues for the ongoing campaign.

ganjaGANJA REFORM       The Government has clearly already set in place the actions and people necessary to enable the legalization and/or decriminalization of ganja. However,  I continue to insist that the first action should be the wiping of the records of all those convicted for personal use. It should not be difficult to identify and clear the records of those to  benefit, as the Police have  the information  and an efficient computerized service. It doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, so let me say:  WIPE THE RECORDS!!!  CORRECT THE PAIN BEFORE YOU BANK THE GAIN!!!

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 BLESSINGS & LOVE