In the name of the Father the Son the Holy Spirit One God Amen!!!
Every year the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church celebrates “Hidar Tsion” on the 21st of November in geez calendar. It is one of the 33 Holidays that our church has put for St. Mary. The history of the Holiday goes back to when God saw the Israelis suffering and led them out Egypt through the red-sea by the prophet Moses. God gave them an Ark of Covenant that includes the Ten Commandments so that they can worship him and obey his words. “and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:3. So with the Ark of Covenant with them they started their journey to the Promised Land beating every obstacle that were in front of them.
The bible tells us in many events whenever an enemy comes to the Israelis they would take the Ark of Covenant and by the power of God they were able to defeat all of their enemies. They were even able to take down tower of Jericho Joshua 6. So through the leadership of different people God lead his people; although they would disobey his commandments at times God always had mercy upon them.
Among the leaders that God had chosen for the people of Israel was Eli the high priest. They fought with Philistines and as usual with the help of the Ark of Covenant , they defeated them several times. However, during the leadership of Eli the Israelis started disobeying God’s Commandments. Eli’s sons that were chosen to serve the house of the Lord were committing adultery and many sinful things. When another war with the Philistines arose, the Israelis carried the Ark of Covenant to help them defeat their enemies, separated the lake of Jordan, and broke the tower of Jericho to the battlefield. But because their sinful deeds during the war there were a lot of people who died, many were heavily injured, the two sons of Eli died and the Ark of Covenant that was their power and strength got captured by the Philistines who worshiped Idol. When Priest Eli heard that the Ark of Covenant was captured, he fell from his seat and died. Phinehas’ wife was in labor to give birth, when she heard all this she named her baby Ichabod, which mean the glory has departed from Israel. “And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:22.
The Philistines placed the Ark of Covenant in the house of Dagon ( their Idol). The next morning they found Dagon by his face kneeling to the Ark of Covenant. There were a lot of death and a lot of problems; and it was getting worst day by day so the Philistines decided to send it back to Israel[ 1 Samuel 6]. It was in this month that they Ark of Covenant came back to its place, which is why our church celebrates it with great Glory.
Our Mather St Mary is called “Tsion”. It means a mount, something that you would hide yourself in. When God told Lot to escape because he going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah he told him “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Genesis 19: 17. Our fathers symbolize St. Mary as the mountain that Lot hid in. King David also said “His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob.” Psalm 87:1. After stating that our Virgin Mary is the dwelling place of God and that she is also our refuge King David Continued to say “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it” Psalm 132:13.
Just like Ark of Covenant is where the commandments of God is written, God the Son dwelled in St. Mary. Kudus Efriem said in wdasie Mariam ZeArb (Friday) “ኮንኪ ታቦቶ ለፈጣሬ ሰማያት ወምድር” You have became the resting-place for the creator of the Heaven and earth.
May the prayers of St. Mary be with us Amen,