The FIRST WEEK/“Zewerede=ዘወረደ” (“Zewerede” means the one who descended from above)/ Museni/ Fast of King Heraclius
Because of the significance and holiness of the Great Lent, the Church designated a week of preparation to precede the 40 days. The Church teaches us to prepare for Great Lent in a spiritual manner. In fact, the preparatory week is not the only fast which the Church designated to get us ready for Great Lent and Holy Week. Two weeks prior to Great Lent there is Jonah's Fast, also known as Nineveh's Fast. It is a short fast, only three days, and it is a fast of repentance. During this fast, we live with Jonah, his fasting and repentance in the whale's belly. We also live with the Ninevites, their fasting and repentance. Just as the fasting accompanied by repentance saved Jonah and the Ninevites from perdition, also our fasting accompanied by repentance will save us from eternal destruction and death due to sin.
In our church each Sunday of the Great Lent carries a spiritual theme, which helps us to engage in spiritual dialogue with God through the incarnate, crucified and risen Christ. The First week of Great Lent is called Zewerede (God came to the earth) / Museni/ The Fast of a King (Heraclius). The first name of the week “Zewerede” is taken from St. Yared's mezmure saying, "Jews have crucified God who came to the earth to save Adam". On this song, St. Yared sings about the path of salvation taken (i.e. birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection) by our lord Jesus Christ (John 1:9-11; 3:13-21). It is also called the fast of King Heraclius who was king of Byzantines. During his reign, the neighboring country invades Jerusalem and took the cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Church fathers asked King Heraclius to bring back the cross and agreed to fast a week while he went to retrieve the cross. It is like a preparatory fasting period for Great Lent in a spiritual manner.
We fast to prepare ourselves for the 40 holy days which started the following Sunday. The additional 15 days could be also counted as the substitution of the Saturdays and Sundays that we are eating on the 40 days of the Holy fast. We start eating in morning during the weekends unlike the rest of the week. [55 days = 40 days + a week of preparatory fast/ King's fast + Passion week.
On the first Sunday of the great lent, our church also remind us to focus on our heavenly belongings and not on what we have. In the gospel of Matthew 6:19-21, it teaches us to let go on our earthly possessions, and to keep a simple eye. What will we do with all our possessions when we go to heaven? We will not have any use of it however much money we have. God teaches us however to focus on what we have on Earth. He has promised us a place in heaven, which is greater than anything we could ever want on earth. On this Sunday, we also are taught not to care about what comes tomorrow, as God will guide us there, as is mentioned in Matthew 6:26.
We need to have faith in the Lord that he will protect us, and as long as we go in his name, no trouble will occur to us. The first theme teaches us about the incarnation; that God came down from Heaven, became man in Bethlehem through the Holy Virgin Mary and by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
God came down from Heaven to teach us that he loves us and therefore we should love one another. Only in the person and work of Jesus Christ can we find God, His love and eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Glory to be God!