This weekend Christians will celebrate Easter, while Jews are celebrating Passover. For many other people, this will simply be a lovely Spring weekend. Whatever you’re doing, I wish you joy.
I believe that in every experience, there are levels of meaning, and that is certainly true of our religious holidays. Today, Good Friday, we remember the crucifixion of Christ. Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, is a quiet day of mourning and introspection. On Easter Sunday, we rejoice at the Resurrection.
As human beings, we have all had our own crucifixion experiences. We’ve carried our own crosses of grief, illness, poverty, alienation from ourselves and those we love. We’ve all felt abandoned, and experienced some level of betrayal or disappointment from those we’ve trusted. We’ve learned the value of resting quietly, allowing ourselves time to heal our sorrow.
We have all longed for a return from sorrow, for a rebirth of life and enthusiasm. And when we’ve allowed ourselves to experience the full range of our emotions, without losing hope, we’ve experienced that rebirth.
Passover commemorates a time when God singled out the homes of the Jews, and his angels protected them from a series of plagues. At the end of this period, the Jews were finally released from slavery, and led by Moses, they made their way to the land of Israel. Passover reminds the Jewish people that they are chosen by God, that God is with them always.
The night before his death, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples. He blessed the bread and wine, and said, “Do this in memory of me.” In Exodus, the Jewish people were instructed, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the lord; throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”
We are asked to remember that Spirit (God, your higher power, the Universe, or whatever term resonates with you) cherishes each of us and wants the best for us. This weekend, those of us who are traditionally religious may attend church services, or participate in a Seder dinner.
But even if your plans for this weekend are centered around an Easter egg hunt and a party with friends, a movie or a ball game, we are invited to remain conscious of the deeper meanings of these holidays, and the promise contained in those old stories.