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Easter and Passover

By a quirk of fate, or simply the way the calendar works, today is Good Friday and the beginning of Passover. It’s the day Christians observe the death of Jesus Christ, and Jews celebrate the story of Exodus, with Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt. Many religious scholars see the two celebrations closely linked:

“Passover and Easter are really intended to go hand in hand,” says Douglas Estes, assistant professor of New Testament and practical theology at South University in Columbia, South Carolina. “The Israelites saw Passover as the symbol or the sign that they were freed from pharaoh (in Egypt). Christians see Easter as the freedom from corruption or sin. … As Christians we are rescued, and Jesus is the rescuer.”

As part of Saturday night Easter vigil and Holy Thursday, Christians read the story of the Exodus that is found in the Passover Haggadah, which is read during the Seder, says Kevin Ahern, assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. The story of Easter is inextricably linked to Passover, but he also says the overarching themes are similar.

“Both of those stories say to me that God’s love is more powerful than any empire,” whether the pharaoh or the Romans. “Love wins.”

“Both are celebrations of hope,” he says. “Not of dour hope, but of joyful hope.”

Whether Christian or Jew, this season represents freedom, redemption and salvation. It’s a time when we can truly feel the love of God flowing through us and remember the sacrifices that were made to enable us to seek that redemption and salvation.

As a child I remember the crosses made of flowers lining the small church where my family worshiped. Everything was perfect. The golden cross carried by an acolyte (I grew into that role), the priest in his beautiful white robes, the music, augmented by trumpets, and the singing, all celebrating the not the loss of Jesus, but the resurrection, the rebirth, the hope that we can survive and live better lives, clothed in love.

There is one thing that the priest focused on in his sermon. That’s the story of Jesus and the washing of the apostles’ feet. This was the job of the lowest servant, and they were amazed that Jesus would stoop so low. Jesus was showing by his actions the importance of humility. The apostles were arguing over who was the most important, and he showed that those who truly will gain the kingdom of heaven will have the ‘heart of a servant’ and will wrap their lives in humility.

If we can take anything from this most holy season, can it be that humility Christ showed on that evening is the most important trait. How much more humble can it be to die for the sins of others? Is it possible that we can begin to live our lives with freedom from pride or arrogance?

I wish you all the very best, holy, and yes humble Easter and Passover season.

JVH

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