This is the most sacred week of the year for Jews and Christians. It is the week of Passover for Jews and Holy Week for Christians – a week when Jews decide if they will walk with Moses and other leaders from slavery in Egypt to freedom, and when Christians decide if they will walk with Jesus on his way to the cross and resurrection.
Both faith traditions bring the past into the present this week with the retelling of ancient stories that have fundamentally shaped who they are as a people. In the liturgical retelling, there is also a reliving of the most painful and glorious moments of these two traditions of the Abrahamic faith.
Passover is celebrated this year April 10th-18th when Jews gather for a Seder meal to remember their ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and walk to freedom. Holy Week is April 9th-15th when Christians remember the last week of Jesus’ life on earth through a series of poignant services.
Some will choose to actually relive those moments, to be there with their ancestors, not just reciting the words and going through the motions, and some will not. We can attend a Seder or a full week of Holy Week services and not allow it to touch us spiritually or emotionally, not allow it to impact our present day life, but why do that? Why miss the richness of that which, whether acknowledged or not, is part of our DNA, our flesh and blood?
Because it’s not easy, that’s why. There is nothing easy about it. Have you ever gone through the darkest hour of your life and noticed who is there with you and who isn’t? It’s too painful for some people, I believe, to experience deep and searing pain with someone else. Yet, that is what Passover and Holy Week ask of Jews and of Christians.
Imagine the abject degradation and pain of being a slave. Most of us would rather not. Imagine the searing pain of death by crucifixion or of seeing your loved one die in that manner. Most of us would rather not.
I pray that this year, Jews and Christians will not be afraid to let ourselves feel the feelings felt by our ancestors in the most trying times of their lives. Why? Because it puts us in touch with the many people throughout our world who experience such pain on a daily basis, such as the 20 million people enslaved today through the $15 billion dollar a year business of human trafficking, modern-day slavery. Or the men, women and children who died a horrific death last week by sarin gas poisoning in Syria, and their loved ones who had no choice but to watch them die.
Depending on your tradition, walk with the ancient Israelites this week; walk with Jesus this week, every step of the way. Walk not as a spectator who safely stays at a distance, but as one who is willing to feel, to experience some of what our ancestors felt who literally saved us.
Will you join me?