It is moving to learn that many Christians today are practicing a version of the Passover Seder as a way of deepening their understanding and lived experience of the Jewish roots of their faith. The Seder illuminates the background of the Last Supper that was celebrated by Jesus; the first-century Jewish teacher and his disciples would have grown up observing the Passover in whatever fashion Jewish people living at that time did, and it is now accepted that the Last Supper was a Seder.
There are deeper commonalities that join the two holidays of Passover and Easter, which in different ways commemorate and celebrate liberation. For Jews this is the liberation from slavery and for Christians it is the resurrection of Jesus; each are elemental to the respective faith and each promises the liberation of humanity from sin and death. Both holy days, like the dawn each day and like the arrival of spring each year at this time, call on us to rejoice in life restored – from darkness and winter, from exile and oppression, from tragedy and loss –and proffer a new beginning.
And so this year, as every year at this time but with a uniquely marked desolation and an especial yearning for deliverance, we celebrate these religious rights and this change of season with heightened consciousness, whether formally or informally, whether in small gatherings or isolation. Not surprisingly in such a context, we are called to deeper awareness of inequities and injustices, and we are witnessing and performing an extraordinary array of acts of kindness and good humor, selflessness and strength, sacrifice and perseverance, within families close and estranged, and among strangers near and far. It is awe inspiring.
Regardless of our respective faith traditions or the ways we observe them (or don’t), let us be called to the spirit of these holy days with open hearts and minds, with outstretched hands, and with our eyes on the horizon eagerly awaiting the dawn.
BCLA Dean Robin Crabtree is professor of Women & Gender Studies at Loyola Marymount University, a historically Jesuit but secular university open to all faiths and ethnicities.
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