Did you know that our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter services are rooted in the Jewish tradition of Passover?
Long before the Christian era, Passover has celebrated the deliverance of people from slavery into freedom, from death to life. The Passover drama, of course, is about remembering the Exodus experience, when the Hebrew people were delivered from slavery in Egypt. But the story is universal, and it represents God’s protest against all kinds of oppression.
In Jewish homes and synagogues all around the world this Saturday, people will hold a Seder, a meal with very particular foods that have deeply significant meanings, which are unpacked and ritualized throughout the meal.
In my copy the Haggadah, the guidebook to a Seder, Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch explains: “Although it is the Pharaoh of old who is the tyrant of the Haggadah, it is not he alone of whom we speak tonight. We speak this evening of other tyrants and other tyrannies as well. We speak
Of the tyranny of poverty and the tyranny of privation,
Of the tyranny of wealth and the tyranny of war,
Of the tyranny of power and the tyranny of despair,
Of the tyranny of disease and the tyranny of time,
Of the tyranny of ignorance and the tyranny of color.
In the same way, through the drama of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, we celebrate the triumph of God’s goodness and grace over all these tyrannies. We not only commemorate, we also participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we move through the darkness into the Easter celebration, the victory of goodness over evil, love over hate, life over death.