Good Morning, happy easter (Kalo Pasca), and Happy Passover- (Pesach same’ach)
This past Monday was the commencement of the 8-day Passover celebration, on the Jewish calendar it is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Jewish faithful sat together monday night for the first of a week worth of seder meals; eating Matzah, in remembrance of the unleavened bread of the exodus, and drinking from each of 4 cups of wine (each of which bearing with it a distinct message of God’s redemption.) As for today, today is the 31st of March and a holiday we know as Easter (the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from a worldly death.) Passover and Easter are the Jewish and Christian holidays that move most perfectly in sync- They flow together in time and purpose with the sequential grace of one of Dana’s Yoga salutations, choreographed by God, and just like a good Yoga stretch, leave us feeling invigorated and refreshed with new life. Today we will learn about and celebrate both, Hebrew and Christian, and we will do so in both body and spirit… Today is a day of unity and of life: So lets try it out…
Post-Yoga meditation: Keep focused on your breath, letting every exhalation move you further back in time, and allow every inhalation to fill your lungs with the breath of God (the Divine ruah as would say the fleeing Israelites.) You are a worker, a slave to the mighty Pharaoh. Looking around, the desert wilderness is broken only by the vast pyramids, shrines of past leaders (slave-drivers). You are exhausted, with great reason (those rocks are heavy!)… and taking a much needed break from carrying the stones that will eventually be the artful and majestic tomb of he who is responsible for your enslavement. The rock that you lean upon is rigid; abrasive to the touch, and serves as the base of the artful sphinx guarding the tombs entryway; and the dryness of your hands and skin is amplified by the blowing sand under a sweltering sun. Open you eyes! (להקיץ they yell) or “Stop daydreaming!” Words rain down from the top of a camel just barely reaching you before the crack of the whip that follows it.
Passover… these are the days that mark your escape under Moses, the result of ten plagues as depicted in – Ex:12 as it reads: “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” … hence the the name, Passover.
And then God’s words were heard amongst the people: “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.”
Today we stand on our own little zion, our mountaintop, the mighty Dog Hill of Cherokee park, and we stand here liberated… why? Because God brought us out of bondage and slavery. Today, this sixth day of passover, is special, it is known as Shvi’i Shel Pesach and it is historically the day that the Red sea was parted by God with he wave of Moses staff.
Yearning for freedom, the Hebrew people were lead by moses out of the land that had enslaved them all of their lives, but freedom isn’t easy… and its scary! Slavery is exhausting but its safe, in many situations its all we know. This fear is evident in Exodus 14:10 “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.”
Maybe your not a slave to a whip cracking Pharaoh, but all of us are slave to something… What though? Maybe its an addiction to alcohol, food, exercise or the like; possibly it is a draining job that drains us but we cannot afford to quit; or maybe its a relationship that repeatedly leaves us lost, hurt or saddened… We all have something that holds us in bondage and there is no shame in that; what is that thing in your life?
Significantly, after each of the ten plagues that God inflicted upon the Pharaoh and his men, scripture reads that “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened…” don’t let this world harden yours to the opportunity of liberation because even though freedom can be scary, it is what God created us for.
God will part your sea of entrapment, but we have to walk through it, and walk in trust, faith, desire, and strength. Its hard, for sure, its scary, and its impossible to do alone; but the Israelites were not alone and neither are you. This is Passover… the celebration of freedom, it is when God told the people~ Exodus 13:3, “Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how Adonai freed you from it with a mighty hand..” So Take this time to greet your fellow sojourners, say to them:
Happy Passover- (Pesach same’ach) and respond “happy easter” (Kalo Pasca).
So we jump now to the Easter holiday, and Easter parallels the Passover, the Jewish holiday of freedom for a reason- We know now what we yearn to be free from, but the cool thing about freedom is that what you become free for is more meaningful than what you are freed from. Easter is about what for…what does God have in store for you when you break your worldly bondage? Today we celebrate Christ’s rising from the tomb and for that reason, all the beautiful plans that God has for you can be realities.
Though not traditional, we move past the empty tomb and look at the conversation that the risen Christ had with the disciple Peter in John 21… “When they had finished breakfast, the resurrected Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Peter replied simply, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” It was a reflex of a response… Yes, Jesus we love you, of course we love you, we are out here at sunrise on a Sunday morning are we not? Like in a relationship when your significant other asks…
Jesus answered Peter somewhat conditionally: “Feed my lambs” he said. After a pause he then asked again, “do you love me?” Again Peter answered (probably a little frustrated (have you ever been asked a question and not had your answer accepted?) “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
The sequence continued… Jesus commanded this time: “Tend my sheep.” And finally a third time: “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me?” How would you feel at this point? John writes that Peter was “Grieved” as he replied back, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” This is not the first time Peter was questioned about his relationship with Christ. This is Peter, the disciple known for his denying Christ during the crucifixion three times before the cocks crow. “Then,” Jesus said to him, holding Peter free from his denial of the past and instead establishing his resurrected call for the future… “Feed my sheep.” And after saying all of this Jesus simply said, “Follow me.”
Are you free from your tomb? Are you really? Have you or are you ready to embrace the energy of a resurrected Christ. Let liberation fill your legs as you run, your lungs as you breath, your heart when you doubt. Don’t focus on the tomb behind you, for that is what you were freed from and Christ has moved that stone aside… instead today is a celebration of our opportunity to achieve what we are freed for… and it is time to feed God’s sheep, shepherd God’s flock, using your unique gifts, talents, and freedoms! Are you truly free? Rumi asks:
“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
“Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?”
Today we break the bread of the passover celebration together, originally, a bread free of leaven, for it was made in an exodus rush with no time to rise… But today our bread is risen and full of life as is our savior.
Bread… Ever ponder how such a simple thing make it into the Bible so many times?? It is the “manna” that rained down on the exodus journey from the sky, it multiplied and feed 5000 on the shores of the sea, it was unleavened then, now it is in loaf form. It was Thursday of this week, when Jesus declared to the disciples as he broke the bread (unleavened bread is broken not cut) , “this is my body, broken for you.” What is easter? it is the day of which we recognize that Christ is the bread of life…
Passover and Easter flow so beautifully together… we took with us flatbread on our journey (it was physically nourishing and it gave us the strength that we needed to follow the path of God out of bondage to the promised land.) But we needed more, we craved fulfillment and opportunity, so God gave us his son to suffer on the cross. As a runner, what do you do when your legs are tired? Gu maybe? or cyclist when a tire is flat? Patch? These are temporary… So, what adds life and fullness to an otherwise flat existence. Today, like our bread, Christ has risen… Jesus is the yeast of our lives, and the