Tom and I spent Saturday with my sister Luann’s family taking part in their Passover celebration. The eighteen of us, together around a table, included 2 holocaust survivors, 4 little children — 15 Jewish people and 3 Christians. My brother-in-law, Jerry, made booklets, Passover Haggadah, which explained each tradition as we proceeded, making it easier for us gentiles to follow along. What a rich day of celebration this is for God’s chosen people as they remember how the Lord led the Israelites out of bondage.
And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-ORD, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes…you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree.
When we arrived my sister added a plate of coconut macaroons to the dessert table already laden with fruit pastries, blueberry, raspberry, apple, and bowls of strawberries and grapes. She said to her mother-in-law, “And, of course, there is no leaven in any of this?” She was referring to the beautiful baked goods.
I did not hear correctly, and said, “No lemon, why is that?” She began to explain how God told the Israelites to be ready to leave in a hurry and not to use any leaven in the dough –there wouldn’t be time for it to rise.” And then she looked at me and said, “Wait, you know all this.”
My reply, “Oh, leaven! I thought you said lemon.”
Exodus 12 ends with verse 51: That very day the Lord freed the Israelites from the land of Egypt, troop by troop.
We enjoyed a fabulous meal with the Gips family and when we took our leave, the hosts: Harry and Louise Gips wished us a good holiday. “Happy Easter to you and yours tomorrow,” they said. I think that warmed my heart more than anything.
And then came Sunday…
For us Easter Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the dead, brings us hope and a promise that there is indeed a resurrection for us in Christ. Through His suffering and death, because His tomb was found empty — he had risen from the dead and was seen by over 500 people — we have this hope. In Him we’ve found forgiveness of our sins and a promise of life everlasting. Amen!
At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church the sunrise service began with lighting candles. New fire to signify new light and new life in Christ. We confessed our sins and accepted the forgiveness offered, sang hymns of praise and hope, communed together by remembering that Jesus gave his body and blood for us. Symbolically we partook of the bread (his broken body) and the wine (his blood, shed for us for the remission of our sins). We were reminded, Christ is Risen! And we responded, He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah! The blessing was pronounced, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you. May He be gracious unto you and grant you peace.” Amen! With that we were dismissed, “Go now, serve the Lord with gladness.” And as one voice we proclaimed together, “Thanks be to God!”
We didn’t stay for the big breakfast cooked and served by the men of church. Hard to believe people as sociable as ourselves would feel timid and awkward about “fellowshiping” with folks we don’t yet know all that well. (I know, I know, we’re not going to get to know them if we don’t try. That will come in time I’m sure.)
We were invited to our good friends’, the Shaffers, for Easter dinner: ham and cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, veggies, beets and pickled eggs, rolls…mmm, mmm, mmm! A bunny cake, served up with ice cream for dessert, brought back memories of making that same cut out cake more than once for my Aaron’s birthday. (Born April 3 — Happy Birthday to him tomorrow!) He outgrew the bunny cake long ago, but the Shaffer grandkids sure got a kick out of it yesterday. Deenie cut off and served the ears first, which made little William declare, “It’s not a rabbit anymore, it’s just a person!” Yep, just a round-headed person with a polka dot bow tie, whiskers and a smile.
Not sure where the Easter Bunny comes in, but he’s part of the tradition. Easter egg hunts, baskets full of chocolate bunnies and candy, Easter lilies and spring flowers are all part of the tradition, making the celebration festive and fun. It’s okay to be glad. There is no better time for celebration.
Jesus who died, rose again — He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!