Celebrating a love that saved us all
Today is one of celebration for a whole heck of a lot of folks.
For those of the Hebrew faith, it is the seventh full day of the Jewish feast called Passover, which is a commemoration celebrating God’s freeing of the Israelites from the Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaved them. As part of the escape plan, the Lord sent several plagues down on the Egyptians, one of which was the death of every first-born Egyptian male in a family. Moses (their leader) told the Israelites to mark the doorposts of their homes with lamb’s blood so the Lord’s spirit would know to spare or “pass over” the first-born boys in those particular homes.
There are many other facets of the weeklong holiday; that’s just a snapshot. Kerry and I learned about some of them at a traditional Seder dinner we attended during the course of his instruction to become Catholic. It was fascinating and inspiring to see how so many Christian tenets were born of rituals and traditions from Judaism. #wearemorealikethandifferent
And speaking of those Christians…
Today millions of us celebrate the holiest and happiest day of the Christian year: Easter Sunday.
Many think today is all about Peter Cottontail’s visit or the annual search for candy-filled eggs and baskets or the presentation of the perfect spiral ham on the dinner table — though, in my house, said table also includes homemade lasagna, sauce, bread, wedding soup (with homemade croutons, natch) and ricotta cheese cake — but I digress. Suffice it to say there’s a bit more to the story than that and, in a chocolate-covered nutshell, it goes a little something like this:
God made the world and everything in and on it, including the humans. He put us at the top of the food chain, gave us free will and let us go. And we screwed up. Bad. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing and all kinds of other terrible stuff, too.
It made Him pretty lit and super sad yet He gave us another chance by sending His son down from heaven to pay our collective debt. And did He ever pay.
Christ came into the world to free us from sin and death, which He nobly, gallantly did; but first He suffered at our hands. We beat Him and mocked Him and whipped Him and debased Him and tortured Him mercilessly. We even gave a “get out of jail free” card to a flipping barbaric murderer and chose instead to hang the innocent pacifist Jesus on a cross where he languished for hours before finally dying under a hot sun.
Man, what a sad story that would be if there weren’t more to it. But, like Passover, Easter has a happy ending.
Because three days after we did all those horrendous things to Him, Jesus rose from the dead and gave hope and peace back to the world before eventually heading back up to be with His dad. The death grip was broken, thank God. Literally.
Here’s some other things that have always jumped out at me about the Easter story but aren’t necessarily front and center in the typical narrative:
1. The chicks. Not the peep kind but the ladies. Is it me or did the women really have Jesus’ back? They were the ones crying; they were the ones wiping his face off for him; there was one down at the foot of the cross with his Mother–who was also named Mary, BTW. In fact, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first person to see Him at that empty tomb was his friend Mary Magdalene. Takeaway: Girls rule.
2. The heaven thief. You know, the dude on Jesus’ right at the crucifixion … at least, I always assumed he was the one on the right. Anyway, he was a total bad guy and was being executed along with Jesus and some other villain on Jesus’ left-hand side. But the “right” thief was legit sorry and realized who Jesus was; so he begged the Lord to remember him at the pearly gates and BAM! Just like that, he got himself one ticket to paradise. Takeaway: It’s never too late.
3. A mother’s pain. Jesus’ Mom went through you-know-what during the course of the Passion. I can’t help it. Every year, I’m haunted by the thought of Mary … how she must have suffered seeing her only child, her baby boy go through all that. I think it would kill me. She was and is forever the epitome of quiet grace and strength, of total trust, loyalty and meekness, of absolute adoration of her child and of the heavenly Father, too. Takeaway: Nobody loves you like your mother.
Bottom line: We are all imperfect. We are all flawed. We are all stumbler-ers on the path, yo. But, thanks to the Big Guy and His wholly selfless Son, there’s always time to bunny hop on over to the right trail in the end.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who’s renewed and refreshed by the messages of this holy season and wishes a Blessed Passover and Happy Easter to all. Contact her via www.patriciakimerer.com