A blustery, rain dampened Easter morning, the early clouds now giving way to moments of sun and blue sky. Being early April, the sun has melted away the snow and warmed the ground allowing new growth in the understory at the forest edge. Once again we in the northern hemisphere celebrate the greening of the world.
Friday evening we went to synagogue for a potluck Passover seder. About 110 people crowded into the sanctuary of what was formerly the Orthodox synagogue and is now the home of our small, very diverse congregation.
This year, as in most years, the focus of the evening was on our moral duty to resist slavery in all of its many forms. Resisting, as Rabbi Jan reminded us as she focused on slavery in the clothing manufacturing industry, involves an active refusal to do anything which furthers the enslavement of others. We are not, say the Torah and the Rabbis, to be slaves, nor in any way enslave others.
The seder repeats the story of the Jewish people’s Exodus from Egypt. It is a creation story not unlike many in Native America. It matters little whether a group became a people after emerging from the underworld, migrating many hundreds of miles, or joining together to flee slavery at the hands of an abusive power. What is important is acting together to create meaningful, lasting change under conditions of great hardship.
After an evening of friendship, laughter, good food, and deep thought, we came home to news of a police shooting of an unarmed black man, further governmental attacks on Native sacred sites and treaty rights, and the horrific murder of a Jewish Holocaust survivor in Paris. Even on this special night the forces of hatred and slavery were clearly hard at work to maintain the status quo.
Last night was the second night of Passover and we celebrated with a meal of vegetables, the compulsory eggs, and baklava from the Orthodox Church’s annual Greek Pastry sale. In the afternoon we had stopped at the sale to check out the deserts, ran into friends, and stayed for lunch and conversation!
This Easter morning we are reminded that even death must not be allowed to stop our relentless march towards freedom, justice, and the care of our fragile world. We are enjoined to remember that now, Just as in Jesus’ time, environmental degradation, institutional and paramilitary terror, and, all too often, the very political structure are used to create wealth for a few on the backs of the many.
Today we acknowledge that we are called to roll away the stone of hopelessness and isolation and allow joy into our too often fractured, lonely lives. We are encouraged to remember that when any suffer we all suffer, and that we must act daily to end slavery and suffering in all their forms.
Next year may we find ourselves living in a world of peace, joy, and kindness, a world of freedom from want, harm, and slavery. May it indeed be so!