As our Jewish brothers celebrate Pesach (Passover) 5781 (2021) a couple of grand notions are coming together. The natural world witnesses with the full moon, and love is certainly in the air: love guaranteed to Abraham and to his descendants. Trouble is on the mind because deliverance from Egypt, which the Passover commemorates, ended tragically for those people who escaped from Pharaoh’s grip. In the original Pesach, four days after choosing and separating a lamb from its mother its blood marked a Jewish home to be spared Yahweh’s strike against Egyptian firstbon man and beast.
Shaken to the core, most ancient religions are coming to grips with the relevance of their rituals. Many have run into the wall of division and discrimination, and many ancient traditions just do not hold water for the nobility and longevity of the human race. Passover has to be something special or we could find ourselves losing armies (as the Egyptians did). Liberation theology, for example, does well to stay away from paschal notions of identity, bondage and deliverance. Jewish theology rightly clings to the image of a people saved by blood.
Remember and tell the story
Full moons mark the middle of the month. Months that are reckoned by observing the moon (Gen. 1:14) are around 29 days, making the natural sign for Passover a monthly occurrence. There is one other mid-month observance – the 14th of Adar, the secular (not ordered by Moses) commemorating deliverance from Persian assaults. These days everyone looks for a way to apply practices like Passover to their own cultural circumstance, but it is rare to find a reasonable facsimile of the people who escaped from Pharaoh’s grip. Devoting time to stand in awe of divine intervention at every full moon is not a bad idea if one truly wants not to forget. At least four days to reflect on the innocent lamb should do nicely.