Passover and Holy Week blessings to all those who celebrate!
I was lucky enough to grow up as a Christian with Jewish godparents, whose seders were a fixture of my childhood, so it made me smile to see so many families continuing the Passover tradition virtually over the past two nights. The endurance of that festival across millennia, despite every historical challenge, is a comfort to us all in hard times like these. My own church community also gathered virtually last night for Maundy Thursday, to commemorate the love and fellowship at the heart of the Last Supper — which was itself a Passover meal, and began the Christian tradition of Holy Communion.
Though different, both Passover and Easter trace an arc towards a common hope and prayer: a people’s deliverance from death. Now more than ever, I feel that same prayer welling up in me on behalf of our city of Boston and all the people we love. We are relentless doers here in this city — we have opened a 1000-bed facility in less than a week, we have launched systems to feed and shelter those without, we have leapt to one another’s aid. We will keep doing everything we can and must to stop the spread of this virus and handle the surge in cases. But as we stand on the threshold of the week ahead, in the midst of a holy time for so many of us, I hope you will join me in also praying this evening for our city.
There is a Muslim tradition that this hour on Friday is a time in which prayers are most readily answered; in a couple more hours it will be Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath in the midst of Passover. In the Christian tradition, we marked a few hours ago the death of Christ on the cross.
For some, these religious traditions are anchors in a storm like the present crisis. For others, it may seem futile to talk of faith when living in such times as ours, suddenly losing things and especially people that we love, and seeing every weakness and injustice of our society exposed. But in a strange way, this day — Good Friday — is the moment in the Christian calendar when those two perspectives meet. Today is the day, in my tradition, that death appears to triumph over all, the day the cry goes up “my God, why have you forsaken me?” We pray on this day in spite of grief and fear — not pretending it away.
I want to acknowledge the pain and anxiety that grips us in this moment — yet also make it my prayer that we will continue to find within ourselves reserves of love to beat back despair and forge hope into action. A year from now may we once again be sitting together in person at our holiday tables, a people transformed by our mutual care and giving thanks for our deliverance.
My love to you all,