March 25, 2021
After hundreds of years of slavery, it is the Israelites’ final night in Egypt before leaving for their long journey to freedom. Moses stands before the people and instructs them to tell their children to remember and tell their story of how God led them from bondage into a new land. A book was created known as the Haggadah, which means “telling.” The Haggadah is the script for the meal that our Jewish friends will celebrate beginning the night of March 27.
Mark Gerson, in the Wall Street Journal in his article, “Passover and the Power of Jewish Continuity,” writes, “As much as any other book [Haggadah], it has been responsible for assuring the continuity of Judaism. The Haggadah does this “horizontally,” by creating an experience that every Jew in the world shares at the same time, as well as “vertically” through history…If the Haggadah were just a holiday manual or a dinner program, it would have disappeared a long time ago…The Haggadah has enabled the Jews to tell the story of the Exodus to their children for more than 100 generations because it isn’t simply to be read. Rather, the Haggadah involves a combination of activities: listening, speaking, being heard and responding anew. It is truly a conversation, in which the participants converse with those at the same table those at Seders all over the world and those who sat at Seders in the distant past.” (Saturday, March 20-21, 2021)
In the Christian tradition, we tell our sacred story of the last week of Jesus’ life through worship that begins on Palm Sunday. We have rituals to enhance our telling of this sacred story as we wave palm branches to signify Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. We gather on Thursday and enact the last supper Jesus’ shared with the disciples and break bread together. On Friday, we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Then, on Easter, we gather once again to celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead and the gift of life.
This is our story and like our Jewish friends, we have the responsibility to remember the life and death of Jesus and share the story with our children. Our retelling of the last week of Jesus’ life testifies to the work of God through Jesus and our life as a community of followers of Christ.
I invite you to join the journey through Holy Week once again.
Worship Notes: Palm Sunday
Mark 11:1–11 “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
This week marks the beginning of the week when we tell the story that is central to our faith. It begins with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and continues with his arrest, trial, and death. Next comes the Resurrection. We will hear of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as we read from Mark 11: 1-11 and then of his passion as we read from Mark 14 and 15.
Food for Thought:
“Remember finally, that the ashes that were on your forehead are created from the burnt palms of last Palm Sunday. New beginnings invariably come from old false things that are allowed to die.” (Richard Rohr)
Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701