Remember me, the humanist? Can you believe I’m writing on the weekend of Passover and Easter?
I’ve faced a conundrum. Regardless of what I believe, I feel a certain obligation to touch on the significance of these two scriptural events. Having studied both I’ve learned that the real stories don’t necessarily end like in the movies.
As the story goes, approximately 3,000 years ago, after some 200-plus years of enslavement in Egypt, the Jewish people were released and led by Moses to the land that God had promised them.
You likely know that the word Passover refers to the last of the plagues that God supposedly visited on the Egyptians, killing all newborns but passing over the homes of the Jewish faithful. You might also recall that they left town so quickly that their next day’s bread didn’t have time to rise. Thus the unleavened bread rituals.
Never miss a local story.
Some thousand years later the events that resulted in the execution of a Jewish teacher named Jesus took place during Passover. That in turn became Christianity’s most holy day, Easter, marking the belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
I do not intend to debate the factuality of either of these celebrations. However, the symbolism of both is worth a look.
What is the common theme? Mankind’s quest for freedom. For the Chosen People God’s promise was a literal escape from slavery and deliverance to a land where they would be free to practice their faith.
For the followers of Jesus, God’s promise held a greater significance. They were offered a way to gain freedom from life’s earthly oppression. Jesus’ sacrifice became their key to everlasting freedom.
How about you? Are you seeking deliverance, physical or psychological? I’ll be honest; there have been times in my life when I thought that the best solution might be just to run away. Escape from my mostly imagined oppression.
I’ve heard this referred to as the Jimmy Buffett Syndrome. You know, dreaming of sailing away to that Caribbean beach where the margaritas are always at hand.
Here in 2015, has humankind made any progress in its quest for freedom? On the surface, we appear to be back in the Middle Ages. Conflicts nearly everywhere on Earth are as much about religion as they are politics, economics or territory.
For a species that desires freedom and peace, we don’t appear to be making much progress.
I believe, however, hope still exists for a positive outcome. Despite our propensity for conflict, a movement is afoot that offers us the freedom we seek.
It isn’t constrained by dogma or the necessity to convert. It centers largely around one-on-one encounters. We see it in random acts of kindness and the willingness to pay it forward. It is about brotherly love and compassion for our fellow man.
Hope for a better tomorrow? A promise fulfilled? For me, it’s knowing that the path to freedom actually lies inside each one of us.
It’s a Faith Walk guided more by your heart than your head. Mazel tov!
Jim Skinner, one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.