This past week, the Jewish community and Christians celebrated holidays arguably the most joyous and holy times of year. It was a privilege for me, to once again celebrate both holidays with friends and family. Surprisingly these celebrations brought into sharp focus some of the political issues we face as Americans.
Undoubtably, some will immediately react with the thought “Politics and Religion have no place with each other”, but my hope is that you will read on for a few more moments to allow me to explain my thoughts. I believe that if you look at the events that inspired these holidays, it is evident the politics of those times played a significant role in both these stories, and to a great degree, have significant correlations to today’s political battles.
Passover (Pesach) is a holiday celebrating God’s deliverance of the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and from the tyrannical rule of Pharaoh into the freedom of the promised land. It speaks of the leadership of Moses (Moshe) inspiring the Jews, and standing up to Pharoh – speaking truth to power. It is a miraculous story showing God’s faithfulness to keep his word, and his power to not only provide for those who believe in him, but also to oppose unjust governance and tyranny. It is a story of the Jew’s faith in the Lord and their trust in his faithfulness.
Easter is a holiday celebrating the Christian belief that Jesus of Nazareth was not only the son of God, but also the Messiah. He was sent to free the world from the shackles of sin and eternal damnation, through his death and resurrection three days later.
Both of these holidays, Easter and Passover, demonstrate a remarkable struggle of people against seemingly insurmountable corruption and evil, and through perseverance and faith achieving victory.
My experience with Passover was amazing , seeing the dedication to tradition, the remembrance of the bitterness of oppressive rule and slavery, but also the celebration of freedom and life. The reverence given when speaking of God. Watching with wonder as the reverence of the holiday was passed along to the next generation.
My experience with Easter was one familiar to me, but no less touching. Attending mass, remembrance of the death of Jesus , his sacrifice on our behalf to pay for our sins, and the celebration of His resurrection and victory over death. Seeing the older guide the young to what would be their first communion, passing along the reverence of the holiday to the next generation.
The triumphant themes of both of these holidays are freedom and victory. Freedom from tyranny… Freedom from oppression and slavery… Freedom from the penalty of sin. Victory over a dictator…Victory over captivity…Victory over eternal damnation and death. Victory leading to the Promised Land. Victory leading to eternal life.
Both of these holidays provoke remembrance of tradition and struggles, reflection on our lives, and application of the lessons learned from their stories. As I spend a great deal of my life covering the political world, it seems understandable now that my thoughts turned there.
The struggles we face today as Americans against corruption and oppression are pale when compared to the struggles of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and their flight from bondage, or the struggles of Jesus on his path to the cross, but to me the lessons learned of perseverance, faith, and determination are no less valuable.
As Americans we constantly struggle to keep the freedoms we have, in the face of an often overreaching and intrusive government. We struggle against government corruption, and against self-serving, or self-interested elected officials. We struggle against strangling regulations, overburdening taxation, and stifling political correctness. It’s not easy.
It requires perseverance. It requires faith. It requires determination. It requires our participation.
The freedoms we have are worth the struggle, and the victory we receive by participating is an America that continues to cherish the rights of its people to freedom; of speech, of religion, from oppression, and from slavery.
I hope that this article has not offended anyone, although I am sure there are rabbis, preachers, and priests, and perhaps some of you, who would easily point out my potentially simplistic observations. To those offended, I would say “Ani Mitzta’er”, “Mea culpa”, “I apologize”, and “dimitte me”.
But if I can leave you with one final thought it would be this… Regardless of your religion, we are in a struggle that requires faith, and often times the oppression that we experience is not as profoundly obvious as outright slavery. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, or whatever belief you subscribe to, the lessons demonstrated by Passover and Easter are GOOD lessons, and can be applied to the struggles we face keeping this nation great and free.
Perhaps this year, our efforts to persevere will bring the fulfillment of the words of the Haggadah:
“This year we are here, next year we will be in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year we will be free.”
And those efforts will mirror the freedom demonstrated in the words spoken at Jesus’ tomb that sat empty on the third day:
“He is not here, He has Risen…”
Regardless of how you spent your week and weekend, it’s my sincere hope that it was with family and friends, celebrating freedom and victory in whatever way fits your beliefs. It is worth the struggle, worth the perseverance, worth the determination, and is a blessing. At least, that’s the way I see it… Hopefully, you do too.