While doing some work on my upcoming sermons, I found a website called “My Jewish Learning,” which is designed as an encyclopedia of sorts for all things Jewish, to aid everyone from a synagogue leader looking to deepen her knowledge to a newcomer considering converting to Judaism. It has a nice article by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch called “Passover and Easter,” which describes the similarities and differences between the two holidays. I won’t dare speak to the accuracy of its description of Passover, but it does describe Easter quite accurately.
But there was a paragraph in it that made me very sad.
Passover is Communal, While Easter is Individual
Still for all their commonalities, Passover and Easter diverge fundamentally. While both festivals are about delivery from a state of despair, be it slavery or sin, Passover heralds the birth of the Jewish people as a force for good in the comity of nations. In contrast, Easter assures the individual Christian life eternal. Passover summons Jews collectively into the world to repair it; Easter proffers a way out of a world beyond repair.
The sad thing is, Schorsch is right in practice. Easter is unfortunately seen by many Christians as an individual thing, that the resurrection is all about “me, me, me, get me into heaven.” The truth is, the resurrection is supposed to give the same calling as Passover. Just as Passover “summons Jews collectively into the world to repair it,” so the resurrection (and Pentecost, for that matter) is a summons for Christians to do the same. We are not called to escape this world, but to let our hands be used by God to redeem this world. We are called to work with our Jewish sisters and brothers to do this. Jesus didn’t do what he did so that we can sit smugly in our certainty about salvation — Jesus did what he did to call us and empower us and drive us to proclaim salvation to the world, in words and actions.
I think there are many Christians who know that Schorsch is wrong about this, but unfortunately, there are many, many more who show with their words and actions that he is right.
This may be part of my preaching this weekend…