This week marks two religious holidays that are important to two segments of our membership – Easter for those who are Christian and Purim for those who are Jewish. We wanted to share a few notes from our staff to celebrate with you this week.
Below is a note about Purim from Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin, ECCO Director of Clergy & Leadership Development, and a reflection on this Easter weekend from Janine Carreiro-Young, MCAN Deputy Director.
Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin:
During this week, our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the holiday of Purim, which tells the story of the orphan Esther who becomes queen and saves the Jews from genocide. Interestingly, the scroll of Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible that does not mention God. The Rabbis teach that this is because the Jews manifested God’s will through everything that they did. God was present through God’s people. I pray that we may all be blessed to be God’s hands and feet, to summon our courage like Esther to do God’s work in the world.
As we pulled into the church parking lot for a quick hello to my mother yesterday, my eldest son asked me, “Why is Vavo (grandma) at church today?” I responded, “Well, she’s decorating for Holy Thursday.” He then asked, “Holy Thursday? What’s that?”
How could I simplify Holy Thursday for a three year old?
“Well, remember how mommy told you that Jesus was God’s son? And how that makes him very special? Holy Thursday is the day that Jesus met his friends and washed their feet. See his friends had to walk through a lot of dirt to get to him so they were very dirty. And Jesus, even though he was so special, he got down and he washed their feet. He was showing them that we should all serve each other and help each other.”
I paused after my explanation, and for a moment I was alone with my thoughts, struck by the power of the act of love I had just described – the washing of feet, and the challenge I heard laid before us:
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:15-16)
I find myself in awe of this challenge – to love this purely, to lay aside our egos everyday, to turn away our internalized narratives and preconceptions and to see each other as equals. In moments when I’m overwhelmed by the anger, hate, and division I sometimes witness, I breathe deeply in the promise of this message.
For I know, despite the pain we face, we stand together, whether Christian or Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, in our understanding of this call to love. They are my brothers and sisters in the fight for a world that is just and filled with love. And so in the spirit of this very special time for my Christian brothers and sisters, I will ask you what I asked my son:
“He wants you to love everyone. Will you do that?”
“Sure mommy. I will.”
Have a blessed Easter.