Holy Week and Passover completely overlap this year
“Give ear and come to me”
Holy Week and Passover provide prayerful opportunities for us to prepare for our public presence in the communities where we will live, work, worship, socialize, and recreate within our coming post-pandemic world. Our communities will need healing from all of the pain precipitated by the pandemic.
The week before Easter (Holy Week) and the eight-day Passover festival, also called Pesach, overlap entirely this year. Passover will begin Saturday, March 27, at sunset, which is Holy Week eve. Holy Week starts hours later on Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday, April 4th. Passover ends at sunset on Easter Sunday.
Various Passover and Holy Week traditions and practices can help us prepare privately for our public presence in the coming post-pandemic world.
On the first two nights of Passover, families and friends gather for a Seder Meal. During the meal, the story of the exodus from Egypt is read aloud from a special text called the Haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”), and rituals corresponding to various aspects of the narrative are performed.
One Passover Seder ritual involves dipping vegetables such as celery, parsley, or some other leafy vegetable into salt-water and allowing the salted water to drip off and represent the tears the Jews shed during their time as slaves in Egypt before eating.
One Holy Week ritual involves the scriptural reading of the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19. 28 – 44) on Palm Sunday, which notes, “As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it (verse 41).”
“Leaves a bitter taste in my mouth” is an idiom that we have used after an experience that left a bad feeling or memory.
Another Passover Seder ritual involves eating some bitter herbs (usually horseradish), symbolizing the unpleasant years of bondage the Jews experienced in Egypt.
Another Holy Week ritual involves the scriptural reading of the Crucifixion, which includes the following:
knowing that everything had now been accomplished, and to fulfill the Scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there. So they soaked a sponge in the wine, put it on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit (John 19.28-30).
What Distinguishes this Passover and Holy Week from all Others?
At one point during the Passover Seder, the youngest child present, recites the four questions, which ask what distinguishes this special night from all other nights.
This Passover and Holy Week are distinguished from all others because of all the pain precipitated by the pandemic during the last year and into this year. This Passover and Holy Week provides us with prayerful opportunities to prepare to be a public healing presence in a coming post-pandemic world.
Our Sacred Tears
Let us prepare for our public presence in the coming post-pandemic world during Passover and Holy Week by prayerfully dipping and stirring salted water with a leafy vegetable while reflecting upon how Jesus wept over the city.
Allow the salted water that drips off the leafy vegetable to represent your own tears while reflecting upon all of the pain precipitated by the pandemic in the cities where you/we live, work, worship, socialize, and recreate. Allow your own tears to well up in your eyes while reflecting on the pain and allow any shed tears to stream your checks and drip like the drops of salted water before wiping them away.
Our Bitter Taste
Let us further prepare for our public presence in the coming post-pandemic world, by prayerfully eating something we find bitter during Passover and Holy Week. Perhaps we may sip some wine or juice made sour with vinegar and reflect upon how Jesus received it to fulfill the Scriptures, as should we, to help bring healing to pain precipitated by the pandemic that is leaving a bitter taste in our mouths.
Our Public Presence
Our public presence in the coming post-pandemic world should help fulfill the scriptures, which is emphasized during Passover and Holy Week.
During Holy Week, we are reminded that Jesus celebrated the Passover meal as a Last Supper with His disciples, another Holy Week ritual.
During the Passover meal,
(Jesus) got up from the supper, laid aside His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that was around Him (John 13. 4-5).
After Jesus washed their feet, he asked
Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, because I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13. 12-17).
During the Passover meal, Jesus said to his disciples, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13.34), which should be at the core of our public presence in a post-pandemic world.
Jesus then said, By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (verse 35).
During Passover and Holy Week, let our sacred tears and bitter taste move us to prepare to love one another, as Christ loved his disciples, in the coming post-pandemic world, so that through our public presence, everyone will know that we are his disciples. May we be moved to figuratively wash the feet of those who have been pained by the pandemic and even literally, if needed.