JIM CREES: Common threads not common threats

I remember when I was a kid waking up on Easter and going through the mandated Easter basket hunt around the house. It was so much fun.

There are so many other Easter memories.

Getting dressed in our Sunday best early in the morning. Back in the day … sunrise services were really sunrise services!

I remember getting decked out in my best clothes. They weren’t always new ‘cause I usually inherited the stuff my brother had outgrown. My shoes, however, were always new. We would buy shoes twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall just before school began. Those shoes lasted a long time.

Easter morning we headed off to church after we had taken the annual photo in the backyard.

Almost all the photos I have as a kid are those taken on Easter morning.

Me. My suit. A bow tie until I was about 10.

Sometimes alone. Usually with my brothers and dad.

All of us holding our Bibles.

Then we drove to church.

For us kids it was an awesome, somber church service.

It was, to some degree, a reenactment of Resurrection Morn so long ago.

The service started out kinda slow with quiet hymns and muted voices.

There was the sermon by Rev. Holman about redemption and all that stuff.

Then there was the old hymn … I don’t remember the name but it went “Low in the grave He lay Jesus our savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus our Lord.”

Then Mrs. Hannah, the organist, really earned her keep leaning into that mighty instrument and booming out:

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes…”

Whew!!!

Heavy and impressive stuff.

I also remember how tough it was to actually sit through this service ‘cause we hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and down in the kitchen the ladies were whipping up pancakes and sausage for the Sunrise Service attendees.

The smells kinda wafted up the stairs, along the hallway and filled the sanctuary.

It was tough.

Lots of memories are created at Easter time. Thankfully, for me, they are good memories.

Now, I also have Passover.

Dina and I spend a good bit of time planning for Passover and celebrating the holiday.

I think about Easter and Passover a lot. I believe both holidays are meant and designed to give us pause.

They aren’t simply a reason for another party.

A thread that runs through the Passover and Easter stories that I think is very, very important.

Passover is the story of the Israelites’ redemption as a nation.

Easter speaks of individual redemption.

Early in Torah, soon after the telling of the story of the Israelites’ escape from Pharaoh in Egypt, and while still wandering in the desert, the People are told to celebrate a Passover feast.

Then, as a new community of believers grows we find the early Christians also called to a commemorative supper at what they call “the table of the Lord.”

Both of these events offer a break from the mundane; a time to stop and regather our spiritual energy; an opportunity to recall the old, old story.

Both Passover and Easter give us a chance to recall, with a carefully designed collection of acts and actions, the development of a daily faith.

Both Passover and Easter speak of sacrifice and redemption.

Of giving – and how our receiving of the spiritual gifts is so tied to the giving of others to us and our giving to others.

Both involve a passing on of an oral and written tradition – for a purpose.

Both the Tannach and the New Testament teach us the common thread messages that are pounded out so often throughout the ages – in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and other religions as well.

Don’t worry … Don’t be afraid … Be at peace and be peacemakers.

But we forget these messages especially in our personal lives.

We’re taught don’t worry and we worry about the dumbest things.

We’re taught don’t be afraid and we are afraid of the silliest things.

We’re taught to be peacemakers and be at peace with ourselves and those around us and we barely get though the day without some conflict … internal or external.

The Passover story and the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, Easter, are designed to bring us back, to make us remember, to cause us to practice a real faith…one more time … again, and again and again.

We are given opportunities to remember, recall, tell others, repeat the old, old story and practice, practice, practice at being the kind of people we should be.

At Passover and Easter we are called to be people of peace, of love and concern for others, willing to sacrifice and reach out, people of tolerance and acceptance, people of a calm and sturdy faith, people looking for common threads and not common threats.

Have a great Easter.