Approximately 3500 years ago, in the month of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, the Israelites were released from their slavery to the Egyptians and fled across the parted Red Sea to eventually reach Yahweh’s Promised Land. In order to convince the Pharaoh of Egypt, their God sent several plagues – the last of which killed off every first born child in the land.
The Jews were saved when they placed sacrificial lambs’ blood on their doors, signaling the angel of death to “pass over” them. Because the Hebrew people were told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, they did not use any leaven (yeast) in their bread.
Ever since, the Jewish people come together for feasts and celebrations honoring the Passover – or Pesach - blessings. Their children were spared and they were set free from their slavery. They read from the Haggadah, or retelling of the Pesach story, and eat unleavened bread, called matzo, along with various other traditional foods.
Often there will be a synagogue service, where the Yizkor, a prayer in the name of the deceased, is recited.
A New Redemption
Hundreds of years later, Jesus Christ’s ministry was coming to an end and he was facing death at the hand of the Romans. About two thousand years ago, during the annual Passover celebration, Jesus was taken, after his Last Supper with his disciples and killed on a cross. Christians around the world mourn his death on Good Friday.
Christians believe that Jesus was the new sacrificial lamb, now slain to save the souls of the whole world rather than just the first born of the Jews. Jesus rose from the grave 3 days later to prove His divinity and complete God's plan of salvation.
Because the traditional Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle and our modern Gregorian calendar is based on the solar cycle, the Christian holy days of Maundy Thursday (Last Supper), Good Friday, and Easter Sunday don’t always coincide with the feast days of Pesach/Passover. Usually they are close, but some years they are almost a full calendar month apart.
This year, Good Friday and Passover coincide exactly. At sundown on Friday, April 15, 2022, Jews will begin the first seder of Pesach. At the same time, Christian churches across the country will be draping their altars in black and mourning in a Tenebrae service. Because both holy days fall on the same Friday, many businesses, government offices, and schools will be closed – and our taxes aren’t due until Monday the 18th.
Appropriately, Good News Pest Solutions will be closed on Good Friday to allow our employees to spend time with their families, whether they practice faith or not.
Spark of Life
Even as both holy days are deeply rooted in death – they both represent a larger hope. For Christians, Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday is the beginning of both a new world and a new liturgical calendar. Lent has ended, let the celebration of life begin.
For the Jewish people, the Pesach represents the leaving behind of slavery; Yahweh’s fulfilment of the promise to redeem his people and send them to a land flowing with milk and honey. On the final day of Passover they read passages from the Haftarah, looking towards the ultimate gathering together of the scattered Hebrews in exile throughout the world.
Regardless of your religious traditions, this is a week that combines mourning with new life – just like a seed will be planted and die to bring new life. We are reminded that death is not the end but the start of a glorious new adventure. Sorrow leads to dancing.
We hope that you take the time to celebrate new life with your family and look forward to the hope of better things to come – in this life and the next.
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