Tonight, Jews celebrate the joyous feast of Passover on the same night as Christians commemorate the death of Jesus. According to my calendar research, the last time this occurred was in 1998.
This leads me to ask, how can I experience the pain and sorrow of the crucifixion at the same time as I am laughing and singing with my Jewish family, as we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt? Truth be told, these two particular events are connected. Jesus was a Jew, and his own Passover seder (assuming that’s what the Last Supper was) led directly to the Good Friday cross. But still, on this particular Friday, with its weight of pain, shame, death, forgiveness, and sadness, how can I sing?
By the rivers of Babylon we sat down;
there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows near by
we hung up our harps.
Those who captured us told us to sing;
they told us to entertain them:
Sing us a song about Zion.
How can we sing a song to the Lord
in a foreign land?
If things were fair, we’d be able to concentrate on one thing at a time, to devote ourselves to one emotion, to focus on the retelling of each event on its own. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
neglecting to mention that those times often come at the same moment! But I’ve found that there often isn’t time to wallow in one feeling or another. Certainly not if there are children involved. So I’m trying to remind myself that God is there at each moment, even if I’m weeping and laughing at the same time.
For some odd reason, these two remembrances occur this year on the same night as baseball’s opening night. I’m not a rabid fan, but I have been known to enjoy a baseball game now and then. Today, half of me says, “Go away, baseball, it’s already too busy tonight.” But the other half of me says, “Play ball!” The third half of me knows that I have to go cook the carrots for tonight’s seder. The fourth half of me is going to the piano play Lenten hymns for half an hour. But not before asking what you, Dear Reader, will be doing tonight. Is it just an ordinary Friday for you?