As I got to the Wednesday of Holy Week and a particularly low ebb, I got to the point of saying WTF is the point of believing in God. That evening I got an answer, and not the one I expected. Karl and I had been invited to share the Seder meal with a local rabbi and her husband, together with some other guests - a meal that was shared via Zoom. It was a privilege that gave me some insight into the wideness of what Jesus did in his ministry. There we were, a queer gentile couple, sitting with the rabbi sharing the festival with them. Not so long ago so many elements of that would not have been able to happen, yet an important part of the gospels is Jesus breaking barriers and taboos.
The people joining around the meal had one thing in common, we were all activists whose faith included an emphasis on social justice. That was why we'd been invited. The liturgy the rabbi was using in Christian terms would have been defined as an example radical theology.
As we were led through the meal a quote that came up a couple of times was " what is important is not that you believe this but that you remember it and make sure each new generation remembers it too". Yet we were told it's not just remembering it's also about looking at the relevance and learning to be gained in the world you hear it.
That gave me a huge release, in my struggling through my doubt this Easter the important thing is to remember and share the story looking at what it has to say in our world.
I share this picture of the prayer for Orlando that Rachel Mann wrote and transposed over a picture by Ric Stott because for me it encapsulates the essence of that message of remembrance and relevance which I'm talking about .
So what is the story I want to pass on this year?
It is the story of a rabbi who was viewed as dangerous by the authorities for breaking boundaries and sharing the idea that all people are of equal worth and that systems needed changing to reflect that. This is the story of a man who was peaceful and effective through living an authentic life in a country under occupation. It was a man who showed that true religion is found in living out an authentic faith and at times that means breaking man made rules.
It is the story of a man who was knowingly betrayed by a friend. Jesus was a man who chose the difficult path rather than deciding to take the easy way out. It is the story who went out to pray but whose friends fell asleep waiting for him.
It is the story of a man who suffered death, viewed as a dangerous terrorist by some, humiliated and body abused.He died this death because he chose to put others first and not renounce the destiny he had.
It is the story of a man whose family and friends suffered as they watched what was happening to him die, distanced and unable to touch him.
It is the story of a wait until the religious festival was over in order to go and finish tending to the body. A burial interrupted.
It is the story of more boundary breaking as women found the tomb empty. It is a feminist underscore which could not be written out. It is the story of women's voices not being believed but men having to acknowledge they were right. It is the story of empowerment mixed with fear and hiding.
It's a time for seriousness yes, but as with the Seder meal it is a time for fun and rejoicing. It's a time for relationship and friendship. It's a time for sharing the story with others and adding new symbols to increase inclusion. The rabbi explained that they had an orange now as a symbol of increased inclusion of LGBT+ and others, and a spoon as a symbol of including those with unseen disabilities.