Monday, April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday and Passover 2014 preparation reflection

So Passover 2014 begins April 14. As I attempt to lead my family (or household) in remembering and celebrating this feast, I want to share five thoughts that came to me as we prepared to remember Passover:

  1. On Palm Sunday morning, respecting my wife's Christian tradition, we listened to a Bible reading on the events of Palm Sunday. As we listened to the readings prior to the main Palm Sunday event, I noticed the themes of Jesus sayings and teachings prior to his entry in Jerusalem. All the teachings and sayings recorded then seemed to have a reoccurring theme: that of getting rid of the things that separates one from God. Hence, the major idea of Passover preparation is to take time to think about what brings us closer to God and what separates us from him.
  2. Cleaning through my refrigerator, I came across numerous vegetables that were abandoned or forgotten, including frozen vegetables. This inspired me to reflect that Passover is a good time to look back at our store house of food and see what we have wasted and make sure that we make good use of food that God provided us. To help do this, we should have a feast and invite friends, neighbours, loved ones or even strangers to help us eat the good food that God has provided us with, and celebrate and not forget his provision in the previous [old] year while we look forward to continuing provision for the new year.
  3. Cleaning my refrigerator took the whole morning and I was basically tired and a bit sick after the activity. Despite my enthusiasm to do more, like vacuum and mop the whole house, my body could not meet the goals I set for Passover cleaning. This reminded me that my efforts to remember the Passover by doing some of the activities  in the Bible will always fall short, hence my need for Jesus as my Saviour. Essentially, all the good that I intend to do, cannot be done, because of the limitations in my body and flesh. Hence, I need a substitute who can help me do the will of God and help me to acquire his favour.
  4. The matzah is really the "bread of affliction". My wife after eating matzah for an entire week for several years now, does not like the bread (or cracker). Whenever the Passover season comes and I acquire the bread, she reminds me of her horrible experiences and why she does not like the bread. For her, going without leavened products is more like a fast than a feast. I can empathize with her to some extent. Because Matzah is not the kind of food that you want to eat seven days straight. It is a bread that cuts. Because it lacks leaven, it is crunchy but can also lead to sore gums and cuts in the mouth (or lip). Nonetheless, the hardship of eating Matzah can remind us that we as Christians must share in the afflictions of Christ. (For Jews, the affliction is shared with their ancestors). To me the Passover experience reminds me that even though I might have freedom today, religious freedom is not guaranteed tomorrow. Just like how the Jews prospered in Joseph's time in Egypt, it only takes a few generations before your faith can be outlawed and your freedoms taken away. I see parallel today that the Western world, once the bedrock of [Western] Christianity is now becoming increasing secular. The results are, freedoms we used to enjoy are now being curtailed. Yet, the Passover experience reminds me that this is nothing new, and in fact, is promised by our Saviour. As Jesus says: In this world, we shall have sorrow (John 16:33). Hence, we must be prepared and prepare ourselves each Passover remembrance for this reality. We don't know when it may be illegal to be a Christian (for some in the East, this is already reality), but we must always contemplate this reality so that we can be reminded that even though we will be oppressed that God will deliver us as he did with the Hebrews under Pharaoh.
  5. Finally, as I cleaned my refrigerator, I wondered if Passover was also a way of getting the Hebrews to practice the hygiene of cleaning their food storage houses once a year, so as to clear out bacteria and other contaminants of food. I not only removed expired food from my fridge, but also wiped away much of the scum that made me wonder how much bacteria lives in the fridge, despite the cold temperature. I can only imagine that the Hebrews in leaving Egypt, without fridge technology, had to deal with hot temperatures associated with their food storage spaces that led to the breeding of fungi, mold and other micro-organisms. 
Finally, I share an insider's joke. My wife argued with me that I shouldn't wait once a year to do "spring cleaning" of the house. In fact, she suggested that we should be doing such activities at least every two weeks, so as to maintain the clean environment, rather than having a whole lot to do at one time. I shot back that God only cleansed his sanctuary once per year. :)

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