Holy Holy Holy Week

This year Holy Week and Easter overlap with the Jewish Passover and Muslim month of Ramadan.  Because Ramadan is on the lunar calendar this is rare.  This means about 4.3 billion of the earth’s nearly 8 billion people, well over half, are currently within a sacred time. 

On Monday Congregation Tifereth Israel on Broad Street hosted a BREAD meeting.  During Rabbi Skolnik’s welcome he noted that when Jews celebrate Passover they are asked to do so as if they themselves were the ones enslaved in Egypt and delivered out of bondage.  This personal and collective experience informs their commitment to living lives of justice and mercy.

Ramadan has significant overlap with how Christians approach Lent.  It is a time of fasting (during daylight hours) and inward spiritual work – clarified by many Muslim leaders as the true meaning of the word jihad .  In addition, it is a season of service to one’s community.

For our part, Christians journey through the final days and hours of Jesus’ life (which we will do during our Good Friday service), meditate on its meaning to us, and celebrate resurrection over death and violence.

I have often found it noteworthy that I feel more affinity toward Muslims and Jews who live into the justice and mercy emphases of their traditions than I do with many Christians.  This is not surprising, but does open up important questions about what role faith plays in our lives.  It offers a word of caution that using the same stories and pointing to the same Bible does not make for common understandings or motivations.  It offers a word of hope that there is a spacious and inviting common ground on which people can meet despite the different stories and sacred texts we use.

It is my conviction that one of the best gifts we can give toward this kind of interfaith cooperation is to go both deeper and wider.  Deeper into our own tradition, and wider than our tradition has…traditionally…held space for.  Ultimately the traditions themselves are merely containers that can never contain the wideness and depth of Divine Love that permeates all things. 

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus told his companions to “keep awake,” even in that hour of trial.  In this time of trial, may we keep awake to the flame that our tradition holds for us and join with other flames no matter how they are named.