Deliverance and resurrection Passover-Easter: Stories of faith celebrate victory over bondage and death.

April 07, 1996

AGAINST ALL ODDS, slaves are liberated after centuries of bondage.

A rag-tag band of disciples comes upon an empty grave, guarded by an angel with astonishing news.

These stories, replete with mystery and miracles, are the stuff of faith. And faith -- in a God strong enough to overcome the pharaohs, powerful enough to cancel the bonds of death -- is what sets apart these holy days from all other days of the year.

In a secular society the stories of Passover and Easter sound far-fetched, unfactual, unbelievable for scientifically attuned minds. But these stories of deliverance and resurrection persist and, indeed, in this season of holy days, they prompt in countless secularized souls an urge to take some part in the rituals of faith.

During Passover, many otherwise non-religious people join Seder celebrations as Jews ponder again the ancient story of the flight of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. Likewise, many irregular attendees today will find their way to church for the service that is for Christians the most joyous of the year.

And who among us can get through these days without a nod to the Easter Bunny or tasting a chocolate egg or two? However removed from their roots, these secularized customs of the season also stem from ancient stories of resurrection and rebirth.

Like the commercialization of Christmas, these secularized symbols draw their power from the deep human thirst for stories, especially stories of power and mystery and miracles. After all, what expresses faith more than the need to re-hear the age-old stories that provoke in us the kinds of questions that spur our journey toward understanding our world and our place in it?

America is a land dedicated to the protection of diverse religious traditions. But on this weekend, two of its bedrock religions celebrate concurrently. Their reasons for celebration are distinctive. And yet for these great monotheistic religions, the faith expressed in both Passover and Easter points ultimately to the same God, the same power, the same mystery.

As those celebrations reverberate, they reveal the persistent thirst for deliverance from evil and the eternal hope of victory over death. In doing so, these holy days confirm again the power conveyed in the stories of faith.

Pub Date: 04/07/96

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