Today marks the first day of Passover. I grew up hearing the story told about Moses and the Hebrew people being enslaved by the Egyptian king, Pharaoh. Tonight's gatherings mark the night when the last of ten plagues were delivered to the land. Pharaoh was told that an illness would come and strike down all the firstborn children. No one would be spared. "Loud wailing will be heard throughout the land," we were told. And it came to pass. But not all the firstborns were killed. The Hebrew families who had been warned by Moses marked their doors with lamb's blood as a sign that the illness should pass over their house. And the illness passed over them, and the Hebrew families were spared.
COVID-19 brings this story to life in a way that has never been more real. It is impossible to not wish that we had the same means with which to spare our homes and families. Pass over, please loving God, pass over our houses.
Later tonight at sunset Seders will be held around the world remembering and celebrating Passover. Families and friends will gather around their tables and sing songs and tell stories that they have heard their whole lives. The four questions will be asked and answered, explaining why tonight is different from all other nights. Traditional food will be shared, and wine will be poured.
I’m grateful to be invited to one tonight with some friends and look forward to listening to the stories they tell. It will be different, like no other night, because this year we will all be joining in on a Zoom Seder. It promises to be a night to remember in so many ways.
One of Passover’s highlights for me is the singing of Dayenu which means, "it would have been enough." This song recalls miracle after miracle. It speaks to God’s presence throughout time. It would have been enough, and yet God continues to act and bring life over and over again. Dayenu brings hope into this moment in a powerful way. And so, with anticipation, I wait to hear the singing of this song tonight.
This day holds so much. This day is Passover with all of the stories that have been told grandparent to grandchild for centuries. This day is one of Holy Week with a story that has sustained and guided me my whole life. And now this day holds COVID 19 – what is known and unknown. Just as I was putting these three parts together, my typing slowed down and I realized that it feels like too damn much. Our traditions and holy days hold our life stories full-to-the-rim with all of our precious and hard times. This plague which feels so much like what came to the Egyptians holds fear and uncertainty. Today all three come together.
My work for today as I prepare for tonight’s Seder is to not miss the singing of Dayenu. I hope that my spirit can stay open all day as I anticipate the stories and singing. There will be laughter and tears. There will be holding on and letting go. And for me, for this year this Christian Seder guest is leaning into the strength of this ancient song that names and claims God’s ongoing participation in life’s miracles. May it be ever true, Holy God of beginning and beginning again.