“The God of your understanding is just that:
the God of your understanding. What you need is the God
just beyond your understanding.” —Rami Shapiro
As quoted in Barbara Brown Taylor’s
Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, 2019
By Trudy Wischemann
Last week I wrote about my struggle to understand Easter, and the difference between blind and open-eyed faith. I was exploring how we came to understand the Christian meaning of Jesus’ empty tomb from a tiny handful of eye witnesses, who then paid it forward, person by person, until it was written down and canonized.
I had missed the part played by previous teachings, the prophecies of Isaiah and the Passover holiday particularly, with its overlap with Holy Week: Maundy Thursday, Good (Bad) Friday and Seder. But as we went through the week, my understanding grew.
On Bad Friday I heard an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that stretched my mind. The story was about a program called “2 for Seder” started by a Jewish woman, Marnie Feinberg, after last year’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Her mother-in-law, Joyce Feinberg, 75, was one of the eleven victims.
In the interview, Marnie said she felt a need to respond to the virus of anti-Semitism with the vaccine of hospitality. “2 for Seder” encourages Jewish families to invite two non-Jewish people to their homes for Seder dinner. In its first year, 1,800 people were scheduled for this experience, hopefully inoculating them to the hateful fear of Jewish people that they can then spread to others beyond the sphere of Jewish influence.
I was impressed by this positive response to her personal tragedy, but something she said impressed me more. “Seder is a good on-ramp into what it means to be Jewish. It’s almost as if when we go through the Passover ritual, that we are going from being slaves and family members to becoming the nation of Israel. It is, in essence, the time we become Jewish every year. If you walk beside me as I’m taking that journey each year, if you walk beside me tonight, then you will really have a bit of insight about what it means, to me, to be Jewish.”
And there it was, the meaning of Easter. Every year we go through the trial of entering Jerusalem on a donkey colt, with palm fronds waving, hosannas proclaiming, then the last meal, the foot washing instructions, the predictions, the judgments, the missed opportunities to avoid the cross, the inevitabilities, the terrible grief, the unexplainable wonder. And Sunday morning, whether we’ve engaged in Easter bonnets and eggs or not, we are somehow born anew. Not slaves, not just family members, but a people, unified in our belief in a God beyond our understanding. A people of God.
Mind you, I’m preparing for some post-Resurrection blues. They’re coming, they’re riding just below the surface of my understanding like Captain Ahab’s whale, threatening to overturn this little ship. But maybe if we keep together, we won’t be washed overboard. Let us not forget to exercise our newly rediscovered membership.
Trudy Wischemann is a life-long neophyte who writes. You can send her your post-resurrection revelations c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.