Grace Ross: We Reach Redemption Together
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Saturday night had been Seder with some of the Jewish members of my extended family – not only amazing food, but beautiful song and prayer.
Saturday morning, a lovely young man, newly ordained, retold the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead at the annual Bayard Rustin breakfast for Aids Action.
The story from the New Testament tells of Jesus being told that Lazarus had actually already been buried for four days and his body would have already been decaying. He asks for God’s help and goes to the tomb and calls Lazarus out. Often only that part of the story is told, but what this young man emphasized was that there is a key further piece to the story. When Jesus calls him out of the grave he’s still covered in grave clothes, bound hand and foot and while the gathered crowd is rejoicing, Jesus turns to them and says: “you must unbind him so that he can go free.”
Of course the Passover story is also about a community coming to recognize that they have become accustomed to being oppressed, slaves, and must come together, stand up and demand their freedom – and then take it if it is not given to them when they demand it. Moses is ready to leave himself but gets sent back to lead the rest of the people. We often talk about at our Seder gathering a newer understanding as well: it is not only the coming to consciousness of the Jewish people who leave, but that – in their calling down upon the Egyptians the various plagues because the Pharaoh will not simply let them leave – those who were not Jewish but chose to participate in and share trust as so also marked their blood that they were also passed over for the plagues. In other words, if they truly supported and threw their lot in with the slaves, the oppressed folk, then they too were not affected by the plagues.
As we look to spring and a new beginning, we are offered an opportunity to try once again to live our lives in this flow of redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love. In all these stories, it is not just out there some great God or spirit that helps us find forgiveness and rebirth (whatever way you mean that), but that is a community process.
As you too enjoy the first blooms and breathe the smell of fresh air and new soil, remember: rebirth and freedom has to do with us standing with each other. It has to do with us having the opportunity to unbind each other so that we may go free. It has to do with us standing with those who seek freedom and reaching that next year in the Promised Land together.
I hope as I enjoy the new flowers sprouting out of the ground and the snow finally melting away that it’s also an awakening for all of us to the opportunity to live our lives in redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love. We do not reach those alone with whatever Great Spirit we believe in, but that we get there together by helping each other out as a community, a beloved community.