The Passover (from April 15 to 22 of this year) is an honoring and celebration of both the delivering of the Jews in Egypt from bondage and the strength of family.  After Pharaoh refused to keep his word and decided to keep the Jews as slaves, God commanded His people to sacrifice a lamb, mark their homes with its blood, and eat a meal in haste as a family – ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Pharaoh was terrified as the first born of every family was killed, and demanded the Jews and their families leave immediately.  Those who observed God’s commands were not only protected from this terrible plague, but were also prepared to go when the order was given.  Now, this is also a time of reflection on the survival of identity and family through many trials as well as an honoring of forbears.

Passover and Easter have always gone together in my family.  Easter represents the new life and promise of the Gospel, and Passover reminds us of what is truly important in our Creator’s desires for us – the bonds of sacred memory, willing obedience to a Higher Power, and family.  Families were saved in the Passover narrative because they followed the guidance of the Higher Power and marked their homes with sacrifice.  Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith points out that “sacrifice” is not a self-inflicted suffering in order to put off gratification until later, but rather “sacrifice” means to “make sacred”.  The Israelites essentially marked their homes with their dinner – but because it was an act done with specific, committed (or holy) intent, this was a sacred act which is recognized as sacrifice.  When we continue to observe our love and respect for family and traditions, I believe our homes can still be marked with the “blood of the lamb” – the sacrifice or sacred act of family dinner.  When we hold together as family, homes are different and definitely marked – Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr comments in his book Islamic Art and Spirituality that the site of worship is the second most sacred place, that the most sacred site should be the home.

Today most of us no longer have the luxury of a full, traditional family.  However, the family is not dead.  The family is made of those who love each other unconditionally – regardless of how irritating, loud, and obnoxious uncle Ted or aunt Alice are, we love them and feel complete knowing they are there, somewhere.  Many times those we view as our family aren’t blood relations, but we are bound by a heartfelt bond we feel as a physical thing even when we may be separated by death.  When we view our family as a sacred structure, when we treasure those times we can express our love through simple things like sharing a special meal – that’s when our actions begin to be made sacred, and our homes can be touched with the mark of the lamb.  Truly bad things may happen, but those sacred bands of family will survive.

The promise of Passover is the promise of the family, in whatever form that may take.