On Sunday, as he was building into his sermon, my pastor said, “Why do we tell this story over and over every year?”
He was referring to that story of the guy who sends his people to borrow (we hope!) a donkey, so he can sit on it as they walk into downtown Jerusalem, as more and more folk crowd the sides of the road, cheering, waving branches, and generally behaving as if the guy’d just won the Super Bowl (or World Series, or Stanley Cup, depending on your sport).
We do, we tell this story every year, unleashing children with assorted herbage we refer to as “palms” whether they are or not. It’s a family celebration, the kind that causes one’s parents to turn to one’s adult self and say, “I remember when you smacked your sister with one of those… it left a welt… .” (That was not me!)
Somehow, though, the way he said it had me hearing, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” (Ma Nishtana, מה נשתנה ). Passover began Tuesday, which is awfully tidy, nu? This week Jews and Christians alike are turning to their children and telling the ancient stories of how we became who we are. How it is we are set apart from others; how this cataclysmic event shapes our understanding of ourselves and consequently shapes our actions.
How our God loves us so much that God will bend time, space, and the natural order of things to bring us safely next to God’s-self—which is so much more than we can enfold into our understanding that we are left both slack-jawed and jubilant.
“What is this service to you?”
“It is because God acted for my sake…”
…great be God’s holy Name.