Hope everyone out there is having a great day. Today is Good Friday. It is also Erev Pesach (Passover Eve) since the Hebrew day begins at sundown Passover actually begins tonight.
I went out to run some errands today. Being Good Friday the grocery stores were packed. The parking lots were crowded. I forgot it was Good Friday. We have a great little grocery store in town that has all sorts of international foods. I get honey there. The parking lot is always a nightmare, especially today. Everyone seemed to be impatient. I mumbled something a bit louder than I thought forgetting the window was open. The guy in the car next to me heard me. Thankfully what I said wasn’t awful. We smiled and wished each other a nice weekend. All in all, not too bad.
Waiting in line to purchase my honey I noticed that nearly everyone at the checkout had at least one hot cross bun in their cart. What a flash from the past. I haven’t observed Easter per-say in years. If anything I celebrate Passover with a Messianic focus. Being out of the Easter loop so to speak I have been a bit oblivious to what the rest of the world around me is doing. Then right there at the Shop’n Save my life was injected with sweet smelling memories.
HOT CROSS BUNS
It is traditional to eat warm hot cross buns on Good Friday. Hot cross buns are to Good Friday, as egg nog is to Christmas and what corned beef and cabbage are to St. Patrick’s Day. It’s Tradition. Indulging with hot cross buns on Good Friday marks the end of Lent. I haven’t observed Lent in decades, not that I ever did. My cousin, a devout Catholic, always gave up sweets for Lent. It was her way of fulfilling religious obligations and getting swimsuit ready at the same time. But I regress. Hot cross buns are a tradition that some believe dates back to the twelfth century. One tradition suggest an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of the crucifixion of Jesus. The cross on top of the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus. The spices are symbolic of the burial spices used on Jesus. All I know is that as a kid I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t get hot crossed buns all the time. I loved the spices, the raisins and the sugary cross on top. What’s not to like?
Easter and Passover Combined
Being forced on an anti-inflammatory diet which means NO GLUTEN, I do not get to indulge in hot cross buns even if Lent is over. Tradition or not, I don’t dare. As I was saying, I was flooded with memories of those amazing buns and the fun things my mom did to make holidays memorable. My mom became a Christian when I was in high school. She and my dad were divorced. Mom remarried and started a second family. Mom always had a way of doing things that made the celebration unforgettable. Being a new Christian and having a young children mom started new traditions. One of those traditions was mom’s famous Empty Tomb Biscuits and the combination Easter Passover Dinner.
The biscuits were awesome. You could only eat one they were so sweet. Two would have you spinning and by the third you were bordering on going into a sugar coma. They were simple store-bought biscuits with a marshmallow hidden inside. You roll out the biscuits, place a marshmallow in the middle, fold the biscuit over to make it like tiny calzone, or a pocket. Seal the edges tight and pop them in the oven until golden brown. The marshmallow expands in the oven, melts and leaving a sweet sugary coated hollow inside. Yeah they were great.
Mom made up games. She made up a story about redemption and what Jesus did for us on the cross using jelly beans. Mom was very much an evangelist so every story pointed to Jesus. She used the color of the jelly beans to tell the story of redemption. Black for sin, red for the blood of Jesus, white for righteousness that is ours by faith in Christ. The pink ones had to do with being made a new creation. The green ones were the new life Jesus has for us through the Spirit. It’s silly and a bit cheesy but memorable non the less.
Mom worked the jelly bean story into the that first Messianic Passover Seder we celebrated as a family. I’ll never forget it. She made lamb. We had matza crackers and sparkling grape juice and Mom shared the story of Jesus and the cross. It wasn’t Jewish. It wasn’t Catholic. It wasn’t Evangelical or Spirit-filled. It was Mom’s way of weaving the threads of our Hebraic roots into our modern lives as Christians.
Mom went home to be with the Lord about five years ago. Every holiday since we have missed out on Mom’s devotion to the Lord, her incredible sense of humor and her dedication to keeping the gospel message simple. I am not my mom. I tend to over complicate things. I get into deep study and sometimes that intensity causes me to forget how simple faith is. I am grateful to my mom for her love, her care and her influence.
She is the one who first influenced me to look into the Hebraic roots of Christianity. For years she watched Zola Levitt and Jewish Jewels. Mom didn’t believe that we needed to stop celebrating Easter in order to observe Passover. She believed that doing both was perfectly acceptable. She insisted that despite the fact that Easter was originally a pagan holiday she was going to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ no matter what day it was. She believed the same about Christmas. It didn’t matter to her what other people did or didn’t do. She was going to celebrate the birth of Christ. She also didn’t believe in depriving the children of celebration.
While I might not technically celebrate Easter it’s only because I don’t have small children in my life anymore. My kids all got Easter baskets every year just like every other kid got Easter baskets. They got all jacked up on sugar before heading out to church, like every other kid on the block. We always got new Easter outfits because we did. The outfits were never the reason, neither were the baskets, or hiding eggs. It was never about the hot cross buns or the even the seder. The story that was stressed wasn’t about the Easter bunny. It was always about what Jesus did by taking the punishment for our sin upon himself. It is about an opportunity to share the gospel. It is about celebrating the greatest gift given to mankind. So whether you observe Easter or Passover know that Christ died for your sins. He loves you and gave you the greatest gift you will ever receive. Through faith in Christ we receive eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY PASSOVER