Easter and Passover — God’s Presence
By J.H. CAMPBELL JR.
Societies around the world are embracing “secularism” since they are encouraging their peoples to be indifferent to, or outright reject, religion or religious considerations. We are never surprised when such occurs in a nation headed by a dictator, king or other society controlled by a regime which will not permit “freedom” of the practice of any religion or faith. What is alarming is when examples of such can be cited in the United States, which was founded on Judeo and Christian values, beliefs, and principles and which constitutionally guarantees the “freedom of religion,” and not the “freedom from religion.” Ethics, morals, values, and character are subjectively determined, but are actually absolutes. The original rule book (The Ten Commandments) has three commandments focused on the Creator and Lord God, with the balance of the ten centered on the love and respect of, and for, others and their property. The practices expected to be followed in these Ten Commandments are designed to assist the Lord’s “creation” (man) in avoiding the seven capital sins, of Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth.
For a nation founded “Under God,” and one “In God We Trust,” how can we rationalize any of our decisions or choices when they do not conform to the absolutes or limits of the God-given rules? The United States of America was founded by faith-filled people who understood the importance of having God in their life each and every day. They submitted themselves to Him and His greatness, and understood that real freedom and liberty came from the Creator, and not a human-founded government, monarch, elected official, dictator, or other philosophy or ideology. Has the move to “secularism” turned people away from God, or turned God away from His creation?
The Christian “Holy Week” which began Sunday, March 24, reminds Christians of the Life and Passion of Jesus Christ, including the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, when Jesus Christ rose from the Dead. On Monday, March 25, the Jewish week of Passover begins when people of the Jewish faith commemorate the saving of the first male born in each family from the angel of death, and the freedom of the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians, all provided by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Three months ago, on Christmas Day, Christians commemorated the birth of Jesus Christ, and the word and name Emmanuel was used, which means, “God (is) with us”… Later in January, Epiphany was celebrated recognizing the realization or manifestation of God in our midst.
The founders, and the faith-filled generations since, of this great country realized the need and importance of having and recognizing the presence of God in their life each and every day. They ignored the temptation of secularism and submitted themselves to Him and His greatness, and acknowledged that freedom and liberty came from the Creator (Lord God) and not anything that this world has authored.
We are called and reminded to give praise and thanksgiving to our Creator, and to love our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Mankind has been continuously reminded throughout all time and history that God has never abandoned His creation. Unfortunately, man has turned his back on his Creator, when he denies those values, morals, ethics, and character which are ordained by God to comply with his commandments.
Each of us were given our human life and a free will. We are challenged to properly develop our conscience and God patiently waits for us to follow the examples of faith, hope, and love which He continually provides to us. Today’s secular societies reject His Greatness, with the belief that “man” can, and should, control his own destiny, and that “he knows” better than our Creator what is in our best interests. This “pride” prevents man from being humble enough to submit to the love and caring of his Creator for His Creation and life. The exclusion of God from our vocabulary, society, culture, public events, buildings, texts, and any other recognition or reference is sadly prideful and arrogant since the gift of life we enjoy is the greatest gift each of us has received from God, our Creator. This is why “life” must be protected at all costs from conception to natural death. A great theologian stated many years ago that “Right is right, even if everybody is wrong; and wrong is still wrong, even if nobody is right!”
This week, Holy Week and Passover, offers to each of us the opportunity to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who came into the world with nothing material, and left it in that same way. We can reflect, remember, and appreciate all of the many blessings which we have received in our life, and be thankful for the many times when we have been given the strength to endure those other times when we faced burdens, challenges, or obstacles in our life.
Acts of violence against the person or the property of another (violations of the Ten Commandments) indicate that many are still trying to find satisfaction and happiness in this world from power, control, wealth, position, authority, or material possessions, and have left God out of their life. We are invited and reminded by our religious observances to return to God and follow the example set by His Son to live a life which gives to the Creator the praise and thanksgiving deserved, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Too many this week will focus on the ham, lamb, dyed eggs, chocolate rabbits, and candy to celebrate a “holiday.” Each of us can make this week, Easter Sunday, and Passover, a real “Holy Day” or time period, by using our various talents, abilities and resources to be of service to one another, and by giving praise and thanksgiving to God and His Son. We can commit to replacing our “vices” with “virtues,” just by loving our neighbors, as we love ourselves.
No one has been guaranteed an easy life without crosses to bear, but we are assured that as we encounter the challenges, obstacles, and difficulties of life, and that God will never abandon, and has never abandoned, His Creation. We are called to be patient, tolerant, wise, understanding, kind, courteous, loving, compassionate, merciful, and forgiving, just as our God has been with each of us in spite of our various sinfulness, failings, and failures. His mercy and forgiveness for each of us is unlimited, and only a request away. Oscar Wilde stated, “Every Saint has a past, and every Sinner has a future.”
It has been said that “worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its suffering; it empties today of its strength.” Those who believe in God’s presence know that, as Oscar Wilde said: “The Will of God will NOT take you where the Grace of God will not protect you!”
May you and your family have a peaceful and fulfilling Holy Week, and a Happy and Blessed Easter or Passover, with a strengthened Faith, and never-ending Hope, and everlasting Love.
Contact J.H. Campbell Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Associated Grocers, Inc., P.O. Box 261748, Baton Rouge, La. 70826-1748.