I remember when I was a kid waking up on Easter and going through the mandated Easter basket hunt around the house. It was so much fun. And there are other Easter memories. Getting dressed in our Sunday best so early in the morning. (Back in the day, sunrise services were REALLY sunrise services.) I remember getting decked out in my best clothes. They weren't always new 'cause I often inherited the stuff my brother had outgrown. My shoes, however, were always new. I remember we would buy shoes twice a year - once in the spring and once in the fall just before school. Those shoes lasted a long time, especially with the occasionally added "taps." We headed off to church after we had taken the Easter photo in the backyard. Almost all the photos I still have with me as a kid are those taken on Easter morning. Me. My suit. A bow tie until I was about ten. Sometimes alone. Usually with my brothers and dad. All of us holding our Bibles. Then we drove to church. For us kids it was an awesome, somber church service. It was, to some degree, a reenactment of Resurrection Morn so long ago. The service started out kinda slow and sad with quiet hymns and muted voices. There was the sermon by Rev. Holman about redemption and all that stuff. The congregation would belt out the old hymn that went "Low in the grave He lay, Jesus our Savior. Waiting the coming day, Jesus our Lord." At a critical point in the song, Mrs. Hannah the organist really earned her keep leaning into that mighty instrument and booming out the chorus. "Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes ..." Whew... Heavy and impressive stuff. I also remember how tough it was to actually sit through this service 'cause we hadn't eaten breakfast yet and down in the kitchen the ladies were whipping up pancakes and sausage for the Sunrise Service attendees. The smells wafted up the stairs, along the hallway and filled the sanctuary. It was tough. Lots of memories are created at Easter time. Thankfully, for me, they are good memories. Today, I have Passover as well. Dina and I celebrate the Passover, a holiday designated as one of the Great Convocations of the Jews. We don't make it to Jerusalem as the Torah commands, but we do mark this holiday in the best of family traditions. I think about the two holidays, Easter and Passover, a lot. I always do at this time of year. Passover is the story of the Israelites redemption as a nation. Easter speaks of individual redemption. Early in Torah, soon after the telling of the story of the Israelites escape from Pharaoh in Egypt, and while still wandering in the desert, the People are told to celebrate a Passover feast. Later, as a new community of believers grows the early Christians were also called to a commemorative supper at what they call "the table of the Lord." Both of these "meals" offer a break from the mundane; a time to stop and regather our spiritual energy; an opportunity to recall the old, old story. Both Passover and Easter give us a chance to recall and remember the development of a daily faith. Both Passover and Easter speak of sacrifice and redemption - of giving, and how our receiving spiritual gifts is so dependent on the giving of others to us and our giving to others. Both holidays involve the passing on of an oral and written tradition - for good purpose. Both the Tannach and the New Testament teach us the common thread messages that are pounded out so often throughout the ages - in Judaism and Christianity,\u00a0 and in other religions as well. Don't worry ... don't be afraid ... be at peace and be peacemakers. Too often, we forget these messages - especially in our personal lives. We're taught don't worry, there is Someone greater than us in charge - and we continue to worry about the dumbest things. We're taught don't be afraid - and we are afraid of the silliest things. We're taught to be peacemakers and be at peace with ourselves and those around us - and we barely get thought he day without some conflict ... internal or external. The Passover story and the story of Jesus' sacrifice are designed to bring us back, to make us remember one more time ...again, and again and again. We are given opportunities to remember, recall, tell others, repeat the old, old story, and practice, practice, practice. We have to practice what we want to live and be. When at Passover and Easter we are called, as I believe we are at these two holidays, to be people of peace, of love and concern for others, willing to sacrifice and reach out, people of tolerance and acceptance, people of a calm and sturdy faith, people looking for common threads and not common threats, when are called to all this shouldn't we be at least practicing to be the best we can? Taking action. Focusing. Enjoying our faith and each other. And letting go with a full and firm belief despite the stress and strain of the world around us. It takes practice. Have a special and meaningful Easter ... or Passover ... or both.