My brother, his wife, and I playfully chatted on the Zoom call as we waited for other family and friends to join our “spiritual support” session this morning.
“Ramadan Mubarak,” I said, reciting the Muslim greeting, acknowledging their observance of a religious ritual we learned growing up Muslim. Muslims fast for the same reasons Christians fast during Lent. It’s a time for sacrificing worldly pleasures to enhance spiritual strengths.
“Ramadan Kareem,” my brother and sister-in-law replied in keeping with that traditional greeting. “And Happy Easter,” my brother said.
“That’s right!” my sister-in-law chimed in. “Can I get some jelly beans, or a chocolate bunny or something?”
We laughed. I can count on her to add laughter and joy.
Then my serious brother asked, “What does a rabbit have to do with anything?”
“Huh?” I knew what he was getting at.
“What does a bunny rabbit have to do with Jesus? Do you know what you’re celebrating? he continued.
We goad each other this way all the time.
“Well, all the symbols have meanings, but I can’t tell you off the top of my head,” I said.
“Why don’t you go look them up? Do some research so you know what you’re celebrating,” he continued.
“Oh I can TELL you why I celebrate!” I said. “I’m celebrating the story of a man who was crucified on a Friday. And even as He was being crucified, he called out to His Lord and said ‘Father, forgive them’.” So, I’m celebrating that Jesus, even when He was being crucified, called out for forgiveness for the people who were torturing Him. And that’s just Day One,” I said. “On Day Two, it looked like He was dead, killed, defeated. His haters cheered because they had proven this man wasn’t who He’d claimed to be. His God hadn’t saved Him. They partied because they proved they had more power than this man who claimed He could heal the sick, and raise the dead. So, that was Day Two,” I continued, not even realizing what I was thinking and feeling until I heard the words spilling out.
“So, on Day One, this man who was being tortured, crucified, vilified, in the midst of all that pain, He called out for forgiveness for His enemies. So, I’m celebrating a radical, extraordinary forgiveness,” I told my brother. “Then, on Day Two, his haters thought they had won. His followers went away disappointed, defeated, heartbroken, disillusioned. But on Day Three, four women believed He might still be alive. They checked, and, sure enough He was. They saw that His divinity was indomitable. He could not be killed. They saw His divinity. So today I’m celebrating the divinity in each of us that is inextinguishable. I celebrate that there will be someone close enough to us to see our divinity.”
My brother and I ran out of time, as others logged into the Zoom call and it was time for our collective praise to begin.
“So, you DO know what you’re celebrating,” he said. “You’re not just in it for the Easter Egg Hunt.”
“Oh I’m definitely in it for the jelly beans,” I said. “Jelly beans in all colors of the rainbow.”
He opened our session reciting the Quran, followed by the Lord’s Prayer, then read the story of Abraham for our discussion.