Every year I look forward to April. Why? Not because the cool months are fading into history, not because I almost have Christmas paid off, not because itís about time to get my pool ready, but because my birthday falls in April and I get presents. I only know itís my birthday because my parents told me so, you see, I was too young when I was born to know anything about calendars. My parents are now gone and no longer here to remind me of my birthdate but I celebrated it for years so I have it in my chiseled in my memory, plus itís recorded on my birth certificate.
Every February we celebrate Presidentís day, to honor the birth of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Were you there when they were born? I wasnít. I have to take the word of those that knew them or about them; I have to believe in recorded history, I have to take it by faith that the historians were accurate.
There are other days throughout the year that are celebrated individually and collectively by citizens worldwide, not because all were present at the opening event but because someone started a day of recognition for an occurrence that produced a significant impact on lives.
In America we celebrate Columbus Day, how do we know he discovered America, (well technically that is up for debate now, since it was inhabited when he arrived.) We celebrate Thanksgiving yearly, were any of us present when Native Americans and Europeans sat down to feast? Did anyone have a Kodak moment that day? Were portraits painted? Well?
Jews celebrate the Passover every year. That happened millennia ago, according to their history so no one from this century really knows if a group of slaves left Egypt, except of course for Charlton Hesston, Yule Bryner and a few measly thousand other character actors and extras, most of who have died by now. Yet somehow the Jewish people got the memo that something happened at a specific time that needed to be observed yearly. My guess, substantiated by the book of Exodus, is since the celebration had a beginning it was handed down from parent to child, from generation to generation ad infinitum. Some one that had been present made sure it wasnít forgotten. Those that honor that day honor it with a sincere heart.
Now there is a segment of society that celebrates Passover in a different light. Something happened on Passover two thousand years ago that changed the focus of things. A man who claimed to be God, or the son of God, or both, died during the Jewish feast of Passover. Twelve men that associated with him heard his contentions of being the Passover Lamb. These twelve were there when he was crucified and saw him die a ghastly death. Then they saw something else. They saw him after he had been buried for three days. They saw him walk and talk and eat after he was buried. Then days later (fifty days to be exact) five hundred men and women claim they saw him disappear into the clouds. Five hundred men and women with families.
Those five hundred people transformed Passover to the Lordís Supper modeled after a pattern set by twelve men (minus one) who were present at the original Lordís Supper/Passover. Those five hundred passed the observance down to their children who passed it on to their children, ad infinitum. They no longer remembered being set free from bondage in Egypt as the primary focus of their joy. They now set the day as a day of rejoicing over the fact that their Passover lamb had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven freeing them from the bondage of sin. They no longer ate bitter herbs and sacrificed lambs; they drank a cup of symbolic blood and ate bread symbolic of flesh. They started a new tradition based on facts they had witnessed; a last supper, an arrest, a trial, a crucifixion, a burial, a resurrection, and finally the ascension; just as the Israelites had witnessed the unbelievable ten plaques and the parting of the red sea. And this tradition has been observed yearly two thousand times in churches all over the world.
Imagine being a part of something that has been handed down by eyewitnesses for two thousand years.