Elisabeth asked her grandma what they would be doing for Easter Sunday. Grandma replied, “nothing pagan.”
So we kicked off the Gill family Easter weekend with an Easter egg hunt. Yeah, it’s pagan but when a nine-year-old who has lived in England for the last two years anticipates coming back to the United States just for the candy, I don’t feel too bad about stuffing plastic eggs full of cinnamon bunnies, speckled malt eggs, and jelly beans.
Passover started last night at sundown. Our seder started about two and a half hours before the sun set and lasted about thirty-five minutes instead of four hours because guests included six children, three teenagers, five grandparents, two aunts, three uncles, James, his sister, her boyfriend, and me. We reviewed the essentials of the seder, particularly the three symbols of the seder tray, which Rabbi Gamaliel expressly stated must be explained or one has not fulfilled his duty. We also played “Who knows one?” and tried to breathe out all thirteen principles in a single breath. No one passed out.
My favorite moment in James’s condensed, Jewish-Mormon seder is when we dip into our glasses of juice (not wine) and drop ten droplets onto our plates to symbolize the suffering of Egypt from the ten plagues. James then holds up an entire cup of juice and explains that when during the Last Supper Jesus says “This is my blood,” He was illustrating the power of the Atonement.
During Passover and Easter the Atonement is always foremost in my mind. That is, after all, the purpose of the holidays: to help us remember that God delivers His people—from bondage, from death, from despair.
And so in this season when snow tries to bury budding fruit trees and the ground cyclically freezes and thaws, I remember death came to Mary’s firstborn, just as it did to all of the firstborn sons of Egypt. But He rose triumphant on that Sunday, and on that day the cold earth could not hold back its bounty. Each of the sons of Egypt is delivered by Him, as is every soul who has come to this earth, and so am I.