Stories – the Stuff of Life (Passover Reflections)

April 15, 2022
Stories - The Stuff of Life (Passover Reflections)
Jewish family celebrating passover

There are certain stories we tell our children again and again—stories of our own growing up and how we came to be who we are and do what we do. According to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “God made man because he loves stories.” 

Stories are the stuff of life. Everyone loves a good story—just look at the popularity of the movie business, the ultimate storytellers. 

I recall one occasion when Trixie and I went to the movies and were deeply touched by the delightful comedy-drama ‘The Lady in the Van’, which tells the true story of Mary Shepherd (played by Maggie Smith), who pulled into the suburban London driveway of acclaimed British playwright Alan Bennett in 1974. 

Fifteen years later, she was still there. You sense there is a past to Mary Shepherd hidden deep behind the stereotype of the near-homeless bag lady so many believe her to be. 

Eventually Bennett pieces together just a few small areas of the mysterious jigsaw that is Mary’s life history—the story of a promising concert pianist between the wars, who drove an ambulance during World War II and was twice rejected from becoming a nun. 

Israel has an amazing story that so much of the world does not—or will not—understand. During this month, from the evening of 15 April, Jews worldwide will observe the feast of Pesach, or Passover, when they remember the story of the Exodus and celebrate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. 

[Passover] is supremely [Israel’s] story as a people and a nation, their shared history.

It is supremely their story as a people and a nation, their shared history. The Jews’ sense of identity is tied up implicitly in their sense of peoplehood, of sharing a story that continues to this day and onwards as a “light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6) and as an integral part of God’s redemptive plan for His lost, broken and messed-up world. 

As Christians, we celebrate at the end of every year God’s redemptive work through the gift of His Son Jesus (Yeshua). The Jewish Passover has been commemorated the same way for many years, with ritualized meals of unleavened bread and cups of wine. 

These seders feature items of symbolic importance as families recite the Haggadah—the story of their ancestors’ dramatic escape from slavery. The best-known passage in the Haggadah is the “Ma Nishtanah,” which begins with a question asked by the youngest child present, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” 

And the story is told yet again and passed on from generation to generation. “It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:42) 

The image of Passover is not of something that once happened, but of something that continues to happen, today and onwards. 

I encourage you to watch “Raise Your Hand” (above), a powerful and inspirational song for Passover by Julie Geller, who encourages Jewish people to identify with their story by recounting their history through the generations. 

In the very recounting, strength is imparted to the Jewish people in their times of crisis, as in these days as global antisemitism surges yet again. Such is the power of their story. 

How amazing it is when we realize that through active involvement in our Christians for Israel ministry we too are being woven by the Lord into the very fabric of His ongoing story. 

Think about it. God in His infinite wisdom has chosen us to be the ones to partner with Him in these last days as we bless in so many different ways those who are “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

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Keith Buxton

Keith Buxton is the former National Director for Bridges for Peace Australia.

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