Photos from the Seder were taken in low-light. We are grateful to have them! Thanks to Neysa Nevins for the visuals.
This reflection is inspired by the beautiful interfaith Seder that I participated in recently, jointly prepared and led by two women religious leaders, a rabbi and a minister (and that in itself was a gracious experience for this Catholic woman). The evening ceremony was focused on the theme of climate justice, and it was scheduled to coincide with “Earth Hour”, when electric lights around the world are turned off for one hour to shine a light on the need for climate action. The Seder was sponsored by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light. In the beauty of candlelight, we commemorated the ancient traditions and living faiths of Judaism and Christianity.
During the service, Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein spoke of the symbolism of the matzo bread on each person’s plate. It is unleavened – that is, not puffed up, but plain, made with few ingredients and quickly-baked. Like our essential selves stripped of ego-puffiness, it is a bread that reminds us of what is basic and true. It is a bread of poverty, and also the bread that symbolizes freedom. It reminds us that even when what we have is humble and simple, we have enough. I could meditate on this for weeks.
Like matzo, the communion bread shared by Christians in my own faith tradition is also usually unleavened; after all, this was the bread that Jesus blessed and broke with his disciples in his last Passover meal with them. It is a bread that connects us to one another across the ages and across faiths.
Around our tables in the darkened hall, we shared the matzo and the other symbolic foods of the Seder. We spoke quietly with one another about what it is in our lives and world that brings tears, what is bitter, what brings sweetness, joy, hope. We grieved for the human-caused plagues affecting our planet today, and we listened to the words of Pope Francis from his encyclical Laudato Si about the sacredness of Earth, our sister and our common home.
When the lights came back on, nourished by food for our bodies, souls, and hearts, we sang and gave thanks for the time together and covenanted ourselves to continue to act on behalf of God’s creation.
And then before we departed, Rev. Cheryl Pyrch invited us all to help clean up and put things away after our meal, restoring the room to its readiness to serve whomever should come next – which seems like the best Earth-care symbol of all, don’t you think?