A View From The Mesa: Holy week reminds us of our freedoms

Earlier this week I was studying with a childhood friend. As we caught up she talked about her preparations for Seder dinner. Her daughter showed me the Passover book she had made and we inquired about each other's family traditions for this sacred week as we have for years.

It is a huge week of celebration for a large segment of our population. Whether you are Jewish observing Passover or Christian celebrating Easter, this holy week is a celebration of freedom.

Looking through my young friend's Passover book, I was reminded of the exodus story of the Jewish people. This week families will gather around tables worldwide to remember how God miraculously freed them from slavery in Egypt. Remembering stories like these reminds us of the necessity of freedom for true life and our propensity as humans to oppress one another. In remembering Passover, we remember that the powerful do not always have the last say and God hears the cries of the oppressed.

In the observances this week, our hope is renewed that God is still working out freedom from oppressive systems and corrupt rulers despite what we see in front of us. And just as we long for freedom for those who are bound in oppressive structures, many of us recognize our need for freedom from our own immorality.

As easy as it is to point the finger at the shortcomings of others, most of us are highly aware of our own shortcomings and desire to live freely — free from doubting ourselves, free from hurting others, free from addictions, pride and wounding actions. At Easter, Christians celebrate the freedom that Christ's death on the cross and resurrection ushered in through forgiveness of our shortcomings.

Some people believe that religion itself strips us of freedom.

What we celebrate this sacred week is what makes us free both from our individual wrongdoing and the oppression around. On the contrary, these faith traditions provide space for us to reflect on the spiritual realities of freedom, forgiveness, celebration and ultimately God's love for humanity.

As we gather as family and community to remember freedom, it begs the question of how we ourselves are participating in oppression. It leads us to consider the areas of life in which we need freedom.

As we come together to celebrate forgiveness, we are forced to consider the places in our lives that we need to forgive or be forgiven. These sacred traditions are about more than just remembering what happened in the past. This week gives us another opportunity to live the truth of what we celebrate. May your observances lead you to freedom, forgiveness and a deepened capacity to give and receive love.

CRISSY BROOKS is co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.

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