Two years ago, I was in Israel for my last semester of college, an experience not easily forgotten. One of the most memorable moments of that semester, though, took place outside of Israel. Bit of background, being in Israel in the spring meant a lot of talk about Passover, both historically and culturally. We even had a Passover meal (though we did so a week earlier as we actually had spring break the same week as Passover) with at least some of the Jewish traditions of the holiday, all in the light of Easter (Jesus being the Passover Lamb, etc). In short, I was made keenly aware of Passover and Easter and the implications on my faith; and it was a wonderful thing. Up until that semester, I don’t think Easter had been so strongly impressed on my mind, so constantly on my mind.
As I said, we were on spring break during Passover proper and that was the time we split into groups to visit other countries as we were only allowed in Israel for 90 days at a time. My group went to England and Scotland, also very memorable, but those are stories for another time. As we walked around London, taking in the sights, listening to the locals talk, and just enjoying ourselves, I had a jolt of culture shock as we passed the windows of some of the shops: bunnies and eggs and pastel colours.
Some of my readers may wonder what’s so weird about that. Others may wonder why I had culture shock since I’ve grown up in a culture that always has bunnies and eggs and pastel colours around Easter: shouldn’t I have had the culture shock in Israel, what with the cultural emphasis on Passover and the lack of those images I’d grown up seeing? (For crying out loud, I actually enjoy a movie featuring the Easter Bunny!)
Culture shock in Israel actually wasn’t in issue for me. Sabbath? No problem, just Sunday a day and an evening earlier. Israeli soldiers walking around with guns over their shoulders? A post-WWII historical fiction series had made that sort of image normal, even if the books were set a full 60 years before I arrived in Israel. Old City Jerusalem split into “quarters”? Same series of books also prepped me for that. Bartering? Yup, ready for that. Travel in groups? To be expected. Passover was no exception. In fact, Passover fit in with my world the easiest of all these things because of history of my faith.
And that is where the culture shock of being back in the Western World comes in. Passover, while not something I observe either for cultural or spiritual reasons, is a reminder of the Old Covenant, back from when the Messiah was promised; as well as a reminder of how Jesus, when He came, is the fulfillment of all that. But bunnies and eggs? When did those come into the picture? Sure, I see how they can be symbols of new life, but they’re terribly weak symbols contrasted against unleavened bread and the blood of a spotless lamb… or better yet, an empty cross and an empty grave.