Sunday, March 22, 2015

Easter and Passover: What's the Connection?

Easter and Passover
As we approach both Passover and Easter you may wonder if there is a connection and, if so, what it is.



We know that Jesus was a Jew; his mother, Mary, and step-father, Joseph, were Jewish. His Apostles were all Jewish. They all celebrated the
Feast of the Passover every year as Jews have done (and still do) since it was instituted by Moses (Exodus 12). The Passover is celebrated to remember the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
If you have seen movie 'The Ten Commandments', you will remember the plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians in order to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. The final plague was the death of every first-born male. The Hebrews could only escape this last plague by killing an unblemished lamb, sprinkling its blood on the doorways of their houses and then roasting the lamb and eating it together as a family. They were to eat it with unleavened bread (without yeast) as they would not have time to let the bread rise before leaving. Unfortunately, the recent series The Bible, did not show the important meal of the Passover. It does show the sacrifice of the lamb, putting the blood on the lintels of the door but it does not show the people actually eating the Passover meal. We will see why this meal is important to both Jews and Christians.
The last plague was the breaking point for Pharaoh who finally let the Israelites leave Egypt(although he regretted it later and chased after them). This last plague was the death of the firstborn of every household in Egypt except those that had the blood of a sacrificed lamb on its door lintel. Moses told the Hebrews to remember this night and observe the Feast of Passover on the 14th of the month of Nisan as a perpetual ordinance for themselves and their descendants: “This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.” (Exodus 12:27)
It is Passover that Jesus and his disciples were celebrating, many years later, just before Judas betrayed Jesus and Jesus was arrested. This is what Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper portrays. But does Passover really have anything to do with Easter?
You bet it does!  The Passover was much more linked to the death and resurrection of Jesus than just occurring at the same time of year. On the first Passover, the Hebrew people chose one of their own lambs on the 10th of Nisan and killed it on the 14th of Nisan for the family meal. During the time of the prophet, Jeremiah, because the people went to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a sacrificial flock of lambs raised for this purpose were brought into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan. People could then purchase a lamb for their family’s celebration of the Passover feast rather than bringing one from their hometown some distance away. The sheep were brought into the city by the Sheep Gate.
It is believed that Jesus entered into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey on the 10th of Nisan. He was greeted by cheering crowds who waved palm branches and cried, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 19:38. Jesus is believed to have entered by the Golden Gate and came as a King but would be sacrificed like the lamb. This entry is remembered as Palm Sunday celebrated the week before Easter. The Golden Gate was sealed by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman in 1541 possibly to prevent the return of the Messiah.
Jesus celebrated the Passover seder meal with his disciples and we read in Luke 22:14, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which shall be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you.’” (Luke 22:19-20). This was all done before Judas betrayed Jesus and before Jesus was arrested. The Apostles did not yet know that Jesus would be nailed to a cross to die. Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection were part of God’s plan to bring people out of bondage to sin. It had been foretold as far back as in the Garden of Eden after the first sin. (see Genesis 3:15)
Three years before Jesus was crucified, John the Baptist had seen Jesus walking by and pointed him out, saying, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Years later, St. Peter would write to the churches, “...you were ransomed by your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” (I Peter 1:18,19)

Why is it called 'Easter'?
Unfortunately, the English language uses the word “Easter” for the celebration when Christians remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. The word, Easter, is thought to originate from Estre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring and so it was the feast that commemorated the pagan goddess of spring. In German, it is Ostern. The Church in Anglo-Germanic countries often ‘Christianized’ pagan feast days by using the name of the pagan feast or certain symbols of the celebration (such as the Yule tree at Christmas time) for Christian festivals. The symbol would be given a Christian meaning and so change the significance of the symbol. For example, the Christmas tree, an evergreen, came to symbolize ‘everlasting life’ which Jesus promised to his followers. In a similar manner, the eggs and young animals (chicks and rabbits) of Easter came to symbolize ‘new life in Christ’.
Other languages more correctly reflect the Aramaic form of the Hebrew pesach. So we have Greek, Pascha; Latin, Pascha; Italian Pasqua; Spanish, Pascua; French, Pâques; Scottish, Pask; Dutch, Pasen; Danish, Paaske; Swedish , Pask; Swedish , Pask. In the Lower Rhine provinces of Germany the people call the feast Paisken not Ostern.
By the way, the same ‘problem’ arises with the Anglo and Germanic languages using Sunday and Sonntag (referring to the pagan Sun god) whereas the Latinate languages use cognates of Latin, Deis Dominae ‘the day of the Lord’: Italian, Dominica; French, Dimanche; Spanish, Domingo.
Setting the date for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus was somewhat complicated and was not settled until years later. The Jewish Passover is set following the lunar calendar whereas Rome (and later the Western Church) followed a solar calendar. The Church could have set ‘Easter’ (the time of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection) on the same date as the Jews celebrated Passover (the 15th of Nisan) but they desired to celebrate the Resurrection on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day, as it had originally fallen on that day. Because of the difference in the lunar calendar and the solar calendar the date of Easter would not be the same every year. Eventually the Western Church set Easter Sunday as the first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon following the 21st of March. As a result, the earliest possible date for Easter is 22 March and the latest is April 25th. The Orthodox Church sets the date differently. see http://www.zenit.org/article-32165?l=english

References
The Bible. History Television http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible
The Catholic Encyclopedia / New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm
The Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=99&letter=P

Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Tale of a University, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Anti-Christian Culture

Women who have been sexually assaulted on university campuses are not taken seriously by the university. Dalhousie Dental students post disturbing and sexually explicit comments about female students on Facebook. Rape chants highlight Frosh Week at some Canadian universities.

One would think with headlines like that a university at which students promise to abstain from premarital sex (as well as harassment, gossip, vulgar language, drunkenness, use of illegal drugs, cheating and stealing) would be welcome news. Not only does “‘no’ mean ‘no’” but the question is never even asked! And yet many have given Trinity Western University in Langley, BC a failing grade for that very reason. The ‘community covenant’ that students are asked to sign states that they will voluntarily ‘abstain from sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman’. It’s this part of the covenant ‘between a man and a woman’, that some claim, discriminates against married gay persons who would want to study law there. Obviously it does not discriminate against unmarried gay or lesbian persons because the same rule of abstinence applies to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual persons.

It should be pointed out that as lawyers, graduates from the proposed law school at TWU would have to uphold the law of Canada which allows for same-sex marriage. TWU acknowledges that Canadian Human Rights Laws and the Charter and Section 15 of the Charter protect against and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and that “the courses that will be offered at the TWU School of Law will ensure that students understand the full scope of these protections in the public and private spheres of Canadian life.” (see the website for Trinity Western University).

In the preamble and section 3.1 of the Civil Marriage Act of Canada there is also protection against discrimination of those whose religious beliefs do not allow for their participation to perform marriages which are not in accordance with those same religious beliefs:

WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs;
WHEREAS it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage;

3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.


The BC Civil Liberties Association, which has often defended gay rights in British Columbia, wrote to the Law Society of BC in support of the TWU
Law School in March, 2013 as follows:

TWU is a private religious university. TWU requires its students, as a
condition of enrolment, to sign a Community Covenant under which
they agree to “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates
the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” While it is
the implications that this aspect of the Community Covenant have for
LGBTQ students that that have received the most attention in this
current controversy, it is worth noting that that is only one part of a
comprehensive faith-based code of conduct that members of the TWU
community agree to abide by.
Were such conditions imposed on students attending a public faculty of
law they would rightly be seen as unlawful discrimination contrary to s.
8 of the Human Rights Code of BC, as well a breach of students’ rights
to equality under s. 15 of the Charter. But it is crucial to remember that
TWU is not a public university and these conditions are not imposed on
TWU students – they are voluntarily accepted by those students who
choose to attend TWU. .... People who are not members of a particular

religion (and even those who are) may not approve of or be comfortable
with the beliefs of that faith. However, BCCLA’s position – in accordance
with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Trinity Western University - is that
the repugnance of a certain set of beliefs even to a majority of Canadians
cannot be the basis to deny a public good, such as entry to a profession,
to members of that faith.
In this case, the public good is accreditation for the purpose of
admission to the bar by students graduating from TWU’s proposed law
school. The denial of that public good to graduates of TWU’s law
school would infringe the freedom of religion, of association and of
expression of the members of the TWU community. We are unaware of
any sufficient rationale being offered that would justify that infringement.
Permitting graduates of TWU to enter the legal profession does not send the message
from the state to LGBTQ Canadians that they are less worthy of respect than others nor
does it deny them any rights or freedoms to which they would otherwise be entitled.
All it does is respect the freedom of those who wish to govern their own conduct in
accordance with the religious tenets encompassed within the Community Covenant.

(e-mail from the BC Civil Liberties to The Law Society of British Columbia. March 3, 2014. The entire e-mail can be viewed on
http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3891&t=Bencher- meeting-consideration-of-TWU,-April-11,-2014 under Public Submissions).

The Benchers of BC’s Law Society approved TWU’s Law School in the summer of 2014. However a group of lawyers in British Columbia asked for a membership vote on the matter rather than accepting the ruling of their governing body. In the fall of 2014 a majority of members voted against the approval of accepting graduates of TWU Law School as members of the Society. The Benchers of B.C.’s law society then reversed their previous approval of TWU Law School. Since then in December, 2014, BC Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virka also revoked the consent he had previously given for Trinity Western University to offer a law degree program.
TWU President Bob Kuhn said that he was disappointed with the decisions, “As a private Christian
University, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs. We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values.”
It all boils down to this: if you don’t agree with the rules of a school or university then don’t go there. There are other law schools in Canada and in British Columbia. Surely students would be happier studying where they agree with the rules and are with those who share their beliefs. Trinity Western says it is based on Christian principles and the Bible. If this is not your thing, why would you want to study there?

Some groups, yes, even well-known, banks and corporations, that oppose TWU’s Law School, say it is because they support ‘diversity’ in Canada. Apparently to them ‘diversity’ only means the diversity which they approve. Is that true diversity?

Ezra Levant, a journalist with the now defunct Sun News, reported on the vote against TWU's Law School in 2014, Listen to it at www.ezralevant.com/the-real-bigots

To learn more about Trinity Western University in Langley, BC go to their website at www.twu.ca