From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Infidelity: Unto power do us part

(Photo by Michel wal)
Just one day before the world paused to honor a royal “unto death do us part,” the Association for Psychological Science (APS) published some pertinent information.

Eyebrow-raising results of a study on infidelity were included in the April 28, 2011 issue of the APA’s journal, Psychological Science.  According to Time Healthland, researcher Joris Lammers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands analyzed 1,561 responses to an online anonymous survey concerning the relationship between confidence, power, and infidelity.  The respondents, readers of a Dutch business magazine, were from various levels within the workplace hierarchy – from the six percent that were top-level executives to the 58% at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder.

The crucial link between power and infidelity is identified by Lammers as “confidence.”  Lammers goes on to explain that decreased power is associated with a sense of “threat and danger,” whereas increased power is associated with a “disinhibited sense that you can get what you want and should take risks to get it.”  It is in this sense that power corrupts – not only regarding infidelity, but also regarding other moral issues.  According to this study, power also trumps gender when it comes to infidelity.  Allegedly, the reason why more men than women cheat is because more men than women wield power.

However, this study might actually yield more questions than answers.  For example, is “confidence” really just a matter of disinhibition, or is it a quality in its own right?  The roots of the English word “confidence” are the Latin terms con (“with, together”) and fido (“trust, rely upon”). “Confidence” can therefore be a reliance upon - and a coming together with – something greater than one’s own desires.  Buddha conducted a study of his own, and discovered quite experientially that being led by desire (either through sensualism or asceticism) does not bring lasting peace or joy.  He therefore sought that which was more trustworthy.

The ultimate question then becomes:  What is worth developing confidence in?  For the royals - and for us all - even the slightest glance at history will show that the mere chasing of desires often ends in disaster.  It
therefore seems wise to temper power with that which never corrupts.


Copyright April 30, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shinto Directive: Hirohito's response

(Hirohito as a Shinto Emperor)
During the post-war U. S. military occupation of Japan, it was widely believed that “State Shinto” was responsible for much of the nationalistic fervor that had fueled Japan’s role in World War II. The United States was therefore determined to separate Shinto from Empire under the guise of constitutional rights.

The result of this American fervor is commonly called the Shinto Directive, its proper title being SCAPIN 448: Abolition of Governmental Sponsorship, Support, Perpetuation, Control and Dissemination of State Shinto (Kokka Shinto, Jinja Shinto).  Its very name belies the fact that it went above and beyond mere separation of Shinto and state.

Along with this Directive came the rigid enforcement of restrictions upon religious rites at state funerals and commemorations.  This was met with such dismay by the Japanese people that it had to be revised about halfway through the occupation period.  Other restrictions specifically targeted Shinto doctrines concerning the emperor, people, and islands of Japan.  According to Wikipedia, claims that Japanese emperors descended from the sun-goddess, Amaterasu, were no longer allowed.  Accompanying claims regarding Japan's divine superiority were also banned.

Although Emperor Showa (aka “Hirohito” outside of Japan) was often a humble man, he was also a man
who had taken his Shinto-leadership role seriously.  Wikipedia reports that he had at times “stressed the need for peaceful resolution of international problems.”  He found inspiration in these lines that his grandfather, Emperor Meiji, had written:  Across the four seas, all are brothers.  In such a world why do the waves rage, the winds roar?

He therefore must have had intensely mixed feelings when directed by the Americans to renounce the Shinto
claims about his sun-goddess ancestry.  His purported “renunciation of divinity” may not have fully occurred.
Wikipedia quotes him as saying this about it:  It is permissible to say that the idea that the Japanese are
descendants of the gods is a false conception; but it is absolutely impermissible to call chimerical the idea that the emperor is a descendant of the gods.  


Copyright April 29, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mesons and Masons: Building blocks of the Great Architect

Freemasons believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, but do not necessarily adhere to one religion or another.  Therefore, they use the more neutral term “Great Architect of the Universe” to refer to this Being.

It turns out that mesons may be the preferred building blocks of this Great Architect.  Quantum physicists have long wondered why the physical universe exists at all – since mathematical calculations indicate that matter and antimatter should have knocked each other out of the ring long ago.  Enter Fermilab…

According to its website, the U. S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) “advances the understanding of the fundamental nature of matter and energy…”  Located in Batavia, Illinois (about 45 miles west of Chicago), its site is open to the public for tours and events.  Fermilab particle-accelerator technologies have greatly helped to develop the World Wide Web, and have spawned crucial advances in medicine, security, and economics.  The Fermilab site includes hundreds of acres of restored tallgrass prairie that is being used to study and preserve natural ecosystems.

According to Casey Kazan at The Daily Galaxy, Fermilab researchers have discovered that B mesons (subatomic particles composed of a bottom antiquark - and either an up, down, strange or charm quark) tend to act differently than first predicted.  These B mesons, “which constantly shift back and forth between a state of matter and antimatter,” shift back to antimatter at a slightly slower rate.  This, then, could account for the 1% gain in matter over antimatter that Fermilab discovered on May 14, 2010.

With matter taking the lead over antimatter, the Great Architect’s building blocks could begin to solidify.
Freemasons, who are encouraged to discover their own solutions to life’s perplexing mysteries, can now ponder the infinite ways in which these blocks can be assembled.


Copyright April 28, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The royal wedding: We three clergy

(Westminster Abbey - West Door)
How many clergy does it take to marry a royal couple?  In this case, three:  one to conduct the service (Dean of Westminster John Robert Hall); another to officiate the ceremony (Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams); and a third to give the address (Bishop of London Richard Chartres).

John Robert Hall was born on March 13, 1949, and began serving as Dean of Westminster in December 2006.  The majority of Hall’s priestly positions throughout the years have included an emphasis upon the field of education.  Wikipedia reports that Hall has not only been a Church of England key educational leader, but has also “been a governor of ten schools and two universities.”  Hall has been awarded a number of high honorary degrees and fellowships from prestigious colleges and universities.  He is officially listed by Westminster Abbey as
“The Very Reverend John R Hall BA HonDD HonD Theol FRSA HonF CollT, Dean of Westminster.”

Rowan Williams was born on June 14, 1950, and began serving as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury on February 27, 2003.  He has also become quite well known for his literary and social-justice activities.  He speaks or reads 11 languages, and Wikipedia reports that he learned Russian in order to read Dostoevsky’s original works.  He has had many published writings, including The Poems of Rowan Williams in 2002.  He has been arrested for his part in an anti-nuclear protest, and has been a strong proponent of ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.

Richard Chartres was born on July 11, 1947, and began serving as the Bishop of London in November 1995.  According to Wikipedia, Chartres has led the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign since its inception in 2006.  Its aim is to cut 60% of the Church’s carbon emissions by the year 2050.  After publicly criticizing the pollution of the planet by jet-away vacationers, Chartres received some flak from the airlines and others.  As a result, he had pledged not to fly for a year.  (But not to worry…  The royal wedding will practically be in his own backyard.)


Copyright April 27, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SSF-IIIHS: The pilgrimage begins here

(Montreal from Mont Royal)
There is a centuries-old saying about Mohammed and the mountain, allegedly traced back to essayist Francis Bacon.
According to the Phrase Finder, it goes like this:  If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.

Montreal is such a “Mont Royal” to hundreds of spiritual seekers each year.  These thirsty pilgrims find an oasis right in the heart of the downtown metropolis.  To those in the know, that oasis is the Annual (this year 36th) SSF-IIIHS International Conference and College Week (2011 dates are July 8 to 17).  It will be held at the Hotel Delta Centre-Ville at 777 University Street.  Information about some surprisingly reasonable nearby accommodations can be found on the conference registration form.  Workshops are generally held in English – with additional French and Spanish translations during the weekend of July 8-10.

The conference begins that weekend with a burst of high-consciousness energy, shared by such notable speakers as Professors Marilyn and John Rossner, Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Melvin Morse, Grandmother Sara Smith, and Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo.  The remainder of the conference, including College Week and Weekend Two, is chock-full of inspiring workshops that reflect this year’s conference theme: Honoring
Both Sacred and Secular Contributions from Ancient Spiritual Insights and Emerging Future Sciences.

Workshop topics include the following:  Near Death Experiences, Vedic Music, Mind/Body Medicine, Kabbalah, Energy Diagnosis, Native American Healing, Remote Viewing, Reiki Self-Healing, Ayurvedic Medicine, Sufi Mysticism, Therapeutic Yoga, Energetic Wellness, Sound Healing, Ufology, Crystal Healing, Past-Life Regression, Interfaith Path,  Spirituality and Science.  There is ample time for socializing, networking, celebrating, and even sightseeing.

The SSF-IIIHS, founded by Professors John and Marilyn Rossner in 1975, is a heralded center for interfaith studies and services (SSF), plus a non-governmental organization affiliated with the United Nations that promotes “global inter-religious and intercultural understanding” and “the convergence of science, spirituality and universal human values” (IIIHS).


Monday, April 25, 2011

Dyngus Day: Buckets of fun

Mieszko I (by Aleksander Lesser) 
It’s Dyngus Day - which means that some young ladies may awaken to the drenched reality of overturned water buckets.  Those who are especially heavy sleepers might then find themselves tapped with pussy-willow branches.

How is it that dousing has rivaled alarm clocks on this day?  Some say that the answer can be traced to Mieszko I of Poland.

Before there was a Poland, there was a Polans.  This name was derived from the old Slavic term polje, meaning “field.”
The Polans were a Slavic tribe that inhabited the Warta river
basin of 8th-century Greater Poland.  The first dynasty to rule Poland was the Piast, and Mieszko I was the Piast dynasty’s first historical ruler.  He is also referred to as “Dagome, King of the Wends” (Wends meaning “West Slavs”).

After a turbulent period of fighting and conquering other tribes, Mieszko was ready to settle down.  This not only meant marriage, but it also meant baptism.  His bride was Dobrawa, daughter of the Bohemian ruler Boleslav I the Cruel (named such because of murdering his brother, “The Good” King Wenceslas, for political reasons).  The marriage most likely occurred in 965 CE, and Mieszko’s Christian baptism most likely occurred in 966 CE.

Theories abound concerning this baptism.  According to Wikipedia, some say that it was strictly a political move.  After all, it would more closely align Mieszko’s kingdom with the Czechs, Polabian Slavs, and German margraves.  Others credit Mieszko’s wife, Dobrawa, with influencing him to embrace the Christian faith.

Although the reasons for this baptism are debatable, other aspects of it are much more certain.  It became a turning point in the religious history of Poland – away from tribal religions, and toward Christianity.  It began the spread of Latin (Roman Empire) culture (including liturgies, clergy, missionaries, and the Papacy) into Poland.  It even culminated in the issuance of the Dagome iudex, a document which officially placed Mieszko’s lands under the Pope’s protection.

Another most-certain aspect is that Mieszko’s baptism involved water.  Thus, the emphasis upon water on
Dyngus Day…  But what about the pussy willows? reports that when kittens fell into
a raging spring river many moons ago, the willows took pity upon them and scooped them up.  According to Polish lore, furry buds appear each year where the kittens once clung.


Copyright April 25, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter: On earth as in heaven

(NTS Baneberry Blast, 1970)
It seems to be no cosmic fluke that Earth Day and Easter have so closely coincided during this year of Fukushima.

While many are readying themselves for a day of joy and celebration, some are solemnly protesting the nuclear “time bombs” that are still ticking in our own backyards.  For the past five days, participants in the annual Nevada Desert Experience Sacred Peace Walk have been moving closer and closer to their final destination: the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), formerly called the Nevada Test Site (NTS).  According to, capabilities specific to this site include Atlas, the Big Explosives Experimental Facility (BEEF), the Device
Assembly Facility (DAF), the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) Facility, and the U1a Complex for subcritical nuclear tests.

If these capabilities sound as incomprehensible as “rocket science” to the average person,  that’s because they are “rocket science” - but with a particularly lethal bent that is blanketed by acronyms such as good old red-blooded BEEF.

The destructive potentiality of these capabilities is only exceeded by the peaceful reality of these protesters.  John Amidon, President of Veterans for Peace in Albany NY, has been chronicling the highlights of this year’s walk in videos and print.  In his article - Who’s Next? – he recalls this incisive verse from the similarly-named 1965 Tom Lehrer song:  Egypt’s gonna get one too, just to use on you know who.  Israel’s getting tense, wants one in self-defense.  The Lord’s our shepherd it says in the Psalm, but just in case – WE GOTTA GET A BOMB!

Within this same dynamic article, Amidon points out that the use of weapons capable of destroying every
living thing within entire cities is “perverting the message of Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha and the Torah, the Koran and the New Testament along with a host of other prophets and faith traditions.”   In this season of Buddhist, Bahai, Jain, Hindu, Sikh, Ancestral, Jewish and Christian high holidays - may heaven and earth
instead be truly reflective of one another.

Who’s Next? (e-mailed article by John Amidon)

Copyright April 24, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday: In its own rite

Harrowing of Hades (Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315) 
Holy Saturday is all too often defined by its position
within the Holy Week sequence.  When mainly thought of as the day after Good Friday or the day before Easter, its own identity tends to get overlooked.  However, some traditions adhere to rites that emphasize the uniqueness of this sacred day.

Eastern Orthodoxy not only proclaims this day to be
Holy Saturday - but also Holy and Great Saturday.  At times, it is even called The Great Sabbath.  That’s because Christ is celebrated on this day as being quite spiritually alive.  “The Great Sabbath” therefore refers to a “resting” rather a “dead” Jesus.  However, even this ultimate type of rest was punctuated by periods of intense activity.  In fact, because Jesus is literally thought to have gone to Hell (Hades) and back, this Great Sabbath was all the more needed.

The official English term for Christ’s descent into Hell is the Harrowing of Hell.  According to Merriam- Webster, harrow originates from the Old English hergian, which archaically meant pillage or plunder.  Other terms besides Hell come from the Greek (Hades, the lowest, the unseen), the Latin (inferos, those below, underworld, netherworld, or abode of the dead), and the Hebrew (Sheol, grave, pit, abyss).  That Jesus not only descended into Hell - but also harrowed it - is seen as an ultimate victory of spirit over death.

Just what was harrowed from Hell?  “Just whom” would be more to the point – for it is said that Jesus released Adam and Eve, along with patriarchs such as Abraham and David.  This explanation somewhat answers the age-old question: What happened to the righteous souls who lived before the time of Jesus?  As for the unrighteous?  The Harrowing of Hell did not include them.

Those who adhere to the Harrowing of Hell belief tend to equate it with these (plus other) biblical passages: Matthew 12:40 (which likens Jonah in the belly of the whale to Christ in the heart of the earth), Acts 2:31 (which states that Christ was not abandoned to Hades), and 1 Peter 4:6 (which states that the gospel was preached to even the dead).


Copyright April 23, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nostra Aetate: Good Friday reminders

(Good Friday intercessory prayers)
The goodness of Good Friday was historically enhanced with the adoption of Nostra Aetate (“In Our Time”) by the Second Vatican Council on October 28, 1965.  The full title of this breakthrough document includes these words:  Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

This Declaration contains five major sections.  Section One emphasizes that all of humanity is but one family of God’s children.  Different religions are presented as vehicles for grappling with life’s ultimate questions. 

Section Two elaborates upon this communal approach by specifying that Hinduism, Buddhism and religions throughout the world “attempt in different ways to  overcome the restlessness in people’s hearts” via a reliance upon “doctrine, moral precepts, and sacred  rites.”  This section ends with a clear call for Christians to actively respect the “spiritual and moral truths,” as
well as the “social life and culture” of non-Christians.

Section Three concentrates upon the relationship between Christianity and Islam.  It begins with an affirmation of the Church’s high regard for Muslims.  It then details some commonalities of the two faiths:   worship of the same one God, submission to God’s will, veneration of Jesus and Mary, the importance of prayer, charity, and sacrifice.  Historical rifts are then acknowledged.  Immediately afterwards, there follows a plea for peace and mutual understanding.

Section Four goes on to finally tackle some centuries-old liturgical roots of anti-Semitism.  It begins with a remembrance of “the spiritual ties which link the people of the new covenant to the stock of Abraham.”  It continues with an acknowledgement of the gifts that Judaism has brought to Christianity:  the Ten Commandments, the patriarchs, the prophets, all the revelations of the “Old Testament” (Hebrew Bible).  It then references the apostle Paul, who repeatedly asserted that “the Jews remain very dear to God…”  Most importantly, Section Four declares:  Even though Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (see Jn 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion.

Section Five concludes the overall Declaration with these glorious reminders: all are created in God’s image; therefore, we cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people as other than brothers and sisters…  


Copyright April 22, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Twice Holy Thursday: Gethsemane and Ridvan

(Former Garden of Ridvan Site)
April 21, 2011 will be especially honored within two
sacred traditions.  For Christians, it is Holy Thursday(aka Maundy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Thursday of Mysteries, Green Thursday, Great Thursday, White
Thursday, High Thursday, and Communion Thursday).
For Bahais it is Ridvan (aka Paradise, Most Great Festival, and King of Festivals).

It is not just this date that is currently shared by these two traditions, but also a profound history of sacred
gardens.  Although Maundy Thursday focuses upon The Last Supper, what then followed were the pivotal events in the Garden of Gethsemane.  These events included Jesus’ prayers and agony, an angel’s visit, neglect and betrayal by disciples, and the arrest of Jesus. 

Gethsemane (“Oil Press”) is located at the foot of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.  National Geographic
estimates that some of the olive trees within today’s Garden of Gethsemane are over a thousand years old. 
Open-air Maundy Thursday evening services are held at the garden’s altar.

About 500 miles east of Gethsemane lies the site of another sacred garden, the Garden of Ridvan (“Garden
of Paradise”).  It is located near the Tigris River in what is now the Bab Al-Moatham neighborhood of Baghdad.  Unfortunately, the garden itself no longer exists.  It was cleared some years ago to make way for a huge medical complex now called Baghdad Medical City (formerly named Saddam Medical City).

When Bahaullah was exiled from Baghdad by the Ottoman Empire on April 21, 1863, he went across the Tigris to what was then the outlying Najibiyyih gardens (later renamed the Garden of Ridvan by Bahais).  He and a group of followers stayed there for 12 days, during which time Bahaullah declared himself to be a Messenger of God.  Wikipedia reports that it was this profound revelation that “led to the emergence of the Bahai Faith as a distinctive movment separate from Babism.”


Copyright April 21, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God to Pharaoh: Listen up, or else

The Seventh Plague (John Martin, 1823) 
Sometimes God gives us a tap on the shoulder in order to get our attention.  When that doesn’t work, perhaps a poke in the ribs…  One way or another, when God says things like “Let my people go,” it’s time to listen up.

At least that’s what the Pharaoh found out when one
Exodus-encouraging plague after another began closing
in.  First there was blood.  Not just in the arteries where it belongs, but in the very artery of the nation – the Nile River…  Then there were frogs.  One or two of them might seem cute from a human perspective, but loads of them leaping into salad bowls could take slimy to a whole new level.  The gnats that followed were no less annoying (think black-fly season in the Adirondacks).

Next came the swarms of lions, tigers, bears and other such oh-my beasts.  After that (for those who were still standing), came disease.  For the livestock, a “plague of pestilence” – for the humans, outbreaks loosely translated as “boils…”  Then came the hail – the worst Egypt had ever seen (could be the fire that it was intermingled with).  Locusts with aptitude (appetite plus attitude) were not far behind.  Darkness that mocked Ra’s sunny powers then blanketed whatever was left of Egypt.

Still the Pharaoh wouldn’t relent – exhibiting a stubborn resistance that inevitably resulted in the Passover saga.  When the first nine plagues went unheeded, God resorted to the tenth and final one.  Exodus 11:1-12:36 tells us that the firstborn of every Egyptian would then be killed, but the Israelite offspring would be spared.  How so?  God would “pass over” the Israelite homes that were marked with the blood of their sacrificial lambs.

Exodus 12:1-11 gives specific instructions for how and when these lambs are to be sacrificed.  The Exodus and Passover stories therefore greatly overlap, as do the Passover and Holy Week stories.


Copyright April 20, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seder Plate: Core plus more

A Seder Plate (Photo by Yoninah)
Since the Passover Seder is a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt, its bittersweet selections reflect both the sorrows of oppression and the joys of liberation.

There are five – no, six – no, maybe even seven – standard selections on the modern Seder Plate.  All were carefully chosen for their symbolic value.  The first five are the core traditional items, the sixth a debatable addition, and the seventh is still quite controversial.

Numbers 9:11 speaks of eating unleavened bread and bitter herbs on Passover.  Therefore, at least one bitter herb is always included on the Seder Plate.  This herb is often horseradish, and some say the sharper the better.  When maror of this sort brings tears to the eyes, that serves as a reminder of enslavement in

Although charoset is sweet enough to be reminiscent of God’s kindness, it too evokes harsh memories.  This thick mixture of fruit, nuts, spices, wine, and sometimes honey resembles the mortar that Jewish slaves used for Egyptian building projects.  When apples are used in this mix, they symbolize the secret birthing of male Jewish children in apple orchards so that they would be at least temporarily safe from Egyptian soldiers.

Karpas is a vegetable (different from the maror one, often parsley) that is dipped in salty water which resembles tears shed by Jewish slaves.  On the brighter side, karpas is also associated with new beginnings and spring greenery. 

Zeroa - most often a shank bone (aka tibia or shin bone), but sometimes a chicken wing or neck, or even a beet – symbolizes the Pesach sacrifice that was made in the Temple of Jerusalem.  The vegetarian-friendly red beet resembles the blood of this Paschal lamb.

Since eggs are traditionally a symbol of Jewish mourning (and are handed to mourners immediately after a funeral), a beitzah (hard-boiled egg) is included on the Seder Plate.  It serves as a mournful reminder of the Jerusalem Temple’s destruction.

These five – maror, charoset, karpas, zeroa, beitzah – are the core Seder Plate selections.  A sixth is often added in honor of the plural wording in Numbers 9:11 (which speaks of bitter herbs, not just “herb”).  That additional bitter vegetable (often Romaine lettuce) is called chazeret.

Those who believe that seven is a lucky number must have had this last, and very modern, Seder Plate selection in mind.  In the midst of the ancient hues sits a dazzling newcomer – the orange.  Vitamin C notwithstanding, the orange plays a significant role in updating the Seder ritual.  Tamara Cohen reports that it was originally introduced by feminist Suzannah Heschel in the early 1980s in order to affirm gay rights (spitting out the orange seeds was likened to repudiating homophobia).  The backstory of the orange somehow morphed over time into one that bypasses gay rights and concentrates instead upon the rights of women to lead Jewish congregations.


Copyright April 19, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lord's Evening Meal: Once a year only

Matzo (Photo by Yoninah)
For much of Christianity, Maundy Thursday is the time to emphasize “The Last Supper” of Jesus.  Not so for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  According to, their counterpart to Maundy Thursday, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist and Holy Communion is the Lord’s Evening Meal, which is observed only once a year on Nisan 14.

In Exodus 12, the Lord speaks with Moses and Aaron about special days within the Hebrew-calendar first month of Nisan.  On Nisan 10, an unblemished first-year male lamb should be set aside for the Passover (Pesach) sacrifice.  It should be kept until Nisan 14, and then “the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at dusk.”  Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that, since Jesus was the ultimate
sacrificial Lamb, his death occurred on Nisan 14 (on April 1, 33 CE of the Gregorian calendar).  The “Last
Supper” would have therefore been on the evening before (Hebrew-calendar days begin at sunset; thus, this last meal would have still been on Nisan 14.)

Since Jehovah’s Witnesses align the Lord’s Evening Meal with the beginning of Passover, they believe that it should only be observed at that time each year.  The term “Lord’s Evening Meal” is derived from 1 Corinthians 11:20. explains that the bread and wine that Jesus offered can only be symbols of His body and blood since Jesus was still in His earthly body at the time of these initial offerings.  It further explains that the unleavened bread represented a body without sin (since leaven was equated with sin in the ancient Hebrew culture), and the wine represented the blood that “makes valid the new covenant.”

Some interpretations of these events differ sharply from those of the Jehovah Witnesses.  Some point to 1 Corinthians 11 as evidence that such Lord’s Meals were meant to occur far more frequently than once a year.  They say that Paul was not warning about the frequency of the meals, but rather about the solemnity of them.  Some also point to Acts 2:42 and 2:46, which mention the frequent “breaking of bread.”   They say that the term “breaking of bread” refers specifically to “Lord’s Meals” rather than to just any meals.  They
cite 1 Corinthians 10: 16 and 11:24 in support of this.


Copyright April 18, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved