Moravian Academy celebrated Passover and Easter this year with special chapels in Lower, Middle, and Upper School.
Our guest teacher this Passover was Rabbi Michael Singer from Congregation Brith Sholom on Macada Road in Bethlehem.
At the Upper School, Rabbi Singer hosted two lunchtime seders, a first time experience for Moravian Academy. A seder is the traditional celebration for the festival of Passover. Most seders take place around a family or community dinner table, where people gather to remember and tell again the story of Moses, the Hebrew people, and their escape from slavery in Egypt. The center of the meal is the Seder plate, which combines specific foods to symbolize the story: matza, bitter herbs, spring greens, sweet haroset, an egg and a bone. The Passover story is one of slavery and freedom, suffering and grace. It is a story that invites us to remember our own suffering, that we may better understand the suffering of others and work together to repair the world.
In Lower and Middle School Chapel, Rabbi Singer again shared the Exodus story, this time with songs and prayers from Jewish tradition. He talked about the importance of freedom, how standing up for the freedom of others makes everyone more free, and how we can each be an agent of freedom in the world. We sang in Hebrew the song Dayeinu (die-eh-nu), which celebrates a long list of miracles, any one of which would have been pretty amazing. Dayeinu translated literally means “enough”, as in “it would have been enough”. The message of the song is “Thank you God for overdoing it.” Like the seder itself, Dayeinu celebrates the generosity and grace of God, and inspires us to have that same generosity and grace for one another. Here is a fun version of Dayeinu by the Maccabeats that we enjoyed watching in Chapel.
Our Easter Chapel reading this year, read in all three divisions, came from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24, which recounts the first Easter morning and Jesus’ disciples as they discover the empty tomb.
Our guest speaker in Upper School Chapel was Father David Anthony, a native of Bethlehem, who serves as the pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish on Hartley Avenue in Easton. Father Anthony spoke about Easter in the Catholic tradition of Christianity, including the surprising way God’s love invites us to see the world, the profound importance of justice, and the hopeful promise of new life.
Below is a video of Father Anthony’s Chapel message (beginning at 6:15), along with special music from Moravian Academy Chorale. Father Anthony references this clip from the Pixar film Wall-E, which you may want to watch first.
In Middle and Lower School Chapels, we discussed the meaning of incarnation, how in Christian belief, God comes to earth as a human being, who lived and died and lived again, out of deep love for humanity. We talked about the way Jesus used the natural word to teach of grace and love, how he spoke about lilies and sheep and vines and stars, and taught us to see God in simple things like bread and wine, and in the faces of one another. For Middle School Chapel, students, faculty, and staff shared their own perspectives on Easter and what it means to each of us. Here are some of their answers set to the Music of the Moravian Brass Band of Bethlehem:
All three Easter Chapels ended with these words adapted from “12 Ways to Practice Resurrection Now” by Father Richard Rohr:
Refuse to identify with negative, blaming, antagonistic, or fearful thoughts.
Apologize when you hurt another person or situation.
Undo your mistakes by some positive action.
Do not indulge or believe your False Self –
that which is concocted by your mind and society’s expectations.
Choose your True Self –
your radical union with God – as often as possible throughout the day.
Seek to change yourself before trying to change others.
Choose as much as possible to serve rather than be served.
Whenever possible, seek the common good over your mere private good.
Give preference to those in pain, excluded, or disabled in any way.
Seek just systems and policies over mere charity.
Make sure your medium is the same as you message.
In other words, walk your talk.
Never doubt that it is all about love in the end.
Moravian Academy wishes a wonderful Passover and a joyful Easter to those who are celebrating this week!