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Passover and Easter

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In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this week is one of the holiest times of the year. Christians commemorate the resurrection and sacrifice of Jesus Christ; Jews honor the Israelites' exodus to freedom from slavery. Rooted in persecution, oblation, humility and eventual triumph, both religious holidays have an underlying common theme: no matter what the calamity, you will rise again to victory. It is precisely this social interpretation of these defining events that each and every one of us should take to heart during challenging times.

Earlier in the week, I attended President Obama's second annual Easter prayer breakfast along with other prominent clergy from around the country. Stressing the importance of amazing grace and salvation, the President reminded us to keep things in perspective in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. As families of the Jewish faith also gather this week to recall the story of the angel of death 'passing over' their homes, and the steps that ultimately led to their freedom from bondage, they too remember the sacrifice of those before them.

In the fast-paced reality of our times, it's often easy to lose sight of the many advantages we enjoy because of the literal blood, sweat and tears of others. Many African Americans, Latinos, women and other minorities today sit in positions of authority in government, business and other industries because of the selfless acts of those who preceded them. Whether it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights struggle, or Gandhi's nonviolent push, we have been spared because these brave individuals and others like them gave their lives for a larger cause. We should never forget those that opened the door for us to transcend into a virtual new land of opportunity away from the shackles of yesterday.

No one is denying the fact that we have a long way to go before reaching that proverbial mountaintop, but we shouldn't easily dismiss the fact that we are seeing and experiencing things that those that bled for us never saw. As we recall the legacy of and Moses, we should never forget that we too have been spared. And during this time of reflection, we must remember why we were spared.

At a very early age as a boy preacher, I was always drawn to the story of Jesus and the resurrection. As a minister, I of course deal with the religious aspect of this event, but the larger social message is what continues to resonate for everyone today -- Jesus may have died on the cross, but three days later, he rose again. It's an interpretation that we all can relate to, no matter what our religious denomination. Despite what difficulties we face, what tragedies we encounter or what obstacles life throws at us, we can rise again. Out of pain comes gain, and out of sorrow comes strength. Even if we are persecuted or crucified in life, we can prevail past our crucifixion. We must know that there is an Easter Sunday after every difficulty.

In my own life, I have faced many transgressions and challenges -- some that were easy to overcome, and others that I still deal with today. But as we gather with our loved ones this weekend, whether it's retelling the story of the resurrection, or of the exodus to freedom, we cannot undervalue the significance of the literal blood that was shed before us, nor of the liberties we enjoy as a result of it. And with enough patience, strength and faith we can surpass any tribulation and stand tall once again.

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