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‘You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”—Luke 10:27

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “ John 15:12

Forty days seems like a long time to give up chocolate, I said to my husband not too long ago.

Every year, my husband commits to the practice of fasting during this season of Lent, the time in the Christian calendar that prepares us for Jesus’s suffering, death and eventual resurrection. Chocolate, so it seems, is a symbolic gesture to “give up” earthly wants and needs, as Jesus gave his life for us.

I struggle during Lent to give up foods or my morning coffee for 40 days. I find that there is so much more that I should be committing to, or changes in my life that are bigger or more symbolic than chocolate. I certainly don’t think I am better than others, but I have chosen to use the season of Lent to practice other spiritual disiplines, such as regular meditation, and especially this year, practicing patience and kindness.

As part of this practice, I am very intentional at looking at how not only Christian scripture offers a “Golden Rule” of life, but also how other faith traditions share similar scriptures within their contexts. I have a small postcard that reminds me of this.

Christian: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

Judaism: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary”

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself”

Baha’i: “ Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself”

I am very aware that as a reminder to be kind to my neighbors—in faith, in friendship, at work and out in the community – that Holy week is more than just a Holy Time for our fellow Christians. Good Friday is March 30. Passover begins is March 30. Vesaka Day – a day when the Buddha’s birth is celebrated is Saturday, March 31. Easter Sunday is April 1. The Bahai community recently celebrated the “Days of Joy” (Ayyam-I-Ha).

Fasting, feasting, lamenting, honoring and loving are part of my Holy week preparation as a Christian. But somehow, I find comfort in knowing that all my neighbors are sharing in Holy Days. By focusing on what we have in common, and not on what we don’t share, actually brings me closer to understanding the suffering that Jesus endured. If it wasn’t for Jesus’s love and compassion for us , followers of Christ would not have continued to evolve over time.

Loving, kindness and compassion should inform this Holy time – not only for those in my own tradition, but also for all of our neighbors and community. We each bring our “holy moments” together to the table – let us continue to do so as we wait for spring to come again.

The Rev. Rachel Schwab is the visitation pastor at First United Church of Christ in Carlisle.

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