The way I believe was altered by my quest to discover the truth. I began reading the bible and discovered that Jesus Christ had a salvation plan for all of mankind. I was also researching why, where and when my family lines migrated through time. My path has led me to make a difference; I learned the Feast’s of the Lord were passed down from generation to generation. This week is the feast of Passover, an analogy of Jesus Christ shedding his blood to free us from our sins.
Passover is the first feast of the year.
First, before I share about Passover (tonight, 27 Mar 2021) let me begin by telling you two related stories.
The first story is about my wife Karen and I growing up as Catholics. We were very engaged with all aspects of Catholic life, church attendance and volunteering, family and pro-life advocates, Christian education; she attended Catholic school, and we pray at mealtime, bedtime, and at Church. During our travels around the world, our kitchen table became our church. We started reading and studying the bible as a family. We found the ‘truth’ in the bible. We are now and have been for twenty years “Bible Believing Christians”.
My second story has more relevance to the Passover Feast, one of seven feasts the Lord our God, and Jesus Christ our savior mandated before any religion was established.
The Passover Feast was a ‘miracle’ performed to save his/God’s “chosen” people, that he signed a covenant with…the “Ten Commandments”.
I’ll explain…while in Egypt under slavery, God used Moses to help release Israel from their bondage (after 400 years). The “Passover Story” (later a celebrated feast, passed down from each preceding generation) was the story of the final curse over the Egyptian Rulers.
It was a declaration that if the people of God were not freed from slavery, to journey to God’s “Promised Land”, he/God would kill/sacrifice every first born child. Pharaoh mocked this God and the proclamation and refused.
So God spoke to Moses and said, “Take a lamb that is perfect, sacrifice him and eat him in the evening, but first take his blood and paint it over the top and sides of your entryway so none in your house will die. The Israelites did as were instructed and were protected. The Egyptians lost all first born children and released the Jewish slaves.
So this is not a Jewish feast, or a Christian feast, or any religion’s feast. It is our Lord God’s, and Jesus the Christ’s feast. My Bible says, “All shall follow the Lord’s feasts”.
Story two; I have two distinct “family” bloodlines, with multiple off shoots. So do you. On my father’s side we (the Oliver family) are Irish-Scottish ancestry, but first generation Americans. Arriving on the New York-Jersey shores between 1680 and 1750.
On my mother’s side we are French, and after WWII, migration paths made us French-Canadians, French-Swiss, and with border re-zoning became French-Germans. We also are classified in DNA as ‘Basque’. This lineage of mom’s translates back to 1401. Her family name is Quoiffy. The word ‘Quoif’ translates in French to “what.” My first great grandfather it was discovered, was born in an orphanage on the outskirts of Paris. The village community was predominantly Jewish, and Lutheran.
In May 2015, my sister (Edie), wife Karen and I went to Europe for about a month. We were exploring this family’s migration from Paris. We pre-mapped the nine generations and their cities (birth, marriages, work, wartime military posting, deaths and cemeteries).
Edie and I were the last survivors of this lineage, we thought. To our surprise, we discovered we had two first cousins! We reunited and became friends. During our visit, they drove us around, showed us our homesteads, and answered burning questions. The first was, “Are we Catholics, Lutherans or Jewish”. They laughed, and answered, “Yes”.
I shared my Uncle Peter and my mother’s deathbed stories.
We found evidence that my family was educated by Jewish teachers. All the children could speak at ‘least’ five languages, one being Yiddish. Each child played an instrument, or two. Their music teachers were Jewish. My grandmother “only” went to a Jewish doctor, or Jewish butcher for their meats. Moving closer to Germany, into the town of Chateau Salais, my family attended a Lutheran Church, “becoming” protestants.
Their final move was to Alscase-Lorrain. My grandmother Emilie Quoiffy married a French-German man named Johann Hoffmann. I say French – German because those living in the “no mans’ land called France their “MotherLand” and Germany their “FatherLand.”
My grandfathers extended family lived on the French border near Germany in towns like SaarLouis, SaarGemunt, Saargebiet, Saarwellingen, Nalbach and Zweibrucken. Our newly found cousins shared that our Hoffmann family in Nalbach and some in Saarwellingen were taken away by the Nazi’s to camps, and never returned.
My mother was born in SaarLouis France. The youngest of six children, but one of the twins died early. She was a Catholic. Her brothers laughed about learning the “sign of the cross.” My grandfather was known to say, “What respectable Catholic family has a family menorah?” The two oldest children said it was part of survival, and only God knows. Nothing else. Well we asked our newly found cousins and they confirmed that we were every religion.
My grandmother continued to only use Jewish doctors and butchers until the Nazi control of Alscase-Lorrain. My family told Dr. Alexander, and the butcher Max Sabel to leave, go to England or America, right after my father witnessed a mass shooting of four gypsy Jews at the gravel pit where he worked. Before his death, he told my grandmother that he and the Forest Meister or game warden were fishing and snagged a piece of clothing. When they reeled it in it was an elderly man with two bullet holes on his face. The occupation had started.
In many respects this generation moved or migrated because of persecution, war or for work. In hindsight, they should have all moved to Canada. Instead, they moved closer to relatives for security. Unaware that in a few years they would live through the horrors and atrocities of WWI and WWII. Most served in the military.
Like our American Civil War, some families ended up fighting against their relatives. My family’s story will be written as a series of short stories, but today the story is about GOD’s love for us. He’s looking down at me and smiling at my Jewish, Protestant, Catholic foundation; trying to cover all bases. LOL, I’m glad my GOD has a sense of humor.