Friday, April 6, 2012

Celebrating the Christian Passover

Today is Good Friday... a day to consider what my Lord has done out of His great love for a sinner like me, the sacrifice that He made on the cross. Easter would not be the same for our family without having a Passover Seder meal prior to the weekend. We have been practicing a Christian version of the Jewish feast for years and it never ceases to amaze me! God has since fulfilled the original Passover sacrifice with the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross once and for all. So why do we still have a Seder? Isn't that something only Jews do who are still awaiting their Messiah? 

In going through the Seder, we remind our children of the history of redemption and what Christ did on the cross. It's a joyous event that has not yet been secularized or commercialized and so it gives us more time to reflect than even Easter Sunday, which is often busy and filled with lots of joyous celebrating. I truly believe they have a better understanding of their need for a Savior and how only Christ could fulfill that need. Too often Christians think that we only need the New Testament! Not so.  It's only half the story! 

The following is a repost from my April 2009 "The Passover" which I have update slightly. For those of you who hope to start your own family tradition of a Passover, I hope you find it helpful.

I'm not sure that I can do justice to a post about the Passover from a Christian perspective. It is so full with meaning that I find myself in awe every time I go through the ceremony. To express all of it would be difficult. It's like watching a movie filled with important dialog that moves so fast you have to watch it at least twice to get it all. So I guess you really need to experience a sedar more than once. However, let me try to at least give you an introduction that will perhaps encourage you to pursue this experience next year.

The first Passover was celebrated the night that God sent the tenth and final plaque on Egypt during the time of Moses. The Israelites had been captives for about 400 years and the Pharaohs of Egypt used them as slaves making bricks and building. They longed to return to the Promised Land and awaited a deliverer. God used Moses. 

On the night of the final plaque, God instructed Moses to have the Israelites kill a lamb without defect (representing the perfect lamb to be sacrificed for our sins - Jesus Christ) and spread the blood on the doorposts of their dwellings (representing our sin covered by the blood of Christ). The meal that night was to consist of roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread because they would be leaving in haste after the death angel passed and Pharaoh let them go. Later that night, the Death Angel did come and all throughout Egypt, he slew the first born in every house without the blood of the lamb, but he passed over those that were covered by the blood.

You can read about this first Passover in Exodus 12 where God gave Moses and Aaron the instructions, along with the command to practice this ordinance every year in order to remember what God had done (like we remember during the ordinance of the Lord's Supper). The Jews were still practicing this when Christ came to Jerusalem for His final days. In Luke 22:15-16, He told his disciples that "...I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." The disciples did not realize at the time, but Jesus was the passover lamb! He was to be the fulfillment of all that they had done for so many, many years. 

Christ told his disciples to do this in remembrance of Him. Today, the Christian church continues to do an abbreviated version of the Passover Sedar whenever we take Communion. I believe that it would behoove us to practice the entire Passover Sedar once a year to remind us, fully, what God was communicating when he established the Passover centuries ago in Egypt.  And when we get to heaven, we will have the final fulfillment of this ordinance when we celebrate the Wedding Feast (Rev. 19:6-9).

Now that we have a little history (and I have holy goosebumps), I will share with you just a bit about our own passover. You really need to start by purchasing a good Christian Haggadah. It will guide you in items you need for the sedar plate, history, and the feast itself. These Haggadahs are based on Jewish custom, but incorporate how Christ is the fulfillment. I really like the Haggadah from The Friends of Israel. Purchase enough for your family and one other family (I have 10). If that is too expensive, at least get one for every other person and readers can share (consider this purchase a donation to a great ministry!).

You will need a few recipes such as haroset and I like to serve Matzoh Ball Soup. We serve a roasted meat such as chicken (Jews will not serve roasted lamb because they are waiting for the temple to be rebuilt in order to make a sacrifice), vegetables, and a fruit salad. Dessert needs to be unleaved, such as angel food cake or Baklava.

Setting the table requires a bit of time and forethought. I make a list and keep it with my Haggadahs, that way, each year I have my list ready to remind me when I pull out my books. Any plate will do for a sedar plate, but I found a sectioned dish at TJ Maxx that fit my decor. You can purchase authentic sedar plates on line or at some Christian bookstores or through Dayspring. On this plate you will need:

1) A small bowl with salt water
2) parsley - enough for each person to have a sprig
3) a shank bone from a lamb from the butcher (I keep this in the freezer to reuse each year).
4) horseradish, prepared (from a jar)
6) a hard boiled egg (or more for a large group)

The Haggadah will lead you through these items, but it is good  to read it through before hand. I also like to highlight the group responses in each book so those who are new know when to read aloud.

Also on the table, you will need bowls and towels along with a pitcher of water to wash your fingers or hands, two candles and matches, a Afikomen bag or white cloth napkin folded so that it has three "pockets" or folds (see here for a tutorial or here), matzoh, red wine (not white) and wine glasses (we serve the children grape juice), and a pillow for the host or leader. All this is in the sedar book, so don't worry about remembering it here. I like to have a $5 or $10 bill for the child who finds the Afikomen that is later hidden and found (kind of like a game but with significance). 

This is a picture of my table. Notice the bowl with water just to the upper left of the head dinner plate for washing the hands.

The last thing you need to do is set an extra place for Elijah. Sometimes this can be tricky when your table is already full with guests, but it's important! As you go through the seder, you'll understand why.

Anyway, this is the basic information you need to get started. It  sounds a bit complicated, but if you remember that we are not bound by the law and if you goof up on something, just laugh and make a note in pencil in your Haggadah for next year. Our first couple of seders were a bit bumpy, but we didn't give up. Hey, we're new at this and the Jews have been doing this for thousands of years! 

Next Year... In the New Jerusalem!


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