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Christian Passover Meal for Your Family The Jewish Passover serves as a background for Christian communion, by its celebration of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt. The idea of liberation provides meaning for Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples. Just as Jews celebrate liberation from slavery at Passover, Christians celebrate liberation from sin at communion. The meaning of communion is derived from the meaning of Passover. If we are to fully understand the meaning of the Lord's Supper, we must first understand its beginning. By presenting a Christian version of the Passover meal, we better understand the meaning of Jesus' words, "do this in remembrance of me." At the Last Supper Jesus brought new meaning to something old. If we don't understand the "old," then how can we understand the new meaning he brought? Isn't it interesting? We identify ourselves with a particular denomination (Church of the Nazarene), in a particular religion (Christianity), based on the teachings of a particular book (The Old Testament) as interpreted by a particular Jewish teacher, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, recorded in another book (The New Testament). Except for the Church of the Nazarene, each of these particularities is thousands of years old. Our denomination is a very young child when compared to our heritage. Do we know who we are? Do we identify with and understand our heritage? Perhaps we assume that our lack of understanding about our heritage means it is unimportant. That's not funny, but sad, and, all too often, true. Since becoming parents, my wife and I have felt a burden to teach our family who we are as Christians, and why. One way to do this is through family ritual, symbolism, and the building of memories for our children. Most parents, whether Christian or not, have a desire to do this. We all create memories for children at Christmas, Easter, and another holidays, through attending their school activities, taking them for a family outing, accompanying them to church and Sunday School, etc. But, do we ever deliberately attempt to create distinctively Christian memories that teach them who they are? Creating family memories can be a way of teaching the Gospel to children, developing their spirituality, and helping them understand who they are as Christians and what they can become. If you think about it, children develop symbols, such as heroes and role models like cartoon characters, movie and music stars. They are taught to personify symbols like the Easter Bunny and Easter, Santa Claus and Christmas, the Great Pumpkin and Halloween, and the devil and evil. Think about Israel wandering in the desert. Since only Moses saw God, Israel had no symbol for God. So they created one from gold. The golden calf became the symbol for which they longed. How many children create their own symbols to fill the gap the church or family leaves when it does not provide symbols for them? If we don't give our children the proper symbols, they will create their own. Israel finally acquired symbols. They erected a Temple where God's Spirit dwelt. They placed the symbolic laws of God in that Temple. In the Jewish home, symbols that have developed over thousands of years to teach successive generations about what God has done for them. Jews want their children to know who they are, where they have come from, and what God wants them to become. The Christian home should be no less concerned with the spiritual development of its children. The Bible gives us symbols to use, and we should use them. We need symbols, too! Jesus used symbols to explain the Kingdom of God. He often said, "the Kingdom of God is like." The early church used symbols to explain who they were, and many of those have survived till now. For example, the sacrament of communion is full of symbols. The fruit of the vine symbolizes the blood and the bread the flesh of Christ. It is a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus. But it is more than that . The symbols point to the God of grace who provided salvation for us through Jesus. Communion becomes a means of grace for us as we are challenged with the awesome task of leading a Christlike life. It is a pledge that we will be and act like God's people, and that we will live a life of love, both to God and neighbor. How can we follow Jesus without the grace of God? Communion provides that grace and becomes the guarantee of a resurrection for all believers. Communion was not always practiced as we practice it today. In fact, as with many other of the early church traditions, communion grew from a combination of two Jewish festivals called "Passover" and "The Feast of Unleavened Bread." The Passover festival is still celebrated by Jewish families who want to pass their faith to their children. When we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last supper, it may well have been one or both of these festivals which He was celebrating. If so, then Jesus brought new meaning to these festivals. The Passover meal is a symbolic reenactment of God's deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. Passover celebrates the power and grace of God. A Christian Passover can be a celebration that recounts that same power of God which, in Jesus, came to set us free from the slavery of sin. This festival can be a great source of Christian symbolism for those families wishing to pass their faith along to their children. At the Christian Passover meal, each food item symbolizes one aspect of this deliverance. It is celebrated on the first full moon of the Hebrew new year, or during lent for the Christian. The seder (SAY-der), or order, includes the consumption of special food. There are four cups of wine consumed during the meal (wine refers to unfermented grape juice). The first cup is consumed at the beginning of the meal during the kaddish (kuh-DESH), or "sanctification" of the meal. The second is consumed just before the meal. The third cup is consumed at the end of the meal proper, remembering the words of Jesus, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom. For this is the blood of the new covenant which is shed for us to preserve us for everlasting life." The last cup, the Cup of Completion, remembers the passion of Jesus, and is a pledge that we will follow in His steps, so that we too may be resurrected on the last day. For the Jew, Passover is a celebration of a past event, of freedom from slavery in Egypt. For the Christian, Passover is this and more. It is also a celebration of our future resurrection. The seder includes other special foods such as matzah (MAHTZ-uh) or unleavened bread, maror (mah-ROAR) or bitter herbs (usually horseradish), haroset (ha-ROW-set) or mortar (a mixture of chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar, dates, and walnuts), the bone of a lamb, and karpas (KAR-pahs) or parsley. The matzah represents the flight of Israel from Egypt. They fled so fast that they did not have time to let the bread rise. It can also symbolize the manna that sustained Israel in the wilderness. As real bread sustained Israel, the Living Bread, Jesus, sustains us. We also remember the actions of Jesus. The night He was delivered up, Jesus took the bread and gave thanks, saying, "this is my body which is broken for you." The maror reminds us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt, and of the bitterness Jesus endured to pay for our sins. The haroset reminds us of the mortar used while making bricks for Pharaoh in Egypt. The lamb bone reminds us of the blood spread on the doorpost so the angel would pass over and spare the firstborn child. It also represents the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world. The parsley is a symbol of the hyssop used to wipe the blood on the doorpost. Additionally, the Passover seder also uses symbols other than food. Rhetoric, music, poetry, dialogue, candles, prayers, and Scriptures are used to reinforce the symbols. Each of the foods of Passover also points beyond their specific symbols to the power of God. The wine points beyond its symbol to its creator. God is the creator of the fruit of the ground, and therefore powerful enough to provide us with everything we need to sustain our life. As creator, He provides us with salvation from sin. The matzah recalls the power of God who sustained Israel in the wilderness. The moror points beyond the bitterness of slavery to the God who sustained Israel in and delivered Israel from bondage. The horoset looks beyond the mortar used in slavery to the sweet freedom provided by the power of God. The karpas points beyond the hyssop to the grace of God who spared Israel's children. The lamb points beyond the sacrifice made in Egypt to the power of God who provided His own lamb that redeemed us from our sins. The Festival of Lights (The mother of the company lights the candles, gives thanks, and asks for a blessing on all present.) Mother: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sent Thy Son, Jesus the Messiah, to be the light of the world and our Paschal Lamb, that through Him we might have eternal life. May your light shine on this house, and bring us peace." (Light the candles.) The Children's Blessing (The father of the company prays a blessing for his children, and recites the following introduction.) Father: "This is Holy Week, a time for the joining of the Old and New Covenants. During this season, the Jewish people observe the Passover, a celebration of Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt many years ago. God raised up Moses as their leader, but the Pharaoh of Egypt did not believe in God. So, God sent plagues against Egypt so that Pharaoh might believe in Him. After the plagues, Pharaoh still would not believe in God, so his heart became hard. To help Pharaoh believe, God caused the firstborn son of every family in Egypt to be killed. But, God was gracious, and passed over each Jewish family who sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorpost and their children were spared. Pharaoh's heart was still hard, and God was glorified. "Pharaoh finally let Israel leave, and they wandered in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land. God commanded them to remember their day of deliverance by celebrating the Passover each year. (See Exodus 12:14-18.) "Just as God's grace rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, He sent Jesus to rescue all of us from sin and death. As the blood of a lamb was sacrificed to save each Jewish family in Egypt, Jesus' blood was sacrificed to save all of us from sin, and provide eternal life. Today, Christians and Jews celebrate their own feast in their own ways. Yet both are bound together through the symbolism of the Exodus, and the grace of God to which the symbols point." Kaddish "The sanctification of this festival" (This is a proclamation of the sanctity of this festival recited over a cup of wine.) Host: Raise the first cup. "Throughout His life, Jesus would have begun every Sabbath and festival day with an act of sanctification, remembering His Father as Creator, Giver of rest, and Redeemer, praising God for wine that makes glad the hearts of people and for bread that strengthens our hearts. "At the beginning of this evening, we rededicate ourselves to God so that during the seder , hearts and minds seek to fully realize all we owe to God for His goodness and redeeming power and for many ways God has blessed His people." Company: "Blessed be the Lord our God, Who has given us gifts of grace, not through our merits, but only because of his abounding love and mercy, and has called us to proclaim good news of salvation for all who turn to Him. We thank Him for giving us this Passover festival to remind us of our deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and for showing love to all people by sending Jesus into the world to save us from the slavery of sin." All: Drink the first cup, and sing, "Here At Thy Table, Lord." Karpas "Parsley" Father: Take the parsley from the seder plate, dip in into the salt water and say, "This parsley represents the branch of hyssop plant which spread the lamb's blood over the doorposts in Egypt. As it is written, 'And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin'" (Exodus 12:22a niv). "The salt water represents the tears shed while in the bondage of slavery. Taste the tears which we shed while in Egypt." Company: As the parsley is passed around the table, take a piece. Say together, "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Who created the fruit of the ground." Host: "Let us eat together." Yachatz (yah-Hotz) "Divide" (The middle cake of matzah is divided, with the larger half being hidden away for later use.) Host: Break into two pieces the middle cake of the matzah , and say, "This is the bread of affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all that are hungry come and eat. Let all that are in need come and celebrate the Passover. This year we are here, next year may we be in the Promised Land. This year we are slaves, next year may we be freed. Many today are enslaved by sin and by oppressors. May all be made free through Jesus the Messiah." Host: "The uppermost wafer of the matzah reminds us of the manna that in the wilderness sustained the Israelites with physical health, as our daily bread sustains us. Together with the bread that meets our mortal needs, we must take the Living Bread, that our lives might be spiritually maintained to prepare us for the rich life of the world to come. "The night Jesus was delivered up, he took the bread and gave thanks saying, 'Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.'" Company: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has promised to send his people a Redeemer to plead their cause, to make an end to sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness by anointing the Most Holy, our Redeemer and Savior. Amen." All sing: "Bread Of The World In Mercy Broken" Mah-Nishtanah (mah-NISH-tanah) "Why is this night different?" (This series of questions between the father and the youngest child serves to pass the story of the Exodus to the next generation, and to explain the purpose of the special foods.) Child: "Father, why is this night different from all other nights?" Father: "We must regard ourselves as if we came out of Egypt. For it is written, 'On that day, tell your son, I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt'" (Exodus 13:8 niv). "Therefore, we are obligated to praise God who performed all these things for us when he brought us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to gladness, from darkness to light, from sin to salvation, from selfishness to love, from death to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. For it is written, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!'" (2 Corinthians 5:17 niv) "And again it is written, 'But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.'" (Romans 6:22 niv) A member of the Company: Read Deuteronomy 26:5-10. Child: "Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight at this special meal?" Father: "Because, when we were in Egypt, our lives were made bitter by hard labor. As Christians, we are to taste the bitterness of the cross, and be reminded of Jesus' suffering. For it is written, 'anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple'" (Luke 14:27 niv). "The haroset reminds us of the mortar used with the bricks. Dipping the maror into the haroset reminds us of the bitterness of slavery." Child: "Why do we eat unleavened bread at this special meal?" Father: "It is written, 'Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come'" (Exodus 12:17 niv). "When Pharaoh let us go from Egypt, we ran so quickly that there was not enough time to let the bread rise and bake it." Company: "For the bread of God is He who came down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the bread of life." Child: "On other nights, we eat meat boiled, roasted, or stewed, but why on this night do we eat it only roasted?" Father: "Because on the night of the first Passover, God spared those who shed the blood of a lamb and wiped that blood on their doorposts. As Christians, Jesus is our Passover lamb, and his blood was shed in order that we might have eternal life and freedom from sin." Company: "Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." All: Sin, "When I See The Blood" or "Jesus Loves Me" From Slavery to redemption Host: "Our fathers went down to Egypt with only persons, and there we became a great nation." Company: "But the Egyptians ill-treated us, afflicted us, and laid heavy bondage upon us. We cried out to God under the bondage, and the Lord heard our voice and looked upon our affliction and our labor and our oppression." All: "God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." Host: "On the seventh day after the Exodus, Pharaoh's chariots and horses and all his host were trapped and drowned in the Sea of Reeds. Pharaoh himself survived. The Midrash says that he stands at the gate of hell saying, 'Why did you not profit from my example?" "Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.'" Host: "When each plague is mentioned, a drop of wine from the newly poured cup of thanksgiving is spilled. Thus, when we drink the cup, the joy of our deliverance is tempered by the sorrow that the Egyptians had to suffer because of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart." "These are the 10 plagues: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and firstborn slain." The Hallel (ha-lel) "The Praise" All recite together Praise the Lord, Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forever more. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children (Psalm 113 NIV) When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of a foreign tongue, Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, O sea, that you fled, O Jordan, that you turned back, you mountains that you skipped like rams, you hills like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water. (Psalm 114 NIV) Da-Yenu "It would have been enough for us" Host Company Had He but brought us out of Egypt Da-Yenu Had He but judged the Egyptains Da-Yenu And destroyed their gods Da-Yenu Had He slain their firstborn Da-Yenu And given us their riches Da-Yenu Had He divided the sea to let us pass through Da-Yenu But sank our foes into the depths Da-Yenu Then supplied our needs for 40 years Da-Yenu And feed us with manna in the wilderness Da-Yenu Had He given us the Sabbath to renew our strength Da-Yenu And brought us to hear Him at Mt. Sinai Da-Yenu Giving us His Torah to guide us Da-Yenu Planned and built the tabernacle, His dwelling place Da-Yenu Brought us to the land He promised to Israel Da-Yenu Consecrated the temple He permitted to be built Da-Yenu Sent Jesus, the temple "not built with hands" Da-Yenu That atonement be made for our sins Da-Yenu "So we praise him" From slavery to freedom From anguish to joy From mourning to festivity From darkness to great light From bondage to redemption All sing "Rejoice in the Lord Always." The Cup of Thanksgiving Host: Raise the second cup. "Jesus took the cup and gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.'?" All: Drink the second cup. Grace before the Meal Host: "Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, who brings forth fruit from the earth. Blessed are you because you have sanctified us with your commandment, and invited us to eat the Passover." Beginning of meal Host: Distribute the hard-boiled eggs and say, "The egg is a symbol both of mourning and renewal. We mourn for our Lord because we oursleves, through our sins, are responsible for His death. We also rejoice before Him who was resurrected, for we who are dead to sin may live forever with Him." Distribute the unbroken matzah and all say, "Thanks you Lord for your Son, the bread of life." All: Eat the matzah. Host: Distribute the maror on a piece of matzah and say, "The maror reminds us of slavery in Egypt and the haroset reminds us of the mortar with which Egypt made Israel's lives bitter with hard service. Dip the matzah in the haroset to remind you of the sweetness of eternal life, and the bitterness Jesus suffered for you." All: "Thank you Lord for full salvation from sin." Eat together. Tzafun "Hidden" Before the meal ends, the concealed piece of matzah must be found by the children, and redeemed with a gift. The redeemed matzah is divided among the celebrants, and eaten with the haroset as a dessert. End of meal Host: "After the meal, lest the Redeemer be forgotten, Jesus reaffirmed what He had said over the cup before supper. He took the Cup of blessing, recalling God's promise to enslaved Israel." Raise the third cup, and say, "Jesus said, 'But I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.'?" "Remember that Jesus' blood was shed for us to preserve us for everlasting life. Let us drink." All: Drink the third cup, and fill the fourth. Company: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine." Host: "Before leaving for the Mount of Olives, Jesus and His disciples sang psalms together." Hallel Host: Not unto us, O Lord, but to your name give glory. Company: Because of your love and faithfulness. Host: The Lord remembers us and will bless us. Company: He will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike, Hosts: But we will bless the Lord both now and forevermore. All: Hallelujah. (From Psalm 115 niv) Host: I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Company: Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live. Host: Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Company: For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Host: I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. (From Psalm 116 niv) Host: Praise the Lord, all you nations; exolt him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. All: Hallelujah. (From Psalm 117 niv) Host: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Company: The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Host: I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Company: Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. Host: The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. Company: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. All: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Company: "With the last cup, the cup of Completion, we remember the prayer in Gethsemane, the betrayal, the submission of Jesus, the trial before Pilot, the judgment, the road to the cross, and the death of our Redeemer. As we drink this final cup, we reaffirm our acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice to pay for our sins, and we pledge to follow in the steps of Jesus to love God and to love our neighbor as Jesus did. We also drink in hope that we too will be resurrected to enjoy eternal life in heaven." All: Drink the fourth cup, and sing "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?"
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