Why I Celebrate Passover! (and why you should think about it)
Forget what you’ve heard about differing views on creed, theology, and politics, within evangelical Christianity, when it comes down to it we are really divided between those that have NO IDEA what a Passover meal is (other than Jesus seemed to make a big deal about one) and those that reference God and Jesus as Yahweh (YHWH) and Yeshua respectively.
Although I tend to put myself somewhere in the middle of these two poles, I must admit a Passover Seder has become an integral part of my family’s Easter tradition.
How it Started
Back in 2002 the church I was working with in Colorado was hosting a very large Passover Seder in the ballroom of a local Westin hotel. It was designed to introduce Christians to Passover and was presided over by a Messianic Jew.
(Apparently Jews who become Christians don’t like to refer to themselves as Christians which is in line with just about everyone else who becomes a Christian these days)
Anyhow Tammy and I LOVED the Seder dinner and the explanation throughout the evening about the Passover symbolism revealing the faithfulness God has for his people and his determination to deliver us from slavery and death. The Jewish man explaining the Seder mentioned that although this was a large gathering, ideally it was meant to be done much more intimately with close family and friends.
(Ideally it probably also wasn’t meant to have the Mexican themed foods provided for afterwards but even Passover has to adapt to Colorado culture)
However, I was determined from that moment that I would do Passover with my family the next year. Of course the next year came around and, understandably, I had no idea what I was supposed to do in planning my own Passover Seder. As with most things in life, it is a whole lot easier when someone else is organizing it.
Not to be deterred I found a Jewish bookstore in north Boulder and headed over on my mission to discover Passover for my family. I walked in a little intimidated by my surroundings, and walked up to the shop clerk.
“Can I help you?” she asked politely
“Uh, yeah,” I responded a little sheepishly. “I’m a Christian, but my family and I were interested in doing a Passover Seder at our house this year and I don’t know how to do it. Do you sell a book or something like that here that could help me get started?”
“I certainly do!” she replied with the enthusiasm that seemed to imply that I was about the fifth Christian that day that had come to her seeking their Jewish heritage.
She reached under the counter and produced a fairly large cardboard box with Hebrew letters and the Star of David blazoned on the front. It was the English title though that made me smile: Passover Starter Kit!
They actually make Passover Starter Kits.
The clerk opened the box to reveal everything we would need:
- Seder Plate
- Elijah’s Cup
- Yamakas (male head coverings)
- Copies of the Haggadah (the script for the evening)
- A CD with Hebrew music
This particular starter kit was even designed for Christians as the “Haggadah” was altered to see Jesus “Yeshua” as the Messiah.
I paid my US$ 30 and thanked the clerk with for my new “gateway” into Passover.
We have celebrated Passover every year since and I can’t think of Easter now without it. For me it is the perfect bookend. We organize Passover dinner a few days before Easter where we remember we are part of a history. For thousands of years God’s people have waited for a Messiah who would deliver them from the wages of sin and death.
Then on Easter Sunday we celebrate that victory in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Gabriel has grown up now with the tradition of finding the afikomen which is hidden somewhere in the house during the dinner and running to the front door and opening it to welcome the Prophet Elijah to come and join us. Some years we have been more formal, and some (like this year) a little less so. I do tend to get all Fiddler on the Roof during these times and my inner Tevye does creep out.
But we have made it important. And “why” you may ask?
Because it was important to Jesus.
“I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins” Luke 22:15
If you have never been part of a Passover meal, I encourage you to give it a try. It is certainly not a mandatory part of our Christian faith…but I promise, it will be a blessing to you and your family!
Next Year In Jerusalem!
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