Why would a Christian celebrate Passover? Isn’t it a Jewish tradition?
1. The point of this annual tradition is for people to remember the Exodus from Egypt and all that God has done for his children. I suppose there may be some that may have a narrower view of the Passover – that it is only for the children of Israel and it is only to remember what the God has done for the Israelites. But, I subscribe to a broader view of the meaning of Passover. I believe it applies to all of His children.
2. The Passover Lamb is a prototype of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of the unblemished lamb to free the Israelites from slavery is the foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ so that we may be redeemed from the bondage of our own sin.
3. Jesus Christ’s final supper was during the week of Passover. There is some debate as to whether or not the Last Supper was the actual Passover ritual, but celebrating Passover gives a lot of context to the description of the Last Supper in Matthew, Luke, and Mark.
Over the last 3 years, our family (or parts of our family) have attended various community seders with different Jewish congregations that welcomed outsiders. Like Christmas, we found out that everyone does it a little bit differently, but there were some core traditions. We also found out that most families celebrate Passover at home. So this year, we decided we’ll do it on our own and create our own family tradition. The Alstons and the Tomlinsons also joined us.
For those that might be considering celebrating Passover, here are some tips from our own experience.
1. The first step I recommend is attending a Passover seder. Of the few different Seders we’ve attended, Bet Alef in Seattle felt the most inclusive and was very children friendly. In early April, you should contact them and ask if it’s ok to join them.
2. I got a cartoon Haggadah from
Amazon Barnes & Noble. What is a Haggadah? It is literally, “the telling.” It is a script for the Passover dinner. The cartoon version I got was short and kid-friendly. (Note: If you’re going to buy a Haggadah, make sure to get it at least a month in advance. It was sold out at Amazon a few weeks before Passover.) You probably don’t need to buy one as there are plenty of resources on the Internet, but I liked the one I got.
3. You eat at the end. If you have kids and/or guests it’s always good to set expectations. If you start at 5pm, you’ll probably get to the food no earlier than 6:30pm. And that’s if you’re really hustling…
4. We had our kids watch Prince of Egypt in the morning. During the dinner, there is a presentation of the entire Exodus story. I gave the fast forward version, but the kids can help out as they recollect the cartoon movie. There’s also a part when we name all the plagues. That’s a place where the kids all seem to chime in.
5. There are a few places where we sing some traditional songs. The song that I heard at every Seder was Dayenu (It would have been sufficient). Here’s the sheet music. We also threw in Let My People Go. Here’s the sheet music. For Hallel (Songs of Praise section), we did Redeemer of Israel, a traditional LDS hymn which I thought was appropriate for the occasion.
6. Food – there are rules specific to passover – such as no leaven (yeast). At the original passover in Egypt, Israel was commanded to roast the sacrificed lamb and eat it. However, for some Jewish communities it is forbidden to eat roast lamb at the Seder meal until the Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 CE) is rebuilt because sacrifices may only happen at places that God appoints. With that said, we had lamb. Tenille also made Matzoh Ball Soup, Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken, Green Bean with Almonds, and Green Salad. She also made charoset which represents mortar, but is quite delicious.
7. One of the traditions of the seder is to have 3 pieces of Matzah wrapped in a napkin at the table. These 3 pieces of Matzah are said to represent the division of the Jewish people: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Some also say that it represents the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. During the course of the meal, the middle Matzah referred to as the Afikomen is broken, wrapped in a napkin and hidden for children to find at the end of the meal. The Afikomen represents the sacrificial lamb. It also represents the middle Patriarch, Isaac, who was taken to Mt. Moriah by Abraham as a sacrifice. The Greek word Afikomen also means “that which is to come”. According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will come at Passover to bring a redemption that is similar to the one brought by Moses. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ was that Messiah and did redeem all mankind by sacrificing himself. When it comes time to break and hide the Afikomen, this symbolism deserves some explanation. Here is a succinct Christian perspective of the broken Matzah.
All in all, it was fun. We’ll probably do it again next year. There are some portions where we offer a prayer. This year, we just followed a scripted prayer in the Haggadah. I think next year, we’ll change that and have different participants offer their own unscripted prayer – which is probably more in line with LDS tradition.