One of Pete and I's spiritual goals for our family this year is to celebrate the major feasts of the Old Testament. We'd love your family to join us. Before each feast I will be posting some "how to" info as well as some information on the feast in the context of the Christian life. If you would like to study this more in depth I recommend the study Feast: Finding your place at the seat of Tradition by Derek Leman.
Passover is a time commanded by God to remember His work in bringing His people out of slavery in Egypt. A time to remember how God heard his people's suffering, and made a path to save them from slavery and set them apart as His own people. The Seder is a meal during Passover at which the story of the Exodus is retold, fulfilling God's instruction to remember and tell the next generation of His saving work. But the Passover Seder is not just about God saving His people from Egypt, it carried a promise of a time that the Messiah would come and complete God's promise to save His people from their slavery to sin and death.
What Christian's call the Last Supper, was the Passover Seder that Jesus shared with his disciples. He used the elements of the wine and bread, that generations had shared at Passover, to teach his disciples that his blood and body would be given as a sacrifice for our salvation. It was during the Seder that we received The Lord's Supper, or Communion.
Pretty awesome huh? Celebrating the Passover Seder with our girls last year was on of the most significant spiritual experiences we have had as a family. And I can't wait to do it again this year! Since Jesus celebrated the Seder with His disciples the night before His death, our family holds our Seder on the Thursday before Easter. If this night does not work for you, I encourage you to pick any night between now and Easter. We are not trying to follow a strict law, or create new laws here, we are trying to remember, and teach our children, God's great work in our lives, so any night will do.
How do you have a Seder? Seder's include two main components; a ceremonial meal and a regular meal. The ceremonial meal is done first and follows a Haggadah (which means "telling"). There are a wide variety of Haggadah out there that you can purchase. It is important to use one that is from a Christian perspective as it will tie in how Jesus was the Messiah. We use my friend Cindy Finley's, which you can find here with a complete shopping list and instructions. Thank you Cindy!
A Haggadah is basically a script that each part of your family will take part in reading. I copied Cindy's into Microsoft Word and put each family member's name in the parts so we all knew what to read. We printed a copy for each person and put it at their plate.
You will also need a Seder plate. Here is a great explanation of what goes into that. I got really stuck last year on not having a "proper" Seder plate with cute little areas to put the elements into. But I found something that worked great. I bet you have something too - a big plate will do. Through the Seder plate your family will taste and smell their way through the story of the Exodus. Each element has significance that will help your children remember elements of the story. My girls are still talking about how we took WAY too big of a bite of horseradish last year and literally all wept at the table!
After the ceremonial part of the Seder you will need a real dinner. This is the feast piece. I had no idea how long the first part would take us, and did not want to stress about dinner burning up in the kitchen, so last year I served pot roast with potatoes and vegetables that I did in the Crock Pot and a green salad. I think that is as unPassover as you can get, but it worked great for me as dinner was hot and not burned when we were ready for it.
We chose to make the night "fancy" as my youngest called it. We decorated the table with palm branches and flowers from our yard. Fancy makes my girls and I happy, if it doesn't make you happy go with paper plates and sit around the coffee table, it really doesn't matter.
It took me three years to work up the courage to actually have a Seder. I worried about doing "it wrong." I worried that it was too weird. I worried that the kids and Pete would find it boring and hate it. If you feel a stirring in your heart to incorporate a Seder into your family's Easter celebrations let me just encourage you to go for it! You can't do it "wrong," maybe your kids will be bored, but make it fun, and make food they enjoy for the feast and chances are they won't. If your family schedule is like ours, a lingered family dinner in the midst of our crazy lives is a win in itself. I pray this experience will deepen your understanding and awe of Easter and all Jesus did to be our final sacrifice, to fulfill the Passover, and to be our way out of the slavery of sin and death for all eternity.