A Passover meal

This meal was due to be part of our benefice Holy Week this year….. and it will be next year. We share it respectfully and reverently as we recognize that we are not Jews but that Jesus was. This meal has become central to our religious practice because of Jesus words at his last Passover and it is in a spirit of ecumenism and shared history that we share this meal remembering that the human race is connected and one family in God worshiped in may ways.

Hear o Israel, THE LORD our God, THE LORD is one. Blessed be His glorious name, whose kingdom is for ever.

Passover is a family celebration. It is usually held at home, involving children and using “Visual (and other ) Aids” We will celebrate it like a Jewish family.  Jewish families celebrate this feast “as if they had been there”, so we should do the same.
You will notice the rich imagery of the items and actions in this celebration. The meaning of some are obscure to Jews, but for us clearly point to Messiah. Much of the following comes from a Messianic Haggadah, which draws out the significance of various items to Yeshua ( Jesus)
This Haggadah is abbreviated.  Only one Passover song is included.  Haggadot vary considerably and it is worth studying different versions.This is a teaching event and no initiation or commitment rituals are involved Watch and listen and taste and think.

Passover Introduction
Passover ( or Pessach in Hebrew ) is celebrated in Spring, in the Jewish month of Nisan. It is joined with the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. The feast remembers how GOD delivered our forefathers from slavery in Egypt and made them a nation special to himself.
Preparations in the Jewish Home in Bible times
Remember; Yeshua (Jesus) kept Passover, with his disciples. On the 10th of Nisan a lamb was brought into the house and lived with the family so they could be sure it was without blemish. On the14th of Nisan, at twilight, the lamb was slaughtered and prepared. It was roasted whole over the fire (no bones were to be broken)
Preparations in the Jewish Home today
The Passover celebrated now is different from that celebrated by Jesus and his disciples. The Temple was destroyed so the lambs can not be sacrificed. On the Eve of Pessach, all items containing Chametz ( leaven / yeast ) are searched out and burned. Father and the children hunt the house with candles. (Mother will have placed bits around to be found).  Father will  sweep it onto a wooden tray using a feather, wrap it all up and burn it outside. Chametz is a picture of sin, and also the vanity of life in Egypt. We should have dealt with the big sins in our lives, but this ritual reminds us that we need to take the light and search our lives for the crumbs of sin left over from our old life and old nature.

The Celebration

Pessach begins at sundown and is conducted from a book called the Haggadah ( which means “the Telling” )

The Seder ( literally The Order)

The feast is called the seder and the Seder plate is the centrepiece of the table. It has six dishes around a bowl of salt water. Each dish holds an item of significance which we will come to later.
First Mother covers her head to light the festival candles. She then warms her hands over the flames, covers her eyes and recites the kidoosh (blessing) and prays for her family.

“Blessed are you O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has set us apart by his word, and in whose name we light these festival lights.”

The leader (Father) then leads us through the feast, with others taking part.
We drink four times during the meal and we remember GOD’S four promise to Moses (Moshe). “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians” “I will free you from being slaves” I will redeem you with an outstretched arm” “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

The Cup of Sanctification … We fill our glasses and the Father blesses the first cup,

“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who creates the fruit of the vine.”

We all drink.
We wash our hands.
This is symbolic; a reminder of the need to be clean before God., We will have washed before coming to the table. (This was when Yeshua (Jesus) washed his disciples’ feet )

We eat some parsley
A spring vegetable speaking of life that is dipped in salt water (reminding us of the tears shed by the children of Israel) (Our life is sometimes immersed in tears)

The four questions
These are asked by a young child
“On all other nights we eat bread or Matzah – on this night why do we eat only Matzah?”
“On all other nights we eat all kind of vegetables -on this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?”
“On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once – on this night why do we dip twice?”
“On all other nights we eat our meals sitting or reclining – on this night why do we eat reclining?”

Father explains

Matzah “This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.
Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need share in the hope of Passover.”
(The unleavened bread) – Remember our forefathers did not have time for bread to rise as they left in haste.
Three Matzot are wrapped for Passover .

There are various explanations about the Patriarchs and priests, but to the believer in Jesus it suggests Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Notice that the Matzah has stripes and it is pierced. (Modern Matzah is rolled, before baking, with a spiked roller to stop it rising.  This creates the stripes ( Isaiah 53) and piercings ( Zechariah 12))

The leader removes the middle Matzah and breaks it in half.

When Jesus broke this bread, he gave thanks, and added, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” )

One half is wrapped in a white cloth ( Remember Jesus was wrapped for burial) This half is called Afikomen (the coming one). He tells children to hide their eyes and hides the Afikomen. He says “The Afikomen will return to end our Passover Seder” ( One of the children may steal the Afikomen and hide it )

Father breaks the other half and distributes it. “
Blessed art thou o Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth
All share some matzah but not all.

The Bitter Herbs
Everyone eats some bitter herbsScoop some on to matzah, eat it with the Marror (horseradish) and allow its bitter taste to cause us to shed tears.
We eat this as a reminder of how, sweet as our lives are today, the Egyptians made life bitter for us.
We then dip in Charoset is a reminder of clay used to make bricks Put some sweet Charoset. On the matzah

Eat this as a reminder that even bitter circumstances can be sweetened by the hope we have in GOD.
The custom of reclining was borrowed from the Romans, as it was a mark of freemen to recline while eating.   It is customary to lean on  the left elbow while drinking the four cups.
Tonight we recline. The first Passover was celebrated by people enslaved. We are free. They were instructed to eat in haste, ready to leave. We may recline and enjoy at leisure. 

The leader and other readers then tell the story of Passover.
Passover is a story the mighty power of God to overcome evil, redeem his people and make them a nation. It is a story of miracles.

Reader 1 You will remember the story of Yosef, who was sold by his brothers and went into Egypt as a slave; how the Lord was with him and prospered everything he did. You remember how he was able to save his father Yacov (called Israel) and all his family from a famine in the land God had promised. However, many years later, a new king arose who knew nothing of Yosef and he feared the Hebrews because they had become strong and numerous. “What if they join with our enemies and turn against us?”   Pharaoh decided to impose harsh and bitter slavery upon the Israelites. But still, God blessed His people in strength and number.
 Reader 2 Pharaoh grew more afraid and ordered every baby boy among the Israelites to be drowned in the Nile River. One Israelite couple hid their little boy for three months. When he could no longer be hidden they made a waterproof basket for him and set him adrift on the river, entrusting him to God’s care. His sister, Miryam, watched as he floated downstream. Pharaoh’s daughter found the child in his basket, took pity on him and chose to raise him as her own son.   She called him Moshe, meaning, “drawn from the water. “
Reader 3 Moshe grew and saw of the suffering of his people. One day he was overcome with rage and killed an Egyptian slavemaster who was beating a Hebrew. He buried the body but when he realised the story was known he fled from the palace and from Pharaoh. Moshe became a shepherd in the land of Midian, far from the cries of his suffering people.

Reader 4 The Lord, however, saw the suffering of the children of Israel. He determined to raise up a deliverer to lead them out of bondage. After Moshe had been a shepherd for forty years God appeared to him in a bush that burned but was not consumed. Moses drew close and listened as God commissioned him to go to Pharaoh. Moshe was Fearful and reluctant, but eventually agreed to bring God’s message to the king of Egypt, “Let My people go!”
Leader Moshe left the wilderness to go back to Egypt, to Pharaoh’s palace where he had been raised. He took the message, which the Lord had given him. But God Himself warned Moshe of the resistance that he would encounter.
All “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:19, 20)
Leader God sent plagues, each worse than the previous one, yet with each plague Pharaoh hardened his heart. The Egyptians were afflicted with discomfort and disease, bane and blight. Still, Pharaoh would not relent. With the tenth and most awful plague, God pierced through the hardness of Pharaoh’s hard heart.

All “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt; I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)

The Cup of Rejoicing   (we fill our cups)
When we get to the ten plagues, we fill our cups a second time.   But we do not drink this cup yet. As each plague is recounted we dip a finger in and allow a drop to fall on our plate, reducing the fullness of our cup of joy.
“Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Cattle Disease, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, Death of the First-born.”

The shankbone of a lamb  
This roasted bone is here to remind us how the LORD commanded our forefathers to prepare to leave Egypt.  It represents the lamb whose blood marked the houses of the children of Israel, signifying their obedience to God’s command.   (Exodus 12)

Reader 1 The LORD said to Moshe and A’aron in Egypt, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, . Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.        (Exodus 12)

(The Dayenu should be sung to a jolly little tune,)

Reader 2 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.  This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.  “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.       
Leader Since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer stands, lamb is not eaten at Passover. We have the bone to remind us.

 We now drink the second cup, the cup of rejoicing.

The Passover supper is now eaten The leader offers thanks for the meal. After the meal, if the Afikomen has been “stolen” by one of the children, it must be ransomed by the head of the table.
We finish the meal by sharing the Afikomen.

 The Cup of Redemption ( the third cup; the cup after supper)

This cup is drunk warm to remind us of the blood of the Passover lamb.

This is the cup that Yeshua (Jesus) gave to his disciples, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

(The Prophet Elijah ) An extra cup was put out on the table for Elijah.
One of the children opens the door to welcome him to our Seder. (This tradition was observed even during times of persecution, when opening the door was a real test of faith.)

Remember Elijah did not die and God promised he would come to announce the coming of Messiach (The anointed one) We believe that John the Baptist fulfilled this, announcing Yeshua as “the Lamb of God”.

The Hallel is sung   –  This, means “Praise” and is Psalms 113 to 118.

Where most English translations of Mark 14 v 26 say, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”  Jesus and his disciples actually sang the Hallel.   This suggests that Jesus’ special Seder did not include the fourth cup, but that Yeshua adjourned to Gethsemane where he wrestled in prayer about  the cup of suffering he was about to drink. After finishing the Passover meal and singing the Hallel, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. This suggests that he did not drink the fourth cup; the Cup of Praise. But in the Garden he prayed concerning the cup of suffering he was about to drink. There He was betrayed into the hands of the authorities and was crucified on the following day.

The Cup of Praise The fourth cup is poured

We read Psalm 136 responsively.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, For his steadfast love endures for ever
O give thanks to the God of Gods For his steadfast love endures for ever
O give thanks to the Lord of Lords For his steadfast love endures for ever
Who alone does great wonders For his steadfast love endures for ever
Who by understanding made the heavens For his steadfast love endures for ever
Who spread out the earth on the waters For his steadfast love endures for ever
Who made the great lights For his steadfast love endures for ever
The sun to rule over the day For his steadfast love endures for ever
The moon and stars to rule over the night For his steadfast love endures for ever
Leader : Let us lift our cups and bless the Name of the Lord.

We drink the final cup
All : Blessed art thou O Lord our God, ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine.

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