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Christian seders: always a bad idea?

Can Christians host seders? Should they? It's a question I've seen raised and answered in a few places this Passover, with some interesting responses, mostly in the negative. I've never been to a seder, Christian or otherwise, and no parish I've been in has ever tried it, so I'm interested in the question without being very invested.

Everyone whose opinion I've read concedes that Christian seders are a well-intentioned practice -- usually, anyway, an attempt to learn more about what Christ believed and did, and what Jewish neighbors do today. But most think they're a bad idea nevertheless. An exception is Mark Silk, who gives the Christian hosts his blessing.

He notes concerns raised by Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy ("a Christian woman married to a Jewish man") in a piece at Religion Dispatches: the practice appropriates a Jewish ritual, ignoring the history of Christian persecution of Jews as well as the still-vibrant religious experience of Jews today. She gives a clear explanation of the danger of theological insensitivity and error:

Christians mounting their own reading of the Haggadah almost always want to discuss how Jesus is like the paschal lamb, using the occasion to show how all the Hebrew scriptures point to Jesus as fulfilling the prophecies. This theological exercise, known as supersessionism, is problematic enough in a purely Christian context, but as part of a Jewish ritual it is deeply out of place.

At Religion News Service, Silk writes,

Personally, I’m not offended. Christians started off as Jews, and if we started to ask them to strip away all the Jewish textual and liturgical and theological appropriations they’ve made over the years, there wouldn’t be a lot left of the religion. Moreover, they’ve got their own stake in the Passover banquet, inasmuch as all three synoptic Gospels present the Last Supper as a seder.

He also suggests that "Jews who want to give their Christian friends a good taste of Jewish anti-supersessionism should invite them to their own seders." I'm glad he makes a positive case for Jewish ritual and theology as powerful and effective in its own right, and I appreciate his willingness to acknowledge the validity of Christian interest in Jewish traditions as more than just cultural tourism. Still, I don't know if asking Christians to refrain from hosting their own "seders" is tantamount to asking us to strip away all elements of Judaism from our practice.

And was the Last Supper a seder? A friend of mine linked to this thoughtful (and very long) blog post by J. Mary Luti, a United Church of Christ pastor, that questions the reasoning that says Christians should experience seder to better understand what Jesus did that night.

[W]e really do not know for sure what the “original context” of Jesus’ ‘last supper’ was.... One thing we know for sure, however, is that, although it may have been a Passover meal of some sort, it was not a Seder in the modern sense. We know this because the introduction into Jewish ritual life of the Seder we know today came after the time of Jesus.

Modern day Jewish celebrations of the Passover are a melding of traditions that arose shortly after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE), through Late Antiquity and into Middle Ages. It is a developing tradition, too, with additions being made to the haggadah even to this day. Ironically, some scholars believe that the modern Seder developed in part at least as a reaction and resistance to the growing influence of the Christian church and its sacred meal.

That convinces me, assuming it's true (and it certainly sounds like Luti knows what she's talking about). Wanting to know more about the Jewish roots of Christ and Christianity, and about contemporary Jewish practice, is laudable, especially for Catholics who are inspired to both by the documents of Vatican II. But it's not necessary to play-act a seder to do that. Maybe finagle an invitation to an actual seder, hosted by Jewish friends, if you want to know what it's like? Or invite a rabbi or a scholar to speak, if you want to know about Jews in the time of Jesus? Or both?

But then, I'm not sure the warnings and admonishments (or blessings and invitations) are for "us," since I don't know that many Catholics are doing this in the first place. The idea strikes my Catholic imagination as sort of corny, especially as an observance of Holy Week -- we've got enough ritual of our own to worry about. (The alternative Cynamon-Murphy describes -- her church's "Mediterranean potluck with hummus, pitas, falafel" and a study of haggadot -- also strikes me as corny, to be honest, which is maybe why this whole question has escaped my notice until now.) Silk quotes from a guide to a Christian seder that lists some reasons Christians might be interested in such an undertaking, one of which is "the willingness to find new and innovative ways to worship." I don't associate that flexibility with Catholicism, especially not at this time of year.

Are things different at your parish, or have you experienced a "Christian seder" somewhere else? Or are you, perchance, going to a real seder tonight? Tell us about it.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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In the 1970s I was a member of a university parish in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where we once celebrated a "Paschal meal." I had learned of this practice from members of the Grail, an organization for the formation of the lay apostolate among Catholic women, in Lafayette, Louisiana. In Fayetteville, the parish embraced the reforms of Vat. 2 in liturgy, lay participation, inclusiveness, etc. Those who attended the event were not all academics, but probably none of them were what at that time would have been considered "traditional Catholics."

The text we used did not refer to theological questions like supersessionism, but did explain the significance in Jewish tradition and practice of some of the details of the meals, the candles,  the salt water, etc. I think Christians and Jews both might as well accept the historical links between their traditions and observances, since they are surely evident.

The readings we used (I still have a copy of the program) appear to be straight from Exodus, Psalms, and from Jewish practice, with only a few instances that explain, e.g., the actions of Jesus in the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper and of Paul when he talks of the cup of blessing.

I think we successfully walked the line between a "performance" and an appropriation of an important Jewish tradition. In those days there was no synagogue or temple in our community and two or three Jewish families participated in this dinner. They were not observant Jews, but they regarded it as a positive experience. The Catholic mother of a teenage girl told me that her daughter said that this meal was the only event she had attended at a Catholic church that she had actually found meaningful.

Our parish had Tenebrae last night, and tonight I am skipping a trip to the Labrynth (I'll make it up tomorrow) to respond to this post. Our Seder was Sunday.

The Council of Catholic Women started our Seder in the late 1990s as an annual event. I have led most of them. The first leader, a guy named Kelly, worked with a rabbi in preparing the first one and learned to intone the blessings of the wine in Hebrew, which I learned from him. When he moved north, I took over. This year I handed over to a younger man who spent his youth as a Sabbath Boy in Jewish apartment houses in Brooklyn and who spent a couple of summers at a Jewish camp. However taking advantage of the breach, the women brought in a genuine Reform rabbi this year. About him more in a minute.

We follow a seder prepared by Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Naturally, I have looked at many seders through the years. The only regular thing ours leaves out is setting a place for Elijah. As I have usually explained, the Passover Seder is not a liturgical event to be done in a synagogue. It is an event that takes place at home, that everyone participates in, and that is primarily a teaching method. It tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt four ways (including the song Dayenu).

It does not require a rabbi. It is usually led by the head of the house -- or as I always described myself, the Geezer of the Family.  We have often had Jews at our Seder, and they always made a point of saying very nice things to me afterward.

I never, never, never said that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder. John says it took place on the night of preparation, and I've always thought Holy Week holds together better if you accept that. When Pope Benedict leaned in the direction of John (in Vol. II of Jesus of Nazareth), I was not shy about pointing out -- with only a little license -- that the pope agreed with me.

(Scholars who know better, please argue among yourselves.)

I always said that we were doing what our Jewish neighbors do to pass down in the family the memory of one of the central events in our common faith heritage. That is exactly what we were trying to do, and I think we do it pretty well after all these years. (My brisket was very tender.)

This year, as I say, they invited a real rabbi as a change of pace. He was so Reformed he seemed embarrassed by the details of the Exodus, so he pretty much ignored them and told jokes and stories. It was unlike any Seder I ever led or read. It was fun as an interfaith meeting. But next year: Back to Jerusalem.


Mollie - to follow up from Tom's post, here is a link to resources we used at the seminary in the late 1970's/1980s from LTP:

It comes complete with a CD of songs.

Used this in theology class to cover various aspects and meanings and had students do the organization and leadership for the meal.  Some years, the classes included an invitation to a local rabbi to provide his experiences.  Like what Mark Silk has to say - it allowed students and faculty to understand the link between the OT and the time of Jesus and to see how our liturgical roots come out of our Jewish ancestors - what do we usually say - catholicism is the daughter of the Jewish faith.  Note - we made it clear that what we were doing was not a *seder meal* but a re-enactment.

Mollie - I really think that Tom Blackburn should contribute posts to this blog.

I would say that, ritually, we do remember the Exodus event - it's proclaimed in all of our churches as the third reading for the Easter Vigil.  So we've incorporated that foundational story into the tale we tell of salvation history.   That tale and its implications are not exactly what is remembered (as I understand it) at a seder .  Like you, I have never attended a seder, but I would think that a believing Christian holding his own seder is, by reason of that Christian belief, doing and celebrating something that is different than a a seder celebrated by a believing Jew.  I am curious to know how folks who do celebrate seders, reconcile this disconnect.

If a Jewish family was to invite me to attend their seder, I would attend if I'm able, as a guest.  It would be an honor.  


I think that as long as it is done respectully wih due attention to the purpose (and Tom's story exemplifies it well), I don't see it as problematic and can certainly help in terms of rooting our tradition in its Jewish tradition and history.

However, Greek (and Gentile) culture is also integral to the Christian proclamation and whatever happened in terms of ritual and remembrance in that first 100 years, we have a very good sense of how Eucharist occurred based on some of the letters of Paul. It seems to have been a home event much like Tom describes. I don't know the specifics in terms of actual prayers and structure except what is conveyed in Paul's letters. Maybe there were elements of Jewish prayers.

I realize this discussion centres on the day of preparation. So what to do Thursday? Well a seder seems a welcome reprieve to the latest liturgical wars #4,560, 301 over the washing of women's feet and whether it was appropriate to wash the feet of a Muslim prisoner woman as Pope Francis did. 

Jim, Thanks for the kind words. I don't see a disconnect if Christians have a meal of memory using a tried and true format developed by our elder brothers (and sisters) over a long period of time.  I think there would be a problem if we said "this is what Jesus did" rather than "this is what Jews do" -- or, better, "this is how Jewish families teach the story."

Yes, Jesus attended seders it for 32 or 33 years. But what He attended was all about the Passover. That is a story that, as it happens, has been heavily appropriated by Christians to explain the events of the Christian Holy Week. But we don't say that at our Seder. Don't have to because Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter are coming up. And yes, there are things in the Seder that will remind Catholics of things that happen at Mass. But we don't have to go there, either, at our Seder. They are  obvious. In its own right, the Seder is a celebration -- or a memorialization -- of Passover.

The Seder, like walking the Labrynth, is an event that logically fits into our tradition. In our parish, we don't think of what we do as a "Catholic Seder" because we make no adaptations (other than skipping Elijah) to make it specifically Catholic. Obviously, it can't be a "Jewish Seder" because most of the people there are Catholics (with a smattering of others, including Jews.) It is what it is, but I don't think of it as play-acting, and I don't think many of the participants do either.

I have always been touchy about any notion that we are somehow "taking over" Passover from the Jews. After all, it was the Jewish people who endured the slavery and were recipients of the Passover under their covenant with God. The Jews are very good at internalizing the reality that what happened to Jews then happened to Jews living now. So, the Passover then was/is for Jews now  -- just as every living Jew, of whatever age, feels the Holocaust in his bones/guts/soul. I really wish we Catholics could learn to do that.


One more thing before I go to bed, in case some folks don't know. The word Seder simpy means "order." It's the script/scenario/outline -- whatever you want to call it -- for a meal. And as long as I am faking it as a teacher, it's the order for a Haggadah, which is a story. In the case of the Passover Seder, then, what we are talking about is the outline for retelling the story of the Exodus.

In my 6th grade religion class in 1981, Sister Colleen led us all in an entire unit about Passover and the Seder. I was fascinated by it all and thought it was a great introduction to Judaism for a child who grew up in a town that was 98% Catholic. That being said, Sister Colleen also did units on nuclear disarmament and the Maryknoll sisters who were martyred in El Salvador. So she was ahead of her time in a lot of ways. 

"...we have a very good sense of how Eucharist occurred based on some of the letters of Paul. It seems to have been a home event much like Tom describes."

We have lost so much by having hundreds attend the Eucharist. We lose the community, the impact and the closeness. We need to send Tom around and show the clergy how it should be done. 

I once attended a seder as a guest of Jewish friends, and loved (and envied) it. It had some of the intimate allure of a family Christmas -- funny stories about relatives now dead and about domestic disasters at long ago seders, stories that obviously get remembered every year. But what most appeals to me about the seder is that this most sacred teaching and celebrating event takes place in the home, with an extended family, without a religious professional in sight. That's a big part of the point missing, it seems to me, in the idea of a parish seder -- it turns it into another parish pot luck style event, led (to at least some degree) by the clergy person. Part of the appeal is that the parent at the head of the table says the words his or her parents said, and the child who this year says "what makes this night different" is preparing for leading the rite decades hence. I wouldn't mind so much if someone put together a "how to do a seder" booklet, left it on the table at the back of the church, and let the people get on with it if they wanted to.

Mark, Your point about "a clergy person" leading does not apply in our parish. I don't have even a retreat at the seminary on my vita. The first year (before I was on the job) they asked the pastor to say grace before the meal. In the after-action discussion they decided that didn't make any sense at all. So the priests who come come to our Seder as family with no clerical role to play. Our really Jewish rabbi this year did give one of the priests "equal time" at one point, which no one else that I've talked to thought was a good idea. But, considering he was doing more an interfaith meeting than a seder, maybe it was.

Amy, May Sister Colleen's tribe increase.

I think that Christians can only be thought of as appropriating the seder in their performances, probably engaging in not much more than some very creative play-pretend in the process. The situation simply is more complicated than Silk's take, particularly because of the issues pointed out by Luti. The seder as it now stands stems from centuries' worth of Jewish development and is informed by the Jewish experience through those years.

Where are we then? Well, we know practically nothing about the form of the seders (that is, the very seder of the seders) that Jesus would have experienced, and the seders we do know about emerge from a post-Christian context. This means that when Christians act out a seder, they are hardly capable of "re-enacting" what Jesus did, and so can either make up a ritual entirely, copy the post-Jesus Jewish seder, or reconfigure the Jewish seder to "make it Christian."

I've never been to a Christianized seder or looked at a Christianized haggadah, so I am not sure what these things wind up looking like. And I simply have a hard time imagining them, because the seder (surprise, surprise) is very Jewish, and the Christianization process must alienate it a great deal from its usual form. Tom Blackburn says, “Naturally, I have looked at many seders through the years. The only regular thing ours leaves out is setting a place for Elijah.” I doubt it. I kind of have a tough time imagining a bunch of Christians lounging around a table belting out Chad Gaya. Hell, I have a hard time picturing the same group trying to bargain for the afikomen.

Silk observes that it's not feasible to expect Christians to excise their borrowing from Judaism, which is true. The use of the seder, though, is a different beast than various uses of the Hebrew Bible—again, because of Luti's reasons. The seder does not form part of the common pantry of imagery, texts, and ideas that Judaism and Christianity used in their early development, and so when Christians ape the seder, they are taking from something to which they have very little real claim.

Supersessionism is a phenomenon that, despite the best efforts and intentions of Christians who wish to shed it, probably forms to integral an element of Christianity fully to be shaken off. The rejiggering of the seder is a very strange instance of supersessionism, though, for some of the reasons I've outlined above. I haven't completely worked this out, but I think that it has to do with the presumption among some Christians that it's simply okay for them to appropriate the seder, that the seder is available to them to rework for their own needs as they see fit.

I think that this suggests that the seder is being approached with the view that it doesn't really count, that its potential is unrealized, that it lacks the realness of Christian sacramental rituals. I suspect that most of you will be willing to grant that ritual anxiety pervades the Catholic group consciousness (or, to put it simply, that Catholics are uptight about the liturgy and the forms of ritual). So why is a ritual so important to another group approached so casually as raw stuff with which to experiment?

It's fair enough for Silk to say that Christian seders don't bother him (though he could stand to learn a bit more about the origins of the Jewish seder, I think), as long as he recognizes that it's more than fair enough for other Jews to be bothered by them. I suspect that Silk is coming to this in part from the starting point of wondering, “what's the harm,” and it may be that the stakes are pretty low. After all, this is the time of the year when Christian liked to murder Jews because of what they thought they did at their seders—and now Christians want to imitate those seders! It's a better situation, even if not ideal.

I could say a lot more about this, but you will have to excuse me: I am going to go pretend to turn a cracker into God. Don't worry, though—it's just for learning purposes.

"I don't see a disconnect if Christians have a meal of memory using a tried and true format developed by our elder brothers (and sisters) over a long period of time."

I can't really argue with anything Tom has said here. Our Episcopal priest offered Seders. The idea was to help us as Christians engage with our roots in Judaism.

I thought it was kind of weird, and I asked my friend Josh, a Jew, about it, and he thought it was hilarious, the kind of earnest thing liberal Christians would engage in.

He explained that, for him, a Seder was something that families did to reinforce their Jewish identity in a very personal way, and to transmit the faith to the youngsters. Its meaning (for him, anyway) comes largely from the fact that his family celebrated Seder every year and that the tone and texture of the celebration was both familiar and ever-changing as family members moved away, died, or were born. The knowledge that other Jews were doing the same thing at the same time was also meaningful to him.

He didn't feel that Christian Seders were sacrilegious, but he didn't think that Christians could truly understand what the meal meant to Jews in any deeply felt way unless they were celebrating with a Jewish family over many years.

what most appeals to me about the seder is that this most sacred teaching and celebrating event takes place in the home, with an extended family, without a religious professional in sight.

I had a friend whose parish tried to introduce a ritual to take place in the home. The parish had a statue of Mary, about two feet tall. They told the children in the religious education program to sign up for one week each. Each week after Mass, the kid whose turn had come would take the statue to his family's home, where it would stay until they brought it back to church the following Sunday for the next kid on the list. The person from the parish who organized that explained to the kids that they and their family would put it in a place of honor in their home and, during their week with the statue, would pray together each day in front of the statue.

My friend resented it, as a way to force evangelization onto the parents, who would be reluctant to not go along with the wishes of the children who were sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes wanting their families to conform, and sometimes just wanting to obey their religious education teacher. Then the parents would find themselves under pressure to do some Marian devotions whether they wanted to or not. The parents who were not active Catholics would be put on the spot by their child. Carrying the bulky statue on the street and into the building was also a showy display of religious identity that they did not particularly want. In many ways it could be seen as a way for the religious education person to impose her ways, not only on the kids but, through them, on the families, and even invade the privacy of their homes!

Do we have any Catholic traditions in the home?



I am less negative about it (although not in favour of the parading part). I think that it might be a desire for the child to try to bring some cohesion and togetherness to the family (and a child shall lead them ?). For the most part, many families are zoned out on t.v. and computers, work, etc. and having a common time, a common meal can be nice. So, I see this, on one level, as a means to achieve that.

As for "Catholic" traditions in the home, we have the advent wreath and prayers, certainly I try to not have any computer or tv time on Good Friday and attend Good Friday service at 3:00 p.m. (thankfully a stat holiday up here so that support is good). I try to encourage the family to, at least, take a half hour in quiet reflection. Good Friday has always been, for us, a quiet time. Good Friday should be at lesat ONE day where there is fasting and abstinence.....real fasting and abstinence.

Also palms from palm Sunday twisted in a "p" shape and placed on the crucifix of our home and left there each year to be taken down and burned at some point the following Good Friday.

So yes, there are traditions but I think they tend to focus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as these are the major events. But I do like the Easter Vigil and nothing like the Exulset.

Holy Thursday has always been a bit of a never never liturgical land for us although we usually attended services but not of late.

Do we have any Catholic traditions in the home?

Certainly - we argue with the children every Sunday about needing to go to mass. :-)  And an extra helping on Holy Days of Obligation.

Just speaking for ourselves: we say grace before meals, or at least the meals at which a quorum of the family is present.  When our kids were young enough to be tucked into bed, we would say a bedtime prayer with them.  We file that under the category of, "Planting seeds, hoping they sprout some day".

We have crucifixes hanging in the bedrooms, and there is an Infant Jesus of Prague statue atop our entertainment center as it's a gift from my in-laws.

When I was a child growing up, our family knelt down every Sunday afternoon after lunch and prayed the rosary.  I'm given to understand that this was pretty traditional, but it hasn't survived into our own family now.  It wasn't fruitful for me as a kid; more like torture.  But ... Claire, that statue thing that your friend resented - I have a vague memory that something similar happened to us when I was very young, probably kindergarten age or even younger: we took possession of a statue of Mary, which may have been thought to have some spiritual significance which I can no longer recall, for a week.  Then we gave it back to whoever was in charge of it, and that guy presumably loaned it out to someone else.  I'm sure we prayed the rosary before it.  It struck me that my parents thought it was a big deal at the time.  So what was proposed to your friend may have some roots.


Certainly - we argue with the children every Sunday about needing to go to mass. :-) 

Hey, that's our tradition, too! But first I have to argue with myself about needing to go to Mass.  

I think the home traditions are easier to engage in when the kids are little, and I think that going to Catholic school really makes a difference in the kiddies' willingness to participate. As they get older, their self-consciousness works against it, and they think it's dorky.

My kid did help bus tables at last week's fish fry, and he enjoyed all the attention from the "old people." I told him that it gives them hope to see young people in church, that seeing others engaged in even the fringes of the faith strengthens the faith of others. "You mean that because I'm clearing plates, they think there's a heaven?" 

Well, yes.

I just want to thank everyone for the VERY thoughtful and interesting comments. Please keep it up.

Jewish Theological Seminary has mini-courses and this Spring, April 2, one of them asked the question: "Was the Last Supper a Seder?"

Professor Jonathan Milgram presided at this witty and informative investigation of the topic. The First Question was: Was the Seder modeled on the Greek Symposium? Many points of intersection, but no.

The Second Question was: Did the Seder exist in the time of Jesus? After much toing and froing and more questions and witty comments (including from the audience), the general conclusion seemed to be that as along as the Temple stood, there was probably not a Seder. The Seder took form after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and then only very slowly. This was not to say that there was not at the time of the Passover celebration a shared meal, especially by those who had gathered for the celebration in Jerusalem. The question was also raised but not answered, did the death of Jesus occur at the time of Passover, or some other time (the presence of Palms as in Palm Sunday figured in this digression).

Professor Milgram promises next year to offer a witty, informative investigation of the question: Was the Last Supper a Symposium?

Our family will "do" our own Passover Seder tonight in our own home, before the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper.

Here's my experience and reasoning.

I first attended a Passover Seder held in a Baptist church basement, of all places, which was intended to be a cultural experience more than anything.  If I remember aright, it was moderated by a Rabbi, and carried out strictly according to a Jewish Haggadah. 

The next Passover Seder I attended was in the home of friends, an evangelical Christian family.  A (not Messianic) Jewish person was also present, and obviously unoffended. When the leader broke the middle matzoh and wrapped the Afikoman in a cloth, clearly choked up - I knew why instantly.  Now I get choked up when we do the same.  I see this as a very beautiful and moving intersection between two major faiths (one which arose out of the other.)  I see this as the very beautiful and moving, and  natural, poetic, human experience of insight. 

I'm not under any illusions or delusions here, nor do I think we are perpetuating any for our kids.  I know that the Last Supper of Christ was not anything like the average Seder in a Jewish home today.  I know that Jesus was not eating haroset made from apples and walnuts.  I know that there have been centuries, millenia of horrific persection of the Jewish people - yes, by Catholics.  I also don't think, on the other hand, as a Catholic, that the ritual of the broken Afikoman takes the place of the mass later on.  Our Passover dinner is its own thing, and a deeply meaningful one, in its own context.

I would not eagerly share with any of any of the many Jewish folks whom we live and work alongside that we hold a Passover seder in our home, or why breaking and hiding the matzoh brings tears to my eyes.  ("This is My body, which is broken for you," the sense of Christ "hidden" in humanity, in the body of His mother, in poverty and obscurity....) I can see that transposing Christian beliefs over essential Jewish symbolism would be offensive, to say the least, to a Jewish person.

However, this is America, and post-modern America at that.  While we should absolutely strive for understanding and respect between faiths, what are any of doing that is not either corrupted - or enriched - depending on your outlook?  What is authentic - and should we even care? What are any of us doing that does not make us, in Annie Dillard's words, "brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?"  Of course it's corny - and beautiful - what do any of we humans engage in that isn't this paradox?

Simon Schama has had a PBS series on the history of the Jews going, and Raber and I were both struck at the way the Word was presented in procession, as it is during Mass.

We ARE a people of the book and the Word, as the Jews were. Sometimes I think that the emphasis on communion as the "centerpiece" of the Mass, as the RCIA ladies called it, obscures the fact that the Word necessarily comes before the Bread. As a non-communicant, "receiving" through the ear is as important for me as receiving the Body and Blood is for a practicing Catholic. 

I think Clare's ability to see in the Seder insights into her own faith is a lovely thing, and I appreciate the way she makes her case for doing it at her home. 

There is a multitude of reasons Christians can and should celebrate the Passover, and I will borrow "Occcam's Razor" and use the simplest reason: the Passover celebration, like all biblical festivals, is a part of the Bible we Christians read, study from, celebrate and order our lives around. If I am connected to Yeshua of Nazareth, I can celebrate anything He celebrated, including the festivals He observed while He "tabernacled among us" as the incarnate word of YAHWEH ELOHIM, the God "Who was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty."  (Revelation 1:8)

The Bible is the precious religious heritage of all of us, and the heritage of all humans created in the image of God. We do not simply ignore and neglect the first thirty-nine books of the Bible because "we already have the fulfillment" of the New Covenant in the Victorious Lamb of God. We still teach our children the Ten Commandments; we still do what the Psalms instruct us to do in worship, including sing, play instruments, dance, "proclaim His salvation from day to day", pray and give thanks to Him whose "mercy endures forever." (Psalm 136:1); and we still study and preach the prophets who not only prophesied of the coming of the Redeemer, but challenged us to "do justly, love mercy and walk humbly" with our God. (Micah 6:8)

Many Christians have discovered that Passover Seders--whether tradtional or freely adapted for church and/or family use--provide a richness of sensory experiences that enhance their understanding of the biblical events that comprise the "history of salvation" which begins in Genesis and continues throughout the Torah, Prophets, Writings and the Gospels through the book of Revelation. For those of us who celebrate Passover as part of the Holy Week cycle of worship services, the Passover Seder--whether celebrated in a home setting with family and friends, or within the church parish hall with our "church families"--enables us to literally walk through the historical events of the Bible, and experience, rather than just read about or hear about, God's "mighty acts" (Psalm 150).

We church folks have church plays, pageants, cantatas and celebrations that focus upon events and topics in the Bible, and the Exodus event is the natural context of the Last Supper. In fact, the Exodus story is constantly referenced in the New Testament, as the pivotal redemption story that undergirds our comprehension of the salvific work of the Paschal Lamb, also called "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David", Who redeems people "from every tribe and language and people and nation." (Revelation 5) 

If we can read portions of Exodus 12 as part of our liturgies, we can certainly do portions of Exodus 12 as part of our worship before or during Holy Week. The more relaxed, intimate "family-and-friends" atmosphere of a Passover celebration provides us super-busy people time to stop, sit down and leisurely experience the Exodus and the Last Supper with those who are "pilgrims and strangers" on our life journey to the New Jerusalem, the "better country". We can ask questions and answer them; we can laugh and cry and reminisce; we dip herbs, literally eat lamb, munch "the bread of affliction", drink the "fruit of the vine" and consume fruit mixtures that remind us that, in the midst of oppression, humanity longs for the sweetness of freedom from tyranny. We do all this while literally worshiping God and remembering Him at our dining room/kitchen tables, where we give God thanks for our daily bread.

Passover Seder celebration can be transformative, as it forces us to look at ourselves as human beings who should be "our brother's keeper." The Exodus event teaches us what God thinks about slavery and oppression. The God of the Hebrews included the "mixed multitude" of Egyptians and other ethnic groups in His liberation plans. If the other nations put the blood of the paschal lamb upon their lintel and doorposts, they, too could eat the Passover foods and thus escape the dreadful judgement executed upon the firstborn of humans and animals.

Passover also teaches us that, sometimes, we just have to "let Pharoah go" and leave Pharoah behind us as we journey through life. Sometimes, we have to walk away from toxic situations and relationships that oppress us, and we have to trust God to get us where we need to go. In so doing, we imitate Moses who "left Egypt behind, not fearing the king's anger, for he persevered, as one who sees Him Who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith they cossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land..." (Hebrews 11:27-29)

The Exodus event and Passion narratives of our Bibles, as celebrated in Passover Seders and Holy Communion/Eucharist/Lord's Supper, afford us the literal opportunity to "taste and see that the LORD is good." (Psalm 34:8) We receive strength to fight for justice and continue our pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem, where we anticipate sitting down at the table at the "marriage supper of the Lamb." (Revelation 19) Until we get there, we enjoy God's care and gracious provision for our lives, and rejoice that the God Who delivered downtrodden slaves is still working among us, doing extraordinary miracles through ordinary human hands!


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