Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Making Preparations: A Christian Family Passover Meal

I'm getting ready for Friday's special meal.  What a great way to observe the full meaning of Holy Week and Easter together!  This photo is the one from two years ago, and I am very excited to do it again.  The background and setup of the Seder Meal is here.

This year I have updated the script to make it flow more smoothly.  In doing so, I have let go of a bit of the traditional structure.  I am no expert, but I am looking forward to giving this new version a try.  Since Google seems to have a habit of sending people here for a script, I thought I would publish the new one as another option.  Enjoy!

The Passover Meal
All gather around the table and stand quietly.  The mother lights the candle.
All pray:  Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe.  You have given us life, provided for our needs, and brought us once again to this season.  Let your light shine on us in blessing and bring us peace.
All are seated.
Leader 1:
As Jesus observed the traditional Jewish Passover meal with his disciples during the last week of his life, he fulfilled the Old Covenant with his people, and ushered them into a New Covenant relationship with God. Tonight we will use passages from both the Old and New Testaments to help us understand the profound meaning of Jesus' celebration of the Passover during his last meal with these followers and friends.
All read:  When the hour came, Jesus and his disciples reclined at the table.  And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 22:14-16)
The Questions (Haggadah)
Child 1:  Why is this night different from all other nights?
Leader 2: When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God miraculously showed them the way to safety by parting the Red Sea.  Just like God saved them from slavery, he also saved us from our sin. Jesus died, rose again, and joined his Father in heaven, making a way for us to enter God’s presence.  Jesus said, 
All read:  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)
Child 2:  Why do we drink from the fruit of the vine?
Leader 1:  We drink from each cup of wine as an act of blessing and thanksgiving to God for his promises. The four cups represent the four declarations of God’s promise to deliver his people, each beginning with an “I will...” (Exodus 6:6-7).
The first cup of wine is poured.
Leader 2:  The first cup is the cup of sanctification, referring to God’s promise to set his people apart from the Egyptians.  God spoke to Israel:
All read:  “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” 
Leader 1:  Each cup of the Passover meal is accompanied by this traditional Jewish prayer of blessing, known as the Kiddush.  
All raise cups and pray:  Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.  You have chosen us among all peoples and set us apart to be used for your service.
All drink the first cup. 
Child 1:  Why do we eat the greens on this night?
Leader 2:  The greens remind us that nature returns to life in the springtime.  They are dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of a people who were held captive in slavery.  
All pray:  Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.
All take a piece of green vegetable, dip in salt water and eat. 
Child 2:  Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight at this special meal?
Leader 1:  The Jews ate bitter herbs on the Passover night because their fathers were slaves in Egypt and their lives were made bitter.  As Christians, we taste the herbs to remember the suffering caused by sin, and the pain of Jesus’ death.
Child 1:  Why do we eat the bitter herbs, this time with sweet apples?
Leader 2:  We dip the bitter herbs into the sweet apples, or haroset as a sign of hope.  The haroset represents the mortar that the Jews had to use to hold the bricks together when they were slaves.  But it is also sweet because the bitterness of the Israelites’ slavery was sweetened by the hope of freedom.  We who follow Jesus are reminded that by sharing in the bitterness of His sufferings, we strengthen our hope.
All read:  We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  (Romans 5:1-5)
All take a piece of onion or other bitter herb, dip it in the haroset, and then eat.
Child 2:  Why do we eat the eggs at Passover?
Leader 1:  Like the greens, they are a reminder of the new life that arrives in spring.
Child 1:  Why do we eat the lamb when we celebrate the Passover meal?
Leader 2: The lamb reminds us of the Passover lamb, which God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice to protect the lives of their families the night the angel of the Lord passed over them in Egypt.  As Christians we speak of Christ as the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed  on the cross for us.  By his death and resurrection, he makes it possible for us to have eternal life with God.
All read:  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
Child 2:  Why do we eat Matzah at the Passover table?
Leader 1:  The Matzah, or unleavened bread, is the bread of suffering, which the Hebrew people ate in the land of Egypt. (Holds up a piece of the Matzah and breaks it in half.)  The blessing and breaking of the bread reminds us of how the Hebrew people left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time to prepare for the trip.  They had no time to bake their bread.  They could not wait for the yeast to rise, so they made it without the yeast into a flat bread. 
Leader 2:  The sharing of pieces from a common loaf of bread was a powerful symbol of the oneness of the community.  Paul wrote about this to the early Christians: 
All read:  Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:17)
The loaf is distributed.
All pray:  Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.  
Each person eats his or her portion.
A second cup of wine is poured.
Leader 1:  The second cup is the cup of deliverance.  God spoke to Israel,
All read:  “I will free you from being slaves to them.”
All raise cups and pray:  Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.  You have freed us from captivity to others, and also from captivity to our own sin.
All drink the second cup.
Leader 2:  In the Passover feast, before the meal is eaten, the first two psalms of the Hallel are recited.  The Hallel is found in Psalms 113-118.  These are the hymns of praise which the Jews recited at all of their great feasts.
All:  Praise the Lord. O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!  Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.  (Psalm 113:1-3)
The meal is eaten.  When all have finished, the father takes and distributes another piece of Matzah.
Leader 1:  During his last supper with the disciples, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
All eat the bread.
The third cup of wine is poured.
Leader 2:  The third cup is the cup of redemption.  God said, 
All read:  “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
Leader 1:  After Jesus and his disciples had finished their meal, Jesus took the third cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  (Luke 22:20) 
All raise cups and pray:  Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.  As you redeemed the Israelites by leading them to a life of freedom in the promised land, you also redeemed us by your outstretched arms on the cross, purchasing for us the promise of eternal life with you.
All drink the third cup.
The fourth cup of wine is poured.
Leader 2:  The fourth cup is the cup of ingathering.  God said,
All read:  “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”
Leader 1:  The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of the scene in heaven after Jesus had returned from his mission on earth. John sees Jesus as a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.  The heavenly beings sang this new song to him:  “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.”  (Revelation 5:9-10)
All raise the cup and pray:  Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.  As you gathered the tribes of Israel to yourself and marked them as your own people, now through Christ you have made us your own, along with people from every nation on earth who place their faith in you.  Strengthen us to serve you joyfully in gathering more people, both near and far, to know you.
All drink the last cup.
Leader 2:  Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus and his disciples followed the Jewish tradition to the very end, concluding as we will tonight by singing the final Hallel.
All read:  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30)
End with an appropriate hymn/song or reading from the “hallel” (root of “hallelujah!”), found in Psalms 113-118.  The song below is our choice, and found on iTunes.
There’s No One Like Our God (words adapted from Psalm 113:4-9)   
(sung along to song performed by Cole NeSmith)
There’s no one like our God, no one at all
He gave His Son for us, Jesus the Lord
Who can love us like He does, no one at all
Oh how we love you Lord
You are high above all nations
Your glory shines above the heavens
Humbled yourself to love and save us
Be praised through endless generations
You lift the needy from the ashes
And seat them high up with the princes
You give the barren woman healing
She’ll dance for joy like the mother of children
Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!


Melissa Mae said...

Hey Tracy, I'm being lazy since I know that I could go back and figure it out for myself but.... what is haroset? And what do you serve as the "meal"? And is that important?

Tracy P. said...

The haroset recipe is here. My meal is described in the setup post here. The traditional meal would be lamb, but it is apparent from my research that people vary it a lot. I serve chicken as the main dish.

LauraLiz said...

Thank you for posting all of this! (The meal looks wonderful, btw)

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy, I searched many places online for ideas to celebrate this year's Passover. I am a Christian, and feel its important to try and celebrate the Feasts our Lord celebrated. Our tiny church wont be having a Mauday service so we are inviting our Pastor and his wife to partake in Passover dinner with us, using your script will make it so much simpler. I'll be roasting Chicken too, but will use a lamb shank for the Sadar plate. Thanks again. Blessings for Passover and Happy Easter for He Is Risen. Jeni from Morganton, North Carolina.

Tracy P. said...

Jeni, thank you so much for saying hello! I'm so glad you found this useful, and would love to hear how it went!