Claire and I are in a small group through our church in which we are reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Through the process of writing a screenplay for his own life, Miller discusses the elements that make a good story. Miller’s hope is to awaken people to live an epic story – a story that involves sacrifice and conflict and a story that is bigger than the American dream.
The leader of the group had approached me shortly after the group had started and asked me if I would be interested in leading a night centered around food. As I thought about what that night might look like, I wanted it to be more than just a night of good food (although there is nothing wrong with that). I wanted to incorporate the aspects of story into the evening. Tell a story with food.
The Lord slowly opened me to the idea of doing a Passover celebration, specifically with the idea of trying to imagine what it might have been like for the disciples to celebrate that meal with Jesus just hours before his death. The whole point of the Passover meal is to retell the story of Israel’s redemption from Egypt. The more I thought about the idea the more excited I became as it would allow me to combine both my culinary training in preparing the meal and my theological training in facilitating such an evening.
I had actually never been to a Passover Seder, but a friend who has led them in the past forwarded me the Haggadah that he has used in the past. The Haggadah is the liturgy and order of service for the Passover meal. I used a Messianic Passover Haggadah published by Jewish Voice Ministries International. The great thing about this Haggadah is that it includes reference points to how Jesus fulfills the Passover symbols as the Messiah as it is written by Jewish Christians.
Lamb is no longer part of the Passover service since Jews no longer offer sacrifices as the temple does not stand; however, I decided to serve it anyway – my reason being that I was trying to capture what the disciples might have felt as they ate the meal, and they would have eaten lamb. Even with the lamb, the food preparation for the Passover meal was not difficult. I roasted the lamb and made charoset, a mixture of apples, walnuts, and sweet wine meant to symbolize the mortar of when the Jews were slaves.
The Passover Seder dinner was great. We all enjoyed the remembrance of a Story much bigger than ourselves. (I think that we as Evangelicals/Protestants have forgotten the rich Jewish Story we are somewhat/somehow apart of now that we have been grafted into the family of God.) The meal was poignant at times – remembering the ten plagues and the bitterness of life – but also full of joy and laughter.
Rather than just ending with the phrase, “Next year in Jerusalem!” I added some more as I wanted to continue the story of the disciples, and therefore I ended with the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, found in Luke 24, and celebrating communion with one another. I absolutely love this passage, and will explain why in another post.
Here were the highlights for me:
- First and foremost, I loved being able to use both my theological training and my culinary training in one event.
- Remembering the plagues by dipping our finger in the wine and letting it drip onto our napkin. The act made us all stop and ponder the severity of God’s punishment on the Egyptians.
- The charoset mixed with the horseradish, thereby symbolizing that life is often mixed with both sweetness and bitterness.
- Being with the small group in a home and remembering the Story of God’s redemption of Israel and of each one of us personally.
A few of us commented at the end of the evening that we were sad that only eight of us from our church got to experience this. We want to expand it next year to include more people, but we also thought that it was important that the event be held in homes and not in some large hall. The intimacy of the home was very important for the evening for all of us involved.
It was a great evening and I would highly recommend it to all. If you are at all interested in learning more about the Passover Seder, I would be happy to talk.