Easter comes every year and with it comes pretty new dresses, chocolate bunnies, and colored Easter eggs. I don't have a problem with a cultural celebration of holidays, but I also want to make sure that my children understand the spiritual significance of these holidays. Christmas and Easter are much more than fun days with food and gifts to be had. They are part of God's plan of remembering His birth, His death, and His resurrection. Amidst the pretty eggs and fluffy bunnies, I want our family to remember and grasp the significance of Christ's sacrifice.
For the past few years, I have really wanted to have a Seder meal with my family. This is definitely not something I grew up with, but it was something I knew some friends did and it sounded like something I really wanted to try. For those of you not familiar with it (I sure wasn't!), a Seder Meal is celebrating the Passover. Obviously, we aren't Jewish. However, I think that there is a lot to be learned by taking part of this celebration of God's deliverance of His people when He brought them out of Egypt. Even more so, for us as Christians, it is a celebration of God's deliverance of His people when He gave His life upon the cross as the perfect spotless lamb. On Good Friday, a day commemorating Christ's death, a Passover meal and order of service provides as way (at least in my mind) of bridging the gap between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
God commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover as a way of teaching their children about how He miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Many years later, Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in accordance with God's command. There, they shared a final meal before Christ's ultimate betrayal. In the first Passover, a lamb's blood was placed above the doorposts of a home so that the angel of God would pass over and not bring death. In the Ultimate Passover, Christ's blood was placed upon a cross so that God's wrath could be satisfied and we would not taste death. The Passover and Good Friday belong together.
Last year I thought that my kids were finally old enough to attempt our first Seder Meal. I asked around for ideas of what to do (I had absolutely no idea), and our good friends recommended the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts. I bought it a day or two before Good Friday and quickly realized that with a brand new baby and being in the middle of seven birthdays, two days was not long enough to prepare. So, I put it off a year. We were in danger of skipping it this year as well, due to another busy spring (those same seven birthdays keep popping up!) and the fact that Jason's birthday was actually on Good Friday. But I was determined and so even though we celebrated a day late, I am so glad we did it.
I won't go into all the order and spiritual significance of the event. You can read about it many places. You can (and should!) read the book and you can even get a printable copy of the script from the book publisher. We modified it quite a bit, accounting for time and for the ages of our children (and the fact that Alaina was incredibly sick and she is our only confident reader). But, we made it work and we learned a lot. Both Jason and I got done with the evening and thought, "Yes, this is definitely something that we will repeat." Our God is a God of memories. He wanted the Israelites to remember. He wants us to remember. And He commands that we teach it to our children.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance." Exodus 12: 14 "And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’" Exodus 12:26, 27
Left: Traditionally, the woman of the home wears a white head covering during the service. She also lights the candles at the beginning of the meal. Right: Me acting out being a Jewish man who had escaped from Egypt during the Exodus.
Because life is always crazy in a big family, Levi lost his first tooth in the middle of the service. I was in the bathroom getting changed and I heard Jason say, "Don't worry, Levi. I know exactly what to do." I came out to see him taking pictures. Good husband.
A few tips:
- Plan ahead. This isn't something that can be thrown together in an hour or two, especially if you have young kids and need to modify the service.
- Don't worry about it being perfect. We couldn't get or didn't have time to get some of the items, including the roasted lamb bone. We used chicken. We made other substitutions as necessary. It is the symbolism that is important.
- Read through the script and take out any parts that you think are far above the level of your children. We took out a few parts including setting a place for Elijah. I figure that we have lots of years to add things in. I didn't want to overwhelm the kids with too much that they didn't understand.