We were going to celebrate Passover anyway, but events have transpired to make it a particularly appropriate holiday this year.
As usual, this great idea originated with my wife (aka, The Research Department). She wanted us to have a proper Passover Seder — at least as proper as you can have in a houseful of goyem. So, she looked up all the details about the food and the rituals involved and set everything up. All I had to do was kill a lamb and spread its blood on our doorposts. What? We’re not doing that? What am I going to do with all this lamb blood? Well, anyways…
One of the crucial discoveries my wife made in her research, the discovery that pushed this from “nice idea” territory into “let’s do this!” territory, was finding that a local restaurant offered a Passover Seder “kit.”
Eli’s Jerusalem Grill (two locations; one near you!) had a sampler platter of beef, chicken, and lamb, which was good enough reason to throw a party. But they also offered a seder plate with all the symbolic things you’re supposed to have on your table at a Passover meal.
So we jumped on that like lox on a bagel, and with food taken care of, Rachel was free to research the traditions that would make our meal more than just some fun Mediterranean take-out.
The day of Passover, I swung by Eli’s to pick up our meal from their plague-free no-touch curbside service. I was in a short line behind a Ford F150 with a tag frame that said, “Wherever I stand, I stand with Israel”; Passover in Alabama, y’all!
When I got home with the food, Rachel set about taking everything out of the packages and getting plates ready for everyone. As she was doing this, I heard her say something I’m positive she’s never said before: “Ooh, we got a whole box of matzos!” And so we did.
While I had been out getting the food, my son Graham had gotten into the spirit the way he usually does: by creating some original art to enhance the experience. In this case, he made a little slaughtered lamb out of cardboard and a miniature door frame decorated with the lamb’s blood. That’s right, he’s eight years old. Looking at his creation, I could almost feel the angel of death passing by. And I was really glad I didn’t have to slaughter an actual lamb myself.
Then we all got dressed in our finery and gathered around the dinner table. Rachel set out the seder plate and explained it all to us, adding in a New Covenant twist:
- Matzoh (unleavened bread) – We eat matzoh because we remember Jesus. Sin, like yeast, puffs us up and makes us feel bigger and better than we are. This bread has no yeast, like Jesus, who was never puffed up with sin.
- Bitter herbs (horseradish) – We eat bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery the Israelites suffered under the Pharoah. We also remember all the people who have suffered or died so that we may worship Jesus freely and how Jesus took on all the bitterness of our sins.
- Parsley (we actually used celery because it’s slightly less unpleasant to eat) – Parsley reminds us of the branches that the Israelites used to wipe lamb’s blood on their door frames so that the angel of death would know to pass over their homes. It also reminds us of the new life we find in Jesus. We dip our parsley in salty water to remember the salty tears the Israelites cried as they painted their door frames.
- Haroset (apple paste) – We eat this sweet apple paste to remember the bricks and mortar the Israelites had to lay as they did the Pharoah’s work. Its sweetness reminds us of the hope we have in eternal life with Jesus.
- Beitzah (a roasted egg) – Represents the sacrifice brought to the temple every day. We didn’t eat the egg because, since Jesus made the perfect sacrifice for all our sins, we don’t have to offer this daily sacrifice anymore.
- Lamb shank (replaced here with a chicken wing because have you seen the price of lamb?) – Represents the lamb that was sacrificed for the blood on the doorpost.
Jewish families also keep a goblet of wine on the seder table, but they don’t drink from it, because they’re saving it for the Messiah. But we passed it around and all took a sip because we believe the Messiah is here with us. And like good Southern Baptists, our wine was grape juice.
Then we enjoyed our meal and the start of a new tradition in our home. The kids probably didn’t grasp it entirely, but they got a lot of it, and they definitely knew something special was going on.
It was a good thing to do in a time where life has flipped upside-down. We’ve lost so much of the normal rhythm of our lives that I think we’re rediscovering the importance of ceremony and tradition.
The Passover Seder helps us to remember God’s permanence in all circumstances and His faithfulness in all His promises. Viewed through the lens of Christ’s death and resurrection, it’s another reminder that we were once slaves to sin, and now we are free.
Oh, what did we do for music, you ask? Well, of course we hewed close to tradition.