March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday (Passover) - Seder

Some churches have Maundy Thursday services tonight. "Maundy" is Latin for "mandatum" or "commandment" because at the Last Supper Jesus said, "A new commandment I give you: Love one another ..." Because Jesus washed the disciples feet that night, some churches wash feet.

At this meal, the disciples were expecting it to be a traditional Passover ritual they grew up with. On Passover Jews eat history, remembering the Exodus story with a Seder ("ordered") meal. This Holy day was to awaken Israel's past into her present.
Passover spoke powerfully of God rescuing His people.

The disciples had no clue Jesus was going to die. Jesus shared the meal with them, with special twists that would tell his story more powerfully than any other way.
Jesus must have played the role of the father in the typical seder, but as he did with everything, he made the Passover become personal. Jesus' new Passover speaks even more powerfully of God rescuing His people in a new and complete way.

Many years I've done a seder meal at home. I have a Haggadah I can copy that is a script for the ordered meal. Sometimes our kids have had friends over, and they take advantage of the idea of reclining at the table, which we've heard the Jews typically did - with low tables. It truly is eating history.

Now that one of our pastor's is Jewish, this will be the second year in a row we'll have a seder meal at our church tonight. As Christians, there's so much more depth to the ritual. "...Every time you eat this bread and drink the cup..." we are actually announcing to the world around, to the principalities and powers that keep people enslaved and fearful and angry or not living to their full selves, that Jesus is Lord, and that his death has broken the power of sin and fear and sorrow and shame. This meal propels us out into the community in the confidence that God is at work.

The Passover meal became the Lord's Supper. The Passover Lamb becomes the Lamb of God. Instead of just remembering the slaughtered firstborn of Egypt - we remember that Abba Father slayed His firstborn. Instead of smeared blood protecting the firstborn - Abba protects those who drink from His firstborn's cup.

Jesus made himself the center of the Passover re-enactment. Jesus established the physical bread and wine so we will never forget his gracious act of love for us. It's a meal that speaks more volumes than any theory. We participate in his life (and death) for us. We physically remember. Jesus asks us to "taste, see, and know My presence".

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