As Christians, we are familiar with Passover as it commemorates God saving the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and sparing them from death of their firstborn sons and animals. They were to kill a lamb for each family and take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses, as stated in Exodus 12:6-7. Verse 13 says that the blood will be a sign and when God sees the blood, He will pass over the house. This feast is celebrated every year by the Jews with a special meal following the description in Exodus 12 with a few more traditional and cultural food items added in.
You may ask why we do not celebrate it as Christians or what we do with these feasts now? I have enjoyed the way that Joe and Melissa Rice have brought this feast into their home and celebrated it with their children as a hands-on learning point. They hold a Passover meal just after sundown either on Thursday or Friday evening before Easter, and I thought that it would be of interest for the rest of us to have a peek into their home on how they do it.
Melissa shares that the expectations of having this feast have lowered over the years from wanting a beautiful meal and experience to currently just getting the food items on the table and making sure the kids learn. The plate consists of bitter herbs parsley and horseradish, which represent the bitter lives of the Israelites as slaves. As the Rice family pass each food item around the table, they ask the kids who can explain the meaning of it from the Bible and they connect it to the New Testament as well. They explain that the bitter herbs show us that slavery to sin is bitter too. The younger kids tend to shy away from tasting the bitter herbs after they see the faces of their older siblings!
Next, they pass Charoset around the table, and though it is not found in the Bible, the kids love to eat the chopped-up apple and walnut dish. It represents the mortar used by the Israelites, and the kids talk about what they did in Egypt while slaves. The third item passed around is unleavened bread. The kids remember after many years of celebrating Passover that it is unleavened because the Israelites left Egypt in a hurry. The Israelites were to clean out their whole house from any bit of leaven, and it is celebrated as another feast the day after Passover. The Rices make sure that the kids know that leaven represents sin. Sometimes they have a Bible and they read such Scripture as 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, but they said that the kids are often too squirrelly for that! They make sure to keep asking the kids questions, as this is all done to learn.
The last item on their plate is the lamb. Melissa shares that they don’t do it by following all the regulations of Exodus 12 with inspecting the lamb for imperfections and such, but that they do it as a fun experience for the kids to learn and remember as they grow up. The kids do come up with funny sayings though, and this year one child said, “This lamb is dead!” And yes! Indeed, the kids were reminded that it had to die so they could eat it, and in the same way, Jesus had to die so we can be forgiven and live.
Let us also follow this example of the Rices to take our faith and have celebrations about what God has done. We should use every opportunity we can to teach our families and let the Gospel be brought into our lives in a practical way, such as this yearly meal.