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Posts tagged ‘Jesus the Christ’

Jesus and Only Jesus: Why Is That So Difficult?


Thursday, October 26, 2017 @ 12:02 PM178 SHARES

Jesus and Only Jesus: Why Is That So Difficult? Joe McKeever Guest Blogger MOREOnly Jesus.

–No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there.  John 3:13.  How clear is that?  He is the One who knows.

–No one can come to God the Father except through Jesus.  John 14:6.  How clear is that?  He is our Mediator.

–No one can know God unless Jesus reveals Him to them.  Matthew 11:27.  How clear is that?  He is the Revealer.

–There is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Only Jesus.  Acts 4:12.  How clear is that?  He is our Savior.

–Jesus said He was given authority over all mankind.  John 3:35; 13:3; 17:2 and Matthew 28:18.  How clear is that?  He is Lord.

Here’s an outline that sums it up for me. 

It got me out of bed in the middle of the night recently.  Use it if you can and if the Lord leads…

–One. There is only One who has come from Heaven–and He alone is our AUTHORITY on matters of Heaven and eternity.  John 3:13

That’s why even the Father told people, “Listen to Him!”  (Luke 9:35)

–Two.  There is only One who has gone to the cross and made atonement for our sins–and He alone is our SAVIORJohn 3:16

That’s why the Holy Spirit draws people to Him.  He is the Door (John 10).

–Three.  There is only One who has risen from the dead and ascended to the Father–and He alone is our LORD.  Acts 2:32-36.

That’s why every knee shall bow, every tongue confess.  He alone is Lord.

Jesus is our Authority on things of life and the afterlife, our Savior from our sins and from the world, and Lord of Heaven and earth.  He alone is worthy of all worship.

Jesus.  It all comes down to Jesus.  He is the focus of all God has revealed.

“Jesus Christ is everything God has to say about Himself.” –John Bisagno

This is where people miss it.

They speak of God and think that’s enough.  If they preach about God, what could be wrong with that?  If they tell people to turn to God, they’re solid.

But they’re wrong.

Lots of people believe in God, they say, but have no use for Jesus.

It’s all about Jesus, friend.  People have a thousand concepts of God, and have even made gods in their own image.  They have no trouble with you telling them to “believe in God,” “turn to God” and “worship God.”  It’s when you bring Jesus into the conversation that they jump ship.

No one in the New Testament was persecuted for talking about God.  It was the Jesus-talk that got them into trouble.

–In Acts 4, the disciples were “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead,” and were arrested. When put on trial, they announced, “it is by the name of Jesus the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, that this man was healed.”  The authorities conferred and agreed to demand that “they speak no more to any man in that name.”

Had they preached the typical “God-only” message in a thousand churches today, they would have been safe.

–In Acts 5, they are arrested. The authorities say, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name….”  After the believers were flogged, they went on their way, “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”  And they kept right on  preaching Jesus.

Had they chosen to leave Jesus out of it, as is done in a thousand churches today, they could have spared themselves the suffering.

–In Acts 8, Philip joins himself to the Ethiopian who was puzzled by what he was reading in Scripture.  “And beginning from this scripture, he preached Jesus to him.”

–In Acts 9, when Saul of Tarsus is knocked off his high horse, he stares into the brightest light he has ever seen and he hears a voice coming from it. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  And then, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

When Saul took action against the believers, Jesus took it personally.

Anyone see a trend here?  It’s all about Jesus.

To stay safe in ministry, leave Jesus out of it.  To our shame, a great portion of our congregations will never notice.  But the ones who know the Father will notice and will care.  And at judgement, those who heard you but never knew Jesus will rise up and witness against you.

Tell them of Jesus, friend.  Tell them He is the Authority on spiritual matters and heavenly things.  Tell them He is the only Savior who can save us from our sins.  Tell them He is Lord, for now and forever.

Tell them that a day will come when every eye will see Him, every knee bow before Him, and every tongue will cry out that Jesus is Lord!  And that they would do well to get started now.

As I write, just yesterday a pastor friend did a funeral for a lovely young mother whom he had never met.  She left a grieving husband and a small child.  At the funeral, friend after friend rose to tell of her good works. But not a soul mentioned her faith or her relationship with Jesus.  Afterward, a family member sought out the pastor. “You did a good job of skirting the issue,” he said.

He continued, “Our family did not go to church.  Our parents never took us.  All our church friends just assumed we were Christians.  No one ever asked.”

Let us not be guilty of assuming everyone around us knows the Lord Jesus Christ, friend.  Let’s go tell them.

Tell them of Jesus.

(This was first posted on Dr. McKeever’s blog site here: http://joemckeever.com/wp/jesus-and-only-jesus-why-is-that-so-difficult/#more-15005)

He is Risen!


waving flagAuthored by Monica Cole | Wednesday, April 12, 2017 @ 1:10 PM

URL of the original posting site: http://www.afa.net/the-stand/faith/2017/04/he-is-risen/

He Is Risen! All that Christians do for Christ must be rooted in Holy Week which culminates in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Nails were not what held Jesus to the cross. – Monica Cole

Resurrection Sunday is a time to rejoice! Jesus paid a debt that no one else could ever pay so that we could be in heaven with Him for eternity. God gave the perfect sacrifice, His only Son, and if we believe in Him, then we will be forgiven and saved from our sins.

To be saved, you must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for everyone’s sins, including your own, and receive Him as your personal Savior so that one day you can be with our Heavenly Father. If you believe Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, you will also need to admit you are a sinner – as we all are. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” If you have never confessed your sin and professed your belief in Christ, take time to do it right now. Jesus is the only way to be saved and receive eternal life.

On the third day, he rose again from the dead. This is the Good News that Christians celebrate: His Resurrection! He is ALIVE! And one day our Savior will return. He, and only He, sets us free from our sins! “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’” (John 14:6 KJV).

The birth of Jesus is wonderful, but the resurrection is even more exciting. It is the finale to the Christmas story. Jesus accomplished what he came for. His last words before dying on the cross were documented in John 19:30 as, “It is finished.” He knew that all was now completed and that Scripture would be fulfilled. To suggest that more needs to be done to earn your way to heaven is the same as saying Jesus died for nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast”  (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).

Nails were not what held Jesus to the cross. He had the power to come down from that cross, but He knew His sacrifice had to be complete for there to be true salvation. He died on the cross for you and me because of His love for us. He loved us that much! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).

If you know of someone who is not saved, please pass this on to them. Share the greatest gift of all with them: a relationship with Jesus Christ and eternal life. Also, share this with your brothers and sisters in Christ so they may use it to share with others. God commands that we share the gospel with others. We need to help one another become passionate followers of Jesus Christ.

Have a meaningful Holy Week and blessed Resurrection celebration!

Monica Cole

One Million Moms Director

 

 

rom 6 23 wages of sinrom 5 28 showed his great love for usmatt 20 28 came to serve and give his lifejohn 3 16Gal 5 24 nailed to his crosseph 1 7 purchased freedom with his blood2 cor 5 21 He knew no sin but became sin

Does Jesus Believe in Immigration Restrictions? Absolutely


waving flagAuthored By:  Bryan Fischer | Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 12:41 PM

URL of the original posting site: http://www.afa.net/the-stand/bible/2017/02/does-jesus-believe-in-immigration-restrictions-absolutely/

In the kingdom of the age to come, documentation is required, a profession of allegiance is required, the borders are patrolled, and intruders are expelled.

– Bryan Fischer; Host of “Focal Point” Connect FollowMore Articles

We have heard endless bloviation from media types who have spent their entire journalistic careers in open hostility to Christianity suddenly pontificating about how un-Christian it is to build walls and restrict immigration to the United States. Why, we’re told, that’s not something Jesus would do! He himself was a refugee! How can you call yourself a Christian and not believe in letting anybody and everybody in? That’s what Jesus would do!

Now we know that people who think and talk like this are wrong. When Jesus came to Earth, he did not come as a immigrationrefugee. He came as the rightful king, intent on reclaiming what had been stolen from him by the Prince of Darkness. When his parents took him to Egypt as a child, they didn’t go as refugees but as exiles who returned to their homeland as soon as they could. When his parents took him to Bethlehem, they didn’t go as refugees, they went as hard-working taxpayers doing their civic duty.

Biblically we know that there is a legitimate place for walls, for physical barriers designed for protection. God sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem to build one around the city to keep the bad guys out. We know that immigration bans under the right circumstances are appropriate, for God permanently banned immigration from the neighboring nations of Ammon and Moab because of their historic and implacable hostility to Israel. 

But we know that building walls and using immigration restrictions are legitimate policies because Jesus will use them in his own kingdom. (I am indebted to my good friend Jeff Reed for this idea, but don’t blame him for anything in what follows that you don’t like. That’s on me.)

The Scriptures tell us that the eternal city of his coming kingdom will be surrounded by “a great high wall with twelve gates” (Revelation 21:12), each guarded by an angel so undocumented intruders cannot enter. Identification papers will be scrutinized carefully before anyone is allowed to enter through one of the great big beautiful doors that are built in this wall that surrounds the city. In John’s vision, “books were opened,” and “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life” he was not only not admitted but “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12; 15). Talk about extreme vetting and deportation.

Only those who “wash their robes” in the shed blood of Christ will be allowed to “enter the city by its gates” (Revelation 22:14). Those who refuse to adopt the values of the eternal city will remain outside its walls. “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15). In other words, cultural assimilation will not be optional for someone who desires a place in this coming kingdom. 

Immigration controls will be stout, and deportation for those without proper documentation will be enforced. The king will apprehend those who try to sneak in and pass themselves off as citizens when they are not, and say to them, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

How do would-be immigrants get their names written in this register, this book of life, so that they will be admitted through the gates on that day? How do they get the visa, if you will, that entitles them to enter the kingdom of God? 

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). All prior allegiances must be renounced, and Jesus must be acknowledged as their new sovereign. They must accept him not just as Savior but as Lord. Once they do, their citizenship is granted, their passport is stamped, and they are welcomed to their new kingdom. This citizenship process is open to anyone in the world, anywhere, at any time. 

We have my great-grandfather’s immigration documents hanging on the wall of our living room. In order for him to become a citizen of the United States, it was necessary for him to “renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to all and any foreign Prince, Potentate, State and Sovereignty whatever, and particularly to the Czar of Russia, of whom I was a subject.” Then he was required to declare his new allegiance to a new source of ultimate political authority, the Constitution of the United States.

The earthly process of becoming a citizen of the United States is a parable, a reflection, a shadow, of the process of becoming a citizen of the eternal kingdom. Perhaps God even intended it to be just that, and we cloud the picture when we make foolish changes to sound immigration policy. To be sure, it’s a shadow only, since the eternal kingdom is perfect and America is not. 

In the kingdom of the age to come, documentation is required, a profession of allegiance is required, the borders are patrolled, and intruders are expelled. If that’s how Christ governs his heavenly kingdom, earthly kingdoms can be governed in the same way.

Does Christ believe in immigration control and border security? Of course. And if he does, it’s okay for the United States to believe in them too.

And the ultimate lesson for readers of this column is this: be sure you have your visa in hand because no one knows when the day of ultimate migration will come.immigration

Jesus Predicted Trump and Clinton


waving flagBy: Dr. Frank Turek / Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2016

URL of the original posting site: http://www.afa.net/the-stand/decision-2016/jesus-predicted-trump-and-clinton/

trump-clintonJesus and the biblical authors predicted this thousands of years ago.  Not that Trump and Clinton would be opponents in this election.  But that people throughout history would behave like Trump and Clinton. 

Long before this election cycle, biblical scholar Eugene Peterson translated a famous saying by Jesus about our tendency to love “darkness rather than light.” His translation could be an honest news report about this election.  He wrote: “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure” (The Message, John 3:19-20). cover-her-hatred

Could this be the reason Hillary Clinton won’t do a press conference?  She appears addicted to “denial and illusion” and won’t come into the light because the truth about her scandals is too painful.

It appears that she and Bill have sold influence by taking money from foreign governments, but there’s been no opportunity to ask her about it.  After lying about what happened in Benghazi, Mrs. Clinton says “what difference does it make now?” On jeopardizing national security by sending classified information over her own unsecure server, she says “I made a mistake.” 

Despite whatever new thing the FBI is saying today, that’s not a “mistake.”  A mistake is an unintended act that results when you lack information or have wrong information.  Setting up an unsecure server in your basement when you are a government official handing secret information is a premeditated, deliberate act to avoid detection and accountability.  That’s a crime. (It certainly is for anyone lower in the government food chain.) But human nature tends to minimize culpability by calling it a “mistake” and then avoids the light at all costs. 

flateringDonald Trump apologized for his lewd remarks about making unwanted advances on women.  Then human nature kicked in and he minimized the incident by calling it “locker room talk” while turning the spotlight back on the actions of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Don’t pay attention to my history—look at hers! Granted, the Clintons have done worse.  But that doesn’t make your words just “locker room talk.” 

Jesus’ said, “What comes out of the mouth defiles a man.”  And His half-brother, James gave equally grave warnings about our language.  Peterson translates James this way, “By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”  A more literal way of putting that is “our tongue sets on fire the course of our life.”   

That’s what some people fear about Trump.  While Clinton is too predictable—predictably corrupt—Trump might be too unpredictable.  He could set on fire with his tongue the course of the country (for better or worse depending on your worldview).

fight

Image added by WhatDidYouSay.org

There’s only one thing we can predict with certainty:  the next president will be a fallen human being with a sinful nature.  That’s true even if someone other than Trump or Clinton miraculously wins because we all have hearts in need of redemption, whether we are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent.

That’s why our Founding Fathers deliberately created a government of separated powers.  They knew human nature was depraved and believed that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.  Yet, ironically, we need a government precisely because we are fallen.  As James Madison put it, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” 

We’re certainly not angels.  In fact, Christianity is the only world religion that admits we are universally bent toward evil. The first book of the Bible declares that “people have an intent toward evil from an early age.” The Apostle Paul nailed us all when he said that we “suppress the donerstruth” about God and what’s right so we can do the immoral things we want to do. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is desperately wicked.  Who can know it?”  How else can you explain anyone’s support for literally tearing apart full-term babies in the barbaric procedure known as partial birth abortion?    

I know.  That’s not you.  You think you’re a “pretty good person.”  But let me ask you a question.  If all of your thoughts were transmitted across your forehead in big LED letters, would you leave your house?  Would you let anyone see your face?  Not only is it much more natural to be selfish than selfless, my thoughts and your thoughts are often evil.  

So we can all wag our fingers like Pharisees at the candidates and declare that they are immoral people.  And you would be correct about the immorality of some of their political positions (such as Hillary’s support for partial birth abortion).  But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve also thought and done evil in our own lives.  Perhaps not the same evil in the same way or to the same extent, but we’re all guilty nonetheless.

What are you doing about that? 

Every other world religion claims you have to do this and do that to somehow win favor with God.  Maybe your good deeds will outweigh your bad?  Unfortunately, that’s impossible.  Perfect justice doesn’t work that way. Bad deeds need to be punished regardless of whether or not you’ve done any good deeds. img_0879

That’s why Christ came. He came to pay for your sins and mine: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Since Christ is the only one who can pay the ransom—who can pay your debt—trusting in Him is the only way you can avoid punishment and have your sins forgiven.

Have you done that?  

Oh, you’re not convinced it’s true?  Jesus and the Bible writers got human nature right, but not much else?  Well, there’s actually abundant evidence they got lots right, including Christ’s Resurrection (watch or read).

That means, although America will one day end, you will live for eternity.  It also means that your decision about Christ is far more important than the one you’ll make in this img_0888election.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio. Likewise no comments directed at the moderator(s) will be approved.)

Dr. Frank Turek Host of AFR’s “Cross Examined” Connect More Articles

Your decision about Christ is far more important than the one you’ll make in this election.”

– Dr. Frank Turek
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Obama has new target on persecuted Christians


waving flagPosted By Leo Hohmann On 08/23/2015

Article printed from WND: http://www.wnd.com

URL to article: http://www.wnd.com/2015/08/obama-has-new-target-on-persecuted-christians

Robert DeKelaita outside of federal court in Chicago in September 2014.

Robert DeKelaita outside of federal court in Chicago in September 2014.

Living as a Christian in many parts of Iraq or Syria has become impossible – a one-way ticket to martyrdom at the hands of ISIS – yet it remains a near-impossible feat for these persecuted religious minorities to find refuge in America. But if you can get to America and get your case in the hands of Robert DeKelaita, your chances are greatly improved.

muslim-obamaAs it turns out, this high-powered Chicago attorney may have been a little too successful. He’s gained asylum for thousands of persecuted Christian from Iraq, Syria and Egypt, and that caught the attention of the Obama Justice Department, which is known to be no friend of Middle Eastern Christians.

DeKelaita, 52, grew up in Kirkuk in the heart of Assyria, a portion of northern Iraq that is home to one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities. Legend has it that the Apostle Thomas evangelized the long-pagan area shortly after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Christians there still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

After Saddam Hussein took power, DeKelaita’s family emigrated to the U.S. in 1973 and settled in the Chicago area. He was just shy of 11 years old at the time. He excelled in school, became a lawyer and vowed to use his legal skills to help his people escape religious persecution by the majority Muslims.

He’s helped reunite hundreds of families in the U.S., most of them since 2003 when the U.S. invasion and overthrow of Saddam unleashed a wave of Islamic terror against Christians that far exceeded anything that was seen under the secular Baathist regime.

The Obama administration moved against DeKelaita in September 2014, raiding his office and scooping up whatever “evidence” they could find against him. He was indicted on charges of falsifying the asylum applications of 12 clients over a 10-year period, allegedly concocting “phony claims” of religious persecution. The government has delayed his trial twice while it seeks to firm up witnesses who will testify against him.Christian Persecution

Each count of immigration fraud carries a maximum of 10 years prison and a $250,000 fine.

DeKelaita has been a pillar in the Assyrian Christian community in Chicago, founding the Ashurbanipal Library and donating to projects that celebrate Assyrian art and culture.

“Robert has been a very successful immigration lawyer for our people,” said Ramon Michael, a fellow Assyrian Christian whose family came to the U.S. about the same time as DeKelaita’s.

“I’ve known him since high school,” Michael said. “He has a passion for what he does.”

Some find it ironic that the Obama administration is going after a lawyer who helps persecuted Iraqi Christians gain asylum while it welcomed and granted cart blanch asylum for more than 68,000 unaccompanied alien children from Central America last summer.

At the same time Central Americans are being greeted with a “catch and release” policy at the border, a group of 27 Assyrian Christians who made it to the border earlier this year are being detained indefinitely.Obama-muslim-2-610x400

“The way that some of our federal judges view the plight of Christians in Iraq and the way some of the adjudicators view them, you would honestly think ‘what is wrong with these people?’” DeKelaita, who lives in a suburb of Chicago with his wife of 25 years, Ester, and two sons, told WND. “Why can’t they see what the rest of the world sees?”

He said one judge told him: “To argue that Christians in Iraq are being targeted for their religious beliefs is to appeal to either ignorance or emotion.” “That is absurd,” DeKelaita said.

Though he’s had his share of wins, it’s the losses that stick with him. Like the case in Detroit a few years ago.

“It was very disappointing to hear that judge, on Christmas Eve, deny your client asylum after his brother had just been killed in Baghdad,” DeKelaita said. “He’d owned a CD store and the Muslims felt, you know, that’s a sin, so they blew up his store and they killed several others with him.”

But the judge ruled that because one Muslim had also died in the attack that there was no targeting of Christians. It didn’t matter that seven Christians died and the owner of the store was a Christian selling Western-style music, which Muslims detest.

“I didn’t know what to say to my client,” he said. “We wished the judge a merry Christmas and just walked out of the courtroom.”War on Christians

Meanwhile, the slaughter continues in Iraq and Syria. Another 220 Assyrian families were kidnapped just last week in Syria and fears are growing that the men will face beheading, the women a life of servitude as sex slaves. Bishops in Syria and Iraq have put out desperate pleas for help, saying they feel abandoned by the West.persecution-persecuted-christians

‘Robert is our hero’

More than a few of the “lucky ones” say they owe their lives to Robert DeKelaita. “My sister and her three young children are among the Assyrian hostages in Syria. We don’t even know if they’re still alive,” said Mimi Odicho of Chicago. “Instead of trying to help save them – save these innocent people – the U.S. government is trying to take down a man who has been our people’s only hope for years. Robert is our hero. I don’t think anyone could possibly understand what he means to us.”

“I think our community finds hope in Robert,” added Narsai Oshana, also of Chicago, “because he is an attorney that is not foreign to our part of the world, to our plight and our history. He knows exactly what we have endured, because he’s lived it himself. He represented me in my asylum claim when I didn’t have any way to pay him except with thanks. That was enough for him. I will never forget that. To me, like many, Robert was light at the end of a very long, horrid tunnel. His name is known everywhere. I am forever indebted to him.”

While it detains Iraq Christian asylum seekers, the Obama administration has been welcoming thousands of Muslim refugees from jihadist hotbeds in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, despite warnings from House Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul, R-Texas, that some of these refugee programs may become a “jihadist pipeline” into the U.S.Obama defending muslims Two

DeKelaita, after his indictment, learned that the FBI had been investigating him since 2008, soon after Obama took office. “It seems like they have more leeway and power to do what they want and so they can,” his old high school friend, Michael, said. He points to the Obama administration’s attempt earlier this year to block an Iraqi nun from entering the country to testify before Congress on the issue of Christian persecution in the Middle East. After coverage by WND and dozens of other news outlets created a public outcry, Obama relented and issued the visa to Sister Diana Momeka.

WND also reported on Aug. 3 that the Obama-led Department of Homeland Security has detained 27 Iraqi Christian asylum seekers in California for six months, despite the fact that most of them have family who are U.S. citizens living in San Diego. “Dangerous people are allowed to come in across our borders and these people, I’d let these people babysit my kids, that’s how much I fear these people,” Michael said. “Something is up. I don’t know what, but it seems to be very anti-Christian to me.”want_rel_liberty_r

One of DeKelaita’s biggest successes was in getting a judge to strike down an outdated and inaccurate report out of Europe that insisted there was no persecution of Christians in Iraq. “This report was saying there is no persecution of Christians in Iraq and for many years they were using that to deny asylum and Robert was able to get that stopped, and that was when things started going bad for him,” Michael said. “He was able to make a pretty substantial impact if judges were no longer able to cite that report.”

DeKelaita said his business has suffered since the indictment was brought against him almost a year ago, but he has no plans to quit fighting. “I think it’s disturbing to me that a people so persecuted as the Assyrian Christians have come under such scrutiny, and especially when our involvement in Iraq bolstered the environment in which these people came under persecution from Islamic extremists,” he said.

There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003. Little more than 200,000 remain.The Persecution has Begun

“Then they come here to escape the slaughter and we have to track them down and harass them, when they aren’t any threat to anyone,” DeKelaita said. “These are often old men, old ladies who are escaping persecution. Its’ terrible. As an American I want my government to be involved in actions that protect the security of the United States, and there are priorities, as opposed to tracking down old ladies and decent hard-working people.”Picture1

Robert DeKelaita, left, at a support rally with Assyrian Christians.

‘Proud Americans’

He said there are thousands of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in the U.S. with cases pending before immigration courts.

A few days after his indictment, thousands turned out for a rally to show their support. An online petition at StandWithRobert.com has accumulated 1,874 signatures. “These are decent hard-working people,” he said. “In Detroit our community is a model of wealth and prosperity, in Chicago they’re very hard working people and uphold Christian values and uphold their churches and their communities and are proud Americans, and I’m proud of that. And no matter how my case turns out I will also be proud of my work. I think it can be vouched for by my clients.”

DeKelaita doesn’t make any assumptions about why he was charged or why he hasn’t been granted a speedy trial, or why after one interpreter who did work for his office pleaded guilty, another interpreter was charged. “The politics of charging people and the strategy of charging is a whole other game,” he said. “Why do you charge a person, then circle back and charge his friend, one might say it was on purpose but I can’t say that for sure. I just know I am very much looking forward to getting my trial on and I believe I will be vindicated and people will see the DOJ is not acting properly and I want this thing finished as quickly as possible.”

His Grace Bishop Mar Gewargis Younan of the diocese of Chicago Ancient Church of the East, said DeKelaita represents the very best of the American dream. “He escaped persecution as a child, and resettled in the United States. He had every reason to fail, but instead he went on to graduate from the prestigious University of Chicago and ultimately was considered the best attorney for Middle Eastern Christians,” the Bishop said. “His entire career has been aimed at giving back – to his church, to his heritage, to his people,” the bishop continued. “He is a role model for members of our community, both American-born and immigrants. I can say with confidence that every parishioner in our church has either themselves been represented by Mr. DeKelaita, or has a relative that was represented by him. When the charges were filed, the community was in outrage and disbelief, and rightfully so. There is not a single Assyrian family anywhere in Iraq or Syria that has not been directly impacted by religious persecution. The manner in which Mr. DeKelaita’s case has been approached seemingly moves to challenge this truth. We are proud of Mr. DeKelaita’s achievements, and will continue to support him during this time.”Combined

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You Can’t Have One Without the Other


waving flagBy: Jim Shempert; Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015

“What the world, mortally wounded as she is, needs to hear as she edges closer to the end is the message of the Gospel. There is right and wrong.”

– Jim Shempert

I am a great lover of history.  While most kids were poring over the latest comic book, I had my nose stuck in a history book. At first, it was American history, and that grew into a general love of all things historical.  Because a large portion of human history has been shaped by war, my particular focus seems to be based around the squabbles of differing kingdoms.  I’m a sucker for a cheesy Hollywood war movie, because I have hope, that one day Hollywood will tell a true war story, as opposed to the fairy tale that every war movie made turns out to be.  You know the scene I am talking about.  A mortally wounded soldier, being comforted by his friend, the five stages, and finally….the end.  The movie usually turns on what the one says to the other.  So, what should Christians tell a mortally wounded, dying world?

Some of my past blogs talked about America no longer being a Christian nation.  The conservatives decried me as weak and giving up the fight.  The liberals came with the same old tired line that “America never was a Christian nation.”  To the conservative camp, let me assure you that weak is not an adjective to describe me.  To the liberals, normally, I would try to point you to historical context, quotes by our founders, and other overwhelming evidence that though America was not meant to be a theocratic society it most assuredly was built around and meant to be based on Christian values.  However, I know that liberals’ entire knowledge base comes from themselves, and if they don’t agree with it, then it’s wrong.  Truth be told, history speaks for itself.

The same could be said for Christianity.  Far too often in today’s America, the Church is trying to “change things up” to attract a bigger crowd by raising more dollars to fill more seats.  Church leaders go to seminars on how lighting affects giving, which music to play at poignant moments, and how to court more givers. We sacrifice the Gospel and the eternal for public acceptance.  Sure, we talk about physical poverty, but not spiritual.  We talk about golden streets and harps, but nothing about flames, damnation, and endless torment.  We preach God’s Grace, which I am a firm believer in, but we don’t talk about God’s judgment anymore.  In doing so, we make Christ a liar.  If all those things didn’t await those who refused His sacrifice, then what was the need for Him to die?

I lost a few of you there.  I said that Hell is a real place.  I said that not everyone gets to go to Heaven.  Jesus says the same, and no “new-thinking” wolf-in- sheep’s clothing will trump the words of Christ in my book.  While on earth Christ said: “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50.)  Later is Revelation, “They, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name (Revelation 14:10-11.)”

A lot of fair weather fans just jumped off the bandwagon.  Too much fire and brimstone, not enough grace.  Friends, you can’t have light without dark, the hope of Heaven is only fully appreciated by the fear of Hell, and you cannot have mercy without judgment.

If Christ is Who He said, and it is my belief that He is the Son of God who died for my sins, then judgment is coming.  Some say soon, some say at the end of our lives, but whatever the time, we will all stand in a place of judgment.  By our sin nature, we all stand condemned.   “There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10.)”  Whatever we try to do to change ourselves for the better, will not be enough, because you can’t be “good enough” to attain forgiveness.  If salvation could be earned then there would have been no need for Christ to die.

What the world, mortally wounded as she is, needs to hear as she edges closer to the end is the message of the Gospel.  There is right and wrong.  Unrepentance leads to damnation.

But…

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, saw you in your sin.  He loved you before you could ever love Him.  He was there at the beginning, and will be there at the end.  No matter how far we push him out of our government, we cannot push Him out of history, because He was there before history began, and He has seen when “history” will end.

We will stand before Him one day, and give an account of every word and deed that you have said and done while in this life  (Matthew 12:6).  That, to me, is enough to make my knees quake.  However, those who are found to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ will receive forgiveness. Those who are found to not be in

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My Prayer for Our Nation Independence Day, 2015


waving flag

by Jerry Broussard of WhatDidYouSay.orgNew WhatDidYouSay Logo

The following prayer for our Nation was adapted from Psalms 80.

Hear us, our Heavenly ABBA Father, You who lead You Church in America. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Your people. Awaken Your might; come and save us.

Restore us, ABBA Father; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty, will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people? You have fed us with the bread of tears; You have made us drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of contention to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, ABBA Father; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Europe; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains are covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached from Sea to Sea, its shoots from Canada to Mexico.

Why have You broken down our nation so that all who pass by pick its grapes? People who have come here illegally, acting like Boars from the forest ravage our economy, resources and taxes, while those from within who hate You, all You Stand for, Your Word and especially Your Church, they act as insects from the fields destroying your inspired Constitution and our Liberty.

Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root Your right hand has planted, the Branch You have raised up for Yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at Your rebuke Your people perish.

Let Your hand rest on the man at Your right hand, the son of man, Jesus our Lord and Savior Who You raised from the dead for our salvation. We will never turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your name.

Restore us, ABBA Father, Lord God Almighty; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

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VIDEO: 2,700-Year Old Tomb of Bible Prophet in Danger From ISIS


waving flagJune 4, 2015 By


Tomb of Nuchem

“Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that. He’s a prophet, it is simple.”

Long before Christ walked the earth, Nahum the Prophet warned the world about the end of the Assyrian empire and the destruction of its capital, Nineveh. Now, more than 2,600 years later, his tomb, in the ancient Iraqi city of Al Qosh, may face the same fate, courtesy of ISIS.

“Smooth domes topped with crucifixes rise above the beige stone houses in Al Qosh, a modern town built on the ancient Nineveh plain. The town is rich of history from the Assyrian empire and the beginnings of Christianity. Less well known is the town’s Hebrew heritage, and the once-dominant teachings of the Prophet Nahum.”

The tomb underwent basic repairs in 1796. Then, when all Jews were compelled to flee Alqosh in 1948, the iron keys to the tomb were handed to an Assyrian man by the name of Sami Jajouhana. Few Jews visit the historic site, yet Jajouhana and his family continue to keep the promise he made to his Jewish friends to looks after the tomb.

Nahum was a prophet whose words are recorded in the Bible. His book comes in chronological order between Micah and Habakkuk in the Old Testament.

Asir Salaam Shajaa, an Assyrian Christian born and raised in Al Qosh, dusts off the green cloth that lies over the ancient tomb in the center of the run-down synagogue. He is adamant that resting under the heavy stones are really the remains of Prophet Nahum.

Like his father and his grandfather before him, Shajaa takes care of the site dutifully, fulfilling a promise made more than 60 years ago to the fleeing Jewish residents of the town. A family of Assyrian Christians has been guarding the tomb of Nahum the Elkoshi for generations. A tradition that may be ending soon.

Al Qosh’s Jewish population fled in the early 1950s when the Iraqi government began their sometimes violent effort to rid the country of Jews, to punish the faith for the declaration of an independent Jewish state. Between 1949 and 1953, about 3/4 of Iraq’s Jewish population fled, including the last Jews of Al Qosh.

“When the last Jewish people in Al Qosh left, they asked my grandfather to watch over the tomb, to keep it safe. I don’t know much more than that,” Shajaa explains, straightening the tomb’s cover.

Nahum is frequently referred to as “The Elkoshite,” adding some credence to the postulation that the tomb indeed belongs to the prophet.

The beige hand-laid walls of the old synagogue are crumbling, but many still stand. Some are adorned with legible Hebrew script carved into large stone plaques that remain firmly embedded.

Tomb of Nuchem2

Tomb of Nuchem1

With ISIS just ten miles away from Al Qosh, plans for refurbishing the crumbling walls of Nahum’s tomb are on hold. Shajaa, like many other Iraqi Christians wants to leave battle-scarred Iraq, yet he worries about the future of the synagogue and the tomb, a place that his family has taken care of for decades with little outside help.Christian Persecution

“I’m not sure how long my family will continue to stay in Iraq, we want to leave, most of the Christians want to leave.”

According to Haaretz, Shajaa says:

“My brother says he will stay though, if my family gets to leave Iraq my brother and his children will look after the tomb. It will stay in the family, God willing.”

VIDEO: 2,700-year old tomb of Hebrew prophet in danger from ISIS

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Source: YouTube & Haaretz

 

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Bono on the difference between Grace and Karma


http://resistanceandrenewal.net/2014/01/26/bono-on-the-difference-between-grace-and-karma/

Posted on January 26, 2014 by

Bono_on_Bono_Cover“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep trouble. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled….its not our own good works that get through the gates of heaven…

If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed.  All I do is get up on the Cross of the Ego; the bad hangover, the bad review. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my sin and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked:

  • Who is this man?  
  • And was He who He said He was,
  • or was he just a religious nut?

And there it is, and that’s the question.  And no one can talk you into it or out of it.”

All text taken from Chapter 11 of Bono on Bono: conversations with Michka Assayas, 2005 (Hodder).  Buy the book.

About the Author:

Jon Kuhrt works with people affected by homelessness, offending and chronic addictions at the West London Mission.  He, his wife and three children are part of Streatham Baptist Church and he is a member of the Christians on the Left.  He likes football…but loves cricket.

Grace + Truth

Bono_on_Bono_Cover “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…

You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news…

View original post 259 more words

The Passover Seder for Christians


The Passover Seder for Christians

Haggadah adapted by Dennis Bratcher

Please read the limited permission for use in Copyright and User Information

I. Introduction

In most cases these introductory comments would not be a part of the actual Seder service and meal. However, especially if the Seder is a new experience to most people participating, it might be a good idea to provide this information in a separate handout or as part of the Haggadah (see Introduction to a Christian Seder for more information).

The Story of Passover

Passover is the oldest and one of the most important of Jewish religious festivals. In its earliest forms it marked the beginning of the Jewish religious year (Ex 12:1; because of changes in calendars, later Judaism observed the beginning of the year in the Fall with Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. It is based on the rituals of ancient Israel preserved primarily in Exodus 12-14 in which Israelites celebrated their deliverance by God from slavery in Egypt. The term Passover refers to the tenth and final plague God brought upon the Egyptians to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go, the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. In obedience to God’s instructions, those who believed placed the blood of a lamb on the door posts of their homes, so that God would “pass over” those homes. The festival actually celebrates the entire sequence of events that led to the Israelites’ freedom from slavery. While thoroughly based in those historical events, the celebration encompasses much more as it becomes a vehicle to celebrate the very nature of God and His gracious work in the world. It is in this larger dimension that Jesus adopted the Passover service as a sacramental remembrance of God’s new work of deliverance in the Christ, and allows Christians to celebrate this ancient festival.

Purpose

The Passover meal is known as the Seder, which means “order,” because the meal and service are done in a prescribed sequence. This sequence is presented in the Haggadah (“telling”) which outlines the steps of the meal as well as the readings and songs for the participants. While there can be a great deal of variety in how the service is conducted, and so should not be seen as rigidly structured, the basic elements and order have remained unchanged for centuries (see The Traditional Steps of the Seder). This blend of tradition and innovation conforms to the purpose of the celebration: to tell the story of God’s actions in history in a way that brings it out of the past and makes it a present reality for everyone in the community, young and old, as if they personally are part of the story. As such, the Passover has been termed one of the most effective teaching tools ever devised, as it appeals to all of the senses and involves everyone to tell the story of God. It represents the very best of communal liturgy.

Instructions

At various points in the service there are different actions required of the participants. All of the actions have carefully composed symbolic meanings, hence the Seder, the order. Instructions should be followed carefully, and the Leader should be familiar enough with the service that he can give instructions clearly and anticipate miscues. If this is a public service, it would be helpful for the participants if the Leader would give instructions for the actions even though they may be printed in the Haggadah. Adequate preparation will alleviate many problems. A good rule of thumb for participants is: don’t do anything without directions from the Leader.

II. Preparation: Removal of Chametz

Explanation: In the days preceding Passover, it is tradition to clean the house thoroughly, and the evening before the Passover Seder any trace of chametz (leaven, pronounced ka-mets) is removed from the house. Leaven (yeast) is a necessary element in baking and wine making. However, it was viewed somewhat ambiguously because it also has the power to decay and destroy. Even Jesus used it as both a positive and negative metaphor. In Jewish tradition it came to have more of a negative connotation as a religious symbol, signifying the potential for corruption and sin.

As a result, the removal of leaven carries with it deeper significance in Passover than simply its connection with the exodus. Its removal, and the symbolic removal at the beginning of the Seder, signifies the attitude of penitence, the willingness to remove any corrupting influence in one’s life and submit to God in obedience. As the Israelites prepared for the exodus by obeying the commands of God through Moses, so in removing the chametz, we symbolize our willingness to obey God in preparation for celebrating the deliverance he has already brought to His people.

Preparation: Prior to the beginning of the service, “hide” several pieces of regular raised bread in fairly obvious places around the room (chunks of unsliced homemade or bakery bread are more effective for this, although regular sliced bread is fine).

Leader: Welcome to our Passover Seder. Let us ready our hearts to celebrate and tell the story of deliverance, freedom, and redemption. Tradition teaches us that we must all consider ourselves as slaves in Egypt, that we must all consider ourselves to have walked in darkness, so that we might celebrate the deliverance in the Exodus as our own deliverance. It is in that spirit of community that we enter this Passover celebration.

Mother/Woman Leader: As the Israelites prepared for the exodus by obeying the commands of God through Moses, so in removing the Chametz, the leaven, we symbolize our willingness to obey God in preparation for celebrating the deliverance he has already brought to his people. Let us find and put away the Chametz from this place to prepare for our own experience of deliverance. And as we do, let us search for any hidden sins in our hearts that might prevent us from celebrating the joy of this festival.

Action: Have several younger children search for and collect all the bread in order to remove the Chametz and prepare the room for the celebration of the Passover. When the bread is collected, preferably in a basket so that all can see it, have it carried out of the room.

Explanation: Even though we have called people to reflection, this should not be a solemn occasion. The children should be allowed to have fun searching, and the remainder of the service should be marked by joy and celebration, as well as a certain amount of freedom and informality. Remember, the context of Passover is a family meal.

Preparation: If this is a public service, it is usually helpful to have one or two people designated ahead of time to lead the communal readings to help keep the people in unison and in the correct place in the Haggadah. One of these leaders may be seated with the Leader at the head table.

Leader: We praise you O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who hallows our lives with commandments, and who has commanded us to prepare for Passover by removing the leaven.

People: Any leaven that may remain among us, which we have not seen and have not removed, may it be as if it does not exist, as if it is the dust of the earth.

III. Lighting the Passover Candles

Explanation: The actual Seder begins with the lighting of the Passover candles. Traditionally, the mother of the home lights the candles, just as she lights the candles that signal the beginning of Shabat (Sabbath). The candles symbolize the presence of God and mark this as sacred time.

Preparation: If this is a public service, have a lady designated ahead of time at each table to light the candles for that table. To preserve the sense of continuity with the past, it is most appropriate to have mothers or grandmothers light the candles. In large well lit rooms, the lights can be temporarily subdued to make the lighting more effective.

Mother/Female Leader: Now in the presence of loved ones and friends, and before us the symbols of our rejoicing, we gather for our sacred celebration. With the household of Israel, our elders and young ones, linking and bonding the past and the future, we once again hear and obey the divine call to service. Living our story that is told for all peoples, whose conclusion is yet to unfold, we gather to observe this Passover, as it is written:

People: You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt. You shall observe this day throughout the generations as a practice for all times. [Exodus 12:17]

Mother: We assemble in fulfillment of the commandment:

People: Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by the strength of his hand the Lord brought you out from this place. [Exodus 13:3]

Mother: We praise you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has preserved our life so that we may again celebrate this festival. As we kindle the festival lights, we pray for the light of God in our midst that we might see anew the meaning and significance of this celebration.

Action: The Mother/Woman Leader lights the Passover candles. In a public service, a woman at each table lights the candles for each group.

People, Mother leading: May the lights we now kindle inspire us to use our strength which you so freely give us to help and not to hinder, to love and not to hate, to bless and not to curse, to serve and worship you, O God of freedom!

Explanation: Traditionally, the Seder concludes with singing in celebration of the story of deliverance that has been told, although there are often songs scattered throughout the service. If this is a public service, a song at this point will encourage people to enter into the service and become participants. If a song is used here, the construction of this Seder suggests that it be a hymn and not a Gospel or “Jesus” song yet.

[Action: A song of Spiritual Freedom]

IV. The First Cup: the Cup of Sanctification and Freedom

Preparation: The Leader will usually have four separate glasses for each of the four cups to be used in the service, while others will have a single glass that is refilled. It is effective to have rather ornate glasses for the Leader, a different style for each cup. For a public service, before beginning designate someone at each table to be responsible for the distribution of wine and other elements of the service at the appropriate time. If this is only a symbolic service and not a full meal, each cup should be only partially filled each time.

Leader: Our story tells us that in various ways, with different words, God gave promises of freedom to His people. With four cups from the fruit of the vine we celebrate and we recall God’s promises to Israel and to us.

People: I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians, I will deliver you from slavery, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, I will take you as my people and be your God. [Exodus 6:6-7]

Leader: In the four cups that we drink tonight we celebrate these four “I will” promises of God: Freedom, Deliverance, Redemption, and Thanksgiving for fulfilling His promises that allows us to be His people.

Action: The Leader fills his first glass, as each person fills their own glass or the leader of each group fills the others. After everyone’s glass has been filled, the Leader holds the cup in his right hand so the people can see it.

Leader: We take the first cup and proclaim the holiness of this day of freedom. Blessed is God who fulfills his promises, who is ever faithful to his servants who trust in Him. In every age oppressors rise against us to crush our spirits and bring us low. From the hands of all these tyrants and conquerors, from the power of anything that hinders us from being His people, the Lord rescues and restores us. We praise you, O Lord, who makes holy your people.

People: I am the Lord, and I will free you from the yoke of the Egyptians. [Exodus 6:6]

Action: We all drink the first cup.

V. The Washing: Preparation

Explanation: In preparation for the meal, there is a ceremonial hand washing This is not a sanitary action but is symbolic of the “clean hands” with which one comes before God (Psalm 24:3-4). This can be done only by the leader, with a brief explanation of the action, or can be done by all the participants. If time allows, this can be expanded into a communal activity, in which one person pours for another, thus emphasizing the humility and service to each other in community. It is also possible to incorporate a reading here from John 13:2-14, in which Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as a sign of humility. It is not included here in order to preserve the flow of the story without introducing specifically Christian elements at this point.

Preparation: If this part of the Seder is to be included, there will need to be a pitcher of water, a small basin to receive the water as it is poured, and a towel at the Leader’s table. For a public service, a pitcher and basin, as well as a small towel for each person should be available for each of the groups. [An alternative method is for each group to have one large basin of water, a smaller empty one, and a small cup for dipping and pouring the water.]

Leader: We will now prepare for the meal by washing our hands, symbolizing the sacredness of this occasion, and the purity of heart and hands that we are called to exhibit as God’s people.

Action: Take the pitcher or cup in one hand and pour a small amount of water over the other hand into the empty basin, then reverse the process; dry hands. Since this is a symbolic action, only a very small amount of water should be used.

VI. Karpas – The Green Vegetables (Parsley)

Explanation: The Scripture reading for this section of the Seder is taken from the Song of Songs. It is clearly a love song between a man and a woman, which is appropriate for this time of year and the celebration of newness. However, the significance of this reading is the symbolism seen in a husband and wife of the love of God for His people expressed in His willingness to enter into a covenant with them. While Parsley is the traditional green vegetable here, celery or another leafy green vegetable can be used.

Preparation: If they are easily available, fresh Spring flowers can be placed on the table, either before the service begins or at this point. If this is a public service, each family or a representative from each group can be asked to bring flowers from their own yards or gardens to contribute to the atmosphere of newness and rebirth. [Another option is to give each person present a small live Spring flower at this point in the service.]

Leader: Passover is a Springtime festival, the season of rebirth, renewal, and new life. The days are filled with more light than darkness. The earth is becoming green with new life.

Action: The Leader takes a sprig of fresh Parsley and holds it up for the people to see.

Leader: This vegetable, called Karpas, represents life, created and sustained by the Lord our God. We are filled with joy at the goodness of God in loving us and caring for us, and bringing into our lives all good things.

Men: Arise my love and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in the land. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away. [Song 2:10-13]

Women: My beloved is mine and I am his. As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among men. Under its shade I delighted to sit, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banquet house, and his intention toward me was love. [Song 2:3-4, 16]

People: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. [Song 8:6-7]

Leader: And yet as good as God intended life to be, it is often mixed with tears.

Action: The Leader lifts up the bowl of salt water so all can see.

Leader: Tonight, we are not simply celebrating Springtime or love. We are celebrating the freedom and wonderful deliverance that God brought to us as slaves in Egypt. But we do not forget that life in Egypt was hard and filled with pain and suffering and tears. Let us never forget that the struggle for freedom begins in suffering, and that life is sometimes immersed in tears.

People: Blessed are you O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.

Action: Everyone dips a spring of parsley the salt water and eats it.

[Action: If the Seder is being celebrated as a full meal, vegetable hors d’oeuvres and a dip, or a light salad, may be served at this point. If this is done, all of these dishes must be removed from the table before the Matzah is broken.]

VII. The Breaking of Bread: The Matzah

Explanation: This part of the service begins to introduce themes that will become more obviously Christian as the service progresses. The Israelites waiting for deliverance and redemption in Egypt is a central element of the story that is to unfold. The hope in God who is the only One who can bring deliverance is also a crucial element.

There is not only a sense of celebration at what God has done in the past, there is also an eager anticipation of what God will continue to do to bring deliverance to a world that still groans under its slavery to sin, and awaits its final redemption. The traditional saying “next year in Jerusalem” is an expression not only of the faithfulness of God in the past, but of faith and hope in God’s future as he continues to work out his redemption in the world. Jerusalem is really a symbol of the restoration of all things for which both Jews and Christians eagerly await. Among some Orthodox Jews the matzah has become a symbol of the Pascal lamb, which gives the Christian dimension of these unfolding symbolic actions deeper meaning.

So, while the Seder is a celebration of deliverance already accomplished, there is a strand throughout the Seder that recognizes the yet to be fulfilled promises of God that all creation will be restored and all oppression, sin, and evil destroyed. This dimension is not negative, but is wonderfully positive, the expression if a faith and hope in God’s future based on who God is as revealed in His past actions. We can trust that promise of future deliverance because he has delivered! For Christians, this expresses the Hope of the Second Coming.

Preparation: On the leader’s table there should be three matzot on a plate covered with a napkin. If available, a special Matzah bag (matzah tosh) may be used. For a public service, each person participating may also have the three Matzot on a plate covered, or the designated leader at each table may have the Matzot.

Action: The Leader uncovers the three Matzot, takes the middle Matzah, and holds it before him. If this is a public service and the people or group leaders also have Matzot, the Leader should signal them that it is time to remove the middle Matzah.

Leader: Now I will break the middle Matzah in two. Later we will share it together as the Passover offering itself was shared in this service in Jerusalem. Among people everywhere, the sharing of bread forms a bond of fellowship and community.

Action: The Leader obviously breaks the middle Matzah in half, as everyone else or the group leaders do the same. The participants should simply return the two halves to the plate and cover them again. The Leader returns one half of the broken Matzah to the plate with the other two and leaves them uncovered. The other half he holds in front of him.

Leader: For the sake of our deliverance, we will say together the ancient words that join us with our own people and the beggar in the street. For our redemption is bound up with the deliverance from bondage of all people everywhere. It is only the grace of our Lord God that sets us free!

People: This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry come and eat. All who are needy come and celebrate Passover with us. Now we celebrate it here. Next year, may we celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Now we are slaves. Next year may we be truly free.

Action: The Leader wraps the Afikomen (the second half of the broken Matzah) in the napkin. If this is a full meal, the Afikomen is set aside and is hidden by the Leader sometime later during the meal. If this is a only a symbolic meal, the Leader asks all the children to close their eyes while he hides the Afikomen. They will later make a game of finding it, and the one who finds it will receive a small prize. Some families hide enough pieces so that every child can find a piece and so all receive a gift.

[Action: An alternative is to have the children hide the Afikomen, for which the leader must later search. After he cannot find it, he must “pay” the children with a small gift for its return.]

Leader: I [We] will now [later] hide a portion of the Matzah which we will use as the Afikomen, the dessert of our meal. It is a symbol of the redemption for which we all long and which we know will come, but yet which we do not yet see.

Action (at a symbolic meal): The Afikomen is hidden, and when finished the Leader continues.

Action: The Leader fills his second cup of wine, and signals the participants to refill their cups (if this is only a symbolic meal, only a little should be added to the cup). DO NOT drink this cup yet.

VIII. The Story of Passover

Explanation: The Passover Story is the heart of the Seder and was traditionally recounted as a parent telling the exodus story to his children, following the biblical command, “When your children ask in time to come . . . then you shall tell them” (Ex 14:14; Deut 6:20-21). The four questions, actually five with the first general question introducing the four more detailed ones, are usually asked by the youngest child present that can read well, with the answers given by the father or grandfather, although the answers can be alternated between a “father” and a “mother.”

In a full-meal Seder there are a great variety of other elements and activities that can be added as part of the telling of the story. These are usually built around telling the Passover story four times: 1) The Four Questions, 2) the Four Children, 3) the exodus story concluding with the reading Dayeinu, “It would have been enough,” 4) the explanation of the Passover symbols on the Seder plate. The Christian Seder given here combines The Four Questions with the explanation of the Passover symbols on the Seder plate to answer the questions and tell the Passover story. See Additional Ways to Tell the Passover Story.

The fourth question traditionally has been, “Why on all other nights do we eat either standing or reclining, but tonight we eat only reclining?” In the days of the Roman Empire, to be able to eat reclining rather than standing was the mark of a free person. Emphasizing this was a way to symbolize the freedom which the exodus brought to slaves. Traditionally, pillows are used in the chairs, and the third cup is often taken while leaning to one side or leaning back on the pillow to symbolize reclining. Since we do not normally eat this way, however, this traditional question has been changed to emphasize the teaching and confessional dimension of the ceremonial meal.

Preparation: A child should be chosen ahead of time to read the questions and provided a copy of the service to become familiar with the reading.

Leader: The Torah tells us that our children will ask questions about who they are as God’s people. The Lord has instructed us that we should tell them the story so that they might know the Lord. It is both a duty and a privilege to answer the four questions of the Passover and to recount the gracious acts of our God.

Child: Why is this night different than all other nights? Why on all other nights do we eat bread with leaven, but on this night we eat only unleavened bread? Why on all other nights do we eat of all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat bitter herbs? Why on all other nights do we not dip herbs at all, but on this night we dip them twice? Why on all other nights do we eat in the normal way, but on this night we eat with special ceremony?

Leader: We will now answer the four questions concerning Passover that you have asked.

People: Once we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord in His goodness and mercy brought us out of that land with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

Leader: Had God not rescued us from the hand of the destroyer, surely we and our children would still be enslaved, deprived of freedom and human dignity.

People: Once we worshipped idols and were enslaved by our sins, but God in His goodness and mercy forgave our transgressions and called us to be His people.

Leader: Therefore, tonight is different than other nights because we have gathered to remember who we are, what God has done for us, and to tell to our children the story of God’s grace and deliverance.

People: Praise be to God who is everywhere. Praise be to God who has brought us freedom and has delivered us from all that enslaves us!

Mother/Woman Leader: God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would be a great people, a promise he renewed to each generation, to Isaac and Jacob. As time passed Jacob’s children came to live in the land of Egypt where his son Joseph was advisor to Pharaoh. But years passed and another Pharaoh came to power who did not remember Joseph and did not know his God, so he enslaved the Israelites. He forced them to work hard making bricks of clay and straw with which to build his cities. As the people increased in numbers, he feared that they might rebel against him, so he ordered every newborn boy drowned. They knew only toil, suffering, and tears.

Leader: They cried out from their cruel oppression, hoping that God would remember the promises He had made to the fathers. And God heard their cry and remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham. Through a wise mother and sister, God saved the life of the boy Moses from the ruthless hands of Pharaoh. After he had grown up, God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, and promised Moses that He would be with him.

Mother: And yet when Moses asked Pharaoh to free the Israelites, he refused and increased their labor. So God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh and the land of Egypt so they might know that the Lord is God, and let the people go.

Action: The Leader takes the second cup of wine and holds it.

Leader: In a moment we will drink the second cup, the cup of deliverance, and we will celebrate in joy God’s deliverance from slavery. A full cup is a symbol of joy. Yet our joy is diminished because the Egyptians, who are also God’s children, suffered from Pharaoh’s evil ways. Lives were sacrificed to bring about the release of God’s people from the slavery of Egypt, and we do not rejoice at the death of any of God’s children. As we recount the plagues, we will spill a drop of wine from our cups for each plague to recall the cost of sin, and the consequences of evil in our world.

Action: As each plague is recited, a single drop of wine is removed from the cup, either with a finger or spoon, and placed on a plate. Traditionally, a finger is used to symbolize the finger of God’s judgment on sin. DO NOT drink from the second cup yet.

Leader: Blood. Frogs. Lice. Swarms. Cattle Disease. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. Death of the First Born.

Action: The Leader replaces the second glass on the table WITHOUT drinking, as the participants do likewise.

Mother: Pharaoh continued to refuse to let the people go until the last plague, the death of the firstborn of all of Egypt, convinced him to release the people. By following God’s instructions and putting the blood of a lamb on the door posts of the houses, the Israelites were spared this plague as death “Passed Over” their houses.

Preparation: The Seder plate at the Leader’s table should contain the lamb bone and the egg.

Action: The Leader removes the symbolic lamb bone from the Seder plate and holds it up for all to see.

Leader: This is the symbol of the Passover lamb that was killed so that our children might live. It reminds us not only of God’s wonderful grace in providing for us life and not death, it also reminds us that we are called to obedience in response to God’s gift of life. The sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem were a reminder of that grace and that gift of life.

Action: The Leader replaces the bone and removes the roasted egg from the Seder plate and holds it up for all to see.

Leader: The egg is a symbol of mourning, and is to remind us that the Temple in Jerusalem, the place of sacrifices, is no longer standing, and so sacrifices are no longer offered. But since it has no beginning and no end, the egg is also a symbol of new life and hope, and reminds us that God’s grace is not confined to sacrifices in a temple.

Action: The Leader replaces the egg.

Mother: Even as the Israelites were leaving, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after them. Trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Sea of Reeds, the Israelites had nowhere to go. But God told Moses to lift his staff over the sea, and God parted the waters. They were able to pass through the midst of the sea . When the Egyptians tried to follow, the waters closed back over them. When the Israelites saw that they were free, Moses’ sister Miriam led them in rejoicing and praising God.

People, Mother leading: We Praise you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who hears the cries of the oppressed, who brings freedom to the captive, and who creates for yourself a people.

Action: A Song of Deliverance or Grace (e.g., He Brought Me Out)

Action: The Leader takes the remaining half of the Matzah and holds it up for all to see.

Leader: Tonight we eat Unleavened Bread because our ancestors in Egypt had to leave in such haste that they could not wait for their bread to rise, and so had bake it while it was still flat.

People: You shall eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you came out of the land of Egypt with great haste, so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from Egypt [Deuteronomy 16:3].

Preparation: At the Leader’s table, there should be a small clear custard type bowl containing the Maror.

Action: The Leader replaces the Matzah and takes the Maror (horseradish) and holds it up for all to see.

Leader: Tonight we eat bitter herbs to remind us of how bitter our lives were as slaves in Egypt. As sweet as our lives are now, we must never forget the bitterness of our bondage.

People: The Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields. [Exodus 1:12-14]

Preparation: At the Leader’s table, there should be a small clear custard type bowl containing the Charoset (pronounced ka-ro-set).

Action: The Leader replaces the Maror (horseradish) and takes a spring of Karpas (Parsley) and the bowl of Charoset and holds them up for all to see.

Leader: Tonight we dip twice. We have already dipped the Karpas. We will also dip the Charoset to remind us of the sweetness that God can bring into the most bitter of our circumstances.

People: I am sorely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! [Psalm 119:107, 103]

Action: The Leader replaces the Karpas (Parsley) and Charoset.

Leader: Tonight we eat with special ceremony because in each generation, every person should feel as if he or she has actually been redeemed from Egypt. We tell the story because we are the redeemed of the Lord, and we can sing a new song of praise because of His grace. And yet it is not a new song, because it has been sung by countless people through the centuries as generation after generation have experienced the deliverance and redemption brought by our God.

People: Once we were slaves but now we are free!

Action: A Song of Testimony (e.g., Amazing Grace)

IX. The Second Cup: the Cup of Deliverance

Action: The Leader takes the second glass, and raises it for all to see.

Leader: With the second cup we celebrate the deliverance that God has brought to us. We are privileged to thank God, to praise Him, to reverence Him, and to rejoice in His grace. He has brought us forth from bondage to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption.

People: I am the Lord; I will deliver you from slavery [Exodus 6:6]. We praise you O Lord our God, who has freed your people.

Leader: We praise you O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.

Action: We all drink the second cup.

X. The Meal

Explanation: Here begins the actual meal. It is traditionally preceded first by another ceremonial hand washing [which is here omitted] and the symbolic eating of herbs. If this is not a full meal, the symbolic eating serves as the meal.

Action: The Leader removes all three remaining pieces of Matzah and holds them in front of him as he recites the blessing.

Leader: We Praise you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Action: The Leader takes the top and middle Matzoth (the half from which the afikomen was broken) and breaks pieces to distribute to the group. If this is a public service, the leader at each table or group should also perform this action, using only top and middle Matzoth, and distribute pieces to everyone; or each person may have the Matzah and break their own. The bottom Matzah will be used later.

Leader: Let us all offer a blessing for the bread.

People: We Praise you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with your word, and has commanded to eat unleavened bread.

Action: We eat a piece of Matzah.

Explanation: The Maror or bitter herb is traditionally horseradish root. Since some people may not be not familiar with the “raw” version of this herb, it may facilitate a public service to use prepared horseradish. Do not use the “creamed” variety that is processed into a white sauce, but the type that is made with grated roots. To be effective as a symbol, however, it needs to have a little “edge” to it, even to the point of bringing tears. Although most prepared horseradish is relatively mild, it would be wise to check it ahead of time and perhaps warn people that this herb is very “hot.” Sometimes a second bitter herb is used to make the Hillel sandwich, usually romaine lettuce. For simplicity, the horseradish is used here for both.

Preparation: In anticipation of someone getting too much Maror, it is wise to have a small glass of water at each place setting, or a few extra glasses and a pitcher of water, since it will be a few minutes before another cup is taken.

Action: The Leader distributes a small piece of Maror to each person, or if the prepared Maror is used, passes a bowl of Maror for each person to dip a small amount onto their plate. They will need enough for the next two actions. If this is a public service, the leader at each table or group should also perform this action, or each place setting can have a small piece of Maror. If the prepared Maror is used, a small piece of Matzah can be used to dip the Maror.

Leader: With bitter herbs, let us remember how bitter our slavery was in the land of Egypt. As we eat, let us allow the bitter taste to bring tears of compassion for the pain that our fathers and mothers felt long ago. But let us also weep for those who are still enslaved and have not yet experienced the deliverance that our gracious God brings.

People: We Praise you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with your word, and has commanded to eat bitter herbs.

Action: We eat the bitter herb.

Leader: As we are reminded of the bitterness of our slavery, so too are we reminded of the hope that we have in our Lord.

Action: The Leader takes the bottom or the third Matzoth and breaks it in two. On one half he puts another small piece of Maror and places in on a plate (or if the prepared horseradish is used, he dips some onto the Matzah). If this is a public service, the leader at each group, or each person, should also perform this action. The Leader then takes the bowl of Charoset and holds it in front of him.

Leader: The Choroset is a sweet mixture of apples [dates], honey, and nuts. It symbolizes the mixture of clay and straw that the Israelites used to make bricks for the cities of Pharaoh. But the apples of the mixture also remind us of something else. Apple trees set fruit before the tree has leaves, and then grow leaves to protect the fruit. Tradition tells us that in slavery in Egypt, the women of Israel gave birth to children under the trees of the orchard to try to avoid the decree of Pharaoh, with no assurance of their safety and future. That hope in a future from God sweetened the misery of their slavery. Often, life is a mixture of the bitter and the sweet, of sadness and joy.

Action: The Leader takes the Matzah and Maror and dips it into the Charoset. If this is a public service, the leader at each table or group should also lead this action. If the Charoset is very thick, it may have to be spooned onto the Matzah after a symbolic dip. The remaining piece of Matzah is used to make a “sandwich” of the Maror and Charoset.

Leader: In the days of the Jerusalem temple, Rabbi Hillel ate a sandwich of the Pesach, the Passover lamb, with bitter herbs and Matzah. Since the temple is no longer standing and the Passover lamb no longer offered, we cannot eat the lamb with our sandwich. So instead, we use the Charoset to take the place of the Pascal lamb to remind us of the hope we have in God, of the sweetness that He can bring into the most bitter of our circumstances.

Action: We eat the Hillel sandwich.

[Action: If this is a full meal seder, the seder plate is removed from the table, and the meal is served. Often, boiled eggs are the first course of the meal. Sometime during the meal, either the Leader or the children secretly hide the afikomen (the broken part of the middle Matzah). After the meal is finished the dishes are removed from the table, and the seder plate is returned to the table.]

XI. The Third Cup: the Cup of Redemption

Explanation: At this point we leave the traditional order of the Seder to move into Christian celebration. Normally the concluding order is: the Afikomen is found and eaten, the third cup is taken, the hope of Messiah is expressed in Elijah’s cup, and the fourth cup concludes the Seder. Historians suggest that it was the third cup with the Afikomen that Jesus used at the Last Supper to institute the Eucharist. To preserve this tradition, we will combine Elijah’s cup with the third cup in celebrating Eucharist, since we are no longer looking for Elijah to come.

Preparation: Since Eucharist should never be taken privately by only some members of a group, even if this is only a demonstration seder with no audience participation, provision should be made to serve communion to everyone present if they so desire. Otherwise, the following should only be described and not actually carried out.

Leader: We will now offer a blessing for the food.

People: We praise you O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who in kindness, goodness, and grace gives food to the world. Your love for us endures forever. We praise you, O Lord, who provides food for all life.

Leader: May the Holy One, who makes peace in the heavens, make peace for us and for all people. Amen.

Action: The Leader fills his third cup of wine and replaces it on the table. NO ONE ELSE fills their cup yet.

Leader: This cup is for Elijah the Prophet. Elijah did not see death but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. It has been the hope of God’s people that Elijah would come at Passover, to announce the coming of the Messiah, the son of David. As the prophet Malachi said: “See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” [Malachi 4:5]. This cup has traditionally been left untouched, awaiting the time when Elijah would appear to share the Passover.

*[Leader: We will now open the door to welcome Elijah to the Passover.]

Action: A child opens the door.

*[Action: If there is no door handy to open (or as an additional symbol), a child can place an empty chair at the table to the right of the Leader to symbolize the hope of Elijah, and the Leader can say: We will now set a place to welcome Elijah to the Passover. The Leader then places the filled third cup at Elijah’s place.]

Leader: It is now time to reveal that which has been hidden. We will find the Afikomen so that we may conclude our meal. The Afikomen has traditionally symbolized hope for the future, a symbol of redemption, as God again acts in history to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [Isaiah 61:1-2 quoted in Luke 4:18-19].

People: I am the Lord; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm [Exodus 6:6].

Action: If the Leader has hidden the Afikomen, the children now search and find it and return it to the leader for a prize. If the children have hidden it, the leader gives them a gift for its return. If time is short, or if very small children are participating, the Leader or others, even the older children, can give clues to the younger children where to find the Afikomen, especially if more than one piece has been hidden. This serves in its own way to symbolize the role of parents and the community in leading children to an understanding of the hope and future that they will find in being God’s people. After the children have received their prizes, the Leader holds a piece of the Afikomen in front of him in his left hand.

Leader: As we have found the afikomen that has been hidden, we celebrate the fact that our long hoped for Messiah has come, and brought us a new freedom from a very old slavery. “Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” [John 8:31-34]

People: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. [Revelation 1:5-6]

Leader: We will now fill the third cup.

Action: The people refill their cups (if this is only a symbolic meal, only a little should be added to the cup).

Leader: Jesus stood in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth and read from the Isaiah scroll that promised a new work of God in the world. When he had finished reading, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” [Luke 4:21]. We still live in the “today” of that fulfillment, and so we celebrate the coming of Jesus the Messiah, and the faithfulness of God in working throughout history to bring deliverance and freedom to his people.

Mother/Woman leader: Jesus has brought to us a new freedom from the chains of oppression and sin that enslave us. Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples on the night before he was betrayed and delivered up to be crucified. He commanded that his disciples partake of the bread and the wine as emblems of his broken body and shed blood. We partake of these elements to participate in the new life, in the new birth that God in Jesus the Christ has provided for us.

Action: The Leader takes Elijah’s cup in right hand, while still holding the Afikomen in his left hand.

Leader: I have taken Elijah’s cup because we no longer wait for Elijah. We celebrate in joy today not only because Elijah has come, but because Messiah has also come!

People: Blessed is He who has come in the name of the Lord!

Mother/Woman leader: We praise you O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you, O God, for giving to us your only Son, who suffered and died and rose again, that we might be reconciled to you. How great a love you have bestowed upon us! As we now eat this bread and drink this cup, may you forgive us of any sin that we secretly harbor in our hearts, may you give us the freedom that comes as you transform us into the image of your Son, and may you fill us with your presence through the Holy Spirit that we may truly become your people.

Explanation: Some Christian traditions only serve Eucharist to “believers,” excluding children, those who do not make a Christian profession of faith, or who do not belong to a particular church. This service views the sacrament of Eucharist not only as a celebration of God and His grace, but also as a means of that grace. The very nature of this Christian Seder as communal celebration requires that no person present, especially children, be excluded from the Eucharist, although, of course, some may choose not to participate. Some Christian traditions also require that ordained clergy must officiate at any serving of Eucharist. These theological and doctrinal issues should be resolved before the Seder is planned.

Action: The people all take a piece of the broken Matzah. In a home setting, this would be pieces broken and distributed by the Leader from the Afikomen. If this is a public service, the Matzah can be either from what they have earlier broken from the middle Matzah, or a piece broken by the group leader and distributed. The Leader holds up the bread for all to see.

Leader: This broken bread of redemption reminds us of the broken body of our Lord Jesus Christ that was broken for us. Take and eat this, remembering that Jesus died for us, and in so doing accept the grace of God that brings freedom from bondage to sin.

Action: All eat the bread. When finished, the Leader holds up the cup for all to see.

Leader: This cup reminds us of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that was spilled because of us and on our behalf. Drink this, remembering that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and in so doing accept the grace that transforms us and brings us from darkness into His marvelous light.

Action: All drink the cup. This is followed by a song of praise for God’s grace (e.g., And Can It Be)

XII. The Fourth Cup: the Cup of Thanksgiving and Hope

Leader: Our Seder is now complete, just as our redemption is complete. We rejoice with thanksgiving, and yet are humbled by God’s love!

People: I am the Lord; I will take you as my people and I will be your God [Exodus 6:7].

Leader: Yet the story of God’s redemption is not ended. We celebrate what God has done in our history, and what he has done for us, but at the same time we still await a new future. All creation still groans and longs for its final redemption. As Jesus left, he promised he would come again and restore all things. We have faith enough to believe that God will not leave the world the way it is, so we await the day in which He will again come and bring His Kingdom in fullness.

Action: The Leader fills the fourth cup and signals the participants to refill their cups (if this is only a symbolic meal, only a little should be added to the cup). The leader raises his glass in front of the people, and all the people also raise their glasses.

Leader: We raise our glasses a fourth time in Thanksgiving for God’s enduring grace and love to us. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has adopted us as your children, and allowed us to call you Father.

Action: All lower their glasses for the prayer.

People: Our Father, who is in heaven, Holy is your name! Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into trials, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Action: All raise their glasses again and then drink the cup.

Leader: The traditional conclusion of the Seder is a hope for the future expressed by Jews throughout history: “Next year in Jerusalem.” We will conclude our Seder with the same expression of hope and faith in God, as we await the coming of a new Jerusalem.

People: Next year in the New Jerusalem!

Action: The Leader extinguishes the Passover candles. If this is a public service, the leader at each table or group should extinguish the candles on their table.

Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2006, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
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Related pages

Resources for Worship

Introduction to a Christian Seder

Season of Lent

Days of Holy Week

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