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Passover Seder Haggadah


Haggadah Cover

INTRODUCTION

I was teaching a Bible Study in the home of our best friends, Gary and Carol Leach sometime during the late 1970’s. Someone asked me questions about Passover. I was a young man, new to ministry, and knew better than to try and fake some answer. These people were, and remain, very smart. I admitted my ignorance, and promised I would start researching it immediately.

In those days I was a sales representative for the SAVIN Corporation. We sold photocopy machines. My territory was the city of Encino. At that time Encino was growing very rapidly. As people from Beverly Hills and Brentwood needed addition office space, they found them over the hill in Encino. A vast percentage of the business district in Encino was built on both sides of Ventura Boulevard.

Additionally, Encino was at that time believed to be 90% Jewish, or more. The largest Jewish Synagogue was, and remains, in Encino, right on Ventura Boulevard,   Valley Beth Shalom. It also was a private preschool, grade school and high school.

I went into the school office and introduced myself explaining that I was a Christian conducting a Bible Study and wanted to learn about Passover. The lady I spoke with returned with a very distinguished man who introduced himself as the head of the school. Once inside his office I noticed that he had earned several theological doctorates. After explaining my quest, he excused himself and I heard him getting several of the staff to collect the materials.

While I was waiting, I noticed four books displayed prominently on his desk. They were the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You can imagine the questions that filled my head.

The doctor returned with an arm full of materials and the education began. He then instructed me to go to a particular store over on Victory Blvd. to acquire an authentic Seder Plate, and any think else I desired.

As I was about to leave, I asked about the four Gospels on his desk. He explained that they taught from them in the school, starting in the grade school, up through the high school. He explained that they believed Jesus to be a great prophet. I thanked him again for his time, his teaching me and the materials.

That started a 40 plus year study of Passover. I am still learning. I have taught on, and conducted Passover almost every year since. The most common reacting I hear from participants that Resurrection Sunday is now the most important time and the year to them, and that they have never taken the Lord’s Supper (Communion) the same again.

I have found many things to be unimpeachable truths in my life of study. It has made me realize how poor we are as modern day Christians because we have never stopped to understand the traditions of the Jewish people and how they give us greater understanding of our New Birth Covenant with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Risen Savior, through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Please take the time to set your heart to learn as you participate in this wonderful service. If your heart is open, the Holy Spirit will fill it will understanding that will change your life, draw you closer to Jesus, and fill you with knowledge that will make Resurrection Sunday the most important day of the year.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”(Num 6:24-26; NIV)

 

THE SEDER TABLE

The following is the MINIMUM requirements to have a proper SEDER (Passover)
(Table: The following description is for ALL participating tables.)

  1. Fresh Spring Flowers as a centerpiece.
  2. One (or more) unlit candle(s). Have some matches next to the candle to light the candle at the beginning of the service. All the “Mother & the table” will light the candles together at the beginning of the service.
  3. A bowl of water, with a towel (or napkin), for the leader of each table to wash their hands during the early part of the service. Does not have to big a big bowl. Just enough to dip the hands, wash them, and dry them with the towel or napkin.
  4. 4) Four whole pieces of Matzo. Three of these will go into a large paper napkin (Elegant type napkins that can completely contain three pieces of Matzo). The one piece will be used in other aspects of the service.
  5. A plate, napkin, glass of water and a small spoon for each participant. Paper plates are fine.
  6. A small cup for each participant. We will be consuming four cups of grape juice during the service. These do not needto be large, but they do needto be larger than communion cups.
    1. Each table must have a large pitcher to refill the glasses with juice as the glasses will start out full, and will be replenished three times.
  7. A small bowl of salt water next to the Seder plate. Small enough to pass, large enough for every participant at the table to dip a small amount of parsley and then eat. Water needs to be salty water.

 

  1. THE SEDER PLATE: Located at the table leaders seat, instead of a regular plate. Shouldbe different from the rest of the plates at the table; decorative; large dinner plate. The elementsmust be (see diagram for placement of the elements);
    1. The Shank Bone: Preferably a large meatless beef . 1f not available, any large meatless soup bone.
    2. The Karpas: A clump of parsley. Should have enough for each person to have a piece to dip in the salt water. Should be in a small Dixie type cup (about the size of the cups you find at drinking fountains). This will be passed to each participant.
    3. Root of the Bitter Herb: A Horseradish root, or a quartered potato (peeled)
    4. The Bitter Herb: A small dish of ground horseradish. Needs to have enough horseradish for each person at the table to have a share (quarter of a teaspoon for each person). Should be in a small cup (Dixie cup will do. Drinking fountain style). This cup with the horseradish will be passed around the table.
  2. The Haroset: This is a mixture of fruits, nuts and other ingredients blended into a paste. It must be in a paste form and enough for each person at the table to approximately a quarter teaspoon each. Should be in a small bowl or cup because it will be passed around the table.
  3. The Haggadah: Each person at the table must have their own copy of the Haggadah because of the responsive readings.

 

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Seder Leaders Elements for the Passover Seder Service

OVERVIEW

“SEDER” is a Hebrew word that means “arrangement”, or “order”. It is also used to mean the entire Passover eve service. PESACH (Passover) in Hebrew means “to spread wings over” (See Ps 91). Jesus, in His lament over Jerusalem, used the term of gathering Israel under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks. God stands guard over His people today, just as He did on the first Passover Night. “HAGGADAH” is the book you are holding. In the Hebrew it means “the book, or the story”. At the Passover service, every participant has their own copy so they can follow along with the leader, and participate at the right moments. “PASCAL LAMB” is Hebrew referring to the sacrificed Passover Lamb

The Seder Table includes a number of objects, prescribed by the tradition, which symbolizes the spirit of the holiday. The table is usually set in a festive style because of what Passover represents (redemption), and because it is celebrated during the birth of spring when everything is fresh and new (just like redemption). Flowers and candles are main elements of this table.

A large platter is placed in front of the one conducting the Seder. This can be an ordinary platter, or a special Seder Plate. Upon the plate are placed the following objects;

  • A roasted shank bone – A memorial of the Pascal (Passover) Lamb.
  • Roasted Egg – In memory of the Freewill Offering of the feasts.
  • Bitter herbs – “MOROR” in Hebrew (usually horseradish roots) in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery.
  • Parsley or Lettuce – “KARPAS” in the Hebrew. This green vegetable represents the hyssop branch used to sprinkle the Pascal Lamb’s blood on the door posts, and across the top of the door.
  • A mixture of nuts and fruit – “CHAROSES” in the Hebrew. Represents the mortar with which the Hebrew slaves made into bricks, which were used to build Pharaoh’s cities.
  • There are four cups of wine at the leaders table. One by itself is for the Prophet Elijah.
  • ln a separate bowl there is salt water, or vinegar to symbolize the sweat and tears of the Hebrew slaves.
  • There is also a bowl of water and towel for the washing of the hands of the Seder Leader.
  • In a second plate there are three pieces of unleavened bread called “MATZAH” wrapped in a special napkin that has three compartments (called a “MATZAH TOSH” in Hebrew).
    • Matzos symbolize purity, and freedom, leaven represents the evil impulses of the heart and all sin. The eating of the Matzah is intended to recall the hurried departure of the Israelites that night in Egypt. When the Egyptian people drove them out, they didn’t have time to let their dough rise. So they had to eat it in haste. Jewish Rabbi’s have many explanations for this strange Matzah Tosh, but the real reason for it will be evident during the service to follow.

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Everyone at the table has a plate, and a glass for wine. These will be filled four times during the course of the service.

Traditionally the Seder is celebrated at home with family, and sometimes, close friends. Children are an important part of the Seder service and participate throughout. This is a service for all to remember the great redemption of God. For the Jewish people, it is a look forward to the coming of the Messiah.  As Christians who already know the Messiah, this service takes on even greater significance as we experience this service as it points directly to our Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29 This, therefore, is a celebration of our redemption from the bondages of sin.

Everyone participates in the Seder service;

ALL Everyone reads aloud in unison.
Fathers Just the men read aloud in unison.
Mothers Just the women read aloud in unison.
Children Just the children read aloud in unison.
Leader Just the leader of the Seder.
Added Text The text that is in a different type style, represents what has been added to the Jewish Seder service to show us the New Testament fulfillment found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The following service is the same order the Jewish people use in their Passover Celebration. However, it has been altered to show how Jesus is the total fulfillment of the Passover. Keep that in mind as we proceed. Remember the Apostle Paul’s words; “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.2 Corinthians 3:12-18

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THE PASSOVER SEDER BEGINS THE LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES;


The woman of the house lights the candle(s) as the leader explains;

LEADER:  The Passover begins as the woman of the household kindles the festival lights and recites a traditional Jewish blessing;

MOTHERS:  Blessed are You our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us by your commandments, and has ordained that we kindle the Passover lights.

LEADER:  It is most fitting that a woman kindles the lights, for we are reminded of God’s promise that the Messiah, the light of the world, would come, not from the seed of man, but from the seed of a woman, and by the will of God. As the prophet Isaiah declared,

MOTHERS:   ‘A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel”.  Isaiah 7:14.

LEADER:  A light to lighten Gentiles,

MOTHERS:  …and the glory of God’s people, Israel.

ALL:  Amen.

LEADER: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”John 9:5 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 

THE FIRST CUP: THE CUP OF SANCTIFICATION


LEADER:  The Passover has begun, and during the course of our Seder we wilt drink from our cups, and replenish them, a total of four times. (All raise the first cup)  The first cup is called the “KIDDIJSH” cup, or “THE CUP OF SANCTIFICATION”.

ALL:  With this cup, we commit our observance to the Lord, and pray for His blessing upon the rest of the service to follow.

FATHERS:  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine.

ALL:   Amen.

LEADER:  It is concerning this first cup that Jesus our Messiah declared;

ALL:  “After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”Luke 22:17-18 All drink the first cup.

 

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WASHING OF THE HANDS


LEADER:  Ritual washings have been a part of Jewish life since God commanded Aaron to bathe his hands and feet before approaching the alter of the Lord. And so we customarily wash our hands at this time as a token of our desire to live lives of acceptable service to our Almighty God.

FATHERS:  Yet Jesus carried this notion of servant-hood one step further on that Passover night in the upper room. At this point of the last Passover Jesus spent with His disciples;  “…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”   “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”   “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.  When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”.John 13:4-17 LEADER:  How graciously has He taught us the fullest meaning of servant-hood; Humility ALL:  The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.Matthew 23:11-12 Leader washes hands

 

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THE SEDER PLATE


LEADER:  Behold the Seder Plate and these traditional symbols.

ALL:  What do they mean, and of what do they speak?

LEADER:  The story of Passover is a story of our deliverance from bondage, and all the elements of the Passover meal are part of the portrait of redemption.

ALL:  What is the meaning of the “KARPAS”, or greens, and the salt water?

FATHERS:  The greens represent life, and the salt water represents the tears of life. Before we eat the greens, we dip them into the salt water, for truly

ALL:   A life redeemed is a life immersed in tears.

LEADER:  Let us eat the KARPAS. (Everyone dips a piece of the greens and dips it in the salt water and eats it) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>  ALL:  What is the meaning of the HAZERET, the root of the bitter herb? FATHERS:  This horseradish root reminds us that the root of life is often bitter, as it certainly was for the sons of Israel in the land of Egypt

ALL:  And what is the meaning of the “MAROR”, the biller herb itself?

FATHERS:  As we partake of the freshly ground horseradish, we are reminded afresh of how bitter life is without redemption.

LEADER:  Let us eat of the bitter herb. (All eat a small amount of horseradish between two small pieces of Matzah) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>  ALL:  What is the meaning of the “HAROSET:, and why is it sweet to the taste?

FATHERS:  The HAROSET is a reminder of the mortar with which the Israelites made bricks for Pharaoh.

ALL:  But why should such a sweet mixture represents such bitter toil?

FATHERS:  Even the bitterest labor is sweetened by the promise of redemption.

LEADER:  Let us eat the HAROSET. (All eat a small amount of HAROSET between two small pieces of Matzah) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>  ALL:  What is the meaning of the egg, the “HAGIGAH”? Why is it brown?

FATHERS:  HAGIGAH was the name given to the daily Temple sacrifices in ancient Jerusalem It is roasted to turn it brown, just as the daily offerings were burned with fire upon the altar of the Lord. The HAGIGAH is a token of grief to the Jewish people; Grief over the destruction of the Temple; and so before we eat it, we dip it into salt water – the tears of life.

LEADER:  Let us eat the HAGIGAH. (All dip a small piece of the egg into salt water and eat it)

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ALL:  What is the meaning of the “ZEROAH”, the shank bone of the lamb?

LEADER:  Passover is also known as the Feast of the Passover Lamb, and yet in Jewish homes throughout the world, lamb is not served at any Passover table. Instead, we have this ZEROAH to remind us of those first Passover lambs which were sacrificed on the night of redemption. As it is written;

ALL:  “In one house shall it be eaten. ..neither shall you break a bone of it.’ (Ex. 12:46)

FATHERS:   lt is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, Who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.

ALL:  But why do we no longer partake of the Paschal Lamb as in the days of old when the ancient Temple stood?

LEADER:  Simply because the Temple stands no more. The Passover sacrifice, as well as all sacrifices, could only be offered upon the altar in Jerusalem. Since the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., no sacrifices have been made, and no Iamb is found on the Passover table. .

ALL:  But without sacrifices, how can we atone for our sins? The law declares, “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Lev. 17:11) Does this mean that the atonement, and redemption, are no longer possible?

LEADER:  May it never be! Those of us who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, know that God has provided a sacrifice for our sins. That sacrifice for our sins is the PASSOVER LAMB WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINE OF THE WORLD. (John 1:29 & 36)

ALL:  The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

LEADER:  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Who offers redemption from death, and atonement for sins.

ALL:  Amen.

 

THE BREAD OF AFFLICTION


LEADER:  Rabbi Gamaliel said, “He who has not explained the three symbols of the Seder, has not fulfilled his duty; the Passover lamb, the bitter herb, and the unleavened bread.”

ALL:  We have heard of the Paschal Lamb, and we have eaten of the bitter herb, but what of the unleavened bread?

LEADER:  (The Leader holds up a piece of Matzah)  Behold the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat

ALL:  What is the meaning of the unleavened bread?

FATHERS:  Throughout the Bible, leaven is frequently employed as a symbol of sin. In Biblical times a small piece of bread from the previous loaf was used to ferment an entire portion of fresh dough. Thus the leavening of each batch of dough was related to the original loaf. It was the leaven that caused the dough to rise.

LEADER:  In the same way, we are related through the generations to the sin of our first forefather, Adam. As the leaven in bread causes the dough to rise, so the sin in our life causes us to rise in our own estimation; to be puffed up.

FATHERS:  On this night and for the seven days to follow, we eat nothing that contains any leaven. In this we demonstrate our desire to be cleansed of our sin, and to live lives devoted entirely to the Lord. It is written; “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.(Romans 12:3)     LEADER:  “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44) “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”(1 Corinthians 5:6-8)Let us take this moment to search our hearts for any leaven that might be hindering our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now go before the Lord in prayer to repent of the leaven and then rejoice in His faithfulness to forgive us our sins and cleanse us for all unrighteousness.

 

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THE MATZAH TOSH


LEADER:  (Leader holds up the “MATZAH TOSH”) One of the most intriguing items on the Passover table is this pouch called a Matzah Tosh, which is a unity. Yet concealed within this unity are three pieces of unleavened bread – Matzah – and each piece is separated from the others by a piece of cloth.

ALL:  Though the matzos are concealed, yet we know that they are there.

(Leader removes the middle Matzah)

FATHERS:  But now the middle is removed from its place among the others and made visible to our eyes.

LEADER:  (Leader performs as the following is read) It is broken, and half is set aside while the other half is wrapped in a white napkin. ln a moment it  will be hidden from view.  This broken piece of Matzah has a special name: the “AFIKOMEN”. This is not a Hebrew word, but a Greek word, and it means, “That which comes after. “The origin and significance of the AFIKOMEN, and the MATZAH TOSH, are shadowed in mystery. We will explore this mystery as our celebration unfolds. But for now, guesses must give way to a game. We are going to hide the AFIKOMEN as you children close your eyes. If you find it, we have to buy it back from you, or the Passover cannot be concluded,

And remember …

ALL:  Great is the reward of he who finds the hidden AFIKOMEN.

LEADER:  (Leader hides the AFIKOMEN while the children hide their eyes)

 

THE FOUR QUESTIONS


LEADER:  The children are essential to the Passover celebration, for it is through this feast that they may learn of God’s redemptive nature. So at this time, the children participate together to learn the meaning of Passover by asking the traditional four questions.

CHILDREN:  Why is this night different from all other nights?

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

ALL:  Had He not redeemed us, surely we, and our children, would still be enslaved.

CHILDREN:  On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. On this night why do we eat only unleavened bread?

FATHERS:  We eat the unleavened bread to remember that the sons of Israel, in their haste to leave Egypt, had to take their bread with them while it was still flat.

CHILDREN:  On all other nights, we eat herbs of every kind. On this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?

FATHERS:  We eat the bitter herbs to remember how bitter it is to be enslaved.

CHILDREN:  On all other nights we do not dip the sop even once. On this night, why do we dip twice?

FATHERS:  By dipping, we remember that a life of bondage is bitter indeed, but that even the harshest bondage is sweetened by the promise of redemption.

CHILDREN:  On all other nights we eat our meals in any manner. Why is this night so special?

FATHERS:  This night is truly special. Once we were slaves, but now we are free. So we recline in order to appropriate the rest He has wrought for us.

LEADER:  “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.  So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'”   See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”   Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.   Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,  “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”   And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”  It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”    For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 3-4) LEADER:  By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. In gratitude, let us worship our God and recount the story of Passover.

 

THE STORY OF PASSOVER  (Narrated by the Leader – Genesis 42- Exodus 12)

The Bible teaches that during a great famine in the land of Canaan, the sons of Israel journeyed to Egypt to purchase food. There they were reunited with their brother Joseph. Because of his influence, they were permitted to dwell in the fertile plains of Goshen.

At first the house of Israel numbered less than eighty souls. But in time their numbers swelled, their flocks increased, and they became a mighty people.

Then there arose a new Pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph. He beheld the might of Israel, and he feared that in time of war, the sons of Jacob might join themselves with Egypt’s foes.  Pharaoh decided to subdue the Israelites, and afflicted them with cruel labor. Taskmasters were placed over the Israelites to compel them to make bricks and to build Pharaoh’s great storage cities of Rameses and Pithom.

But despite their hardships, they continued to thrive just as God had promised. This caused Pharaoh even greater alarm, and he ordered the slaughter of Israel’s infant sons. By his command, every male child born to the Hebrews was to be cast into the Nile and drowned.

How sore were the afflictions of the Jewish people? In anguish they cried unto God of their fathers. God heard their cry, and remembered His covenant. God raised up a deliverer, a redeemer, the man Moses. He sent Moses to Pharaoh’s court to declare the commandment of the Lord, “Let My people go.”

But Pharaoh would not hearken to the Lord of Host. As a result, Moses pronounced God’s judgment on Pharaoh’s house, and on Pharaoh’s land. Plagues were poured out upon the Egyptians, upon their crops, and upon their flocks.

But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He would not yield to the will of God. He would not let the house of Jacob depart.

Then the tenth plague fell upon the land; the death of Egypt’s first born. “And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sits upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment: l am the LORD.” (Ex:11:5:, Ex:12:12:)

But to protect the children of Israel, God commanded the head of each Jewish household to select a spotless lamb from the flock, have it live with them for three days, and then sacrifice it outside the front door, catching it’s blood in the basin (the depression in front of the door to catch rain water and keep the house from flooding). Then they were instructed to take a Hyssop branch, dip it in the blood of the lamb, and strike both sides of the door frame and the top of the door frame (forming a blood threshold through which the entire family had to pass). They were instructed not to leave their homes until morning.

ALL: “And the blood shall be to you a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”.

LEADER:  “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord throughout your generations.”

ALL:  ‘You shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.”

LEADER:  By the blood of the lamb was Israel spared.

ALL:  By the blood of the lamb was Jacob redeemed.

LEADER:  By the blood of the lamb was death made to pass over.

Passover, or in Hebrew, PESACH, that holiday which commemorates the night when death passed over the houses of Israel because of the blood, the blood of the lamb; the Passover Lamb. What a mighty act of redemption! What a beautiful picture of a greater redemption destined to come. For just as none of the bones of the first Passover Lamb were broken, so none of the Messiah’s bones were broken.

ALL:  Just as the blood of those first Passover lambs was applied in faith to the door posts Israel’s homes, so the blood of the Messiah must be applied in faith to the door posts of our hearts. Tonight we worship God, not only because the angel of death passed over the Jewish people’s homes,

LEADER:  but because all of us, whether Jewish or Gentile, may be redeemed from an even greater bondage through faith in the Messiah of Israel,

ALL:  The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

LEADER:  Through Him we may pass over from death to life.

ALL:  AMEN!

 

THE TEN PLAGUES


LEADER:  Pharaoh defied the Lord and placed his will above the will of God. As a result, he brought destruction upon his house and land. How often do we, like Pharaoh, choose our desires over God’s direction? How often do we, like Pharaoh, bring harm upon ourselves and upon those closest to us? Because we share with Pharaoh the sin of disobedience, and because we regard all people as God’s creations, we do not rejoice over the destruction visited upon the Egyptians.

ALL:  For our sake they met with suffering and death. We mourn their loss and express our sorrow over their destruction.

LEADER:  Though we celebrate our liberation, our happiness is not complete as long as others remain bound to slavery and death.

(Leader raises cup and continues)

A full cup is a symbol of complete joy. Let us, therefore, diminish our cups as we recall the plagues which befell the Egyptians.

(Everyone empties a drop from his cup for each one of the ten plagues)

1. Blood

2. Frogs

3. Lice

4. Flies

5. Cattle disease

6. Boils

7. Hail

8. Locusts

9. Darkness .

10. Slaying of the first-born.

THE SECOND CUP: THE CUP OF PLAGUES


LEADER:  It is time to drink the second cup.  (All raise their cups.)

ALL:  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Who created the fruit of the vine.  (All drink the second cup.)

LEADER:  (Leader’s prayer for GOD’s blessing over dinner).

THE PASSOVER MEAL

 

THE AFIKOMEN

The Leader now sends the children in search of the Afikomen. The child, who recovers it, returns it to the Leader, who gives the child a reward. LEADER:  The search of the Afikomen is certainly one of the most delightful moments of the Passover Seder. Yet, some mystery surrounds the significance of the Afikomen and the Matzah Tosh from which it has been drawn. We may justly ask,

ALL:  What is the meaning of the three Matzos and why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back.

LEADER:  To many, the question is a riddle yet to be resolved. For those who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, it need not be a riddle at all. Where can we find a clearer picture of our Messiah than in this tradition concerning the Afikomen which has been broken, buried and then brought back? Even the Matzah, a symbol of a sinless nature speaks of Jesus.  The Rabbis have set down some very special regulations concerning the appearance of Matzah. If it is to be found suitable for use in the Passover Seder, it first has to be stripped. ALLAs was Jesus after He was flogged. Isaiah said, “and with His stripes are we healed.”(Isaiah 53:5)

LEADER:  In the second place, it must be pierced. ALLAs was Jesus. The prophet Zechariah said, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced,..” ( Zechariah 12:10) LEADER:  Earlier, we called this the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.  And this is true. But it is also a symbol of the bread of life, which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.  ALL:  “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”(John 6:35) LEADER:  Let all who are hungry come and eat.(The Matzah is lowered, and the cups are refilled) ALL:  Then what is the meaning of the Matzah Tosh, and why is the middle Matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

FATHERS:  Some teach that the three matzos represent the unity of the three patriarchs of Israel;

  • Abraham,
  • Isaac
  • and Jacob

ALL:  Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back?

FATHERS:  Others say that the Matzos represent the unity of worship in ancient Israel;

  • the High Priests,
  • the Levites and
  • the people of Israel.

ALL:  Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back? FATHERS:  Still others teach that the matzos represent three crowns;

  • The Crown of Learning,
  • The Crown of Priesthood and
  • The Crown of Kingship.

ALL:  Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back?

LEADER:  There is yet one final explanation. An explanation suggested by the design of the Matzah Tosh itself. For the three parts of the Matzah Tosh form a unity. A TRI-UNITY. A mysterious three in one. Could it be that the TRI-UNITY of the Matzah Tosh bear witness to the TRI-UNITY of One God revealed in three persons;

  • God the Father,
  • God the Son and
  • God the Holy Spirit?

 

ALL:  Then why is the middle Matzah broken: buried and then brought back?

LEADER:  Because Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, was broken, buried and then brought back.  It was at this time during the last Passover Seder Jesus had with His disciples, before His sacrifice, that Jesus said, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24) During Jesus time, the sacrificed lamb was supposed to be the last food eaten, of any kind of food, until morning. Jesus broke with tradition that night by this act of breaking and distributing the unleavened bread.  What Evangelical Churches refer to the “Lords Supper”, “The Lord’s Table”, or “Communion” is actually what Jesus did that last Passover Seder night by breaking the unleavened bread and distributed it to His disciples.  In fact, Jesus did NOT violate the Seder tradition. Lamb was the last things they ate that night. In John 6:48-58, Jesus is recorded as explaining this; “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

 

THE THIRD CUP: THE CUP OF REDEMPTION

LEADER:  It is now time for the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. The fruit of the vine at Passover is always red to remind us, the rabbis explain, of the precious blood of that ancient Passover lamb; the lamb that was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to Pharaoh.

ALL:  In the same way, the blood of another Passover Lamb, the Messiah Jesus, was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to sin and death. It was concerning this cup, “The Cup of Redemption”, the cup taken after dinner, which the Messiah Jesus said, “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:20) LEADER:  At Passover, each person at the Seder receives a piece of the Afikomen, about the size of an olive. Then the morsel of Afikomen and the third cup of wine are taken together.  For those of us who know the Messiah, this serves as a remembrance of the body and blood of our Passover Lamb, Jesus the Christ, The Son of the Living God.


COMMUNION/THE LORD’S SUPPER


LEADER:  A warning from the Apostle Paul before we take the Afikomen and Cup of Redemption.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, and also to all Christian believers, the following; “What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.  Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, and come to this meal in holy awe.  If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later”.(1 Corinthians 11:26-32 from THE MESSAGE) Please search your heart right now. Make sure your attitude and your focus are correct. If, if needed, repent and accept Jesus forgiveness.

TAKING THE AFIKOMEN AND THE THIRD CUP, THE CUP OF REDEMPTION: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) A Time for reflection, prayer, praise and thanksgiving.

 

THE FOURTH CUP: THE CUP OF HALLEL

(The fourth cup is filled)

LEADER:  Now comes the Hallel, the recitation from Psalms 113 through 118. Let us recite psalms of worship at this time,  just as Jesus recited them every year as part of His Passover Seder observance. Praise ye the Lord.

ALL:  Praise, O ye servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.

LEADER:  Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

ALL:  From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.

LEADER:  The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.

ALL:  Who is like unto the Lord, our God, who dwells on high?

LEADER:  Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.

ALL:  For His mercy endures forever.

(All drink the fourth cup)

THE CUP OF ELIJAH:

LEADER:  The sharing of the Afikomen and the Cup of Redemption are precious moments in the Passover Seder.

Yet most of God’s beloved Chosen People, Israel, do not yet see how the Messiah, and His promise to redeem them, are portrayed in the breaking of this bread, and the drinking of this cup. As a result, they look ahead to the promise represented by a special cup set aside for the prophet Elijah. It is recorded by the Hebrew prophet Malachi that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by the return of the prophet Elijah. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”(Malachi 4:5-6)

Each year at Passover, a child goes to the door and opens it wide, hoping the prophet will accept the invitation, enter the home, and announce the coming of the Messiah. A cherished Jewish prayer is for the prophet Elijah to come soon, in our time, with the Messiah, the Son of God.

Yet we who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ already know that Elijah did return. In the book of Matthew Jesus is recorded as saying, “As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’  

I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He, who has ears, let him hear.(Matthew 11:7-15)

The prophet, the forerunner, has come. So did the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, during Passover more than 2,000 years ago.

 

 

THE HOPE:

LEADER:  As we partake of this Passover Seder, may our hearts be joined in gratitude to God for the coming Messiah,

for His death, resurrection and the promise of His soon return.

ALL:  Praise the Lord, all you nations; praise Him all you people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us; the truth of the Lord endures forever. Hallelujah!

LEADER:  It is traditional to conclude the Seder by singing, “Next Year in Jerusalem”. For generations this song has captured, in melody, the fervent hope of the Jewish people. A hope to be restored to the ancient land of Israel in the presence of the Messiah Himself.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we too have a similar hope; The Hope of Jesus’ soon return. Let us read from the Revelation of John;

ALL:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” ….

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.(Revelation 21:1-5, Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12-16, Revelation 22:20)

 

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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Last modified: July 19, 2006

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