Friday, March 29, 2013

The Passover... Why We Celebrate...

I did not grow up celebrating Passover, so this is a relatively new idea for our family. I have read about the Passover numerous times over my life, but I never thought about the rich symbolism, meaning, and memories celebrating it would bring to our family. I never thought about how celebrating the Passover would really make the scriptures come alive... both for our children, and for us.  (Gee, I wonder if that is what God had in mind when He ordained the feast in the first place.....)

We love traditions. We love thinking back on annual gatherings with fondness and looking forward to the next event with anticipation. We try to recreate our own childhood events for our children so that they have similar memories (just think of your Christmas traditions... we usually celebrate the same way with our kids as we celebrated when we were kids). This builds a sense of family heritage. And it is awesome.  But what about our spiritual heritage? Are we intentionally building family traditions focusing our attention God-ward?

Focusing on the Biblical feasts allows us to concentrate on what the Lord has done for us without the distractions of our commercially driven culture. I mean, I don't go to Wal-Mart and get bombarded by the "Passover Bunny", the "Shavouth Claus", or the "Omer Fairy". At least in this part of the Kansas, the rich meanings of the Biblical feasts have not been raped by retail predators trying to make a buck off of a holiday.

So why can't we just incorporate our family's spiritual heritage into one of the holidays that we already celebrate? Well, you can. And I hope you do. But it didn't work so well for us. Nearly every major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) we are gathered together with extended family from both sides. Other than the prayer before the meal, there is very little talking about the Lord, or to the Lord. We have tried to intentionally steer the conversation towards spiritual matters and personal stories of God's deliverance... but it was not to be. We have some strong believers in our extended family, but there are others who are not interested in such conversations. So as much as we love and adore our relatives and spending holidays with them, these events weren't creating a heritage of spiritual traditions that we feel are important for our children. Enter in.... Passover.

Exodus 12:14 tells us that God instituted the Passover feast to be done as a memorial. A memorial of what? Of His deliverance of His people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. He provided protection to them (by the blood of a lamb) from the angel of death. Each family had to make sure they were under the protection of the blood of the innocent lamb by applying the blood to their doorposts. The Passover was to be celebrated each year with their children. Exodus 12:24 says, "And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever". It was a means of making sure your children (and each generation) would remember what the Lord has done for His people. God wants us to share about His faithfulness with our children. We are not to forget what He has done and what He continues to do. During trials, it is great comfort to draw on His past and present steadfast love and faithfulness! But I can't draw on this if I don't know the history of His character.

But why single out a special event to share this? Shouldn't this be done in our everyday lives? Well, yes.... and yes! Absolutely, we need to be teaching about God's character and deliverance each day: Deut. 6:4-9. But isn't it exciting to look forward to a special day? A day where we do things a bit differently than normal days? A day to dress up, bring out the fine china, cook a special meal, and plan extra special activities? My kids have been anticipating this event all year! They remember much of the symbolism of the Seder plate and matzo from the previous year's celebration. They are excited to search for pieces of leavened bread by candle light (symbolizing searching for the sin in our lives), to drink from the 4 cups, to wait in anticipation of Elijah to come, to taste the parsley dipped in salt water (symbolizing God bringing His people forth from bondage and crossing the Red Sea.... but also the bringing us forth from the bondage of sin), etc... This isn't meant to be an exegesis of the symbolic nature of the Passover, so I won't talk about every detail... but you get the picture. But we also remember, that about 2000ish years ago, during the Passover feast, our Messiah came and was sacrificed as the innocent lamb of God. He broke us out of the bondage of OUR sin... if we have come to faith in Him. He drank the bitter cup of God's wrath and came out victorious over death and the grave. This is worth remembering... it is worth remembering in a symbolic way.

I recommend this book if you are interested in finding out how to celebrate the various Biblical feasts with your family. Celebrating Biblical Feasts does a great job explaining the symbolism and telling you how to participate in these exciting feasts. Are we 100% kosher in our celebrating? No, we are not... but you can be if you want to. Our position has been that we want to teach principles and concepts.... not regulations.

I hope that you take time this weekend to truely meditate on what was at stake at Calvary. To examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith, and to worship our risen Lord. May you have a blessed Passover (which was last Tuesday) and Resurrection day.  He is risen.... He is risen indeed!

Have you celebrated Passover or any of the other Biblical feasts? What is your favorite part?

1 comment:

  1. We just celebrated Passover for the first time this week. We, too, wanted to focus on concepts and not regulations, and since this was our first attempt (and our first year married), we just started out with a few elements. My husband's side of the family is Jewish and we are hoping it can also be a bridge to some of those deeper conversations (like why we Christians would want to celebrate Passover) about our faith. We are looking forward to celebrating with our children one day as well.