Celebrating the Passover Seder
I always find it remarkable how many Christians are drawn to celebrate a ‘Passover Seder’. Around this time of year, I usually start seeing threads popping up on e-mail lists, how this congregation or some neighboring congregation is doing it. Then, the inevitable follows, where the matter is discussed – pros and cons ad nauseum, until finally Easter arrives and people eventually move on.
Several factors make it remarkable to me that Christians would try to celebrate the Passover. First, and most obvious, unless you have Jewish ancestors, you really have no business celebrating the Passover. God neither brought you nor your forefathers out of the land of Egypt, which is the primary commemoration of the Passover. If your ancestry bears any similarity to mine, your forefathers were a whole continent or two away and probably had very little idea of the ten plagues, or that anything like the Exodus was even taking place.
Second, the Old Testament prescribes some very strict regulations for observing the Passover. “No foreigner shall eat it” (Exodus 12:43). “When a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it” (Exodus 12:48). None of the e-mail lists that I follow have ever mentioned that any of their ‘Christian Passover Seder celebrations’ begin with a circumcision ceremony.
The Old Testament Passover meal does not belong to the Christian congregation. It is not your celebration! (The exception to this might be if your congregation is composed of Jewish Christians.) The good news is that the Old Testament Passover was fulfilled by the true Passover Lamb of the New Testament, Jesus. And: Jesus has given you a new meal – in which you eat and drink the Body and Blood of this New Testament Passover Lamb. You are encouraged to celebrate this meal – not simply once a year, but often. And: This meal actually does apply to you – no circumcision required.