Last Saturday night the Rephs gathered around the table and dipped matzo into fresh horseradish to taste the spice that brings tears to our eyes.
We celebrated Passover with the Seder, as we do every year. We join the Jewish community in their practice of remembering God’s provision for His people, and in our case, we recognize that God already honored His promises by bringing Christ to be our ultimate Savior.
We read the Messianic Haggadah, dip our parsley in salt water, hide the matzo from the children, and raise our glasses of red wine in love of the Lord. It is a tangible, intentional ritual that leads its participants in worship filled with verses read aloud and the sharing of food and drink.
Passover is as solid as the lamb bone shank on the Seder plank; you can rely on it, count on it, because it’s never going to change. I believe that is my favorite thing about Passover — in that way, it mirrors the character of God.
My mother-in-love (synonym for in-law in our family) enjoys inviting extended family and friends to share in the delicious food she’s made while following my father-in-love’s lead in the reading.
As I’ve mentioned before, Mike’s family believes (as now do I) that we should celebrate the same holidays that Christ did when He walked the Earth. In fact, the Last Supper was a Seder, and that evening is crucial in the story of Christ’s death and resurrection (known today as Easter).
On Sunday afternoon after the Bergers get back from church, we gather with 18 close friends for a day of elation, rejoicing…and wine tasting.
Be honest: you were expecting me to say egg hunting. If so, you were right — there is also an egg hunt.
On the afternoon of Easter we run, adults all, through my parents house scouting for 36 hidden eggs, which have been carefully numbered and colored the night before by my younger sister. It’s a mad dash that is taken incredibly seriously — if you end up with just one or two eggs, you may as well have one on your face.
Then comes the wine tasting contest. Every guest (or couple) brings a bottle of wine that pairs best with the Easter ham. Then we host a tasting, take notes, and vote on the finest wine. One year, Phil and Rachel brought Manischewitz, a joke which was lost on those who don’t also celebrate Passover.
To my mom, and to all of us really, Easter is the perfect day to welcome people into our homes in warm hospitality and celebration as we recognize that we serve a most wonderful God. Many people who attend our Easter don’t know much about Jesus at all, and we’re hoping they may see a glimpse of the freedom and joy we have from knowing Him.
We’ve had atheists, agnostics, even a Buddhist monk.
Come on in! Find an egg, have some wine, and feel free to say “Cheers!” when one family member says, “He is risen!” and ten more holler, “He is risen, indeed!”
Our president started an unprecedented tradition of hosting the Seder in the White House, despite being a Christian. Later in the week he also hosted the White House Easter egg roll and hunt. I identify with this dichotomy.
Where Passover is reflective, reverent and focused, Easter is triumphant, explosively joyful and full of freedom. Three years of celebrating the two together has, for me, begun to turn the key in a door that has always been locked. As a follower of Christ, I’ve never been sure of which attitude to embody: should my face be down-turned in reverence or upward in thanksgiving? Should I solemnly acknowledge the immaculate perfection of my Creator, or stomp my feet and clap because of His shocking insistence on loving us? Should I hone my discipline out of honor to Him or embrace my freedom to live outside of rules?
Celebrating Passover and Easter have shown me that it’s both. Both holidays are about humbled gratitude. God is not about either/or. His capacity to be worshiped isn’t restricted to a single method. I’m excited to carry on the tradition of showing gratefulness in such complimentary ways.
“Next year in Jerusalem!”
“He is risen, indeed!”