At Club DJ this month we have been following Jesus’ journey to the cross. HIs entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper he shared with his disciples, his death and resurrection. We have been talking about sin, forgiveness, sacrifice, deliverance, joy and praise.
Each week we start with a few songs. Usually upbeat ones with actions, although we have slowed it down a bit on occasion. We talked about how we can praise God with all of our energy, that we can sing slowly and quietly- sort of like a prayer, and today we talked about praising God by remembering.
When we think back on the things that God has done for us, we are reminded of the things that only God can do and that brings us to praise. Today we borrowed from a Jewish tradition of remembering- the Passover Meal.
We first learn about the Passover in Exodus 12- ‘On this day each man is to take a lamb for his family, on the day I tell them, they are to slaughter the lamb at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over a fire, along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. This is how you are to eat it, with your cloak tucked into your belt and your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it very quickly, this is the Lord’s Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every first born- both men and animals- and I will bring judgement. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No harm will come to you when I strike Egypt.’
The ritual of remembering Passover in the Jewish tradition is called the seder (sA-der). It is a meal full of symbols, liturgy, story telling, rules, order and of course…food.
I truly believe that kids learn more when they can interact with content and so we today we used our 5 senses to experience a small part of the seder. We had just a sampling of foods and talked about their meanings.
We started at the beginning, painting our door frames to mark us as belonging to God and talked for a few minutes about the seder being a meal. That even though we were sitting on the ground we were going to treat it like a special dinner.
We started off tasting some celery. The celery stalks were dipped in salty water. This helps us remember that the Israelites had been stuck in slavery in Egypt and they cried out to God for deliverance. The salty taste reminds us of their tears. Then we had a few pieces of tortilla, a bread made without yeast. When the Israeliteswere given their instructions at the first passover the didn’t have time to make bread, they were to eat the meal with their cloaks and sandals on- ready to run! Personally, I find this bit challenging. The Israelites trust God enough to obey him immediately, not stalling even a few hours to make bread to sustain them on a journey. Do I trust God enough to obey that quickly? The next food we only smelled. Horseradish was our symbol of a bitter herb. The kids had mixed feelings on whether they wanted to eat it or not, but the majority of the children agreed it was not for them. Bitter herbs remind us of the bitterness the Israelites endured under the Egyptians. Their hearts had become bitter, which is understandable since slavery isn’t fun or nice or even fair. God not only delivered them from slavery, but also from their bitterness.
Next we tried a simple charoset (ha-RO-seth), a sweet mixture of apples and cinnamon and raisins. To be totally honest, I made a mistake here-lost my place in my notes and when someone suggested the sweet part of the meal was to remember how sweet it was to be free, I went with it, it made sense! By the time I found my place and realized my mistake we had to move on- attention spans are only so long! IF I had gotten it right we would have talked about the charoset being a symbol of the materials the Israelites used to make bricks while in slavery. Even though I slipped up a little, the kids were happy to put the charoset on their tortillas and try it. This was by far the favourite part of the meal and everyone ate it until it was gone.
Next we passed around an egg and everyone made their best guess as to why this would be included in the seder. The kids got it right away, the egg is a symbol of new life. We talked about how exciting it is to run outside without our ski pants, jackets, hats, mitts, scarves and boots- how exciting it is when Spring arrives, (which did not happen today!). All of our celebrations, the big ones like birthdays and weddings and the little ones like high fives and hugs- all these celebrations help us remember to be thankful for the life we have and that is a way we can praise God.
When we take time to remember how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt we also remember how Jesus came to deliver us from sin. We know that we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23). When we sin we are stuck far away from God, like the slaves in Egypt. Romans 6:23 tells us that because we sin we deserve death, but God sent Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins. When we confess our sins and ask God to forgive us we are free from the penalty of sin right away (1John 1:9). As we learn more about God we grow into something new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We learn that living God’s way is sweet and good.
We finished off our seder taking some time to thank God for the ways he’s taken care of us and the things he has blessed us with. I hope as you’ve read through our journey of discovering the Passover you too have been reminded of how God is there for you in hard times, or things he has delivered your from and all the blessings you have to be grateful for as we celebrate this Easter season.