This is my favorite Easter tradition, which dates back thousands of years to the deliverance of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. The keeping of the Seder was a commandment which, to Christians, foreshadowed in beautiful detail the deliverance of all humanity from the bondage of sin through the death and resurrection of Christ. It was also the meal celebrated at Christ's Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the night before he was crucified, and was celebrated by the early Christians until its outlaw by Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and replaced by the pagan celebration of Easter, named for the goddess Ishtar.
In going back to our Christian roots, we embellished a bit to make the Seder easier for the kids to understand, and used much of the script (Hagaddah) from this link on the Power of Moms website, submitted by a mom named Heather Crawl. I don't know her, but she did a phenomenal job creating a Seder that was similar to the traditional Seder but also shadowed the events of Holy Week. I tweaked it just slightly: replaced her chicken with a traditional, hard-boiled egg; replaced cinnamon buns with Resurrection Rolls; changed some of the KJV scriptures to more kid-friendly NIV; and added the most important reference of all--an ancient prophecy recorded in Isaiah 53:5:
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquity. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed."
This is the perfect description of the Matzoh cracker, which Jesus used to represent his broken body at the Last Supper.
Join us around our Seder table.
Sunday: Palm leaves
• On Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people gave him a royal entry by throwing their clothes and palm leaves on his path.
Everyone throws a palm leaf on the ground and together they say: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mark 11: 9)
Monday: Figs and Coins
• Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bringing forth good fruit. We must bring forth the good fruit of good works and repentance so we will not wither.
Everyone eats a fig (or fig jam on a cracker).
• Jesus cleansed the temple by throwing out the money changers who had polluted the temple with their priestcraft and stealing. “And as he taught them, Jesus said, "Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" (Mark 11: 17)
Everyone throws coins over their shoulder.
(Here's Lorelei reading the scripture. It's tradition that the youngest child who can read reads out of the Hagaddah, or script.)
Tuesday: Olives and Oil
• Jesus taught in the temple and on the Mount of Olives. He taught us to pray in faith, to forgive others so that Father in Heaven will forgive us, and to prepare ourselves and the world for His second coming. "The most important commandment," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 29-31)
Everyone eats an olive.
(Gryffy spat it out, but kudos for trying Buddy!)• A woman anointed Jesus with a box of very expensive ointment. The disciples scoffed at this waste and said the ointment ought to have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus said she had done a good work by preparing him for his burial.
Everyone dips a pita chip in oil and eats it.
Thursday: Charoset, Matzoh, Bread, Juices, and Foot Washing
• Jesus ate the Passover in Jerusalem. At that ceremonial meal, Jesus and his people ate special foods that symbolized the deliverance of the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt. One food eaten at a Seder is charoset with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The charoset symbolized the bricks and mortar that the Hebrews made as slaves in Egypt. The bitter herbs and unleavened bread were two of the foods the Lord told his people to eat on the night that the destroying angel slew all the firstborn in Egypt.
Everyone eats charoset with horseradish and unleavened matzoh.
(Here's Mark taking the horseradish sandwiched between matzoh--turning beet red!)
(And here's Gryffy with the charoset to chase it down. The bitter herbs (horseradish) reminded the Jewish people of their bitter slavery, and the charoset was like the mortar they used to build as Egypt's slaves.)During the Passover, Jesus blessed and broke bread and told the disciples to eat it in remembrance of his body. This body would be pierced by nails and striped with a whip, just as Isaiah had prophesied: But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Everyone eats matzoh.
• Then he blessed wine and gave it to his disciples to drink in remembrance of his blood: “for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” (Matt. 26:28)
Everyone drinks grape juice.
(I loved that as soon as we took Communion, Gryffy ran upstairs to find Jesus. It was precious. He totally made the connection.)
Everyone washes each other’s feet.
• Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray. He was very sorrowful and fell on the ground. He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:4) Jesus took upon himself the punishment for all the sins of mankind. Jesus’s agony was so great that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
Everyone drinks the bitter cup of cranberry juice.
Friday Morning: Chicken and Salt Water, Hand Washing
• Jesus had been betrayed by Judas Iscariot and taken prisoner by the chief priests. When Peter saw Jesus being beaten and spit upon by the priests, he was so afraid of what might happen to him that he pretended not to know Jesus three times. The previous night, Jesus had warned Peter that Peter would betray him three times before the cock crew on Friday morning. When the cock crowed, Peter realized what he had done, “And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:75)
Everyone dips an egg in salt water and eats it.
• The priests turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate. Pilate questioned Jesus and found him innocent. He was going to release Jesus, but the Jewish people asked for another man to be released instead and for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate didn’t want to take responsibility for killing Jesus so “he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it… And he delivered [Jesus] to be crucified.” (Matt. 27:24, 26)
Everyone washes their hands.
Friday Afternoon and Evening: Crescent Rolls with Cinnamon and Marshmallows, A White Napkin
• The guards whipped Jesus, put a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him. They took him to Golgotha and crucified him between two thieves. Darkness came over the land for three hours. Then Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 13:24) One of the guards dipped a sponge in vinegar and gave it to Jesus to drink. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)
Everyone dabs a finger in vinegar and tastes it.
• When Jesus died the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.
Everyone tears a white napkin or piece of cloth in half from the top to the bottom.
• Jesus had been taken down from the cross and buried in Joseph of Arimathaea’s tomb. All of Saturday, Jesus’s body lay in the tomb.
Everyone keeps silence.
Sunday Morning: Sweet Spices and Risen Bread
• On Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and two other women went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. They “had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” (Mark 16:1) Angels at Jesus’s tomb said to the women, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.” (Luke 24:5-6)
Everyone eats a resurrection roll: a piece of risen bread with sweet spices and a marshmallow buried inside before it bakes.
The marshmallow's gone! The tomb is empty!
I also have to give a shout out to my Jewish friend, Frann, who has taught me so much about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith (she runs EverlastingPromiseMinistries.com). We celebrated our third Seder together yesterday, and she (and my friend Tara and I) made our wonderful charoset. I'm indebted to you, Frannie!