Celebrating Passover

Growing up and now raising kids in a believing home that celebrates the Jewish roots of Christianity has provided ample opportunities to share my faith.  Jews and Christians alike ask many questions about what it looks like to keep both Jewish and Christian traditions in our home. The easiest way we have found to answer their questions is to share how our family celebrates Passover, also known as the “Last Supper” to the non-Jewish world. Each year our family either hosts or participates in this Jewish holiday that culminates in the retelling of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt.  Passover is interactive and each person present is encouraged to consider themselves as personally having been freed from Egypt as they follow along through the multi-stage dinner.

Passover Dinner

During one of those stages we get a chance to involve our children in what I consider to be the two most important roles of the dinner: asking “Why?” and completing a treasure hunt.  Don’t be shocked by this, but not only do kids get a free pass to commence the dreaded “why” question barrage that every parent just loves dealing with day in and day out, but, on Passover, they are even given the center stage and the first questions to spur on the conversation.

You see, in the Passover Dinner, the children ask four important questions with each question addressing why Passover is different from all other nights.  The first question the children ask is why on all other nights can we eat both bread or matzah (unleavened bread), but on Passover we can only eat matzah (unleavened bread).  The leader of the Seder answers this question by relating how matzah is known as the bread of affliction, and that when the children of Israel fled from Egypt they did not have enough time for their bread dough to rise. Instead, the hot desert sun baked it flat.  However, what happens next is fascinating.

The leader then takes three pieces of matzah bread that are wrapped together in a white cloth, known as the “Unity”, and removes the center piece breaking it in half.  The larger broken half of matzah is now called the “Afikomen” or “the coming one” and it is wrapped in a white cloth.  At this point, all the children are instructed to cover their eyes while the leader hides the Afikomen, which will remain hidden until the end of the dinner when they are released to go and find it and ransom it for a prize.  Once found and ransomed, the leader shares that broken matzah with everyone present and it is considered the dessert of Passover.

Usually at this point in sharing, people see the rich symbolism in the three matzah bread wrapped together representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Afikomen or “the coming one”  is the matzah bread that is broken, hidden and found by the children.  For my Christian friends, we share that the Afikomen symbolizes what Jesus said was his body and shared with his disciples at The Last Supper.

To tie it all together, each time I take communion in remembrance of Jesus’ last Passover with his disciples, I am reminded of how our family has used the celebration of Passover as an opportunity to teach our children about God’s mighty works and the Redemption story.  And though they often miss the deeper meaning, like when my oldest daughter peeks so she can gain the upper hand in the Afikomen hunt, the story is still taught, and we hope that when she takes communion later in life she will remember our teaching and reflect on her own Passover story.

David Jones and his wife Jill, and their two daughters attend NCC’s Ballston Campus.  They originally hale from the Ozark Mountain region on the border of Missouri and Arkansas.  When given the opportunity they hop on a plane back to those hills where David can be found fishing on his pond with his girls or tending to his honey bee hives.