On the last week of our small group series groups are enjoying this simplified adaption of the ancient Passover feast.
Familiarise yourself with the flow of the meal. Organise or delegate a meal consisting of roast lamb, salad, pita bread, tzatsiki, hummus, wine or sparkling grape juice, a small bowl of horseradish paste, a small bowl of salt water, a small bowl of dates mushed into a paste or apple sauce, a small bowl of parsley sprigs, a large white candle. Any extra food, decorations or dessert, music are optional. Place all the items on the table and the candle(s) in the centre. Place questions and answers on people’s plates.
The last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples was the Passover feast. Traditionally the church celebrates this on the Thursday before Easter Friday, Maundy Thursday.
This is an ancient feast. The first Passover is described in the book of Exodus chapter 12, when God’s people the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. One lamb was killed for each Israelite household, and the blood was painted on the doorposts. This would be a sign for the angel of death to ‘pass over’ the house and not kill the eldest boy in the family. The family were to eat the lamb, bitter herbs and flat bread before they escaped Egypt to go to the Promised Land. God said that the Israelites should celebrate this festival every year to remember when they were saved from slavery in Egypt.
We are going to share in a simplified version of this special feast of remembrance. Traditionally a child asks special questions throughout the dinner, tonight we will take turns of asking the questions and sharing the answers. There is a question or an answer to read at the right time on your plate.
We will begin our dinner by saying together a part of Psalm 113. Traditionally during the festival of Passover Psalm 113 and 114 are sung before the meal and Psalms 115 – 118 are sung following the meal.
‘It’s likely that it was the song that Jesus and his disciples sang as they left the Last supper. What hope it must have given them, as they went into the night, to sing of the God who does not let darkness have the final word.’ Jan Richardson
Host lights the candle: Let us pray Psalm 113 together.
Moments from Psalm 113 – Opening Prayer
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
Who is like the LORD our God…
Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
Host: Everyone begin the meal by eating a small piece of bread dipped in this bowl of bitter herbs. This is a strong taste so only take a small amount.
Question after we eat the bitter herbs: Why do we have bitter herbs to eat today?
Bitter Herbs Answer: The bitter herbs remind us of the bitterness of slavery. They remind us of when God’s people were slaves in Egypt long, long ago. They remind us of those still waiting to know God’s freedom.
Host: Now we will each take a parsley sprig, dip it in the salty water and eat it.
Question after we eat the parsley dipped in salt water: Why is there salt water to taste today?
Salt Water Answer: The salt water reminds us of the tears God’s people cried when they were slaves in Egypt.
Host: Now we will eat a small piece of bread dipped in the sweet haroseth paste. (Date paste or apple sauce.)
Question after we eat the sweet paste: Why do we eat this haroseth paste today?
Sweet Paste Answer: This sauce reminds us of the mud that God’s people had to use to make the bricks when they were slaves in Egypt.
Host: Places a piece of lamb in each plate.
Question after the Lamb is given out: Why do we eat lamb today?
Lamb Answer: The lamb reminds us of the blood that protected the houses of God’s people in Egypt, so that the angel of death passed over them and didn’t take their eldest sons. It also reminds us that Jesus is the sacrifice for all of us. Dying so that our sins will not consume us, so that we might be saved in to life in God’s family.
Host: Places a piece of bread on each plate.
Question after the bread is given out: Why do we eat flat bread today?
Flat Bread Answer: The bread reminds us of the way God rescued his people from Egypt. They had to leave in such a hurry that there was no time for the bread to rise. It also reminds us that Jesus took the bread at this moment in the feast and gave it to his friends saying, “Eat this, this is my body given for you. Do this to remember me.” Let us hold the bread, remembering Jesus, here by His Spirit now.
Host: Pours wine into each glass.
Question as the wine is poured: Why do we drink wine today?
Wine Answer: The wine reminds us of God’s blessing, when he rescued his people from Egypt and took them to a land full of good things. It also reminds us that at the Passover Meal Jesus took a cup of wine and said, ‘This is my blood, poured out for you. Do this to remember me.’ Let us hold up our glasses and drink to Jesus, to the place of good things he brings us into.
Host: Now finish serving yourself a plate of dinner – Bread, salad, meat , yoghurt sauce, hummus and make a wrap or enjoy it as a salad.
We eat this food today to remember God’s rescue of his people at Passover and in Jesus’ death and resurrection. We celebrate the way he led the slaves to freedom and the way he still guides us today.
Photos from Eastern Hills Community Church
By Emma Morgan using ideas from Jane Butcher’s ‘Family Fun for Easter.’