Hosting Passover in your Home

In this joyous month of Nisan in the year 5784 on the Jewish calendar, the prominent observance is Passover, an ancient and still-living Jewish tradition. My people are called upon by God to remember and recall and rejoice over the events of the Exodus from Egypt as if we were personally present. Rabbi Gamaliel, a teacher of the Apostle Paul, instructs us: “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt” (Mishnah 116b). Passover not only marks the beginning of my people’s freedom from bondage, it also foreshadows the redemption of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Hosting Passover in your home is a worshipful way to remember God’s promises and especially His provision of the sacrificial Lamb – Jesus the Messiah!

On the evening of 15 Nisan (April 22 this year), we will gather and together inquire: “Ma Nishtana? Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Then we will proceed to retell the miracle of Passover through an order of service called a seder using a guidebook called the Haggadah (“telling”) while gathered around a burgeoning table full of seder elements, yummy nosh, and our loved ones. The evening begins with kiddish (traditional blessing over the wine) and a communal hand washing ceremony. Then we will read from the Haggadah as we weave scripture, recitations, prayers, and song — and, of course, food.

My family uses a children’s Haggadah because it’s simple, short, and succinct and the tradition held over after our children grew up (click for the one we use). Some orders of service can be quite lengthy and first-time attendees are often surprised that the meal comes about half-way through the evening. Typically each person has a Haggadah so everyone can follow along and participate fully. (There are also free Haggadah such as this one or this one or even this one which you and your guests can access from home.)

It is tradition to reserve an empty place at the table with a full cup for the prophet Elijah. My people also sing to Eliyahu Hanavi: “Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, may he come soon and in our days with Messiah the Son of David” with yearning for him to arrive and announce the coming of the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel. My favorite Passover song is “Dayenu” whose chorus emotes, “It would have been enough for us.” Friends, had God given us nothing more than Jesus, that is enough! Hallelujah that we have been redeemed from the far greater bondage of sin. Pray for my people whose eyes are yet to be opened.

Since Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead as an observant Jew, the Biblical feasts given in the Old Testament were important to Him. He observed Passover with His disciples just before He was crucified and resurrected. As His followers today, Christians can celebrate Passover like He did and thus connect with the special Jewish roots that enrich, embolden, and enhance our faith.  

If you are hosting a seder for the very first time, you may want to invest in or source from your own possessions some symbolic and important items, in addition to securing a Haggadah. If you have attended one of my Christ in the Passover presentations, you would have seen these items as I held up each one and detailed their significance:

  • Seder plate
  • Matzah tosh & Afikomen bag
  • Kiddish cup for leader (optional: tallit prayer shawl & kippah)
  • Cup of Elijah
  • Washing basin & towel 
  • Two ornamental candlesticks with tall dripless candles + matches

On the seder plate you will display the following as well as have enough of most items for participants to consume. These items help us experience the Passover using our senses:

  • Karpas – traditionally parsley, with a sprig for each person
  • Maror (the bitter herb) — simple, coarse-cut prepared horseradish with enough for each person to partake a couple times or more
  • Charoset – a sweet mixture of chopped apples, honey, walnuts, cinnamon and Manischewitz or grape juice; enough for each person to partake a couple times or more
  • Beitzah – a roasted egg that has been hard-boiled & peeled (about half for each participant)
  • Z’roah – a roasted shank bone of lamb (or chicken bone if you can’t find lamb; for display)
  • A bowl of salt water (with one or two extra on the table for passing around more efficiently)
  • [Chazeret (another bitter herb) — some seder plates reserve a place for this and typically it is filled with romaine lettuce]

You will also need to purchase enough matzo for participants to eat during the seder as well as for noshing later in addition to plenty of wine or grape juice to fill cups at least 4 times per person during the service. 

Also set on the table is the Passover meal which is generally eaten about half way through the seder. For holiday-inspired main course, side dish, and dessert recipes, email us at [email protected].

Let us know if you host your own seder and how it goes! And, if this seems overwhelming for your first time, we are happy to attend and lead a seder for you and your loved ones. Let us know!

L’shanah ha ba’ah b’ Yerushalayim Next Year in Jerusalem!

Until then, look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:13).

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