The Jewish Passover celebration begins today (Monday). This is the ancient meal that was instituted by the children of Israel to remind them about their escape from slavery in Egypt. The word “seder” means “order” and this meal has an orderly progression of courses of foods and rituals, all of which recount God’s delivery of the Jews from the hand of the Pharaoh. The steps include: the blessing over the wine, the washing of the hands, the dipping of vegetables in salt water, the breaking of the matzahs (unleavened bread), the retelling of the story of exodus, the second washing of the hands, the blessings over the matzahs, the blessing of the bitter herb, the better herb and the charoset ( an apple-nut mixture) eaten on a matzah, the festive meal (which includes lamb), the eating of the last matzah, the grace after the meal, the Psalm of praise, and the closing statements.
In the closing statement the seder is declared complete and all wish that next year the seder might be observed in Jerusalem. This declaration means that they hope that the Messiah will come soon and allow all to celebrate next year in Jerusalem that has been rebuilt.
Christ instituted the Last Supper during a Passover meal on the night before his death. In this meal he brought fulfillment to the promise long ago that God would save people from their sins once and for all. As we observe Holy Thursday and Good Friday this week, may we not only look back at this story of redemption but also look forward to the day when everything is fully restored. Just as the Jews say “next year in Jerusalem” may we pray “next year may the Lord come again and restore all things and we will feast at Christ’s heavenly banquet.” May we prepare ourselves for that great day.