With the recent viral pandemic, new health restrictions and guidelines for social distancing, many worship services are moving online. While we can "attend" worship services through live-streaming, I struggle to "experience" worship. When a message arrived to my inbox notifying me that our congregation's annual Easter services had been cancelled, I'll admit, I was super bummed! Typically our church sets up in the town square to sing and worship the risen LORD. Not this year.
In addition to not being able to worship with our church family, I am also disappointed that our plans to gather with friends for Passover has also been hijacked. Knees bent, head down, "Lord, please help us experience Your holy day anew this year!"
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat--that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. Exodus 12:13-17 NKJV
If you have never participated in an orthodox or Messianic observance of Passover, this year is perfect! While you and your family "shelter in place," and life as we have known it has changed in so many ways, why not seize the opportunity to experience Christ in a Passover Seder? The blood on the door way was to demonstrate the faithful who waited for the plague to "pass over." Isn't that what we are all praying for this year?
The Children of Israel gathered in their homes that first Pesach in prayer as the Angel spared the faithful. God's Word is alive and active, the elements and story telling during this special dinner are just as real today as they were thousands of years ago. The fulfillment of God's redemptive plan that night in Egypt continues its story as we remember the past and experience it anew this year.
“These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work." Leviticus 23:4-8 NIV
Last March we published a four-post series covering the elements of Pesach to help a novice host a Passover Seder. Not wanting to repeat myself, I encourage you to look back to these posts. You can also receive a downloadable, PDF version of our Haggadah by contacting us via the link on the Chalk Borders' "More..." page.
When the Children of Israel who had returned to Jerausalem from their Babylonian captivity few may have know how to build a wall and there were those who tried to stop them, but Nehemiah encouraged them to start where they were, the section closest to where they lived.
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.. Nehemiah 2:17-18 NIV
Be prepared, as with anything new, the evil one may try to discourage you and you may not fully understand everything you are reading or doing, but if you approach Pesach with an open heart, our Creator will reveal Himself in amazing ways. Set the table with fresh flowers, nice dishes and candles. Make this a special event for your family. Let your children help you prepare the charoset, introduce new words such as chimetz, matzoh, and maror; learning together while building anticipation. It may be the most wonderful "new" thing your family does during this time of uncertainty.
The Feast of Unleavened bread follows Pesach for seven more days. Continue discussions about the Seder elements with your family likening God's faithful provision and protection for the Israelites in relation to our hope that He is faithful to keep us safe today.
Our family may not be able to gather around one table with friends, but as in years past, we will experience the Passover.
Join me in praying Nehemiah's prayer for our families, our nation, Israel and the family of believers in Christ Jesus, Yeshuah ha Meshiach:
"I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night...We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.' Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." Nehemiah 1:5-11 NKJV