People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. Samuel Johnson
Together we remembered it as if it were yesterday and tomorrow. We gathered around tables this past Friday, eating ceremonial foods and retelling ancient stories. It was a celebration of the Passover, an event that speaks to us on many penetrating levels.
It is a meal that takes us all the way back to a dark night in Egypt that ushered in a brighter time for God’s people. It was a night of death in the homes of the Egyptians, yet in the homes of God’s people, the ones who had sacrificed a lamb and placed its blood on the doorpost, it was a night of redemption. The Passover reminds us that sin has consequences. Earthly corruption and oppression do not go unnoticed forever. There is judgment, but there is a blood stained door post that leads to deliverance.
It is a night that reminds us of the tears of Egypt. Life under the thumb. Life of hard labor. Life of repressed hope. A real time. A real place. A real need. It reminds us of the bondage present around our world today, as well as, in our own divided hearts. We lit the candles remembering the only source of true light. Seeing that the more candles that burn, the brighter the room becomes, we are drawn closer to the source of light and pushed beyond ourselves to be faithful bearers of light.
Like all family meals, it is a night of generational mixing. A night of communal remembering. Most of us are here to be reminded, which we need terribly. But there are those who are just learning. In a healthy family both are always present. We are reminded as adults not just of past events, but of effective ways to teach…the value of symbol and ritual. Dad why are we eating that? Mom why are we dipping in this? Grandma, what is this story you are telling? The cup and bread convey so much if we let them. The taste, even the thought of the taste, of horseradish will always transport our children back to their first taste in this meaning filled context.
It is a meal that takes us back to an upper room 2,000 years ago, when a small band of Jews participated in a pivotal supper as the unleavened bread of hastened deliverance became the broken body of the deliverer and the fruit of the vine became the spilled blood of Messiah marking a new covenant. Passover was always a time of looking forward through the lens of past deliverance, hence the anticipation on the final ascent to Jerusalem at the beginning of the week. (Hosanna!)
Notice the empty cup in the image above. It was saved back for Elijah, the one anticipated to pave the way for Messiah. We remember that first coming of Messiah on this night, while also anticipating another.
Our story, the story of God and His people, is long and sometimes complicated. It is a story that is not complete, though the ending has already been written. As we live in this time between His comings, may we remember the past and the future in a way that inspires faithfulness in the present. We pray, “May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” And we share the story with our faith community in our words, symbols and deeds.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be. World without end. Amen. Lord come quickly.