Updated: Mar 23
"You shall tell your child on that day, saying,
'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 13:8)
Before the Israelites finally arrived in the Promised Land, while they were still in the wilderness after being rescued from slavery in Egypt, God commanded that, each year, they observe a time of remembering what God had done for them. They were to tell the story to all their children and grandchildren so they would never forget. The Jewish Passover observance is that festival that is celebrated each year in March or April, around the same time as Easter, when Christians remember what Jesus did for us on the cross.
At the Passover Seder meal, the story is remembered and told. It tells of how God told Moses to go to Pharoah and command him to let the people go; it tells of all the plagues God brought upon Egypt so that Pharoah would relent. It tells how on the last night they were to eat unleavened bread and slaughter a lamb, to eat quickly and to smear the blood of the lamb over their doors so that when God sent the angel of death upon the Egyptians, the angel would pass over the Israelites houses.
But the story also tells about how God was always with them throughout the wanderings in the wilderness; how God provided bread and water for them and cared for them. How he was with them, guiding them in the fiery cloud that went ahead of them.
The Passover Seder is a wonderful, fun time of symbolic food and games for the children, with songs and scripture that tell the story. Every year it is told as part of the Jewish history, remembering God’s covenant promise to always be with them.
At Easter, we who are Christians, remember what Christ Jesus did for us on the cross. He is our Passover lamb – the Lamb of God. Taking our sins upon himself, his blood was shed so that we would be rescued from the bondage of sin. In his resurrection we believe that, just as He died and rose and lives forever, so shall we have that same promise of eternal life with him.
Many protestant churches observe Maundy Thursday as a time to remember Christ’s suffering for us. We remember his broken body and his blood that was poured out on the cross. When I was serving as pastor, we usually had a meal together before the worship service and sometimes I would use that time to ask people to tell their stories of faith – stories of how God had walked with them, protected, guided, helped them along their journey of life. It was a blessing to hear others share their faith stories. In a way, it was a “Christian Passover” as we remembered and shared our faith with each other.
Although the Passover Seder is a Jewish observance, the story is ours too. For we Christians would not be here today if it weren’t for the exile out of slavery. In Deuteronomy 6 God gives the Shema (which means hear):
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
It’s very clear that God wants his people to pass on the stories of how He is always present, always with us, forever loving and guiding his people.
What are your stories? As you walk in the wilderness of Lent, are you remembering more clearly the times when God helped you, spoke to you, made His presence known in a more powerful way? Are you telling those important memories – those faith stories of your life – to your children and grandchildren so that they too will know that your stories are theirs as well; so that they will learn to love God with all their hearts and souls and strength?
It is said that we are living in a “post-Christian era.” I think we can see it in our culture today. It is more important than ever to pass on our stories of God’s love and ever-present help. I hope you will be blessed as you listen to the song “God Leads Us Along,” sung by Cindy Powell. Reflect on how God has led you and helped you. Then, share those stories with others so they too will know the amazing grace and love of God through Jesus, our Savior.
As I write this blog on St. Patrick’s Day, I want to end with this prayer from his breastplate:
Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort and restore me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Peace and Grace!