Over the years I’ve chafed under the restrictions of the “tradtional” Messianic Passover Seder. Even using my own book, I found that the rabbinic traditons really make little sense especially for the first time Seder participant. For me, the joy of any gathering is worshipping our Passover Lamb. Combining teaching, ritual, and worship has been a challenge.
So when given an opportunity to do something new, I was exhilerated AND terrified. I didn’t want to put the new wine of the Spirit into an old wineskin. Furthermore I wanted to bring together the past, present and future of Passover. Thus was conceived the Three Tables Passover Seder:
- The table of Moses in Egypt
- The table of Jesus in the upper room, Jerusalem
- The table of the marriage supper of the Lamb, in the new Jerusalem
Within that structure teaching and worship flowed easily. Admittedly some of the tradtional rituals were included – as they supported and furthered the experience. The children took center stage reading some of the liturgy and questions were encouraged.
We tried to imagine what it was like to be slaves in Egypt desperately holding onto God’s promises which had been given through the mouth of Moses. We pondered the fear and fragile faith of the people as they killed the lamb and put its blood on their doors. Would they really be free in the morning? We ate the unleavened bread with bitter herbs and wondered as they had done. We did break from the historical account however as we shared the traditional first two of the four cups (based on the four promises in Exodus 6:6-7). And we included the first two Pslams of the Hallel: Psalms 113-114 -refrains from Exodus 2:23-3:14.
After a wonderful meal, we prepared for the second half by watching a unique power point presentation. With the background music of “WereYou There?” pictures of a lamb being slaughtered were interpersed with pictures of Jesus being tortured and crucified. Later someone said, “The pictures of the lamb were more real to me.” Sad but true. We’ve become so jaded or the horror is too great, that we do not/cannot embrace the reality of the cross.
As we sat with the disciples at the table of Jesus in the upper room the words of John had a new depth of meaning. We felt that we had been transported several centuries and were sitting in the disciples seat. Jesus washed Peter’s feet. Jesus dipping the bread and handing it to Judas. Judas leaving. We shared the third cup and took communion. The rest of the Hallel came next (Psalms 115-118) We read the words of hope John recorded in chapters 14-17. Then it was time to go to the Garden.
But we didn’t stop there. Oh no. Because Jesus didn’t stop at the Garden. Neither did He stop at Gethsamene, nor the grave.
We gathered around the ultimate table to take the fourth cup of wine – the Cup of the Kingdom – the cup which Jesus didn’t drink of. He had said, “I will not drink the fruit of the vine again until I drink it with you in the Kingdom.” Yes, there were too many empty seats which had to be filled before the marriage supper could take place!
Since our Seder I have attended other “new wineskin” Seders. Truly God is doing a new thing even as He restores the ancient paths.
I trust that by Passover next year, Three Tables Passover liturgy will be available.