A New Kind of Passover
Today, something happened in me that hasn’t really happened before. It wasn’t something big; it was actually small. A little light that flickered into existence, a tiny glow that warmed me through.
I discovered the beauty of ritual for the first time.
I attended a church I visit once in a while, but have never gone to on a regular basis. Their Good Friday service seemed more appealing to me than my home church (which apparently consisted of a musical about Christ’s death and resurrection), so I decided to go.
The guest speaker was a Messianic Jew who walked us through all the different elements of the Jewish Passover meal. She told us about how a Jewish family would purge their household of yeast, which represents sin. She told us about the unleavened bread, which the father of the family would break apart, wrap in a cloth, and hide for the children to search out later.
She told us about the hyssop branch that the Israelites used to spread the blood of a spotless lamb to protect their first born sons from the angel of death. And she told us about the horse radish, the sour food they consume in remembrance of their slaver in Egypt.
Then she told us what it all meant, how every single element of the Passover meal points to Jesus. Through the blood he shed, we too can find purification from sin, just as the Jewish home was purified of yeast. The process by which the father hid the wrapped and broken bread of course signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus, as does the sacrifice of the perfect lamb. Some of this was new to me, and some of it wasn’t; but hearing about it all together, how the Passover is unified in its celebration of the Messiah, was beautiful.
And then of course, we learned about the bread and the wine, the moment where Jesus went off script and built his own words upon the tradition of Passover. When he broke the bread and poured the wine and spoke over them, he did not invoke the past of Judaism, the moments to remember with joy and sorrow.
He invoked the future. He made the Passover come alive. “This isn’t just bread,” he said. “It is my body.” “And this is not wine, but my blood shed for you.” The elements became a beautiful metaphor by which we commemorate the most powerful story that ever existed, the story of God becoming man and paying a price no man would pay.
And when I stepped forward after the service to receive the bread and the wine, I remembered the fullness of this. Jesus, in his Last Supper with his disciples, infused an old tradition with the New Covenant, and it is such a beautiful thing to think that this is what I commemorate when I consume the elements.
So I feel as though I’ve discovered a value in rituals such as communion—and even the whole Passover meal!—that I had never known before. And isn’t that what the Resurrection is all about, God creating good from darkness, beauty from ashes, new life from death?