The Spring festivals of Passover on Friday evening, April 19 and Easter on Sunday, April 21, are upon us again, a time to retell the stories of faith and courage that give our lives meaning and hope.
These are the stories of our beginnings that define us and remind us who we truly are as the people of God. These are real-life stories with joy, but also pain, plagues, slavery, blood, and tears. At this season we come together and pass on to our families and children His-story, and like every good Jewish holiday there is plenty of food.
Here are a few tidbits of food for thought for your table during this festive season.
Matzo and Eucharist
The unleavened bread we eat during the Passover week is a reminder of the bread baked in haste during our Exodus from Egypt. Pharaoh's armies were breathing down our necks, and like them, we must get away as quickly as possible from the things that harm us.
For most Christians, the Communion bread eaten at the Lord’s Supper is also unleavened. On the Passover night, when Jesus took the matzo, broke it and handed it to his disciples, he said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He is the bread of life, and God’s salvation and the unleavened bread speak of our humility (lehem onyanu).
We remember our humble beginnings when we first trusted in God, who alone was able to deliver us and set us free. This is the story of how in our weakness He makes us strong, and together we eat, rich and poor alike, in the simplicity and purity of one unleavened, un-puffed-up loaf.
Parsley and Eggs
On our Passover plate is a sprig of parsley called karpas in Hebrew. We recognize that in this world there will be plenty of troubles, but we are not ashamed to tell the stories of how the God of Israel leads us through to a better place. In our celebrations we tell of how faith can sweeten even the bitterness of life’s traumas.
Parsley and eggs recall the new growth of springtime. At Easter the egg symbolizes the hope of a new, better life. On Passover we eat an egg to remember the loss of God’s presence when our temple was destroyed.
As both parsley and eggs are reminders in nature of hope of new things to come, so we join the feast to strengthen ourselves in faith and hope that a new and better dwelling place is worth living for.
Job, through all his troubles understood how hope and springtime interconnect, “For there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its tender shoots will not fail. If its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the soil, at the scent of water it will bud and put forth twigs like a sapling.”
On our Seder plates there is roasted lamb recalling how God offers forgiveness and salvation to all as He “passes-over” our homes without judgement or condemnation.
Lamb is eaten on Easter, too, because Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”(John 1:29).
Passover and Easter are about sacrifice–the Holy One who laid down his life to give us life. The story of Passover and Easter teach us that what seems impossible for us, with God all things are possible.
These are the defining moments in the history of Israel and God’s people, traditions that have held our people together for thousands of years. God has given us these appointed times to focus on His goodness, deliverance and blessings, a time to create memories with good food, family and friends. A chance to celebrate and tell His-story with scriptures, songs and gladness and to “taste” that the Lord is good.
We here at Israel Today hope that your days, too, are filled with peace and joy in this spring season of renewal and hope.
Happy Passover! Happy Easter!