Originally, we were planning to host a Passover picnic at the church. Adapting to the changing world around us, we now encourage you to participate within your own homes on Maundy Thursday (9 April). This outline has been prepared to be accessible to families with children. Feel free to adapt it to fit your own circumstances.
Passover is one of the oldest and most important of Jewish religious festivals. It was during the Passover festival that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and had his last meal with them.
Washing of Feet
To start the evening, fill a bucket with warm water, gather a few towels and read John 13:1-17. Jesus humbled himself to perform an act usually undertaken by the lowest of servants, demonstrating that his ministry is one of serving, not of being served. As you wash each other’s feet, discuss how can we serve others in our everyday lives.
The First Passover
Read together the First Passover passage Exodus 12:1-12. Those with young children, who have the Jesus Storybook Bible, may choose to read Chapter 10 – God to the Rescue!
The Passover meal honours God by highlighting his promises and provision for his people. Jews remember that God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. As Christians, we not only honour God by remembering that rescue, but by connecting it with the ultimate rescue, people of all nations freed from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Lighting the Passover Candles
Set your table with a few candles. Traditionally, the eldest female in the family would be the one to light them. Pray as they are lit, giving thanks to God for the food about to be received, thanking Jesus for being the light of the world, and asking the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to show us how to be his light to those around us.
The full Passover meal involves 15 steps and can take hours. Our suggestions for your meal include lamb, unleavened bread, parsley/tabouli, egg, fruit & nuts, and red wine or grape juice. Explanations of these elements will follow. However, if you are a vegetarian or if you child only eats vegemite sandwiches, remember that what is in your heart is far more important than what is on your plate – honour God however you choose to partake.
Wine: Throughout the meal, four cups of wine are used to symbolise four promises God made to his people in Exodus 6:6-7.
- Cup of Sanctification. Sanctification means to be set apart for God. The Israelites were God’s chosen people. We remember that Christ has set us apart from the world and we belong to him (1 Peter 2:9).
- Cup of Deliverance. Pharaoh rebelled against God, so God sent ten plagues on Egypt to show his strength and to free his people from slavery. See if you can name all ten (Exodus 7-11). As you name each of them, you can dip a finger into your cup and release a drop of wine onto a plate to represent the plagues and the cost of sin in our world today.
- Cup of Redemption. Just as the blood, painted on the doorframes of the Israelites in Egypt, saved them from the final plague, Jesus’ death brings salvation to all who believe.
- Cup of Praise. Our God is a God who saves! We have been chosen to be his people and we eagerly wait for the return of Jesus so that we will be with him forever!
Lamb represents the young sheep/goat that was sacrificed the night before the Israelites left Egypt. The prophets of Israel spoke of the Messiah as being a sacrifice for our sins. When Jesus came down to the Jordan River to be baptised, John the Baptist recognised him as the Messiah and said ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29)
Unleavened Bread is eaten to remind us how quickly the Israelites had to leave Egypt – they had no time to wait for their dough to rise. Remember also that yeast is associated with contamination or sin in the Bible. The unleavened nature of the bread reminds us of the sinless nature of Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
Parsley: You may not wish to eat sprigs of parsley dipped in salt water, or bitter herbs, but if you do, or as you eat tabouli or other salad, remember …
- the sweat and tears shed by the Israelites while they were slaves,
- the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea and the deliverance of the Israelites
- that we are freed from the bitterness of slavery to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus (John 8:34-36).
Eggs were used as special festival sacrifices. Jesus came to earth as the final sacrifice that took away sin once and for all (Hebrews 10: 1-18).
Charoset is a sweet mixture of blended fruit and nuts that looks like the mortar the Israelites used to build for the Egyptians, reminding us that even the most bitter of work is made sweet by the promise of salvation. As you share dessert, remember that the sweetness Jesus has brought to our lives through his forgiveness, was never intended to be kept for ourselves. We are meant to pass the good news on to others (Matthew 28:19-20).
On the night before he died, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Weather-permitting, you may like to go into your garden after dinner, to pray together.
To encourage connection at this time of physical distancing, we welcome any photos to be posted in our Meeting Place group.
Remember that we have a Maundy Thursday service streaming from 7:30pm.
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay