The child asks, ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?’
Longtime readers of this blog will know that several years ago I started celebrating Passover during Holy Week — I’ve missed it the last two years, but fortunately this year I was able to join a group at Holy Trinity church. One of the things I love about this town is that at events like these end up being ecumenical, representing several churches in our town. Our leader and host was from the ministry Jews for Jesus. (For some reason that I cannot explain I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of them. I am no longer.) During the meal he shared his testimony with us. It is simply incredible to see how God works in people’s lives. One thing he said really struck me: Jews don’t have to stop being Jews in order to believe in Jesus.
In PGCU we’ve been studying Acts. Time and time again we’ve seen the ethnic and cultural obstacles in the early church, and we praise God for opening the doors of redemption to even the Gentiles — to people like us. It is interesting to see this cultural divide from the other side: Christianity, which began in a completely Jewish context, now at the point that most Christians don’t know or don’t understand the heritage they have been adopted into and Jews who want to believe that the Messiah has already come are afraid that they have to betray their heritage to do so. How much has changed in two thousand years!
There are four cups of wine during the Passover seder ceremony: sanctification, plagues/judgement, salvation/blessing, and praise. Tradition says that it was the third cup that Jesus took and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ Our host spoke those words, and we took up the broken pieces of matzo and our cups of wine and the same power I feel at the blessing of the Eucharist I felt there in my heart, in the bread and wine in my hands. I took Communion; we sat in communion together. We sang hymns, we danced in prayer for peace in Jerusalem.
Tonight, remembering the heritage of my spiritual history, moving into the darkest three days of the year, I was reminded that there is hope. The salt water and bitter herbs signify our tears and our misery, but a full cup is a symbol of joy. At the end of this long journey of Lent, of this long dark night until Easter, is the Resurrection. Hope.
Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”