On the Thursday of Holy week, April 1, this year, at 7 p.m., we at Community Wesleyan will be sharing in a Christian version of the Jewish Seder. Several have asked me what it is.
Q. What is a Seder?
A. Seder means order. The order being referred to is the order of the events at the Passover meal in Jewish households. The meal was not simply a big family dinner. Rather it was a highly symbolic meal completely structured for the purpose of teaching about and at the same time commemorating the Exodus.
Q. Why are we as Christians interested in a traditional Jewish dinner?
A. The reason is quite simple. This Jewish celebration is millennia old. God gave them instructions to begin celebrating it when they left Egypt (Ex. 12:14). The reason we are so interested in it is that this was the commemorative meal that Jesus was leading when he instituted what we call communion or the Lord’s Supper.
Q. What happens at a Christian Seder?
A. Our overall object will be to enrich our understanding of what Jesus was teaching at the Last Supper by understanding better how the sacrament of Communion is connected with the important parts of the Jewish meal during which Jesus instituted it. For example, the Jewish Seder involves four cups of wine (we will use grape juice) at different times in the meal. Each one symbolized a verb in God’s promise of redemption to the Jewish people (Ex. 6:6,7). In between, are ceremonial foods also associated with the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The whole experience recalled that formative event in Jewish history. However, it also very much symbolized the change that had taken place on that night, a change from slavery to freedom. It also included elements that looked forward. I’m sure you can see already several potential connections with what Jesus has done for us.
Q. Will we be taking communion as a part of this service?
A. Yes, we will. It is a unique experience to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the Seder setting in which it was originally instituted. That is also why it is held on Thursday of Holy Week, traditionally the day on which we believe Jesus held the Last Supper.
Q. Will this be good for children to attend?
A. Yes, I believe it will, especially children in grades 3-6 who I think will benefit greatly. In fact, children will be asked to participate in some special ways. Children may also taste the various ceremonial foods if their parents approve. If they have accepted Christ for themselves, have a basic understanding of the sacrament, and if their parents approve they may partake of communion as well.