Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christian Seders?

I was on facebook the other day and a number of people were arguing about the question of whether there could be Christian seders.  I don't think that this is a burning question of our times, but hey, this is my blog, so I thought I could give a couple of my thoughts on the subject.

Question: Is it morally or spiritually wrong for Christian to have seders?  Answer: No, but it's weird for a number of reasons.

I've actually participated in seders with Jewish friends back in Oregon and I don't think it's wrong to do so.  As I see it, it's like a Danish friend coming to a 4th of July celebration when in the US.  For the Jews, like Americans, Passover is 4th of July.  So, just as we have a national history and a story of liberation, so do the Jews.  The fact of the new testament doesn't do away with Jewish identity or national history, any more than it does away with let's say, Russian, or German or Indian history and national pride.  So if Jewish Christian want to celebrate Passover as a time of remembering national pride and liberation, the way American do for 4th of July, that's fine.  Just as long as they don't think that it is some sort of alternative means of salvation or something which they must obey as a fulfillment of the law.

This bring us to the second point.  Of course part of the difference is that these events and the meal points ahead to Christ and the institution of the new testament in the form of Lord's Supper as well.  Here's where it gets weird for Gentile Christians.  

Two points:

Having seders for Gentiles Christian on their own (if not invited by Jewish friends, as in my case) doesn't make any sense.  My ancestors were Swiss/Swabian German immigrants in southern Russia who later settled in North Dakota.  As I recall, Swabia, Switzerland, Russia, and North Dakota are nowhere close to Egypt or Israel.  So, why would I celebrate the national liberation of a people I have nothing to do with?  It would be like the Japanese celebrating 4th of July!

Secondly, Gentile Christians don't need to celebrate seders because they have Christ and his supper: "Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed, so let us keep the feast."  The Passover Lamb was the shadow, and Christ the reality.  So, as the author of Hebrew puts it: What's the point of going back to the shadow, when you've got the reality?  Answer: None.  

3 comments:

  1. Our LCMS congregration celebrated this Maundy Thursday with a traditional Jewish Passover. We followed a pamphlet published by the LCMS in 1973 or 1974 that had 25 steps or points to the ceremony. It was my first time to celebrate the Seder. What you described as being a little wierd became downright uncomfortable before the meal ended. The prayers to the Holy One for Elijah to welcome or deliver the Messiah can't be condoned. As you say, having the reality, it seemed to me the Jewish prayers were so many empty words. I took away two things from it: the Seder necessarily takes away all that our Lord Jesus accomplished. Secondly, how hollow any words that are not prayed in his name really are.

    J.R. Lawlor

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely disagree. Jews aren't jews like germans are germans. The Jews identity is tied up in the Word of God. It is not comparable to 'their' 4th of July. A Jew has no more claim to their history than a Christian does. I agree that I think it is a bit weird for 'goys' to celebrate a passover. Its not anymore weirder than taking Holy Communion, though. We believe in a virgin birth and the resurrection. That is weird!

    Last thought, Jesus was crucified on the passover. This is historical fact. If we see the Word as existing both in time and out of time, then we see that the originator of the passover is the same as the one who was the Paschal Lamb.

    We ARE the people of Israel; we are grafted in to that same story. The story of coming out of Egypt is OUR story!

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a Christian our belief is he is the fullfulment of the old testament. He didn't abolish Judiasm but he completed it. That's a very big statement. The Jews are our history. Jesus himself was a Jew and it is said many times in the new testament that it is (Jesus) completed it. Paul himself strongly urges a Seder meal in his letters.

    NOW that said, the prayers and outlook as a Christian would be different. We are not looking for a messiah!! He has come!! You might try Rose publications Hrist in the Passover for a Christian Seder meal. We do this on Maudy Thursday, and the prayers and readings are different than the traditional Jewish version. But, say the bitter herbs are represented for the agony in the garden the cup he drank. And the salt water for the water that came from his side as he was pierced. It truly is beautiful and a wonderful tradition when done right.

    ReplyDelete