Hospitality Hints is a monthly feature on our blog with some helpful hints for being hospitable in everyday life. Our hints may involve inviting people over, but not always! Most of the time, they will be about having a posture of hospitality—welcoming others into our lives.
Easter is a joyful time for believers. We celebrate with Good Friday and sunrise services, with Easter Sunday programs at our churches, and in fellowship with those we love. This year, consider deepening your Easter experience by hosting a Christian Passover Seder in your home with a small group of friends and family. This symbolic feast allows Christians to participate in an ancient Jewish tradition of remembering the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt. As a result, you’ll be immersed in community, history, and biblical reflection.
The traditional ceremony involves many complex elements, usually lasts three to four hours, and can feel overwhelming to a beginner. We’re boiling the Seder down to the basics, so you can host an easy yet meaningful Passover meal.
- Plan the evening. The Haggadah, a Seder guidebook, will explain the traditional songs, prayers, and schedule of events. But it’s OK to include the important elements of Seder without being too technical. Simply choose a few readings and a few of your favorite worship songs. Check the library or find Jewish Sedar traditions at passover.org. There are also lots of resources out there that focus on Christ in the Passover or compare the Passover to the Lord’s Supper. And you could even take some hints from a Seder for kids.
- Arrange the room. In the room where you’ll server the meal, cover a table with a white tablecloth. You will be situating all the Seder foods on the table as well as a traditional extra place setting for Elijah, the prophet who announced the Messiah’s coming. Also, light two unscented white candlesticks on the table as a symbol of God’s presence.
- Prepare the place settings. For each participant, you’ll need a dinner plate, a napkin, a glass filled with grape juice (in place of traditional wine), a fork, a spoon, a sprig of parsley, a small bowl of saltwater, a hard-boiled egg, and a printout of any unfamiliar songs you plan to sing.
- Tell the Passover story. Explain to your guests that Seder is part of the Passover holiday, one of the most important ancient Jewish festivals, ultimately pointing to the death and resurrection of Christ. Read the Passover story aloud from Luke 22:1-20 and Exodus 12.
- Serve the meal. As the hostess, you’ll prepare beforehand and then serve the symbolic foods at the heart of the Seder meal. Like other Jewish customs, Seder combines the physical and the spiritual in a multi-sensory experience. Together you’ll taste foods that help you relive the Passover story. It’s fun to have a Jewish cookbook on hand such as Let My People Eat! Passover Seders Made Simple, but you can easily find recipes for lamb and unleavened bread online. As you serve the different foods, explain each one’s significance.
- PARSLEY symbolizes the hyssop dipped for sprinkling on the doorposts of Hebrew dwellings in preparation for the Exodus. Instruct your guests to dip the parsley in the saltwater, taste it, and remember the tears shed in Egypt as well as the sorrow of Jesus dying on the cross. The green color also reminds us of the new life we have in Christ.
- HORSERADISH symbolizes the bitterness and harshness of Egyptian slavery. Invite guests to taste it, recalling how bitter their lives were when they were slaves to sin.
- HAROSET is a sweet mixture, made by grinding apples, nuts, and honey together that symbolizes the mud and straw the Israelites used in Egyptian construction. As everyone eats is, remember that Jesus is sweeter than honey.
- UNLEAVENED BREAD symbolizes the hurry in which the Israelites left Egypt—there wasn’t enough time for the bread to rise. The yeast represents sin, and as you eat, meditate on Jesus as our Bread of life. The unleavened bread depicts how Jesus was sinless.
- GRAPE JUICE symbolizes Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross. Drink it in remembrance of Him.
- LAMB symbolizes the Passover lamb that was killed, so its blood could be sprinkled on the doorposts of the Israelites’ houses. That way, the angel of death would pass over them. As you eat it, remember that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- HARD-BOILED EGG symbolizes the cycle of life and endurance for the future.
- Close with sharing. Finally, invite your guests to share their perspectives on what Christ has done for them. Then sing the worship songs you selected.
No matter our differences, Seder reminds us that we are all united in Christ because of His sacrifice. God began the story of Jesus with His people, the Israelites. Savor the historical connection as well as the connection with one another.
Jennifer McCaman is a mom, writer, teacher, wife to a red-headed pastor, and slightly histrionic lover of all things chocolate.