By Rev. Rob Schenck
I grew up in a blended Jewish and Christian home. My father was born Jewish, but my mother had converted to Judaism to marry him. They pledged to raise their children with only Jewish identities, and the four of us were. Still, Mom’s background meant there were Christians in our family–some nominal, some serious–so my religious world growing up was a mix.
That early experience set the stage for me to understand that Jews and Christians share many important things in common. Later, when I made a decision to become a Christian, my childhood Judaism informed the way I embraced my new faith. That’s how I discovered Christians not only have something really big in common with Jews, but we owe a big debt of gratitude to them for a feast that gave us one of the most sacred acts in our faith: Holy Communion.
As a brand new Christian, I recognized immediately the similarities between what was called in the little country Methodist church of my new birth, “The Lord’s Supper” and the meal Jews celebrate as “Passover.”
Later, as I formally studied Jesus’ Last Supper, I learned the two were the same thing. In fact, Jesus was celebrating the Passover with his disciples when he instituted the New Covenant with bread (unleavened) and wine (the cup of redemption).
I’m convinced Christians cannot fully appreciate the full meaning of Communion without experiencing the Passover ritual meal, or “Seder.” Celebrating the Seder also brings together Jews and Christians in a way nothing else can or ever will.
The Jewish-Christian Seder I’ve conducted on Capitol Hill for many years now expresses both an historic solidarity between Christians and Jews, but also the great debt Christians owe to Jews in not only giving us one of our most important observances, “The Lord’s Supper,” “Communion,” or “Eucharist,” but, far more importantly, the very Messiah who presided over that first Communion! Jesus himself said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)
So, there’s plenty of reasons for Christians to celebrate a Passover Seder, as we will again here on Capitol Hill on April 11.
Chag kasher v’same’ach! (חַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ)
“So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.’” (Luke 22:8)