Grad school, overtime, and getting ready for a mission trip. It was a particularly busy Easter season, so for sanity’s sake I asked my family, “If we can’t do all our Easter traditions, what is the one thing we can’t miss?” I was surprised to hear my kids agree on “Passover.”
Why is Passover such an important tradition to our family?
Like many traditions, our version of Passover morphed over time and has multiple layers of meaning. When our kids were young, we had a normal supper on the Thursday before Easter but added matzo unleavened bread. We talked about the original Passover and how that relates to Jesus’ last supper with His disciples. Over the years, it has grown with our family to be a special time together.
One year, we read that “Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table” (Luke 22:14), so we gathered pillows around the coffee table and “reclined” on the
floor. That was a favorite part that continues each year! We now begin with me lighting candles and my husband, Scott, looking around the house for leaven (we previously placed a few small piles of yeast!). He sweeps it into a spoon and napkin with a feather and “chases” it out of the house.
The youngest child asks, “Why is this night different than all other nights?” Scott answers, “For on other nights we eat bread, but tonight we eat only matzo.” Then we tell the story of the first Passover and God’s deliverance from Egypt, and we eat the first round of matzo and drink a goblet of grape juice.
“Why is this night different than all other nights?” “For on other nights we eat other vegetables, but tonight we eat only bitter herbs.” The kids never actually ate the bitter herbs, so I stopped buying them (I know—weak!). We eat chopped apples and cinnamon and tell of the bricks the slaves made and how the redemption of God turns bitterness into sweetness.
“Why is this night different than all other nights?” “For on other nights we eat sitting up, but tonight we all recline.” We tell how God delivered His people from slavery to Egypt’s pharaoh and His people today from slavery to sin. Free people recline; servants stand. We pray for others who are still in physical or spiritual slavery.
And so the evening continues with food (parsley dipped in salt water, roasted eggs, and roasted lamb), questions, storytelling, Bible reading, and prayer (amazingly, there’s not much eye-rolling, as there has been with some of our other attempts at family worship!). Our time ends with a fresh reminder that Jesus is our Passover Lamb, that His death bought us back from sin and death, and that when we put our trust in Him, we have fellowship with Him forever. It gets our minds ready to grieve with the disciples over Jesus’ death and to celebrate His amazing and triumphant resurrection. God knows us intimately, He knows our need, and He makes a way for us to know Him.
I love traditions that highlight the meaning of celebrations. Passover takes a step back in time, celebrating God’s work through thousands of years and reminding us that faith in the Messiah is still our only hope. It teaches our kids the unity of Scripture and that the Israelites were saved by faith in the coming Messiah, just as we are saved through faith in the Messiah who has come. Passover is a mixture of fun (reclining on pillows), close fellowship (sharing Scripture, stories, and prayers), and celebration of God’s redemption.
BUILD YOUR FAMILY’S PASSOVER TRADITIONS:
The original Passover story can be found in Exodus 12. The Lord’s Supper is found in Matthew 26:17–30, Mark 14:12–26, and Luke 22:7–38.
Books like Let’s Make a Memory by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson help script a Passover meal.
Use just part of the Passover to fit your family’s attention span and choose what is most meaningful. Younger kids can ask the questions and older kids can help answer the questions and read Scripture.
Invite friends to join you— it can be a culturally rich setting for sharing the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice.