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Seder meal shows what Jesus did at Passover

Holmes, Samuel Lutheran churches gather to mark ceremony

April 3, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

HOLMES - Seder, a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover, was celebrated on Maundy Thursday at Holmes Lutheran Church, to show what Jewish families go through at Passover.

"Jesus took the eight elements of the Passover meal and showed how he fulfilled every one of them in his ministry and life," said the Rev. Richard Taylor. "When we do it in the Christian church, for us as believers we discover the foundation of what we know in the church as the Lord's supper or Communion."

Two of the eight elements of the Seder, the bread and the wine, became the promise of everlasting life through communion "as his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sin," Taylor said.

The Seder is the feast commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, celebrated on the first or first and second evenings of Passover.

About 80 people from Holmes Lutheran, Samuel Lutheran Church in Eagle Grove and neighboring communities gathered to take part in the meal, which Taylor called "a participatory experience, because it's just that. From the beginning, when in the Jewish home the mother says a prayer and lights the Passover candles."

As church members were getting ready for the Seder, he said they created a home-like atmosphere, so small groups of people sat together at tables.

"We go through and discuss the elements, what they mean to the Jewish family and how they're fulfilled in Christ," he said on Wednesday. "There are four questions. The youngest child in the family reads these four questions."

Laine Taylor, 9, of Eagle Grove, read the questions for the Holmes Lutheran celebration, with her grandmother, Gayle Morgan, standing with her to help, if needed.

The four questions, Taylor said, are:

1. Why is this night different from all other nights?

2. On all other nights, we may eat leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night only unleavened bread?

3. On all other nights, we may eat any kind of herb, but on this night only bitter herb?

4. On all other nights, we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice?

Thus began the feast.

"It was very, very interesting," Gayle Morgan said of the Seder meal. "It was interesting to see all the symbols, the different foods that were all part of their Passover ritual."

The eight elements of the Seder are:

Paste: Represented by chopped apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and a little wine or grape juice, the paste symbolizes the land of bondage for the Jewish people, reminding them of bricks made by the Israelites.

Bitter herbs: Horseradish is to used remind the people of pharaoh, the harsh taskmaster.

Green herbs: Parsley or lettuce reminds the people of Moses, the deliverer, and of spring, when deliverance came.

Shank bone of a lamb: The Holmes church used the shank bone of a chicken to symbolize the 10th plague while the people of Israel were in Egypt, that the first-born child died in accordance with God's judgment. It's the death of the lamb.

Hard-boiled egg: Speaks of the river Nile, a symbol of the grave. The egg not being released until the shell is broken. That God saved Moses in the Nile in a basket.

Salt water: One of the dippings, it speaks of the Red Sea as a reminder of God's deliverance through the sea when the Egyptian Army was chasing the Israelites and they walked into the promised land when Moses parted the Red Sea.

Wine: Speaks of Canaan, the land of promise, and of the four promises God gave to Israel. Those promises were 1. a cup of blessing, "I will deliver you from Egypt;" 2. a cup of plagues, "I will redeem you from under the bondage of the Egyptians;" 3. the cup of redemption, "I will bring you forth;" and 4. the cup of halel, the cup of praise, the fourth "I will" that God offers Israel, "I will take you to me to be my people."

Unleavened bread: Christ fulfilling, the bread - matzo - "is one of the most significant signs of all these elements." Taylor said.

"There are always three pieces of bread on the Seder table," he said. "They're in a pile to start. The middle wafer is called 'afikomen,' the coming one. The father would take the middle wafer and ask one of the children to hide it toward the beginning of the ceremony. Toward the end of the service, the father asks for the child to bring back the hidden wafer, but for the father to have that wafer back, he must redeem it or purchase it. That is done by giving the child a gift. All children get gifts at that point."

Taylor said Jesus took the middle wafer, saying "'This is my body,' thus he identified that bread was himself. I am going to be buried, but I will come back and be alive again."

To Christians, this "becomes exciting," Taylor said. "We realize that we, as we take communion, this is what Jesus did."

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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