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passover seder

No Christian Passover Seder

passover seder

This is the time of year when some Christians organise their own Passover Seder. There are several articles cautioning against doing so. Here are a couple:
Why Christians should not host their own passover seders
Say no to Christian seders

Study the Jewish Passover Seder by all means – but take care about attempts at replicating it.

If you are lucky enough to have Jewish friends or family, and are invited to a seder, you may find that sitting as a minority amongst a table full of people who are part of a community that has celebrated Passover for hundreds of years, many of whom have eaten these foods every year since they were born—and with individuals who look forward to this holy feast with the same anticipation many of us feel for Christmas—you will sing Dayenu and feel that truly, the blessings that God has extended to you are enough and you do not need more.

I would add to these points that we Christians have our own, perfectly good liturgical rites to celebrate Christ’s last week, death, and resurrection. Here are some:
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Vigil

I also want to emphasise that celebrating a “Christian Passover Seder”, say on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), confuses Christian understanding. Christianity applies the Jewish passover paradigm not to Maundy Thursday but to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not Maundy Thursday that, by itself, celebrates the “Christian Passover”. In fact the Christian tradition is quite clear. The Sacred Triduum is one ongoing service beginning on the evening of Maundy Thursday, the service stopping without a dismissal. On Good Friday we pick the service up again, beginning without a greeting, and stopping again without a dismissal. This long service with interruptions only concludes with the Easter Vigil.

I will, on another occasion, blog about combining the Eucharist with a meal, but to do so at this point could muddy the waters.

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18 thoughts on “No Christian Passover Seder”

  1. Thank you for your clear words.
    I’ve been saying this for years (maybe not as well written or said as you did)and was so often not understood within christian communities or among colleagues.

  2. I fully agree with Br. David. There are no hints at all in the Gospels that refer to a seder. No mention of the Hagaddah, no mention of the Seder Plate and the special dishes.

  3. After reading the first article you link above, it made me wonder how we would feel about an atheist organisation holding an “atheist Eucharist”, which including pronouncing the Great Thanksgiving. And then following up with a philosophical discussion about Jesus’ was a forerunner of humanism – and his message pointed to later understandings of atheist philosophy. My guess is we would be a tad upset about it.
    Thanks for the clear message and also reminding us of our proper holy week traditions.
    If we are serious about showing solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers there are other public events we can join in on. For example, Wellington has Chanukah in the Park each year.
    Also, Passover itself is not until 22 April. So we should not think that our Easter coincides with it.

    1. You make a very thought-provoking parallel, thanks, David. And yes, I’ve been to the Wellington Chanukah celebration. Blessings.

    1. James – Jesus of Montreal! I have a movie review ready to post on Friday – but it doesn’t compare to that! Blessings.

  4. Question…. what word is in the middle of the seder plate in the picture? To me it looks like it says “pemet”, which isn’t a real word? I would think it is supposed to say “pesach” (the Hebrew term for Passover), but it clearly doesn’t.

    1. Yes, Tamar, we’ve also discussed this on the liturgy facebook page. This is clearly a “Christianised” plate – hence you are picking up the issues presented visually. Blessings.

  5. I think that this is a good indication that the Last Supper ISN’T a seder:

    “So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
    Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast.”

    So “the feast” – which would be the Passover – was something that would take place in the near future, not something that was taking place right then.

    The next day I think, Good Friday, was the Passover. “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us.” And of course, most of the Christian world calls Easter “Passover” – “Pascha” or some cognate of it.

  6. I also wonder what is written in the middle of the plate. It’s supposed to be “Mazzot” but that’s defenitely not on it.
    It’s certainly a “christianized” plate and I wonder if there is simply a spelling mistake.
    P as first letter is for sure. (note- read from right to left) the “mem” in the middle can easily be misread as a “samech” which is the middle letter for “pessach”. And the “tau” as third letter could easily be misread as as a “chet” for pessach. (Sorry, I know Hebrew but my keyboard on my laptop doesn’t so I can only use Latin letters)

  7. David stevenson

    Well said Father.

    The Christian Faith is built on the fact that the Incarnate Jesus is the very God who the Passover Meal points FORWARD to. Christian are NOT anticipating the coming of the Messiah, this Palm Sunday we are REMEMBERING that He has already come and fulfilled all the prophecies, rites, symbols and passages spoken of in the Old Testament – all were nailed to the Cross with Him, taken into the Tomb with Him and left there when He reconciled us totally with God through and at His glorious Resurrection.

    For a Baptised Christian to celebrate and/or join in a Passover meal – no matter how well intentioned – is to doubt the Redeeming work of Christ, question the Divinity of Jesus and bring Confusion to the core doctrinal beliefs of the Church.

    I’m sorry if this seems strongly worded, but unless we embrace and understand fully the rites and rituals of Holy Church at this time, we miss the point of what our Apostolic Faith is and become a shepherdless flock ready to be preyed upon by false prophets, teachers, cults and religions. I love the words of that great Easter hymn ‘Love’s Redeeming Work I Done’ by Charles Wesley and it is for this reason Christian’s cannot participate in a ‘Christianised Passover Seder’:

    Love’s redeeming work is done;
    fought the fight, the battle won:
    lo, our Sun’s eclipse is o’er,
    lo, He sets in blood no more.

    1. Thanks, Fr David.
      I draw from your point about we are celebrating an event in the past in the presence of the Risen Christ. We are not, for example, pretending on Good Friday that we don’t know what happens next; we are celebrating Christ’s death in the presence of the Risen Christ with us. This bears on many newly created Holy Week celebrations which can become dramas which people watch.
      I would not go with you to the point of not accepting an invitation to a Jewish Passover meal – such an invitation delights me. But I also understand it if someone struggles with such an invitation, it can be turned down graciously.

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