Family Seder Meal

Have you ever wondered what kind of meal Christ shared with his Apostles at the Last Supper?

 
 
"Seder means order. "
 
Maundy Thursday

The Seder is the joyful family dinner and worship service which is held in Jewish homes on Passover. Seder means order. The Seder consists of a number of ceremonies of extreme antiquity. Through these ceremonies and symbols, we can feel the trials of the Jews of the Exodus - their embittered life of bondage and the joy of their subsequent triumph of freedom.

The Passover meal given here is quite a bit different than that of the Jewish tradition. It has been shortened, simplified and adapted so that families can have a sense of the ceremony.

Foods Needed and Set Up

Lamb, pita bread or matzah crackers, parsley or watercress, horse radish, Haroset (applesauce mixed with walnuts), eggs, wine or grape juice.

On the table have flowers and several unlit candles. You will need a special platter with the following foods in specified order. Also a pitcher of wine or grape juice. A cup of salt water. A Bible. Each person should have a glass and a plate with parsley, haroset, and some horse radish. An empty wine cup should be set in the center of the table.

On the platter:

The Traditional Order of the Passover Service

Narrator: We are gathered here to commemorate two great feasts in the history of humankind - the Jewish Passover and the Last Supper. On the last day of his life, Jesus took part in this festival meal with his disciples. It was during this meal that he gave us his body and blood with the invitation "Take and eat, drink of it, all of you." Tonight we will celebrate together a simple adaptation of the Jewish Passover meal. As a symbol of the warm glow of happiness which this festival brings into our home, let us begin by lighting the candles before us.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of the holiday. As we light these candles help us to remember to live according to your word so that we may bring the light to others.

Narrator: Now we fill the first cup with wine. The juice is poured from a common vessel symbolizing our unity. All may now drink.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Narrator: The leader cleanses his hands, but he does not recite a blessing.

All: Why do we eat the greens?

Narrator: This ceremony marks the green that comes to life in the springtime. This is parsley (or watercress). A green, spring plant. Passover is a spring feast. A reminder to us of the newness of life. This is similar to the ancient hors d’ouevres. It is now used as a token of gratitude to God for the products of the earth. We should all dip it in the salt water and eat. This salt water is like the tears of a people who are bound up in slavery and are not free.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth. Keep us ever mindful of the bounties of our lands, and aware of the needs of others - for those who hunger for knowledge and truth and your word, O Lord.

Narrator: The leader breaks the middle matzah, leaving one half on the dish; the other half is hidden as the Aphikomon to be eaten at the end of the meal. It was probably this second half that Christ took and blessed after the Last Supper.

Commentator: Behold, the matzah. Let it remind us of people everywhere who are poor and hungry. Let it call to our minds people today who are still enslaved and without freedom.

Narrator: The Seder meal includes a recitation of the service, which has many parts. Tonight we are only going to do one of the parts, about the Ten Plagues. Fill the cups again. When Pharaoh defied the command of God and refused to release the Israelites, he brought trouble upon himself and his people, for the Lord afflicted the Land of Egypt with plague.

Commentator: These plagues came upon the Egyptians because of their evil; yet we do not rejoice over their downfall and defeat. We cannot be glad when anyone needlessly suffers. So we mourn the loss of the Egyptians and express sorrow over their destruction.

Narrator: At this point in the service we spill wine from our cups at the mention of each of the ten plagues. We cannot allow ourselves to drink a full cup, our own lives are diminished by the memory of this awful event. We express remorse that the Egyptians had to suffer such terrible punishment. Please spill a drop of wine from the cup at the mention of each of the plagues, a symbol of regret that the victory had to be purchased through misfortune visited upon God’s creatures, the Egyptians.

All: 1) Blood. 2) Frogs. 3) Gnats. 4) Flies. 5) Cattle disease. 6) Boils. 7) Hail. 8) Locusts. 9) Darkness. 10) Slaying of the First-Born.

Commentator: Raise the wine cup. It is our duty to utter thanks and prayer, to sing praise and adoration, to Him who performed these wonders for our fathers and for us. He led us out of slavery into freedom, out of sorrow into joy, out of mourning into festivity, out of darkness into light, out of bondage into redemption. We shall sing Him a new song. May your name be sanctified in the midst of all the earth and all peoples be moved to worship you with one heart.

Narrator: The following blessing is recited as hands are cleansed prior to the eating of the Passover dishes.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, who has made us holy with your commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

All: Why do we eat matzah?

Narrator: This is the matzah - This is in memory of the unleavened bread which the Jews ate when they were freed from Egypt. It reminds us of how the Hebrew people left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time to prepare for the trip. They had no time to bake their bread. They could not wait for the yeast to rises. So the sun beating down on the dough as they carried it along baked it into a flat unleavened bread called Matzah. The upper matzah is broken and distributed. As the matzah is blessed, broken and passed around, we are reminded that the sharing of a single matzah indicates unity.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

All: Why do we eat bitter herbs?

Narrator: These bitter herbs (horse radish) recall to us the pain and suffering of slavery. The bitter herbs remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip the bitter herbs into the sweet haroset as a sign of hope.

The Haroset helps us remember the labors of slavery and the making of mortar and bricks. Mixed together this looks like the mortar which the Hebrew slaves used in their servitude. The Hebrews were able to withstand the bitterness of slavery, because it was sweetened by the hope of freedom.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, Creator of all growing things and who made us holy with your commandments. Keep us ever mindful of the gifts of freedom, liberty and justice.

Narrator: The bottom matzah on the plate is now broken and distributed. Horseradish, haroset and this matzah are eaten together in accordance with the verse in Scripture, "They shall eat it upon unleavened bread and bitter herbs."

All: Why do we eat the roasted egg and the lamb?

Narrator: The egg is symbolic of the free-will festival offering which accompanied the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb in the temple. The egg also reminds us of the new life that grows in spring. The lamb is a reminder of the Paschal lamb which the Hebrews sacrificed to God in remembrance of the night the Holy One passed over their houses.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the universe, Creator of all living things. Let this lamb help to remind us of our brothers and sisters everywhere who go hungry. Let us share this meal in joy, remembering that Christ is with us. A reading from Matthew 26: 26-29.

All: Christ is with us. Amen.

Narrator: At the conclusion of the meal, children are given an opportunity to find the Aphikomon. The leader redeems it and distributes pieces of it to all present.

Commentator: Let us say grace. Let us praise Him of whose bounty we have partaken, from this time forth and for ever more. Grant us grace, mercy, life and peace on this Feast of the Unleavened Bread.

All: Amen.

Commentator: Remember us this day in kindness.

All: Amen.

Commentator: Visit us this day with blessing.

All: Amen.

Commentator: Preserve us this day for life.

All: Amen.

Commentator: Give thanks to God, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever. Blessed are they who trust in the Lord. The Lord will give strength to His people. The Lord will bless His people with peace.

All: Amen.

Narrator: The cups are filled for the third time.

Commentator: Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Narrator: The fourth and last cup of wine is filled. An additional cup, the Cup of Elijah the Prophet is set on the table. Legend is that the prophet Elijah visits each seder to wish all present a year of peace.

Commentator: It is not for ourselves alone that we offer prayer to God. It is His wish that all might enjoy the blessing of liberty and the joy of redemption. So we invoke the spirit of Elijah. May Elijah’s spirit enter this home and renew our hope. May war come to an end and people live in peace. May our hearts be united in His service and our lives sanctified by His will.

Narrator: Holding up the fourth cup of wine, we hear the following prayer.

Commentator: This festive service is now completed. Once again we have recited the glorious tale of Israel’s liberation from bondage. Let us pray that all people, freed from violence and from wrong, and united in an eternal covenant will celebrate a universal Passover in the name of the God of Freedom. Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universes, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Narrator: All drink the fourth cup of wine.

Commentator: May the Lord bless us and watch over us.

All: Amen.

Commentator: May the Lord causes the light of His countenance to shine upon us and be gracious unto us. May He cast out of all hearts the darkness of ignorance and the blight of prejudice.

All: Amen.

Commentator: May the Lord lift up His countenance upon our country and render it a true home of liberty and a defender of justice. May He grant us and all the world, peace.

All: Amen.

Commentator: May this service thus performed be acceptable before the Lord.

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