Passover 2020: A Connection Through Time

Shabbat Shalom. This year will be a weird Passover. Usually at this time I am helping Shema prepare for our Seder and sharing Messiah In The Passover throughout Metro Detroit. This year we are in the process of preparing for our first digital Seder like many others around the world. Covid-19 may be changing our lives right now but the Seder endures. Maybe because more than any other holiday, Passover is strongly connected with our shared Jewish identity. Unlike many of the Jewish holidays, Passover is a day that even most secular Jews celebrate. The Pew Research Forum found in 2013 that 78% of people who identify themselves as Jewish by religion attended a Seder. They also found that 42% of people who were raised Jewish, but do not claim any religion still celebrated the Passover. More than any other Jewish practice, even attending services, the Seder endures

But what is it about the Seder that makes it so enduring and integral to Jewish life? I believe it is because the Passover Seder connects all those who participate in it. Also, more importantly it connects us with Adonai. The Seder allows us to connect with our past, with those around us today, and points to our future.

While at first glance it seems obvious that the Seder connects us with our past, it goes beyond reading a story. When we celebrate Passover, we are identifying with our people who moved from bondage and suffering to blessing in the Promised Land. Those who are Believers also identify with Messiah Yeshua, our perfect Passover Lamb who died on Passover.

Throughout the Torah we are told to remember everything the Lord had done when we reached the Promised Land and to teach it to our children. From generation to generation we are commanded to remember the Lord and what He has done for us. We need this repeated command because we very easily forget what the Lord has done for us. We get swept up by the issues of our lives and lose sight of our Rock, He who is always steadily present throughout our days. Through the Seder we connect intellectually, but also emotionally, to our ancestors and share in the joy found in the Lord.

The Seder also connects us to others living right now. Unlike Yom Kippur, Passover is a holiday that takes place in the home. Passover is a time to gather with our mishpucha, our family, family by blood, but also through friendship and shared faith. We are blessed that in this time of Corona-mandated confinement, we can still directly connect with our mishpucha through the technology we have available.

When I think of the Passover Seder it also recalls Communion or the Lord’s Supper. This was a practice instituted by Messiah Yeshua during His last Passover Seder. In a deep way, through the Holy Spirit, we connect with those around us when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, which is also a time to remember and share what the Lord has done for us.

Next week, millions of people around the world will join in celebrating how the Lord saved us from physical slavery in Egypt. We may tell the story in different languages, but the order and story told will basically be the same. As it has been for hundreds of years. For those of us who are joined to Messiah Yeshua we will also tell how He has saved us from spiritual slavery to Satan, Sin, and Death. This is a connection to one another connects us to together like threads crisscrossing the entire world.

Passover also connects us to our future. Our people back during the first Passover looked forward to the Promised Land of Israel whose capital became Jerusalem. They longed to leave the slavery of Egypt and go to this land of blessing and prosperity with the Lord. Every traditional Seder ends with the hope that we will celebrate it the following year with the Messiah in Jerusalem. For many of our people these are just words read on a page, but a desire to experience the Lord through the Messiah is a core part of the Passover experience. Those of us who are a part of Messiah’s Community look forward to the return of our wonderful Messiah who will lead us to the New Jerusalem.

We read in Hebrews 11 that those who have true faith in the Lord long for His heavenly country. We look forward and long for the New Jerusalem and to spend eternity with Him in the world-to-come. This longing for the Lord, focusing on Adonai and what He has done in our lives is what allows Passover and our faith to endure from one generation to the next.

Many today see Passover, Judaism, and perhaps even Messianic Judaism as just a shared cultural experience. It is a cultural or humanistic expression that has no real room for the Lord in it. We focus on what we want instead of remembering the Lord and drawing closer to Him. We need to understand the Passover and our faith as more than just tradition though. To really consider who is the foundation of all these connections, connections to our past, present, and future. We need to give honor and focus to Adonai, not ourselves. The Lord is the one who connects our past, present and future. The Lord is the one who has saved us, preserved us, and is our only future hope. While we as human beings change, the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Passover and our shared faith endure because the Lord is our Rock forever.

Many people, Jewish or otherwise, functionally do not believe in God, do not believe in Messiah Yeshua, and not believe in our glorious future with Him. For many the Passover is just a cozy cultural holiday. It binds us together through maybe nostalgia for our childhoods and the Seders of yester-year. It is just done for the sake of tradition or maybe some humanistic concern. But nostalgia can’t power things forever and traditions fade, just look at the statistics.

If the foundation of our Passover is the Lord, we are celebrating and remembering something and Someone who endures forever. We are connected throughout all time not just by shared blood or even a shared cultural experience but because we are all looking forward in the same direction towards Adonai.

The reality is that each one of us needs to experience a Passover in our lives. Each one of us needs a Passover, where the great, risen Lamb of God will apply his blood to our lives and save us from our sins, so that we can begin walking with God through this world headed to His eternal kingdom in the New Jerusalem. We all need to be connected to the Lord, the Creator and Sustainer of our lives.

It is my prayer that the Lord would bring us closer together spiritually this Passover, even while having to be more physically distant. May the Lord give us a heart to celebrate the Passover not just as tradition or obligation, but as a reminder that He is God alone, there is no other. Finally, may the Lord place in each of our hearts a longing to experience His Passover and to be with Him forever in the New Jerusalem.