Near the beginning of every spring, Jews sit down around the table and celebrate the Passover meal. Many Christians do the same. But should Christians celebrate Passover? That’s a controversial question because Passover means different things for Jews and Christians.
Jews see it as God redeeming the people of Israel. Through miracles and the leadership of Moses, God led the people out of slavery in Egypt toward freedom in the Promised Land. Christians tend to see Passover primarily as the precursor to God’s eventual redemption of humanity through death and resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate Passover lamb.
While their interpretations of it differ, Passover can still bring Jews and Christians closer together. In my experience, Christian Passover celebrations reinforce what binds us. They also convey a deeply spiritual message about God’s desire for human freedom.
Moses observed the Passover. Jesus observed it as well. And people of faith around the world can do so today.
Passover is a uniquely powerful holiday because it teaches life-changing lessons through a meal known as a seder, which is the Hebrew word meaning order. Early in my rabbinic career, I had the opportunity to lead two Passover seders on consecutive evenings.
One took place at an upscale dining club. The men wore suits and most of the women wore dresses. The catered meal was brought to us, and a choir helped us sing the Passover songs. It was powerful and reminded me of the blessings of living and succeeding in America.
The next evening I led a Passover seder at a recovery center. Some of the folks came in from local homeless shelters. Many had experienced severe alcohol and drug addictions.
It was an equally powerful evening, reminding me that slavery is not always physical. It can take the form of mental, spiritual and psychological entrapment.
Wherever and whoever we are, Passover can add meaning and a spiritual depth to our lives. Here’s why.