Creation of a Liturgy
•The Seder (Passover meal) is a family liturgy that dates back thousands of years. It is a meal that forms the people into a particular identity. It is more than a commemoration of the exodus, it is a moment of formation for the entire community – both adults and children. God wants all of Israel to remember the event that shaped their identity and culture.
•The word "culture" comes from the word for “worship”–cultus. Cultures are created when a group of people uplift what is true, beautiful, and of value, and then practices develop around those ideas. Those practices eventually develop a litany that form the people that live within that setting into a particular kind of people.
•The Israelites valued the image of God within each person. Every human has worth, therefore slavery has no place in society.
•“The core of the person is what he or she loves, and that is bound up with what they worship —that insight recalibrates the radar for cultural analysis. The rituals and practices that form our loves spill out well beyond the sanctuary. Many secular liturgies are trying to get us to love some other kingdom and some other gods.” – James K. A. Smith
Marked by the blood of the Lamb
• “The blood on the door will mark this as a home God can ‘pass over;’ it is marked as an Israelite home. Excuse me, does God not know which are Israelite homes (and anyway, are the Israelites not all together in that ghetto in Goshen)? ...In calling this a sign ‘for you,’ however, Exodus also hints at the significance of daubing the blood for the people. It is their proclamation of who they are; they mark themselves as Israelites and not Egyptians.” – John Goldingay
• The practice of marking the door was not for God’s sake, but for the Israelites to consciously decide who they are siding with.
• What would it mean for the Israelites to have a front door marked with blood, when Egyptian soldiers roamed around Goshen?
• This imagery is picked up throughout the book of Revelation – in particular chapter 13. John, the supposed author, categorizes people into two groups - people marked by the Lamb and people marked by the beast. To be marked by Lamb or beast is to be possessed by that entity. There is no gray area for Exodus or for Revelation, the people are marked by, and thus belong to one entity or the other: Empire or Kingdom. In both books, the consequences are the same. If a person is marked by the empire, the result is death and destruction.
• If a person is marked by the Lamb, one may have to endure oppression and/or alienation but the result is freedom and life.
• Participation in the Passover meal is not only for remembering the past, but also for helping shape our future. The reenactment is viewed as much a saving event as the original meal.
• Remembering each aspect of the meal is not just recalling the past. It is a way of entering into the reality of that past event so that we may be formed into being God’s people in the present.
• This ritual does not just remind the people that they were once set free. It is a way of defining their life forever as a people who have been redeemed. Even if they find themselves again in slavery, the Passover meal is a way of reminding themselves: “The world may view us as slaves, but this is who we truly are.”
Meal on the Run
• The instructions of the Seder requires them to eat the meal as if they were in a hurry to leave Egypt. The meal of identification is a traveling meal. It is a meal that recognizes that God is on the move, and thus we ought to always be on the move.
• v.8 gives strange detailed description about how their final meal in Egypt must be prepared.
• “Roasted on the fire”, “unleavened bread”, and “bitter herbs” are all quick methods of preparing meals. Roasting on the fire requires no pots or pans, eating bread that is unleavened means there is no time to let the bread rise, and bitter herbs are easier to acquire in Egypt.
• Eating a meal with belt fastened, sandals on foot, staff in hand are all postures of preparedness of immediate departure.
• These descriptions adds to the resolve one must make if he or she had taken a stand to be associated with Yahweh rather than Pharaoh.
• There is a continual tension in the Scripture between the human need for security and the always moving, ever-active God.
• From the beginning of Genesis, God seems to want people to always be on the move (ex. “fill the earth” and the need to spread out from Babel).
• Security is not necessarily an evil, but like any other sin, an out-of-hand version of a virtue becomes a sin (gluttony is an out-of-hand version of eating, adultery is an out-of-hand version of a healthy sexuality, etc.). When security loses its intended purpose, it can become fortified walls built on the backs of slaves.
• This tension is most keenly felt in the way God seems to prefer the tabernacle to the temple. For David, the temple would be the sign of security. It would be a “permanent resting place for the ark.” God, on the other hand, does not dwell in “houses made by hands.” There seems to be a part of God that understands the need for security. But there also seems to be recognition that it is easy to confuse security with blessing.
• “Jesus called for the Twelve and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick – no bread, no bags, and no money in their belts. He told them to wear sandals but not to put on two shirts... So they went out and proclaimed that people should change their hearts and lives” (Mark 6:7-12).
Jesus and the Passover
• The details of the Seder meal represent Jesus: The spotless Lamb that was slaughtered is Jesus. The blood on the doorposts that took the Spirit of death on a detour is the blood of Christ.
• Each household was required to kill their own lamb. Likewise, it was our sins that put Jesus on the cross.
• John the Baptist called Jesus the “Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.” When he used the word lamb, he was fully aware of the Seder imagery. John was making a bold statement about Jesus - he is going to help pass the spirit of death over us, he will be slaughtered, and he will be our rescue.