Saturday, April 4, 2020

Passover - A Celebration for this Time

The coronavirus pandemic has stopped life as usual for millions of people across the globe. Stay-at-home orders are in place, schools and businesses are closed, and everyone has to stay at least 6 ft. apart. As of today (4/4/2020) there have been more than 60,000 casualties. Seems like the "new normal" changes every two days, and no one knows what the next few weeks, months, or even years will look like. The economy has been rocked, and everyone has to find new solutions to things we took for granted just 4 weeks ago.

It feels a bit like living in an occupied country. Maybe there aren't soldiers posted on the street corners (at least not in America right now), but there's a risk to every daily activity. Sure, you're free to go to the store, but not REALLY free. Our entertainment destinations are all closed. Even our cultural and religious institutions have been taken away.

Church buildings have been closed. The main form of faith expression for many American Christians has been removed from them. We can no longer legally gather. Obviously, this is still a far cry from "closed countries" that have persecuted Christians, but it gives us Americans a small taste of what our brothers and sisters have experienced through the centuries.

Jesus was born into an occupied country. It's where He lived and died. The Romans scrutinized their every move, and there was a presence of threat in the air. Sure, they were free to live their lives, but not really free. Even the most devoted to the religious system proclaimed their ultimate devotion to Caesar when confronted (John 19:15).

Easter is arriving very soon, and for almost every American Christian, they cannot rely on their traditional ways of celebration. No big family meals, no easter egg hunts, no passion plays or Easter musicals, no packed pews. We may even have trouble finding the kinds of food we like. Families will be locked in their homes, maybe sharing a meal and some Scripture with whomever is there, and likely with a weight of uncertainty hanging while they try to celebrate the Resurrection.

The meaning of Easter is certainly the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Our hope is in the power and promise of Jesus' death and resurrection, forgiving our sins and granting us the Holy Spirit, regaining our communion with God. It's the ultimate expression of God's victory over sin and death. However, this season is resembling a much more ancient festival that God gave to His people, when they were locked inside surrounded by death. The festival of Passover.

For many Christians, Passover is something maybe mentioned around Easter, but few of the symbols or even story make it to our celebrations. But this seems like a good year to start. Passover is a very symbolic, yet simple, meal. It is somber and meditative, but celebratory by nature, praising God for his power and faithfulness to save His people. It is a reminder that we have been saved from death and slavery by a mighty God, not for our own sakes, but for His purpose - to go out and be His priests in the midst of a broken world, proclaiming the Good News that the Kingdom is here, that love of neighbor and enemy is the new law, and death is no longer in charge.

The Keener family, from outside Tulsa, OK, has been celebrating Passover for years, and agreed to make some helpful videos to guide your family (or quarantine partners) in observing this festival and remember our Lord and why He saved us.

You can click this link to download a PDF of instructions, and watch the videos below.

Passover Instructions

Part 1 - Travis Keener describes Passover

Part 2 - Travis and his wife Jennifer explain how to prepare for Passover

Part 3 - The Keener family show you how to celebrate a simple Passover at home.

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