Celebrating Passover in our family begins a couple weeks before the actual event. We mark and celebrate the Biblical New Year when we see the first sliver of the spring new moon (Exodus 12:2). That begins our counting of fourteen days until Passover and gives us that long to prepare our hearts and our home. We begin going through the pantry, fridge, and freezer and make a list of everything that has leavening in it and make plans to eat it, give it away, or throw it away within the next two weeks. We talk about how our God, whom we call Yah which is the Biblical shortened form of His sacred Name (Isaiah 12:2, Psalm 68:4), used leaven — something we use every day in so many different ways like cereal, bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, and pancakes — to help us understand how pervasive sin can become in our lives if we are not constantly on the lookout for it. This isn’t like a sit-down devotional time or anything – it’s just something we talk about as we clean out the pantry and have extra taco nights to get rid of the stash of tortillas we somehow ended up with. We pray and ask Him if there is any sin in our lives we need to get rid of. We also begin to think and talk about how and where we want to give this year’s Feast of Firstfruits offering — a gift from the first of our earnings for the year.
On Passover, we have a special dinner including lamb, bitter herbs (usually parsley and/or horseradish), unleavened bread, and grape juice and/or wine as these are the foods associated with Passover in the Bible. Modern-day Jewish Passover meals, called Seders, are very elaborate and have very specific rules based on rabbinical and cultural traditions. We have chosen to keep our meal very simple, trying to follow the descriptions in the Bible, as our goal is not to become Jewish but to follow Yahshua (Jesus) by celebrating the feast He not only celebrated but fulfilled. I do usually add the traditional Jewish apple and walnut dish (called charoset or haroseth) that represents the mortar and bricks because it’s so yummy, but it is optional. Each year, we pray about who we should invite to join us for the meal. I also wrote a simple script that we read and sing around the table that retells the story of the Exodus, explains what each of the symbolic foods means, and explains how Yahshua fulfilled each part of the Passover meal. You can see and download it here.
Interestingly, the Bible actually emphasizes the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at Passover as much or more than the Passover meal itself. Maybe this is because the Passover remembers one-time events (the 10th plague in Egypt and Yahshua’s death) while the Feast of Unleavened Bread teaches about something that is ongoing in the lives of Yah’s children — diligently identifying, confessing, and repenting of sin. Our family enjoys this week of abstaining from leavened foods. We emphasize throughout the week that when Yah asks us to give something up, He always gives us something wonderful in its place. We make delicious unleavened bread and enjoy a few other unleavened treats we only make during that week.
The Sunday during the week of Unleavened Bread, the one immediately following Passover, is its own Biblical Feast called the Feast of Firstfruits. This is the day that the women, Peter, and John found the empty tomb, and it is the day that Yahshua presented Himself to the Father as the Firstfruits of all of us who will rise at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-24, John 20:17). This is our family’s biggest day of celebration during the week of Unleavened Bread as we celebrate that Yahshua fulfilled this feast by His resurrection! In the same way that the Israelites brought the firstfruits of their spring harvests to Yah, offering them to Him in faith that He would be faithful to finish the harvest, we celebrate that our Messiah offered Himself as the Firstfruits of what will be a great harvest of resurrected souls. And we reaffirm together our complete trust that Yah will be faithful to finish this harvest by raising us from the dead to live with Him eternally! This is an extra-special day of worship! We give our firstfruits offering on this day, and we think of ways to share the news about eternal life in our Messiah in the coming year.
After the Feast of Firstfruits, we finish out the remaining days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I find it interesting and meaningful that the Feast of Firstfruits falls somewhere in the middle of it, always on Sunday, and that the Feast of Unleavened Bread continues on. This reminds me that our Messiah’s resurrection was the middle of the grand story of redemption, not the end, and that He invites us to join Him in the resurrected life as purified people proclaiming His Kingdom, (the coming of which is what the fall feasts are all about!)
I will be posting the script I wrote so that you can adapt it and use it for your family’s celebration, and I will also be posting some of our favorite recipes for these feasts, all of which can be made on-plan for THM mamas like me. And stay tuned for more posts about the Feasts as Shavu’ot (Pentecost) is coming and then the fall feasts later this year!