Remember in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the father repeatedly correlates every word to a Greek origin? In the end, we all fruit! (video link) Love that movie! The father never misses a beat passing on what he knows. He teaches others and he especially is teaching the next generation. He repeats their Greek heritage. I imagine many of them had heard him making the same point over and over. But that is how we remember. And the remembering is critical.
The Jews have it all over others in remembrance. Year in and year out they celebrate the seven feasts of Judaism. The three great festivals of the Jewish year are Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkoth). These three festivals celebrate the great stories of Israel's interaction with God. They retell what happened and are done in remembrance. That is the point - to remember.
Passover is about the exodus from Egypt and their freedom from bondage. Pentecost remembers the covenant given at Mount Sinai. Tabernacles recalls the wandering in the wilderness.
I recently had a Christian Seder at my house - a Passover meal where we connected the Passover lamb to Jesus, the Lamb of God. We followed the Haggadah from the Rose Book of Bible Charts Volume 2*, but I added in a few paragraphs from a Messianic Passover Haggadah that I have. "Haggadah" means "the telling" and refers to the book used to explain the Seder service.
In this picture, the Haggadah is on their plates.
The Seder has a book with it (the Haggadah) to tell the story of Passover. A visual. Those attending participate, hence the need for the book.
You are all familiar with the Passover story if you have seen the movie The Ten Commandments. God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His people go! Pharaoh won't and God brings 10 plagues against Egypt. The 10th plague is the death of the firstborn in Egypt. God will pass over the Hebrew people if by faith they take the blood of the unblemished lamb and apply it to the door posts and lintel of the doors of their homes.
The Seder has visuals. The 4 cups: first cup, sanctification; second cup, plagues or judgments; third cup, redemption; fourth cup, praise or Elijah's cup. There are even more visuals on the Seder plate. Dipping the parsley to identify with bondage and the tears of the Israelites. The bitter herbs to remind us of of the Israelites' life of slavery in Egypt. The sweet charoset (an apple dish) to remind us that even in slavery, the Israelites had hope in God. The egg to symbolize the temple sacrifice which is no more. The bone which reminds us of the Passover lamb which was killed. And there is even more visual teaching with the matzah. Three pieces of matzah are placed in a bag. This matzah bag is referred to by Jewish people as Echad, which means "unity." This bread is unleavened or without yeast. "Leaven" in the Bible is a metaphor for our sin. The matzah are pierced and striped.
The women thoroughly enjoyed our Christian Seder. One said this was the third one she had done at my house and she was just now getting the connection to Elijah's Cup. Another woman said she wanted to do it again! And she said it prepared her heart for Easter in a way no other previous experience has.
These 10 women had an incredibly fun evening together. But more than that it was memorable. Extremely memorable.
And what made it so?
It was the telling of the story. A story they already knew.
And every year the Jewish people celebrate Passover in the same way. Every year they repeat it. Remember!
This is what is so lacking in our Christian churches and homes today. We aren't repeating to remember.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and I was so looking forward to church and the retelling of the Palm Sunday story and the pastor didn't even preach on that. One Easter I got up and was so excited. 'He is risen!' I couldn't wait to get to church and celebrate the event that all of Christianity hinges on and the pastor preached on something like the will of God. (I don't remember and that is the point. It was not a celebration of Easter.) He barely acknowledged it was Easter. I sat there waiting for him to connect what he was talking about to Easter and he never did. I left Easter service dumbfounded.
Last year I visited my son and his girlfriend's church across town on Easter. The minister preached on Jesus' resurrection. We recited the Nicene Creed together - something I hadn't done in years - and he connected Jesus' resurrection to our future resurrection. That was an Easter celebration! I left full - full of gratitude, full of joy.
Don't be afraid to repeat the Christmas and Easter stories even though we have heard them a million times. It is in the re-telling that makes them stick like glue. And we want to hear them again. They are our foundation. Repeat away because with each telling it moves a little deeper into our hearts and fills them up.
At Christmas tell us about Mary and Joseph, no room at the inn, a cave cold and dark, the star, the wise men, the shepherds. Remind us! At Easter spend the weeks preparing our hearts about Jesus entering Jerusalem, weeping over it, the Last Supper, Judas betraying Him, Peter denying Him, Jesus being arrested and although He had no guilt He was condemned, the flogging, the crucifixion, the suffering, His death, the temple veil torn, the disciples going into hiding, the tomb sealed, and the glorious resurrection of our Savior. Remind us!
Remind us why we believe what we do. Talk about these in our churches and in your homes!
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Let us remember and celebrate together what our God has done for us!
And we do that by repeating what He has done.
Over and over and over and over.
Do this in remembrance of Me.
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