We celebrated Passover itself by joining 3 other families out at Drew and Lacey's house in Pleasant Garden. It's been a tradition among the group to buy a live yearling lamb and slaughter it on Passover. This was my first time actually participating in the event and it was very impactful.
I didn't take pictures of the rest of the event, but I can say that actually participating in the slaughter of the Passover lamb is a deeply moving experience. To hold on to that lamb as it breathed its last breath is something I'll never forget. It's one thing to know where your food comes from, but it's altogether different to be the one taking that life. Olivia knew what was going to happen and she wanted to watch the whole thing. It wasn't easy for either of us. It was a stunning illustration of the sacrifice Messiah made for us. Olivia described the situation as "very serious and sad." I'm proud of how well she handled it. We watched closely and Matt, Drew and Lane set about butchering the lamb for roasting on the fire. We talked of how Messiah didn't fight or run when it was His time to be sacrificed for us.
The rest of the day was a wonderful time of fellowship and food (Middle Eastern style, mmm...) as we spread a traditional Passover Seder over several hours. Each of the dads took one of the traditional Four Cups and said a prayer and a reading for each one. We included elements like hand washing, bitter herbs, charoset and added things like the washing of each other's feet in the example of our Messiah. We ended our evening with the painting of the lamb's blood on the doorpost. Then it was an evening of the kids watching "The Price of Egypt" on an incredible homemade large projector screen and enjoying some fantastic desserts, like chocolate covered matzah and homemade baklava. The kids slept in their sleeping bags and we all had our shoes and coats close. The acting out of the night of Passover is a great way to make it really come alive and to remember it as a "perpetual ordinance" throughout the generations (Ex 12:14). The next day was a wonderfully restful Shabbath.
As you can imagine, when you get 4 families with a total of 15 kids together, it can be a bit chaotic, so to reinforce some of the traditions, we repeated a few of the stories, blessings and the four cups at home the next evening. The kids are at a very concrete age but we tried to talk about the amazing symbolism of the seder meal. Ex 6:6-7: God says, I Will Bring You Out, (sanctification) I Will Deliver You (deliverance), I Will Redeem You (redemption), and I Will Make You My People and I Will Be Your God (hope). What an incredible work our God started in the history of his people and continued to the day of Messiah and continues even now!
The days of Unleavened Bread continued into the next week as we remembered our God's work with the very tangible reminder of not having leavened bread in the house. It took some creativity to make meals without leaven. Rebecca came across a fun children's book called A Sweet Passover that talked about eating Matzah each day of the week of Unleavened Bread. It had a recipe for Matzah Brei which is sort of a take on french toast or pancakes using matzah. The kids enjoyed it. We made matzah sandwiches, matzah ball chicken soup, and even crushed matzah for the breading on chicken nuggets. Our friends made some delicious matzah kugel. It is wonderful to have a time of remembrance that lasts into our "normal" daily lives beyond one short day or two. Of course, we look forward to the next delicious loaf of risen bread to be baked in our home too. ;)
Our family includes the celebration of the resurrection of Messiah into our week of celebration and remembrance ("do this in remembrance of Me"). It is his example of selflessness and sacrifice that we want to emulate in our daily lives. The "Last Supper" is a Passover seder. Yeshua was the perfect image of the passover lamb, "without spot or blemish." He not only died but then rose back to life as he overcame death. Just as God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Yeshua brought us out of our slavery to sin. And so, of course, there is no better response than to rejoice. As Gentile believers in the God of Israel, we are so very thankful that God would bring us into the covenant relationship he started so long ago. Our God is a Living God!