Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Elements behind Communion

Yesterday, I talked about how the Christian Ritual of Communion is inseparable from the Jewish Ritual of Passover. While I have experienced a Passover meal before, I have never really studied it.  What I can say, more than anything else, is that I learned how little I still know.  What I mean is that I'm just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of really grasping the meaning and significance of this event.

Several folks talked about how much they learned yesterday.  But I know it was hard to keep up - there was a LOT of information.  And, again, there was so much more to say.  This is one of the most fascinating learning experiences I've had in recent memory.  So, let me add a little and recap some things here.

The Haggadah.  See the little books in this picture above?  That's a Haggadah.  This is a book of prayer of sorts that basically lays out the order of the meal, the prayers before each part, and - this is very important - the Exodus story is printed in each book.  The meal must begin with the reading of the Exodus story.  God commanded that the story be retold to each generation.  This is a part of the tradition to this day.   

The Variety.  I went into this study expecting that the Passover meal was...fixed.  No variations.  No alterations.  But what I discovered was a LOT of variety.  For example, take the egg.  Most or all Jewish families have a roasted (boiled) egg on the plate, but there are MANY different interpretations about what it means.  Some say it means spring, since the Passover happens in springtime.  Others say it means the new life that God granted to the people of Israel.  And some say that nobody knows - it's there so that people will ask questions and engage in the conversation.  There are also variations as to the interpretation of some other elements, too.  

This appears to be the standard: 
Charoset (pronounced Her-O-Set):  This is a mixture of apples, nuts and wine that resembles the mortar used to put bricks together when the were in slavery in Egypt.  "Charoset" comes from the Hebrew word that means "clay".

Maror:  This is the bitter herb, usually horseradish and Romaine Lettuce, representing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.

Roasted Egg.  I mentioned that above.

Zroa:  This is the shankbone and is the only meat on the plate.  It represents the lamb that had to be sacrificed on the first Passover.

Karpas: This is a vegetable that is non-bitter, usually parsley or a potato, and this is dipped into salt water.  The salt water represents the tears shed during slavery, the vegetable is for the toiling of the soil while in slavery.  **Special Note: When Jesus said, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me" (Matt 26:23), he was talking about dipping the Karpas into the salt water.

Matzah: Unleavened bread.  There is no fermentation allowed, and the bread does not rise at all.  God would rescue the Israelites quickly, there would be no time for the bread to rise.  

Wine: The 4 glasses of wine that each person drinks represent four distinct redemptive promises that God makes in Exodus 6:6-7.  Can you see now that Jesus is making a New Promise (covenant) with the wine?  Can you see how significant his words were now?

We CANNOT grasp the meaning of Communion without understanding the Passover.  I encourage you to read about the Passover in the book of Exodus.  And do a little more research, too.  You'll enjoy it and you'll learn a lot more than I've said here.

See you on Easter!

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