Wow! its been a crazy few weeks – so busy that I haven’t had chance to pop in and let you know about Passover. It was a fabulous time and such a privilege to experience it with the Toast! children.
In the planning of this 2 things jumped out at me. Firstly that this is a family festival where every year in the Jewish home teaching of scripture takes place. And secondly that it is meant to be relaxed informal and noisy – perfect for Toast! Knowing these 2 things really rooted what we were trying to do in a Christian context at Toast!
I was really conscious that Passover is such an important festival in Judaism and that I wanted to respect and uphold that. And also acknowledge that Passover, with out any alterations, is part of the Christian tradition. (It did help that at Toast! in March we had explored the Exodus story). For that reason we decided that we would set Passover as the meal that Jesus ate the night before he died with his friend and stick to the traditions of the Jewish festival as far as we could. We also explained that the next night (which happened to be Jewish Passover) Jewish families would be celebrating Passover and what we did reflected in some way what they would do.
So with that preamble here is what we did! (apologies for the lack of images it was too busy!)
As people arrived we had tealight holders to decorate, these were then taken and placed on the table and later taken home to be used during the Easter period and beyond.
Before we sat down together we had the traditional hunt for the leaven. We had hidden pieces of leaven bread throughout the building and the children hunted until they were all found, then it was OK to begin the Passover.
We set out tables in a horseshoe formation covered with paper table cloths and laid with plates and wine glasses (plastic). Each plate had a sprig of parsley and a piece of matzoh on it and there were baskets of crayons so that the children could draw on the tablecloth during the Passover. Dotted around were bowls of salt water.
Everyone was welcomed and the Passover candles lit, at this point everyone was given a tealight(battery operated) for their candle holder. We explained that during the meal 4 cups of grape juice would be drunk and a special prayer said with each and the first prayer was led.
From then on we told the story of Passover first using the salt water to remind us of the tears God’s people cried when they were slaves in Egypt. Then breaking the 3 Matzoh and keeping a piece to be hidden later. We explained the Seder plate and used the 4 questions having earlier agreed with 4 children that they would ask the question and their parent answer. The rest of the Seder plate was explained and there was opportunity to try the horseradish and haroseth – or at least smell them.
Next we explained that in Passover a handwashing would take place at this point but Jesus subverted this and washed his disciple’s feet instead. So the children were offered the opportunity of having their feet washed. I was amazed how important this bit became. The children loved it and were really keen to take part. And amazingly there was no spillages!
As the footwashing took place there was also the chance to take part in a couple of crafts and to make your tea!
We didn’t stick to a Jewish menu here instead encouraging families to make pizza together and little cakes for pudding.
Then we gathered back together and heard how Jesus left the Passover meal for the Garden of Gethsemene; acted out the disciples falling asleep; saw how Jesus was arrested and then wrote prayers for things we are afraid of onto flowers and leaves to add to the garden.
Moving back to the tables we ate together which was an amazing experience of community and hospitality. Possibly my favourite point of the evening. During this time the final 2 glasses of grape juice were drunk and prayers said.
And then the hunt for the Matzoh piece took place! The winner traded it for an Easter Egg but there were also smaller eggs for everyone.
And finally we concluded the Easter story with the C Beebies Let’s Celebrate clip!
A chaotic but incredibly meaningful 2 hours which certainly my children are still talking about. Will it become a regular thing? Watch this space!!