Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Castle Passover Haggadah

For those of  you wondering how to hold a Christian Passover Meal, Here is the "Castle Haggadah". Even with our reductions, this is a LONG evening, so make sure your pillows are comfortable and that you have back support.  I still crop here and there keeping the most important parts if I notice my children losing interest.  I love the symbolism and any excuse to celebrate and renew my deeply held beliefs. 

 Remove the Chametz
Explanation:  In the days preceding Passover, Jews clean the house thoroughly and remove any trace of chametz or leven from the house.  Leaven (yeast) is a necessary element in baking but also has the power to decay and destroy.  Thus removing leven carries a deeper significance than just its association with the exodus.  It symbolizes the willingness to remove any corrupting influence from ones life.  So in removing the chametz, we symbolize our willingness to obey God in the smallest details.
Preparation:  Before the family gathers, we hide several pieces of regular raised bread in obvious hiding places.
Action:  The young children collect all the hidden pieces of leavened bread to prepare the room for the celebration of the Passover.  When it is collected, it is carried out in a basket so all can see and witness our preparation and willingness to obey. 
Foot Washing
Preparation:  A small bowl of water and a towel for each family member.  
Action:  Read the New Testement account of Christ's last supper, including the part about Jesus Christ washing the feet of the twelve apostles.  The head of our family then gently washes the feet of each family member.  
Light the Passover Candles
Explanation: The Seder begins with the lighting of the Passover candles.  The mother of the home lights the candles.  They symbolize the light of Christ in our lives.
Action:  The Mother lights the candles.  Songs are sung throughout the Seder.  (It is a celebration after all)  Here we sing a song about spiritual freedom or light.  We usually sing, The Lord Is My Light.  At this point we have our prayer and blessing on the food.  Our prayers are not memorized but are heartfelt gratitude for our Savior Jesus Christ and his amazing sacrifice.  

The First Cup:
Explanation:  Passover is about memory and fulfilled promises.  But it is also about hope for current and future redemption.  With four cups from the fruit of the vine, we celebrate and recall God's four "I will" promises.  
Action:  Read Exodus 6:6-7 
Explanation: In the four cups that we drink tonight, we celebrate these four "I will" promises of God:  Freedom, Deliverance, Redemption, and Thanksgiving for fulfilling His promises.
Action:  Each person pours a small bit of Grape Juice.  Read Exodus 6:6.  What will he free us from?  Drink the first cup.

From here on out the Haggadah is meant to be in question/answer form.  The youngest or in our case, all our children are to ask questions.  Since the meal looks really different, it is not difficult.  I tell them to ask about any and everything as it is all symbolic.  Some questions and answers that are normal in traditional Haggadah are:
Q:  Why are we seated on the floor?
A:  We celebrate our freedom.  When Israel was slaves to the Egyptians, slaves had to stand during meals.  We recline and relax to celebrate our freedom (especially our freedom from sin).
Q: Why are we drinking grape juice?
A: The grape juice symbolizes the blood of the lamb that was painted on the doors of those who believed.  Then the destroyer passed them by and their eldest was not killed.  This was done in symbolism of the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us from the destroyer and death.  
Q: What is that green stuff?  
A:  This parsley represents life, created and sustained by Heavenly Father.  He gives us life and all good things.
Action:  The parsley is dipped in salt water and each person dips then eats the parsley.
Q:  Why do we make it salty?
A:  Life is also full of tears, joy and sorrow go together.  We must have the tears, but we remember the good of life.
Action:  At this point, we eat a green salad, or vegetable hors d'oeuvres.
Breaking of Bread: The Matzah
Action:  The Leader uncovers the three pieces of unleavened bread and takes the middle piece.  He breaks it in two.  
Q:  Why did you break the bread?
A:  The broken bread represents the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We remember him.
Q:  Why is the bread flat?
A:  When the Israelites left Egypt, they left in such a rush they did not have time to leaven their bread.  Also, we removed all leaven from our lives for this night symbolizing our obedience to Heavenly Father's commands.  
Action:  Leader wraps half of bread in towel and hides it during the meal in the room.  (children will later find it and redeem it for a small gift). Everyone else eats or saves the bread on the plate for later
The Story of Passover:
Action:  In whatever way is best for you and your family, tell the story of Israel going to Egypt and their redemption.  It can be read from a child's story, directly from the scripture, shown in short movie form, or creatively with a clothesline of pictures.  We've done all of the above.  During the telling, we drink the second cup of deliverance as we discuss the plauges:  blood.  Frogs. Lice. Swarms. Cattle Disease. boils. hail. Locusts. Darkness. Death of the first Born.  Each plague is supposed to get a drop of juice on the plate by a spoon.  With small kids, I usually skip that part and instead have them search for plastic animals that represent the plagues.  We discuss the things that can be plauges in our lives; lies, pornography, anger... etc. 
Action:  The Lamb bone is held up when telling about the the final plague.  "This is the symbol of the Passover lamb that was killed so that our children might live.  The true unblemished lamb that was killed was Jesus Christ.  His blood ensures that all of us will live spiritually and physically.  It reminds us of Heavenly Father's grace in providing for us in death and life.
Action:  The Lamb bone is replaced with the egg.  "The egg has no beginning and no end and is a symbol of new life and hope.  Christ's sacrifice has no beginning and no end.  We look to eternity with hope because of him.
Action:  Egg is replaced with Matzah and held up:" Deuteronomy 16:3
Action:  Matzah is replaced with Maror (horseradish) for all to see.  All take a bite.  "Tonight we eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.  Slavery in Egypt was bad, but slavery to sin is worse.  We remember so we never forget the bitterness of bondage.
Action:  We dip a bit of parsley into the Charoset.  "Tonight we dip twice.  We also dip into the Charoset to remind us of the sweetness that God can bring into the most bitter of our circumstances and the sweetness of repentance.  
Action:  Song of Testimony:  example (Amazing Grace, I know that My Redeemer Lives etc.)
The Second Cup (the cup of Redemption)
Action:  Exodus 6:6  We all drink the second small cup.
The Meal:
The meal is detailed in the post below.  Eat!  Enjoy!
Q:What is this dessert we are eating?
A: Charoset is a mixture of apples, honey and nuts.  It symbolizes the mixture of clay and straw that the Israelites used to make bricks for the cities of Pharoh.  But the apples of the mixture also remind us of something else.  apple trees set fruit before the tree has leaves, and then grow leaves to protect the fruit.  In Egype, the women of Israel gave birth to children under the trees of the orchard to avoid the decree of Pharoh, with no assurance of the safety and future.  Their hope in a future from God sweetened the misery of slavery.  Life is a mixture of the bitter and the sweet, of sadness and joy.  
The Third Cup: Cup of Deliverence
Action: As everyone is finishing, the leader fills one more cup sitting at an empty place setting.  
Explanation:  This place setting is for Elijah the Prophet.  It has been the hope of God's people that Elijah would come at Passover, to announce the coming of the Messiah.  Historians believe that this is the cup that Jesus used to institute the sacrament at the Last Supper to indicate the fulfillment of this promise.  
Action:  A child opens a door to welcome Elijah to the Passover.  Leader drinks the cup.  "I drink this cup because Elijah has been here to herald the Messiah.  Christ has come.  This cup of deliverence has been fulfilled.  
Action:  It is time to reveal that which has been hidden.  We will find our Afikomen so that we may finish our meal.  The children search for the hidden bread and receive their small gift.  
The forth Cup: The cup of Thanksgiving and Hope
Leader:  Our Seder is complete as our redemption is complete.  
Action:  Mathew 6:31,32,34 and Isaiah 43:2-3
Leader: The story of God's redemption is not ended.  We celebrate what he has done in our history and what he has done for us but at the same time we await a new future.  He has promised that he will come again and restore all things.  We raise our glasses one last time in Thanksgiving and Hope for the future.
Action:  All drink
Everyone:  Next Year in the NEW JERUSALEM!
Leader:  extinguish Passover Candles.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Christian Celebration of Passover

Passover is one of our favorite dinners each year.  It is a way we extend the Easter season and bring meaning to a holiday often overshadowed by bunnies, eggs, and candy.  Passover is the oldest and most important of all the Jewish religious celebrations.  It commemorates God's deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and his creation of the Israelite people.  Early on, it marked the beginning of the Jewish year.  The story celebrated is found in Exodus Chapters 12 through 14.  We are not Jewish so we are not bound to a strict dietary code or Seder, though we try to keep it true to its intended form.  I found that the only way to keep it meaningful for our young family is to keep it tons shorter than traditional Seders.

I keep the decor simple.  Passover is a celebratory symbolic dinner where we celebrate our freedom.  For our family, the most important freedom we celebrate is our freedom from the bondage of sin and death through Jesus Christ.  Passover celebrates new life, a new life in Christ and new beginnings.  Spring flowers, grasses, eggs, and Easter type decor is appropriate for the Passover table.  With candlesticks for the ceremony, it is perfect!

Passover is preferably eaten seated on the floor around a low table to symbolize our freedom to recline and eat leisurely.  We always add cushions so our rear ends don't hurt and place the table next to a wall or surface Briz can lean against. 

The items neccasary for the Seder plate are:
  1. Boiled egg (I decorate them to help tell the story)
  2. Haroset (apples, nuts, and honey... I'll post a recipe)
  3. Lamb meat with a bone in it
  4. Parsley
  5. Salt Water
  6. Horseradish (or Mazta which I don't like as well)
  7. Unleavened bread 
The celebration dinner is a bit more flexible.  I've seen celebrations with:
lamb, chicken, or Gellite fish,  there is always a really green salad (sometimes with dandelion leaves or spinach included), sweet potatoes, and always Haroset. 

To complete preparations, I place leavened bread around the room in obvious places, then hide a piece of unleavened bread wrapped in a cloth.  Scriptures and hymnals are placed around the table for readers.  A basin of warm water and towels for each guest are set in the room as well. 

We're ready!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

    In celebration of one of our FAVORITE authors, we started the day with green eggs and ham.  At dinner we continued our celebration.  We started with Dr. Seuss activities downloaded from the Target website, then as each course was introduced, the family had to guess what it was (the name) then we read about it from the appropriate book.  

    Our menu consisted of Pink Ink, Grin-ich Spinach, Who Hash, Roast Beast, and Red Fish Blue Fish.  So, we read excerpts from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Sneeches and other tales.  The spinach comes from the story about the pants that walk around in the dark.  As a child, this story contained my personal nemesis.   I had regular nightmares about meeting those pants.  

    Quick decoration was easy.  I focused on lots of red and blue from the Cat and the Hat.  With lifts and levels, I positioned stuffed Seuss characters with their books.  I surrounded the table with Maisy Daisy pots of a single daisy.  

    After dinner, a fun idea is to read and act out The Sneeches.  The stars are made of green construction paper with yarn to go around the neck.  The machine is our crawling tube connected to a colorful box.  Sylvester McBean wears a cool hat and a bow tie, and I narrate.   

    Pink Ink
    Frozen Strawberries
    Sweetener (I use vanilla Stevia)

    Blend in blender till pink and frothy.

     Grin-ich Spinich  (Garlic Sauteed Spinach)
    1 1/2 lb. baby spinach leaves
    2 T. olive oil
    2 T chopped garlic (6 cloves)
    1 t. kosher salt
    3/4 t. ground pepper
    1 T. butter

    Rinse and spin spinach.  
    In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute the garlic for about 1 minute (not till it browns).  Add spinach, salt, and pepper.  Toss well.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes till wilted. Uncover, turn heat to high and cook till all spinach is wilted.  Top with butter and squeeze of lemon.  

    Roast Beast (Roast Beef/ Blue Cheese Roll Ups)
     4 triangles Light Cow Cheese or 1/3 c. softened butter
    1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
    1 lb. thinly sliced med. rare roast beef
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 bunch watercress, stemmed
    1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
    1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin

    Cream cheeses together with a fork in a small bowl.  

    Lay roast beef slices on flat surface.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Spread 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture along the short end of the beef.  Pile on the rest of ingredients.  Roll the beef into a tight cylinder.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate till serving time.  To serve, halve the rolls, crosswise.

    Who Hash
    2 grated sweet potatoes
    1/2 chopped onion
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 T. olive oil
    2 t. thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    Heat  a large skillet,  add olive oil.  Cook onions till carmelized.  Add garlic, sweet potatoes, and seasonings.  Cook till brown on one side, then flip, continue till all is lightly browned. 

    Fish Snack
    Berry Blast Jello (blue)
    gummy fish