09 April 2007

Penguin Humour

It's a liberal myth, Mildred. You're making a fool of both of us.
(Ann Onimus)

06 April 2007

Passover Experience

I have intellectually studied the Passover and the subject of Communion, . . . but that was different by far from actually experiencing Passover as a memorial and fellowship meal.

Tonight (Thursday) I participated in a Passover meal in which we remembered our misery, yet God’s saving actions. Mike White (I’m sure with the help of his wife and son) prepared the food, dinnerware, and script. Dwight, because he was the oldest male, served as “the father of the family”. There were about 30 of us there.

We listened to “the father” as he read from the script and at designated points we all read lines from the script. For example, we all blessed God together while we held up the bitter cup (actually it was sweet grape juice; we had to stretch our imagination here). One of the blessings was: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Then we all drank together.

After washing each other’s hands (it took several minutes to pass the only water bowl and towel around for that), “the father” held up a parsley sprig. Then he said, “The Passover holiday comes in the spring, when the earth turns green with new life. Only God can create life and keep it alive. This green parsley is the sign of life.”

Then he held up a small bowl of salt water and said, “But while the Israelites were still slaves in Egypt, their life was miserable. The salt water stands for their tears. We know our life can be miserable and full of tears when we live in Satan’s world. We dip our parsley in the salt water and eat it to remind us of our ancestor’s tears and of how miserable our own sin makes us. We also remember how God parted the salty [Reed] Sea to lead His people to new life.”

We ate bitter herbs and remembered captivity and slavery to sin while we tasted fresh salted parsley and took a bite of bitter/astringent fresh horseradish on a matzah cracker. We remembered how terrible it was while “the father” said, “ . . . let the bitter taste bring tears to your eyes. Remember with compassion the tears our ancestors cried in their slavery long ago, and remember the bitterness of our own slavery to sin when we do not allow Jesus to set us free.” Let me tell you, the horseradish brought tears to my eyes! . . . but Nicole had compassion on me. :-)

Then we dipped the matzah cracker with horseradish into some sweet dip that had raisins and nuts and honey and wine. That made the bitterness bearable. Right before we put it in our mouths we said, “We dip the bitter into the sweet to remember that even the most bitter things in life can be sweetened by our hope in God.” This was powerful for me. I recall when my grandmother had a massive stroke several months before she eventually died in 1996. It was kind of a terrible time for my family, a bitter time. But friends of my parents came into the hospital room with us around Zula, my grandmother, and prayed for her and for us. Their presence with us was a reminder of God’s presence and sincerely encouraged us. It is a sweet memory. This part of the meal will probably touch more things like this in my memory in the coming days.

Well, we heard and read more script and tasted other things that made us remember and bless God. Then we feasted! Mike and Dwight and a couple of others served up several other foods like matzah ball soup, lamb, chicken, asparagus with lime, carrots with raisins, this awesome fresh and dried fruit mix, and some other stuff. The food was so good! I joined in serving by passing food around and helping fill people’s glasses. Some of us moved around the table to visit with people on the far side.

Eventually, we moved back to our places, read more script, drank the fourth cup—hallel, the cup of praise, and blessed God some more. It was an unforgettable experience for me, having actually felt the tearful consequences related to bondage and sin, having actually tasted the sweetness that God provides in the midst of sorrow, and having joined in with my brothers and sisters to remember God’s actions and to bless his name.