Let me start by answering an objection that will occur to some readers, especially various mainstream Jewish readers who drop by: “Passover isn’t for Christians.” If you’ve heard this or if it comes into you mind, you really should take a step back, recognize the unseemly and untruthful and unloving nature of the statement, and relearn your history of Christianity and Judaism. Christians have been keeping Passover since the beginning of the Yeshua movement, and not just Messianic Jews and Jewish Christians. Not only is the Last Supper of Jesus a Passover-themed meal (though not truly a Seder), but even in the very non-Jewish congregation of Corinth, we find the Christians quite familiar with Passover (1 Cor 5 and 11).
Now that we have that out of the way . . . most Passover haggadahs are hard for non-Jews to use in a group setting. There is a lot of Hebrew. The unusual and midrashic nature of the traditional haggadah has many unfamiliar themes for Christians. If only there was a haggadah that has less Hebrew, tells the Passover story in a simpler manner, and which is designed to promote good Jewish-Christian relations, a spiritual experience of both the Exodus and the redemption in Yeshua, and which is suited especially for use by Christian families, small groups, and churches.
Enter First Fruits of Zion’s new book: Passover Encounter. More information and a review after the jump.
Let me say from the outset that Messianic Jews and Judeo-Christians will also benefit from Passover Encounter as a source of alternate readings to go along with the traditional haggadah. And if you have more than one Seder, this one would be an excellent alternate program for one of the nights.
In the introduction Passover Encounter says about itself:
The Passover Encounter Haggadah is not necessarily a traditional Haggadah—yet draws heavily upon it and utilizes all of the key aspects of a traditional Jewish Seder. This Haggdah is written with the Christian in mind, one who is connecting with the national redemption of Israel while encountering God’s redemptive work on a personal level.
The order of the haggadah is traditional and it contains the Hebrew terms for the parts of the Seder.
One of my favorite pages, and one churches will glean a lot from, is the “Biblically-Based Objectives” article listing eight purposes of a Seder from a Christian point of view.
Other features that make Passover Encounter different from a traditional haggadah include a simpler and more straightforward Maggid section (the section in which the story is told). In Passover Encounter the story is told from Exodus. Those who know the traditional haggadah understand that the Maggid is far from a simple telling there. Christians will appreciate the story as it unfolds in Passover Encounter.
The whole haggadah is interlaced with verses from the New Testament, though it is still Exodus-heavy. I believe this evening of Passover will increase the appreciation of Christians for the Hebrew Bible and for Israel. The narrative of redemption should draw Christians into the story of Ancient Israel and leave participants eager to study more of the Hebrew Bible.
Also, Passover Encounter comes with a CD with songs for the evening. This is a great added feature. A lot of Messianic Jews and Judeo-Christians may want to get Passover Encounter as a simple way to add some songs and lyric sheets to their Seder.
ORDERING PASSOVER ENCOUNTER
It’s not quite available yet. The links to order online should be here next week. I will post an announcement.