You’re going to miss the gospel if you choose to skip the seder!
(And I don’t care what that article you read said.)
My congregation, The Vine, is hosting a Passover Seder tonight. Passover is a festival of redemption. In it, we hear again the story of God’s deliverance of his people from the oppression of their Egyptian oppressor. Passover launches The Exodus, a story we cannot help but see repeatedly over and over again throughout the scriptures. It’s about release, freedom. I can’t think of too many people who wouldn’t want to sign-up for redemption.
It’s this deep desire for redemption that drives me as a pastor, teacher, and writer. I chronicle my redemption and believe God wants me to explore it and share it with others. If there’s ever a moment of redemption accessible to me, I want to soak in it.
Which is why I have been surprised this last week as my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been sprinkled with articles telling me why, as a Christian, I shouldn’t participate in seder. More than that, many of these articles were penned by and passed along by people I know, love, follow, and consider mentors.
Trust me, I get the argument. Christianity has a much blemished history. From colonization and slavery to contemporary lusts for cultural and political domination, we’ve all too frequently tramped over and mocked the history, significant practices, and cultural markers of others. Too frequently we’ve said, “If it doesn’t make sense to us, it doesn’t make sense.”
Yet, I think, the “stay home from seder” crowd is missing something. Ironically, its the same something the colonizers missed: The ministry of reconciliation.
The Big Part We Take Too Little Notice Of
What is manifestly apparent in the New Testament is that the central mission of the Apostle Paul was the unifying fellowship between Jew and Gentile. Unity between those who might not otherwise unite is the reason Paul teaches us that “from now on…we regard no one from a human point of view,” and that through Christ the “dividing wall, that is hostility, has been torn down.” It’s the reason Paul tells the churches in Rome – while in the midst of Jew/ Gentile tensions – to not make an issue of food and drink, and it’s why he pauses so long, over and over again, to describe the church as a body in need of each of it’s members. There’s a reason Paul wants us to understand there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. And, oh yes, just in case it slipped passed us, it’s why he tells the Christians in Corinth that God has given them (and us), the ministry of reconciliation.
My friends are right, there is a manifest danger in Christians hosting a Passover Seder. It’s too easy to play dress-up and misappropriate a beautiful and meaningful Jewish tradition. As an African-American I’ve been to too many predominantly white church events when someone asked an African-American worship leader to come lead a song or two in the style of the African-American church. It’s cheap, reductive, and dismissive and I don’t like it. The worship of others is not an opportunity for your entertainment. Folks whoop and clap and the whole thing — to me at least — smacks of Stepin Fetchit.