Starting a new family tradition can be awkward or even feel silly. Sometimes that means that the tradition is not really a good "fit" for a family, but other times it just takes persevering and tweaking to get to the point where it is worthwhile. Such has been the case with our family's celebration of Passover. This year felt very comfortable and rich with meaning.
Part of the reason it felt so much more worthwhile than last year, I think, is because M has entered the "why" stage and was constantly asking us for the reason for everything that we were doing that was unusual. R and I loved the way this reminded us of Exodus 12:26-27
And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'
We really like the idea of passing on our faith in this way- building rituals into our family life that are not only poignant to us as mature Christians but that also cause our children ask questions which provide natural opportunities for us to explain things that are precious to us. We like being able to teach without constantly "talking at" our children. The questions allow them to lead the way.
As with last year's meal we adapted some elements from Jewish tradition and found others ourselves.
Early in the day, M and I took out the suitcases and packed them with things we might need for a trip. Then we carried them downstairs and set each person's suitcase beside their chair. We also draped each person's coat over their chair (A modern equivalent of God's command to the children of Israel to eat "with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.")
Before the meal, R hid pieces of leavened bread around the house for M to find. Once she found them we had her throw them out of the door.
We ate lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (spring greens) and drank grape juice for our Passover meal.
In a traditional Jewish Seder an extra cup is set out to symbolize the anticipation of the Elijah figure who will come and announce the coming of the Messiah. In folk Judaism, Elijah is said to sip from the cup of wine at each house on Passover night. We set out an extra cup with grape juice to symbolize the presence of the Messiah Jesus at our meal. M was particularly interested in this cup. We told her that it was for the Guest at our table whom we could not see. (You can just imagine how this would affect the active imagination of a two-year-old!)
After the meal, R read Exodus 11 and 12 aloud while M and I looked at the corresponding pictures from The Read and Grow Picture Bible.
And that's it! There are a lot of other things we could have done together to celebrate Passover, and maybe we will in future years, but for now, I'm glad that we've kept it manageable; I think we will be more likely to keep the tradition alive if it is simple.
Does your family do anything to commemorate Passover? Please feel very welcome to share your ideas and memories in the comments section.