How to Host a Passover Meal
There is always a lot you could do during Holy Week to celebrate and remember Jesus' death and resurrection. It can be overwhelming. This Passover meal began as a youth event over 10 years ago, with a desire to connect the Jewish festivals to Jesus. It continues to be the main even we focus on as a family each year during this week.
The photo is my first attempt at home to do a Passover Meal. I made enchiladas for dinner, and on a glass plate I put: matza, cilantro, an egg, a raw bone, some chopped apples, and dish of salt water. We didn't actually eat any of it, just pointed to the symbolic food and googled what it stood for and read the Passover story. This meal has really has come a long way for us, but don't be hard on yourself if you just start somewhere!
The grocery list is laid out, the recipes are make-ahead, and the script helps you guide the event in a kid-friendly way. Take the pressure off to do this perfectly and let the Spirit guide you in your own way to reflect and remember Jesus' death and resurrection this week. I should add that we often do not make a big Easter meal to alleviate the pressure to host or prepare another big meal just 3 days later. Perhaps you could share meal prep with another family and join together, as is intended anyway!
Jesus ate this meal the night before his arrest, so we eat this meal on Thursday during Holy Week, not necessarily on the calendar date of Jewish Passover. This connects us to his final week in a new way. Reach out if you have questions about hosting your own Christian Passover meal!
Passover Meal Shopping List and Prep
Grocery Shopping List:
sweet onion or onion flakes
Granny smith apples
Triscuits or mazzah crackers
Other items needed:
cups- clear if possible
knives and forks
candle and lighter
Make ahead Recipes:
Roasted Lamb http://homecooking.about.com/od/lambrecipes/r/bllamb33.htm
Charoset http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/charoset-recipe.html (substitute grape juice for wine)
Each place setting needs a plate with these items:
Sprig of parsley
Helping of Charoset (the apple/raisin mix)
Bit of roasted lamb
One piece of matzah bread
A small bit of horseradish
Knife and fork
(Note: we are not including a hard boiled egg. This represents the temple sacrifice and the mourning of the Temple destruction for Jews. There are only 3 elements required in scripture: the lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread)
If you would like to include the egg- you can connect the egg to representing new life
Cup with grape juice
A small bowl of salt water is needed for every 3-4 places
If you wanted to prepare an additional dish to make sure everyone actually eats something, I would suggest some roasted potatoes on the side.
Passover Meal Script and Step-by-Step Guide
Hide several pieces of bread in the room before guests arrive.
As we gather tonight, we will enter into a special time called the Passover Meal, or Seder Meal. This night will be for you to learn, reflect, and experience the powerful symbolism in God’s story.
[Open in prayer and light a candle]
Close your eyes, listen, and visualize as I narrate the story of God’s Passover. Read from Exodus 12: 21-42, or the story from a children’s bible like the Jesus Storybook Bible. Or share the telling by having people around the room take turns adding to the story.
Each element of this meal is to remind us of this great deliverance of God’s people from Egypt. But it is also to show us God’s greater plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, our Messiah.
Let’s start the meal by ensuring there is no yeast in the house. The Jewish people had to leave Egypt so quickly that the bread in their ovens did not have time to rise. Yeast is the leavening in the dough which makes it rise. Just as all the yeast must be cleaned out from each home to remember this event, so must the sin in our hearts must be cleansed to prepare ourselves for this meal. There are bits of bread hidden throughout this room. Search diligently for the bread, thinking about how we must allow God’s Spirit to search us to find any sin. We will put the bread outside the house.
[Search begins, one person takes bread outside, and gather together again]
Read 1st Corinthians 5:6-8. Spend a couple of minutes in quiet reflection, asking forgiveness for any sin that God brings to mind.
Let’s gather around the table and begin seeing and tasting the elements of this meal. There will be four questions asked by some of you. These questions have been asked at this meal for 3,000 years- to know where we come from and to know that Jesus makes the answers to all of life’s questions so different.
[Hold up the matzah bread] This is unleavened bread, called matzah.
First child asks: “Why are we eating the unleavened bread, or matzah, tonight?”
Because tonight we remember Jesus. Notice the stripes and small holes in the bread, and remember our Messiah, who was pierced for our sins and by whose stripes we are healed. This bread is made without yeast. Yeast leavens, or puffs up, just as pride and sin inflate our hearts. Tonight we eat unleavened bread, bread without yeast, to remember Jesus- who was without sin.
[Break the matzah in half] The bread is broken , just like Jesus was broken for us.
[Hold up a dish of horseradish] This is horseradish- a bitter tasting herb.
Child 2 asks: “Why are we eating bitter herbs tonight?”
Think about long ago, on that night in Egypt, God said, “bitter herbs they shall eat,” and so we do to. We eat to remember the bitterness of the cruel slavery of Pharoah to the Israelites, to recall the bitterness of our relentless, ugly bondage to sin.
[Spread a bit of horseradish on the broken matzah] But we eat the bitter herbs with the matzah to remember how Jesus, our Bread of Life, has paid the price and absorbed our bitter sins. Join me in tasting the bitter herbs and matzah.
[Pause to partake in this part of the meal]
[Hold up the parsley]. This is an herb called parsley, which speaks of life. These herbs we will dip twice.
Student 3 asks: “Why do we dip the herbs twice tonight?”
The first time we dip them into salty water [dip into salty water]. The salty water reminds us of the tears the Jewish people shed for their life of slavery. They dipped hyssop branches into the blood of the Passover lamb to mark their doorposts, having faith that the Death Angel would pass over. Take a bit of parsley, dip and taste the bitterness. Think about the bitterness of sin and slavery for the Jews, and for you.
[Pause while everyone dips and outside
[Dip the herbs into a small dish of apple/raisin mix. Take a cracker and spread charoset generously on it and place of few of the herbs on top]. Now we dip the herbs into this sweet mix of apples and raisins called the Charoset. Think about the hope we now have in Jesus Christ. Because he shed his blood for us, this blood is marked over the door of our hearts when we trust Him to save us. Now He wipes away our tears, for we have glorious, endless new life in Christ. Take a bit of parsley and eat it with the charoset on your plate. Think about the sweetness of this redemption that covers our sin.
[Pause while everyone tastes the charoset and parsley]
Notice how we recline as we eat our meal tonight.
Student 4 asks: “Why are we eating this meal reclining?”
Because our Passover Lamb has bought our freedom. Tonight we remember that we are no longer slaves, but children of the very King of Kings. Free men, royalty, recline while eating. So, as Jesus who reclined at the Last Supper, we too recline tonight, for we are free to come before God who is upon the Throne.
Tonight we have roasted lamb on our plates. Think about the lamb that was sacrificed in our story. It’s blood spread of the doorpost of each home that trusted God. [Pause] Now think about Christ, the perfect lamb. Reflect on his death for you and for me, and for all who trust in Him.
[Encourage everyone try a bit of roasted lamb at this time]
We will finish our story with a cup of grape juice (or wine) and remember the promises God made to Moses to deliver his people.
Read Exodus 6:6-7.
As Jesus and his disciples ate this very Passover meal in Mark 14, Jesus said this cup was a sign of his blood poured out as a sacrifice for many. Whenever we drink the juice, we should drink it in remembrance of Him. Let’s drink of this cup together, thinking about Jesus’ death to redeem us from sin.
[All drink of their cups]
At this point you may choose to sing a song together in praise to God.
The symbolic elements of this meal are before you. Let’s close in prayer, thanking God for his story and His redemption.
[Closing prayer and continue the celebration by eating the rest of the food together.]
Write or print out the following sentences. Prepare the children ahead of time to respond with their question after your prompting in the script.
Child 1 “Why are we eating the unleavened bread, or matzah, tonight?”
Child 2 “Why are we eating bitter herbs tonight?”
Child 3 “Why do we dip the herbs twice tonight?”
Child 4 “Why are we eating this meal reclining?”