My Lenten fast from complaining has gone pretty terribly, but at least I was reminded of Easter almost every waking moment.
Kent and I always wanted Easter to be a Big Deal. When we lived in Palo Alto, we were impressed with the Hancocks who did a sepulchral reenactment with their kids the night before Easter and then went kite flying with them at the beach to symbolize Christ’s rising on Easter day. We tried that one year, but there was no wind, and our kite dragging along in the sand didn’t quite deliver the message we’d hoped.
Then for several years I did a traditional Jewish Seder with friends for Passover. In part to honor Kent’s Jewish roots, and in part because I love symbolism and it’s just fun. Then one year I thought, I love this idea, but I wish I were teaching us about Christ’s passion and resurrection instead of the plagues. So I put together the Easter Seder below. I think we’re going to do it again this year if I can just commit!
For the actual Easter dinner after the Seder, I’m thinking of going Southern Style only with a red velvet lamb cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. The idea of eating the red velvet lamb kind of makes me gag, but everyone else is keen.
On Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. “A very great multitude of people spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.”
Everyone throws a palm leaf on the ground.
The people walking along before and after Jesus cried together:
(Everyone says together): “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”
The next morning Jesus being hungry went up to a fig tree but found no fruit on the tree. He said, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.” Jesus taught that we must bring forth good fruit–good works and repentance–so we will not wither.
Everyone eats fig jam on a cracker.
The temple grounds had been corrupted by priestcraft and usury, so “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Everyone throws a coin over their shoulder.
Jesus taught the people in the temple and also returned to teach on the Mount of Olives where he had given one of his greatest sermons. He taught us to love God and our neighbors, to forgive each other and to prepare ourselves and the world for His second coming.
Everyone eats an olive.
“When Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head.” The disciples scoffed at this waste and said the ointment ought to have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus answered, “Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Everyone dips a piece of bread in oil and eats it.
Jesus ate the Passover in Jerusalem. At that ceremonial meal, Jesus and his people ate special foods that symbolize the deliverance of the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt. One food eaten at a Seder is haroset with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The haroset symbolized the bricks and mortar that the Hebrews made as slaves in Egypt. The bitter herbs and unleavened bread were two of the foods the Lord told his people to eat on the night that the destroying angel slew all the firstborn in Egypt.
Everyone eats haroset with horseradish and unleavened bread.
As Jesus and his disciples were eating the Passover, Jesus initiated the administration of the sacrament. “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
Everyone eats a piece of bread.
Then “he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Everyone drinks grape juice.
After dinner Jesus took a basin and a towel and washed all of the apostles’ feet. “After he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. ” (John 13: 12-17)
Everyone washes each other’s feet.
Before they left the house, Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn.
Everyone sings a hymn.
That night, Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray. He was very sorrowful and fell upon the ground. He prayed “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Jesus began to work the atonement, taking upon him the punishment for all the sins of mankind. “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Everyone drinks the bitter cup of cranberry juice.
Friday Morning: Chicken and Salt Water, Hand Washing
Later that night, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and taken prisoner by the chief priests. Peter saw the priests beating and spitting upon Jesus and was afraid of what might happen if they discovered he was one of Jesus’s disciples. Three times, people accused Peter of being a follower of Christ and three times, Peter denied it. The third time, “Immediately, while [Peter] yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Everyone dips a piece of chicken in salt water and eats it.
The priests turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate. Pilate questioned Jesus and found him innocent. He was going to release Jesus, but the Jewish people cried for Barabbas to be released instead and for Jesus to be crucified. “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”
Everyone washes their hands.
Friday Afternoon and Evening: Vinegar, A Piece of Cloth
The guards scourged Jesus, placed a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him. They took him to Golgotha and crucified him between two thieves. Darkness came over the land for three hours. Then Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.” A guard dipped a sponge in vinegar and gave it to Jesus to drink, but Jesus said “It is finished” and gave up the ghost.
Everyone dips a piece of bread in vinegar and eats it.
When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
Everyone tears a piece of cloth in two from the top to the bottom.
Jesus was taken down and buried in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathaea. Pilate had the tomb secured with a great stone. All of Saturday, Jesus lay in the tomb.
Everyone keeps silence for a minute.
On Sunday morning, “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome, bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint [the body of Jesus]. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.” The stone had been rolled away and an angel of the Lord sat nearby. He said, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.”
“But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping.” Two angels asked, “Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”
Everyone eats a piece of risen bread with sweet spices.
Note: This works best for young kids if you trim it down to just one item/activity for each day.
Items needed for each Easter Seder setting: