Every Holy Week and Passover, the question comes up, “Should Christians hold Seders?”
Many Christians think holding a Seder increases their understanding of Jesus’ Jewishness and the Jewish roots of Christianity. Others believe that Christians holding a Seder, especially when they Christianize it, does violence to another religion’s traditions.
RNS takes a look:
Darr has hosted his own seder, using a copy of the church’s Haggadah (the book with the seder liturgy), for the past seven years — since he moved to Missouri, where he now attends The Crossing, part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
To him, the Passover story is a story of spiritual freedom, and the four cups, a reminder to him of God’s promises fulfilled in Jesus.
“It provides a rich context for Communion, and it helps to explain Jesus’ words,” he said, referring to the sacramental meal of bread and wine Jesus instituted at his Last Supper, which many believe was a Passover meal.
“I think there’s a lot to be gained just in understanding what Communion means and it really is a form of taking it. … It’s been celebrated for a very long time in similar forms, and Jesus did it, so what’s not to like?”
Well, apparently quite a bit. Not all Jews, or even all Christians, think it is appropriate for gentiles to host their own dinners.
The Rev. Ann Fontaine, priest associate at St. Catherine of Alexandria Episcopal Church in Nehalem, Ore., [And member of the Episcopal Cafe newsteam… ed.] points to the work her denomination’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has done in recent years to counter what it calls “Christian anti-Judaism.” That includes language often used during the Easter season that make Jews out to be the “bad guys” who killed Jesus, she said.
To Fontaine, Passover “comes from a history of people who have suffered at Christian hands.”
“It’s a lot like people doing a sweat lodge or sun dance that are not Native American. To me, you haven’t walked that path with that people. You’re taking the benefits without having suffered,” she said. “I don’t mind if a Jewish family invites you to a seder or if a Native American group invited you to a sweat lodge — that’s OK. But to start one yourself, that’s stealing.”
So…remembrance or theft? What?
Image: Public Domain