Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why I as a Christian celebrate the Passover - Part II

This is the second of three posts on The Gospel in the Passover Seder, written by Amy
Ramseur, a member of our church and volunteer with Children's Ministry.  Here is Part I if you have not yet read  it.


So now, let us return to the meal as it is celebrated today. Now that the home has been ridden of leaven, the meal is prepared. The Seder is the ritual or traditional meal composed of symbols of slavery, rescue and redemption, intended to teach the children about the Lord’s provision and promise (Exodus 12:26). In the midst of it, a lavish meal is served to the family. The ceremonial Passover meal is centered around the Seder plate, usually a plate with six divisions for each of the symbolic foods:
1) the roasted shank bone of a lamb, representing the Passover lambl
2) a hard-boiled egg, symbolizing new life and hope
3) bitter herbs
- parsley, representing the misery of life in Egypt
- horseradish, or "maror", a symbol of the bitterness of slavery
- charoseth, a sweet mixture of apples, cinnamon, honey, possibly nuts and raisins, representing the mortar and bricks the Israelites were forced to use to build for Pharaoh and the sweetness of the coming redemption
And then there is the matzo or unleavened bread and the four glasses of wine or grape juice.
A very specific order is followed in the partaking of the Seder, known as the Haggadah. For our purposes we will only make note of some of the significant moments during the reading of the Haggadah and the partaking of the Seder meal.
Candles are lit to set the evening apart from all others. Then the head of the family, serving as the leader of the Seder, raises the first glass of wine, known as the Cup of Sanctification and after his blessing, everyone drinks. Jesus would have led His disciples in this blessing.
Next comes the ceremonial washing of hands – or perhaps only the fingertips of the leader. Here Jesus took ceremony a step further and in an act normally devoted to a servant, stooped and washed the feet of His friends. "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…not servant is greater than his master…Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." John 13Bitter herbs dipped in salt water are eaten next, a reminder of the Red Sea parted for the Israelites’ escape and the herbs themselves point to the new Nation God was establishing for Himself.
Next follows a curious tradition (added perhaps sometime after the 13th century), though for us it seems to shout of a truth that is difficult to miss! Three pieces of matzo, or unleavened bread, are placed on the table and are referred to as a "Unity". (To believers this clearly represents the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.) It is important to note that prior to being baked the unleavened dough is pierced (to prevent it from rising) and the browning marks from baking give it the appearance of being striped. The middle matzo is broken into two pieces and one portion of these is placed in a white napkin or a special white bag. This is known as the "aphikomen", which the leader then hides while the children are not watching. We will see this aphikomen, which means "that which comes last", later at the closing of the meal. But already, what images have been stirred in your mind regarding this aphikomen? This bread has no leaven. Recall that leaven is a picture of sin in Scripture. Jesus was without sin. The appearance of each piece of matzo may have caused you to recall Isaiah 53:5, "He was wounded for our transgressions…And by His stripes we are healed." The fact that the middle matzo, which we see could represent the Son, is broken and hidden away for a time, only to be revealed at a later moment!

- Amy Ramseur, Children's Ministry Volunteer

Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I as a Christian celebrate the Passover - Part I

On April 6th of this year, we will remember Good Friday: the day Jesus was crucified on the Cross, the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:19), sacrificed as a ransom for our souls.
This year Good Friday happens to coincide with the Jewish holiday or feast, Pesach or Passover. To some who follow Christ, Passover may hold little significance, to others however, it holds great importance. Why should Christians give attention to or observe a feast sacred to those of Jewish descent and faith?
Because Jesus, who was Jewish, told His disciples, who were Jewish, "Do this to remember me," Luke 22:19. We obey this command each time we take communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Scripture describes and we share only part of this meal that observant Jews of Jesus’ day were celebrating the night He shared His final meal with those closest to Him. He was giving a new command, because to this point the meal’s purpose was found in Exodus 12, "This is a day to remember. Each year from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD…for it will remind you that I brought your forces out of the land of Egypt on this very day."
There have been slight changes over the years, but people of Jewish tradition and faith continue to keep this command, celebrating the Feast of Passover every year beginning at sundown on the 14th day of the first month on the Jewish calendar, Nisan. Why did Jesus give instructions to remember Him with the Passover meal? What significance does it hold for us as believers? Let us take a closer look…
During the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Passover, traditionally leaven or yeast is removed from the home, following the command given in Exodus 12:19. This first detail is not without great significance for believers. Jesus warned His disciples, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees," or their "deceptive teaching." In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul reprimands his readers about their boasting, "Don’t you realize that sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?" He admonishes us to remember that "Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth." Yeast or leaven is a Biblical picture of sin that needs to be carefully and intentionally confessed and removed from our lives. We will later see another symbol of this truth from the Passover meal, or Seder, shared during the Festival’s observance. Significantly, the men, as the heads of their households, are the ones who proclaim, "Now I have rid my house of leaven."
In ancient times - before the sacrificial system ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70AD - at the beginning of the Passover Feast on the 10th of Nisan, the Passover lamb was chosen. It was to have "no defects" (Exodus 12:5). Migdal Eder was the "tower of the flock" where the sheep and lambs intended for sacrifices were pastured, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Here shepherds watched over their special flocks, full of spotless, ritually clean, lambs. (Could these have been the very same shepherds to whom the angels appeared some 30 odd years before?) On the very same day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, as a king would when he came in peace, these flocks would have been led to the Temple. Families would come and select a lamb, which would then be carefully cared for in their homes (Exodus 12:6). These lambs were sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan, as the "Levitical choir chanted Hallel, the recitation of Psalms 113 to 118" and "Hallel Yah" (praise ye the Lord). Some of these verses will be familiar to you,

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us Ps 115
but to your name be the glory…"
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; Ps118
his love endures forever…"
"O LORD, [Hoshia Na, or Hosanna] save us…" Ps 118

This event for the Jews of that day commemorated the lambs the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice while they were slaves in Egypt. They were to smear its blood on the on the top and the sides of the doorframes of their homes. When the Spirit of the Lord passed through the land of Egypt in the final plague, to take the lives of all first born sons and livestock, he saw the blood stains and passed over those homes, sparing the lives of those firstborn men and boys living there.
In Jesus’ day, the lambs that were sacrificed were then roasted and eaten according to the instructions the Lord gave the Israelites in Exodus 12. All of this background is important to our understanding of the Passover meal, or Seder, that is central to the Feast of Passover.

This weekend, our elementary program will participate in a Passover Seder.  Come back tomorrow for part two of the three part series about the history and meaning of the Passover Seder.

Amy Ramseur - Children's Ministry Volunteer

Monday, March 19, 2012

Young Men's Roundtable - Registration is open

 
Young Men's Roundtable is a parenting opportunity for fathers and sons (5th-8th grade) that will be starting up in just under a month.  As a staff, we are excited about the opportunity it brings to our families and to our young men.  Registration is currently open and can be found on the Men's Roundtable site.     Young Men's Roundtable is a four-week opportunity for our young men to learn about God’s design for authentic masculinity in a relevant and age appropriate fashion.  It is designed to equip your young men with some tools and language for Godly decision-making and healthy choices.  It is also an opportunity for dads to engage their sons at a deeper heart level on some real issues, and to lend strength to the father/son relationship that is so vital to this season of a young man's life.


Date: Tuesday Nights, April 17th - May 8th
Time: 7pm - 8:30pm
Location: Pelham Campus - 2801 Pelham Road, Greenville, SC 29615

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Welcome, Heather!

Join us in welcoming Heather Scott to the Children's Ministry Team!  Heather moves into the role of Preschool Coordinator from her current volunteer position as Quest coach and curriculum writer.  She has also served in a 2 yr old preschool classroom and brings a great deal of ministry experience outside of Grace including being MOPS coordinator and mentor.  Welcome, Heather!   


- Children's Ministry Team

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Remembering

We are a forgetful people.  You can read story after story in the Bible and see the trend...God does something amazing and maybe even miraculous, then God's people forget and do not believe Him to be trustworthy.  But when I reflect on my own life and the times God has shown Himself faithful to me, I forget, too.  As long as I'm here on earth, the battle to remember remains.

We must be intentional in our remembering.  The other week on the kids' S'more cards, after reading Joshua 4:19-24 one of the questions was: “Think about a time that God has been faithful to bring each of you through a difficult or uncertain circumstance.”  "What can you do to remember God's faithfulness?"   Which brings me to this idea that has helped our family.

A few years ago a friend forwarded an article from a Christian magazine with the idea to make a shadow box with different mementos that represent times you've seen God demonstrate his faithfulness to you as a family.  Her Faithfulness Box is really fun, and I love hearing the stories surrounding each symbol.  We started with this, too, but I found it difficult and time consuming to find little things to represent each time.


So we instead use thankfulness rocks now, or "Ebenezer stones". Our stones are not fancy; they're from a bag of river rocks. We simply write a word on the rock with a Sharpie, and that word represents a time we've seen God's faithfulness displayed.  I've tried to place our Ebenezer stones in a prominent place in our home, with the hope we can share God's stories with inquisitive guests.


We go through the rocks as a family every Thanksgiving. Some years we do it right before or right after. It's one of my favorite things we do. I just love adding a new rock.
What things have you done to help remember times God has been faithful to you?

Sara Fowler – Camp Grace Big Group Coach

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Save the date! Elementary Camp - June 22nd-June24th

video
Calling all 3rd and 4th grade parents!
Mark June 22nd-June 24th for the Grace Church Elementary Camp at Look-up Lodge.  More details will be available in the coming months. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daddy Daughter Dance

Our world today is sending messages to our young women that are tragically far from the truth.  Beauty is defined only as what you see on the outside, and self-promotion is hailed as the way to get what you want out of life.  Fathers are equally confused about how to lead our growing daughters with strength and how to protect their hearts from the voices that threaten their unique feminine design.  Men's Roundtable is hosting an event that will give dads and daughters alike an opportunity to enjoy one another and be reminded of the beauty of God's design for each of us. 

This year's 4th Annual Daddy Daughter Dance promises to be a night to remember!  It is a perfect opportunity for dads to date their daughters and set the bar high for the future.  Dads are encouraged to start the night off right on a dinner date with your special girl (or girls), then finish strong with desserts and dancing at 7:00 PM at Larkin's Sawmill (directions).  Email us any questions you have and let us know how we can make this night perfect for you and your daughters.  And please feel free to invite anyone you think may be interested in joining us.  Can't wait to see you there!


Register online at www.mensroundtable.org/daddy-daughter-dance-2012.

Come join us at a new location:

Larkin's Sawmill at North Main
Friday, April 27th, 2012
Dance starts at 7pm