- Decorate your table with a white cloth, candles, Palm Sunday’s leftover palm branches, and baskets of Matzo crackers or flatbread (homemade or available at most grocery stores).
- For each place setting, set out a goblet and a plate. On each plate include the following: half a boiled egg; a spoonful of charoset (fruit and nut paste) or a few nuts and fruit slices; a sprig of parsley or piece of celery; a spoonful of horseradish.
- Around the table, place a few small bowls of salted water.
- Set an extra place to represent Jesus’ place at the table.
- Nearby, have a bowl of warm water for foot (or hand) washing, along with a towel.
- Have wine (and/or red grape juice) nearby, and the meal ready to serve: the traditional menu includes lamb on the bone, vegetables, and dessert cakes, but feel free to adapt this.
- Allow children to ask questions, and keep the atmosphere light: this is a celebration.
This introduction is especially appropriate for households with young children.
PARENT: Tonight, we take part in the Passover Seder meal. It’s a tradition celebrated by Jesus’s people, the Jewish people. The Passover celebrates the time when God, through Moses, led his people out of slavery. The Egyptian pharaoh let the people go after the angel of death killed every firstborn in Egypt but “passed over” the Israelite homes with lamb’s blood on their doorposts.
PARENT: Tonight, we celebrate a Jewish ritual. But we are not Jewish: we are Christians. So why do you think we should celebrate Passover?
Give children a chance to respond, and be open to their thoughts and questions.
PARENT: One reason we celebrate is to remember how God helped his people by leading them out of slavery. We remember that God keeps His promises. Can you think of a time when God has kept a promise in your life?
Allow children to respond.
PARENT: We also celebrate Passover because Jesus did! Remember when Jesus joined his friends for one last meal before he died on the cross? The “Last Supper” was a Passover celebration. That night, Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples in a special way. This was the beginning of our Holy Communion. He also washed his disciples’ feet. They were amazed by what he did for them.
PARENT: And so, we eat this meal to remember Jesus Christ. We will eat the same kinds of foods that Jesus ate. We will say some of the same words he said. And we can be amazed, too!
PARENT (drawing attention to the goblets): During the meal, you will be served a drink four times, which is an ancient tradition of the Passover Seder. The four cups are: The cup of sanctification, which reminds us of God’s promises; the cup of deliverance, because God delivered his people out of slavery; the cup of redemption, because Jesus died for us; and the cup of praise, because we thank God for what He has done.
PARENT (drawing attention to empty seat): And we remember throughout our dinner tonight, that Jesus is always at our table, just like He was at the table with the disciples.
Lighting of the Candles
HOST: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive by your word.
ALL: May our house be consecrated by the light of your face shining on us in blessing and peace.
The First Cup
We fill the glasses.
HOST: The Passover has begun. During our meal we will drink from our glass four times. The first time is the Cup of Sanctification, by which we commit this time to God and God’s glory.
ALL: Blessed are you Lord our God who created the fruit of the vine.
Washing of Feet
READING: John 13.1-11
HOST: Let us wash each other’s feet / hands, that we may recall whose servants we are and remember Jesus’ teaching, that what is done for us is also to be done for others.
During the foot washing, you might want to play an appropriate song such as “The Servant King” or “Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You”.
READING: John 13.12-17
The Passover Story
The second cup is poured.
CHILD (traditionally the youngest): Why is this night different from all other nights?
HOST: Because we were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
CHILD: On this night, why do we eat only unleavened bread?
HOST: The Bible says that the people had to leave Egypt so quickly that they did not have time to let the bread rise. So they made dough without yeast.
ALL: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created fruit from the earth.
Bread is passed around and each person breaks off two pieces.
CHILD: What is the meaning of the lamb?
HOST: The lamb represents the paschal lamb’s blood that the Hebrews smeared on their doors. This was done so when the final plague was unleashed on the Egyptians, God would “pass over” the Hebrew houses.
CHILD: What is the meaning of the greens and salt water?
Host: The greens represent life, and the salt water the tears of life. They remind us that the life of the Israelites in Egypt was dipped in tears.
All dip greens in salt water and eat.
CHILD: What is the meaning of the bitter herbs?
HOST: The bitter herbs (horseradish) symbolise the bitterness of life in Egypt, where the Egyptians used the Israelites ruthlessly as slaves. They also remind us of the bitterness of a life gripped by sin.
All eat a small helping of bread dipped in horseradish.
CHILD: What is the meaning of the charoset?
HOST: The charoset (fruit and nuts) reminds us of the mortar used by the Israelites in their brickwork in Egypt. It is sweet because even the bitterest labour is sweetened by the promise of redemption. So we too live under the sweet promise that Jesus is coming again.
All eat charoset between two pieces of bread (representing mortar between bricks).
CHILD: What is the meaning of the egg?
HOST: The egg is a symbol of life. The eldest sons of the Israelites were glad to be alive. It reminds us that Jesus died so we who believe in him can live his risen life. We dip the egg in salt water to remind us that life was won for us through the tears of death.
All eat a piece of egg dipped in salt water
The Second Cup
HOST: You may now drink from the second cup, the cup of deliverance.
ALL: Blessed be God, who has brought us from bondage to freedom, and from sorrow to joy.
The Passover Meal
HOST: Let us eat and be thankful!
The meal is served and eaten.
The Third Cup
At the end of the meal, the third cup is poured.
HOST: The third cup is the cup of redemption. It was at this point, during the Last Supper with his disciples, that Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”. (Luke 22.20)
ALL: We drink it with thankfulness for the redemption Jesus won for us by his death and resurrection.
The Fourth Cup
The fourth cup is poured.
HOST: The fourth cup is the cup of praise. Let us drink it and give thanks to God for his goodness!
ALL: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 118)
All sing the following song (or another song of praise):
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.