Passover פֶּסַח and the Seder סֵדֶר

A Jewish-Christian Haggadah הַגָּדָה


Passover (פֶּסַח) is the oldest and most important of Jewish religious festivals, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and his creation of the Israelite people. In its earliest forms it marked the beginning of the Jewish religious year; because of changes in calendars, later Judaism observed the beginning of the year in the Fall with Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana). It is based on the rituals of ancient Israel preserved primarily in Exodus 12-14 in which Israelites celebrated their deliverance by God from slavery in Egypt. The term Passover refers to the tenth and final plague God brought upon the Egyptians to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go, the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. In obedience to God’s instructions, those who believed placed the blood of a lamb on the door posts of their homes, so that God would “pass over” those homes. The festival actually celebrates the entire sequence of events that led to the Israelites’ freedom from slavery. While thoroughly based in those historical events, the celebration encompasses much more as it becomes a vehicle to celebrate the very nature of God and His gracious work in the world. It is in this larger dimension that Jesus (ישוע) adopted the Passover service as a sacramental remembrance of God’s new work of deliverance in the Christ (המשיח), and allows Christians to celebrate this ancient festival.

The Passover meal is known as the Seder (סֵדֶר), which means “order,” because the meal and service are done in a prescribed sequence. This sequence is presented in the Haggadah (הַגָּדָה or “telling”) which outlines the steps of the meal as well as the readings and songs for the participants. While there can be a great deal of variety in how the service is conducted, and so should not be seen as rigidly structured, the basic elements and order have remained unchanged for centuries. At various points in the service there are different actions required of the participants. All of the actions have carefully composed symbolic meanings, hence the Seder, the order.

Certain aspects of the Passover celebration are clearly outlined in Scripture, including advance preparations, the date and timing of the celebration, certain commemorative symbolic foods to be eaten during the Passover meal, a special “seder” or order to the narrative and ritual recounting of the Passover story. As the years have gone by, the feast has been refined in its structure and form with the elements carefully laid out in a “Haggadah” or storybook such as this one, which outlines the events and activities of the evening celebration.

Jesus was, and is, and always will be a Hebrew man. During His earthly lifetime He was raised up in the Jewish practices and customs of His time and in the precepts of the Old Testament Scriptures. Since He was the living Word of God, His life was a fulfillment of Scripture. As we read in the Gospel accounts of the words and deeds of Jesus’ life, it is striking to note how He became the fulfillment of the Passover, the Paschal Lamb sacrificed for our sins, whose blood was shed that we, placing it over the doorposts of our hearts, might be spared from the Death Angel and enter into eternal life. On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus celebrated a Passover Seder ceremony with His disciples in an upper room that had been prepared for them. During this special Seder, He took two of the Passover elements, the Aphikomon and the Cup of Elijah, and consecrated them as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist that believers have celebrated ever since.

The Seder outlined in this Haggadah is designed for believers both old and new who sense a call to observe the Passover feast as a remembrance of their own passage from bondage to deliverance, from slavery to freedom, through the mercies of the living God and the shed blood of the Paschal Lamb. This blend of tradition and innovation conforms to the purpose of the celebration: to tell the story of God’s actions in history in a way that brings it out of the past and makes it a present reality for everyone in the community, young and old, as if they personally are part of the story. As such, the Passover has been termed one of the most effective teaching tools ever devised, as it appeals to all of the senses and involves everyone to tell the story of God. It represents the very best of communal liturgy. As it has been written in Scripture, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance forever.” (Exodus 12.14)

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Odd numbered double pages are front sides of sheets, and the following even numbered pages are their respective backs. Pages 1 and 2 are the front and back of the cover, usually printed on heavier stock in blue, followed by the interior pages 3-20. Page 21 is the front of a pale yellow centerfold insert that has a timeline printed on the back which is not currently included (we hope to have it in PDF format soon). When the finished cover, interior pages, and central insert are stacked and center-stapled, a pamphlet is created.

Our Haggadah is copyrighted by His Branches Inc. and may be copied in its entirety for personal use without prior permission. Please contact us if you are interested in dividing, editing, or otherwise modifying its contents or reprinting multiple copies for commercial purposes.

Haggadah הַגָּדָה