Author Topic: Pesach 2021  (Read 2448 times)

Charles Austin

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Pesach 2021
« on: March 27, 2021, 03:54:50 PM »
Chag Pesach Sameach
Or one says “Gut Yom Tov” to wish someone a Happy Passover feast.
    There are not “sermons” around the Seder table, but there is discussion and teaching about the events of the Exodus and God’s blessings.
    In today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Robert Aronson asks Passover-related questions that make for some good biblical reflections.
    Passover’s narrative, he says calls upon us, the living, to embrace its transcendent themes of freedom, peoplehood, rededication, gratitude and social justice for “we were once slaves in the land of Egypt.” The plagues, he writes, are “superseded in the joy of crossing the Red Sea, starting a journey to the promised land and creating the covenant with the divine.”
    Aronson wonders, and wonders if the people then (or perhaps God) wondered, why the Israelites deserved the love and protection of the deity. “Was there any regret at the sufferings caused by the plagues to the Egyptians. Did the goal of the exodus create an special, ongoing responsibility to justify God’s intervention on behalf of the Israelites?”
    “From the standpoint of the Egyptians, was there ever a sense their own actions merited the plagues? Did they see themselves as innocent victims, or as deserving divine retribution, or simply as unfortunate victims of natural disasters? Did they conclude that perhaps all people have equal worth? Did their belief system change to embrace a single God?”
    Then he asks another good Bible study question for all of us. “Was there ever a moment when God questioned the justification of slaying the Egyptian firstborn or whether this was displaced punishment on guiltless victims?” He asks “Why didn’t God slay Pharaoh (the perpetrator of the Israelites’ enslavement) and his enablers rather than the firstborn?”
    “Or perhaps God, the all-powerful, should have softened Pharaoh’s heart by injecting into it mercy and justice rather than endowing Pharaoh with the free will to deny freedom to the Israelites?”
    Finally, Aronson speculates “Did God ever doubt whether the Israelites were really worthy of the extraordinary intervention provided to achieve their freedom?”
    Like a good preacher (although Aronson is a lawyer), he draws connections to real life. “We have now spent just over the last year embroiled in a plague – actually a series of plagues – encompassing a pandemic, civil unrest, political and social polarization, racism and in this community (he means Minnesota’s Twin Cities), a horrific in-custody death and destructive aftermath. We have constricted our lives and our dreams to navigate our path through this plague.”
    Were I preaching on a Passover theme, I might swipe his final paragraphs.
    “Our challenge,” he says, “is whether in the post-plague era, we will dismiss our experiences as something akin to a bad dream or take it as an imperative to seek its deeper meaning and instructive wisdom.
    “Can we become a more inclusive people and nation, with our ears attuned and our hearts receptive to the diversity of inhabitants in our land?
    “Will we treasure more our family and friends, feeling the sacredness of their touch and presence?
    “Will we have a new and different understanding of the sanctity of our lives now that we have faced more directly the frailty of our existence?
    “Do we have a deeper connectedness with our place within the world and a shared vision of humanity, knowing that we all, ultimately, seek our collective passage to the promised land?”
    Thus far the Aronson reflections. He is an immigration attorney and chair of the board of HIAS, an agency of the American Jewish community globally serving refugees.
    Gut Pesach to all.

Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2021, 05:26:38 PM »
The themes of the Passover still resonate in the story of salvation.  We are reminded of this at the Transfiguration where Moses and Elijah talk to Jesus of His ἔξοδον, literally His "exodus" (sometimes translated as "departure" - Luke 9:31), where He would lead His people from slavery to sin to the freedom of the Promised Land of eternal life.

Some Christians today also celebrate 'Christianized' passover seders, which brings up a point of discussion.  The Passover has technically been fulfilled in Christ's death, and the last time our Lord celebrated it He instituted the blessed Sacrament of the Supper.  Although one could do so as an historic reenactment (by way of teaching or illustration), it seems superfluous as a formal rite within a Christian assembly, especially in connection with a celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2021, 05:32:08 PM »
Some Christians today also celebrate 'Christianized' passover seders, which brings up a point of discussion.  The Passover has technically been fulfilled in Christ's death, and the last time our Lord celebrated it He instituted the blessed Sacrament of the Supper.  Although one could do so as an historic reenactment (by way of teaching or illustration), it seems superfluous as a formal rite within a Christian assembly, especially in connection with a celebration of the Lord's Supper.

And appending the Lord's Supper to a narrative Christianized Seder has the complication of contradicting normal practice (for many) of Fasting before receiving the Eucharist...even though the Apostles did not Fast at that Passover at which the Eucharist was instituted as the Bridegroom was still with them.
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Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

Charles Austin

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2021, 05:49:26 PM »
There is no such thing as a "Christianized" Seder, and those who attempt to make one are profaning the faith of our Jewish friends and family. Out East, we had many Jewish friends and attended several Seders over the years. My reaction was always: Why do anything to this sacred rite? It is based on truth, instructive of faith and remains a powerful witness to the history we as Christians share with Jews.
The Aronson Op-Ed piece impressed me because of the questions it asked of the biblical narrative and of those of us who are part of that narrative today and share concerns for our community, our relationship with God and the world and how we are shaped by remembering who we were (once enslaved in Egypt) and what we are.
Once we attended a Seder on Tuesday in Holy Week in the home of a local rabbi. That experience changed what I was going to preach on Holy Thursday and how I felt about what we were doing that night.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

Weedon

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2021, 05:55:18 PM »
Interestingly, just read an article today from 1983 by two Oxford profs dealing with the question of the date of our Lord’s Crucifixion using astronomy and weighing the ancient texts. Their conclusion is that John’s narrative placing the event on 14 Nissan, not 15 Nissan is correct and that this occurred 3 April 33 A.D. and that when the Passover moon rose after sunset, it rose in partial eclipse: i.e., it rose red. And that THIS is what Peter was referring to in the Joel passage, how before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Resurrection), the sun was turned to darkness (they hypothesize caused by one of those horrid dust storms) and then the moon to blood. There’s an apocryphal writing attributed to Pilate, writing Tiberius, mentioning an eclipse at the Passover when Jesus was crucified. Fascinating stuff. But that means that whatever they did on Thursday evening actually wasn’t the actual Passover; rather, Jesus DIES when the Passover Lambs are being slaughtered, “not one of his bones shall be broken.” And maybe that’s the meaning behind Jesus: “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you.” But none of the Synoptics mention the actual presence of a Lamb at that meal. Anywho, if so, then the Supper was given in a context of an anticipated, not an actual, Passover. And think how Paul would later proclaim: “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed!” It was a great article.
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St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL
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Charles Austin

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2021, 06:09:10 PM »
I like that kind of history, Pastor Weedon, but for me the Passover stands on its own. I can theologically choose not to break the connection with the Passover lamb and the Lord, but I also choose not to stress it in ways that have it overwhelm the Passover itself.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

RDPreus

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2021, 06:18:07 PM »
I like that kind of history, Pastor Weedon, but for me the Passover stands on its own. I can theologically choose not to break the connection with the Passover lamb and the Lord, but I also choose not to stress it in ways that have it overwhelm the Passover itself.

Jesus Christ ~is~ the Passover.  1 Corinthians 5:7

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2021, 06:21:30 PM »
Interestingly, just read an article today from 1983 by two Oxford profs dealing with the question of the date of our Lord’s Crucifixion using astronomy and weighing the ancient texts. Their conclusion is that John’s narrative placing the event on 14 Nissan, not 15 Nissan is correct and that this occurred 3 April 33 A.D. and that when the Passover moon rose after sunset, it rose in partial eclipse: i.e., it rose red. And that THIS is what Peter was referring to in the Joel passage, how before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Resurrection), the sun was turned to darkness (they hypothesize caused by one of those horrid dust storms) and then the moon to blood.

A quarter century ago after I acquired my first computer, I purchased Carina Software's desktop planetarium program Voyager II.

With that software and its equinox precession tool I was able to replicate the night sky of Jerusalem in 33 AD; yes, the moon did indeed rise in TOTAL eclipse which explains why the Passion narrative mentions the crowd coming "with torches". 

Torches would have been unnecessary on a cloudless night illuminated by the full moon.

And yes, Joel's prophecy finds fulfillment in that when Christ is lifted up from the earth drawing all people to Himself, "all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
« Last Edit: March 27, 2021, 06:23:30 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2021, 06:36:32 PM »
I don't try to do a "Christian" Seder. What I've done is to try and reenact the events of the Upper Room. It was a Passover Meal. We are given some details about this meal in Scriptures (usually combined with the Feast of Unleavened Bread) in Exodus 23:43-13:10; Leviticus 23:5-6; Numbers 28:16-17; Deuteronomy 16:1-8; and the synoptic accounts. Luke 22:14-30 gives us the most details of what happened in the upper room.


It seems to me that two separate trajectories developed from the Passover/Unleavened Festival of the 1st Century. One was the Jewish Seder that retold the story of the Passover/Exodus through words and special foods. The earliest Seder liturgies come from the 5th century. The other was the Christians' Agape Meal with the Eucharistic blessing of bread and wine. The liturgical traditions of communion go back to the 2nd century AD.



We can use these resources and try to recreate what might have happened with Jesus and the disciples in the upper room. We can summarize the story from Exodus, with at least the two glasses of wine and sharing of bread that Luke tells us about. There was likely lamb at the meal, too (Mark 14:12), among other special foods. We can recite the ancient story (Haggadah) in Deuteronomy 26:5-8.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2021, 06:56:59 PM »
I like that kind of history, Pastor Weedon, but for me the Passover stands on its own. I can theologically choose not to break the connection with the Passover lamb and the Lord, but I also choose not to stress it in ways that have it overwhelm the Passover itself.

Jesus Christ ~is~ the Passover.  1 Corinthians 5:7


πάσχα has four definitions in BDAG
1. an annual Israelite festival commemorating Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the Passover
2. the lamb sacrificed for observance of the Passover, the Passover lamb
3. the Passover meal
4. in later Christian usage the Easter festival

It places 1 Corinthians 5:7 under definition 2. Christ was the Passover Lamb who was slain for us.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2021, 07:08:35 PM »
Interestingly, just read an article today from 1983 by two Oxford profs dealing with the question of the date of our Lord’s Crucifixion using astronomy and weighing the ancient texts. Their conclusion is that John’s narrative placing the event on 14 Nissan, not 15 Nissan is correct and that this occurred 3 April 33 A.D. and that when the Passover moon rose after sunset, it rose in partial eclipse: i.e., it rose red. And that THIS is what Peter was referring to in the Joel passage, how before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Resurrection), the sun was turned to darkness (they hypothesize caused by one of those horrid dust storms) and then the moon to blood.

A quarter century ago after I acquired my first computer, I purchased Carina Software's desktop planetarium program Voyager II.

With that software and its equinox precession tool I was able to replicate the night sky of Jerusalem in 33 AD; yes, the moon did indeed rise in TOTAL eclipse which explains why the Passion narrative mentions the crowd coming "with torches". 

Torches would have been unnecessary on a cloudless night illuminated by the full moon.

And yes, Joel's prophecy finds fulfillment in that when Christ is lifted up from the earth drawing all people to Himself, "all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."


John uses ὑψόω with a double meaning (as John does with a number of other words). In the literally sense, it means, "to make high;" "to lift up." Such as when Jesus was lifted up on the cross and when Jesus was lifted up to heaven with the ascension.


More figuratively, the word means "to exalt;" "to make great."


When Jesus says in John 12:32: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me;" there are at least three possibilities. (Note: the passive verb doesn't state who is lifting up Jesus.)
1. When the authorities lifted him up on the cross.
2. When the Father lifted him up at the Ascension.
3. When believers exalt him at his return.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2021, 07:22:32 PM »
Pastor Preus:
Jesus Christ ~is~ the Passover. 
Me:
For us, maybe, “a” Passover. My Jewish friends have “The” Passover. And we have that one too, unless we deny our roots in that event.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2021, 08:07:51 PM »
Pastor Preus:
Jesus Christ ~is~ the Passover. 
Me:
For us, maybe, “a” Passover. My Jewish friends have “The” Passover. And we have that one too, unless we deny our roots in that event.


In Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7 πάσχα refers specifically to the "Passover lamb who is sacrificed." The same word for "sacrifice" is used of Christ in 1 Corinthians 5:7. He has become the sacrificial lamb, which requires an understanding of the Jewish Passover in Exodus 12 to make sense.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

RDPreus

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2021, 12:20:14 AM »
Pastor Preus:
Jesus Christ ~is~ the Passover. 
Me:
For us, maybe, “a” Passover. My Jewish friends have “The” Passover. And we have that one too, unless we deny our roots in that event.

St. Paul writes, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7b)  Christ has always been the Passover.  To reject Christ is to reject the Passover.  Your Jewish friends have something that they may call the Passover, but it is not the Passover.  Christ is.  That's what Paul says.

Charles Austin

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Re: Pesach 2021
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2021, 12:48:54 AM »
Pastor Preus has pulled the pop-top on a can of worms which only leads to denying the validity of the Exodus for God's chosen people and attempting to break the bond between God and the Jews which was re-forged in the events celebrated at Passover, their Passover when, I believe, God receives the memories, prayers and songs sung around the world during Pesach.
And Aronson's article, like the African-American spirituals seeking freedom, plants those Exodus memories, prayers and songs in the midst of today's world.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.