Seder Meal: What is it and Why should I participate?

On April 19th and 20th, we have all been invited to share in a Seder meal with Restoration Synagogue. I am thrilled to get the chance to participate in this tradition, but I also understand that many of us, having grown up with bunnies and egg hunts rather than bitter herbs and matza, may be wondering, What exactly is a Seder meal? And why would I want to participate in one? So let me help you answer those questions, because I don’t want you to miss out on this experience.

Seder is a feast shared at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, a time to remember God rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt. It is not simply a time of teaching, but a shared and interactive experience of a powerful story. The meal itself helps tell the story with elements like bitter herbs representing the bitterness of slavery. And children are encouraged to participate by asking questions, helping them be more attentive to the answers. As believers in Jesus, we also remember Jesus’ death and resurrection which took place over Passover weekend. One of the last things Jesus did before he died was lead his disciples in this Passover meal, during which he said, when you do this in the future, don’t just remember deliverance from Egypt, but remember me, and what I am about to do for you. He changed the focus of Passover remembrance from God rescuing one nation from slavery, to God rescuing all of humanity through Jesus. (By the way, if you don’t think you have any connection with Passover tradition, the tradition of communion we share in every week is rooted in this meal).

Restoration Synagogue is a messianic synagogue. This means that they worship in a Jewish faith context and believe that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah. In the simplest terms, our similarity is that we believe that God created the world and sent his son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, die, and raise from the dead to bring salvation to all of humanity; our difference lies in the traditions we use to respond in worship to and live out our faith in Jesus. For example, traditions of the Christian faith may mean worshipping on a Sunday and celebrating Christmas, while Jewish tradition may mean worshipping on Shabbat (Saturday) and celebrating Hanukkah. Jared and I became connected with Restoration through the son of the assistant Rabbi who was a classmate of Sydney’s at Northgate Elementary. Our families have become great friends and, through sharing the experiences, joys, and hardships of ministry, have become partners in God’s work in North Seattle. Restoration has supported Missio since we launched, and we are blessed to be in relationship with them.

One of the blessings of being in relationship is the benefit of a different perspective. On April 19th and 20th we get to worship in a way that is different from our norm, which can lead to new experiences of God and continued growth in our slowly developing idea of who He is. One of the things I greatly admire from Jewish tradition is the emphasis on history and scripture. As people of faith it is too easy to get stuck in a rut that makes us forget how we have seen God working in our lives. It’s important to remember God’s movement, not merely in our own lives, but throughout history. As a young nation we don’t have a developed practice of remembrance. I mean, think about it, the Israelite’s time of slavery in Egypt, the rescue from which we remember in the Seder meal, lasted for 400 years. That is longer than America has even been a nation! There is great value in remembrance, something in which we are not very well practiced. I hope you won’t miss this opportunity to participate in a time of remembrance. Remembrance of an ancient story of God’s mighty work, and remembrance of the greatest story ever told.

Get your tickets for your Seder meal here!

Still have some questions? Here’s a few more helpful tidbits of what you can expect:

  • What is on the menu? There will be a full meal including lamb, rice, salad and more, along with a vegetarian option (Note: children in childcare, ages 4 and under, will not be served a meal, just some snacks).

  • What should I wear? Dress is business casual, ranging from dressy casual wear to how some people might dress up for Easter.

  • What’s the service like? This Seder will be about 2-3 hours long with a fun, light-hearted atmosphere. Rabbi Matt will tell the story, sharing the imagery of the traditional elements (wine/juice, bitter herbs, matza, etc). There will be some solemn moments as well as a lot of interaction and laughter.

Laura King