Maybe something is wrong with me, but I don’t understand why we cannot merely appreciate other religions and not try to proselytize at every turn in the road.
The celebration of Passover by Jews is a powerful and poignant reminder of their liberation from slavery. The fact that they remember that historic event every year, and, as the Hebrew scriptures say for them to do, tell the story to their children, in effect “writing it as frontlets between their eyes” means that their heritage will never be lost.
That some Christians want to celebrate Passover is good in and of itself, but to make the celebration of Passover a means of bringing Jews to Jesus just seems the wrong thing to do.
I have attended a seder, and have been so moved by the celebration of the Jewish history. The good thing about Christians celebrating Passover is that they are taught what the Passover really was; way too many Christians, when asked what the Passover was, do not have a clue.
So, learning about the Passover while celebrating a seder is a good thing, a way to build bridges of understanding between the two faiths and to eliminate some of the enmity which has existed between these two faiths for far too long.
But to re-interpret the seder, and make it a Christian thing, seems like a way of saying, “our way is the best way, the only way.” That kind of religious thinking is what causes such strife between people of different faiths.
I know, I know, Matthew 28 says, “Go ye therefore and make disciples of all men …” Many Christians use that scripture and others to justify their attempt to bring others to the Christ.
But there are better ways of doing that than, in this case, compromising a sacred Jewish holy day and making it Christian.
We Christians would feel offended if Jewish people took Christmas and tried to make it Jewish. It’s our day! We cherish it. Well, so do the Jews cherish Passover, as well they should, and the best way to bring the Christ to the Jews is to respect their faith. Participate in the seder, yes, tell the story of the Passover to the Christians, yes, but make it Christian? No.
In truth, if the scriptures are to be understood, we are all descendants of the Jewish faith. Jesus died a Jew, a practicing Jew who preached the Law but who included in it the message of love. Just like he advised us to “go” and make disciples, he also taught us to “love the Lord thy God …and thy neighbor as thyself.” That’s called the Great Commandment, and the Jewish gospel writer, Matthew, recorded it.
While nobody can possibly know what Jesus would do or advise in this case, why am I thinking that Jesus would probably want us Christians to respect his faith, while practicing the love he so earnestly taught?
For all of our proselytizing, we Christians have not been nice, historically, to so many people. Why as a Jew would anyone want to become a part of a religion which has taken such an active role in persecuting Jewish people? The truth is, some Jews do convert to Christianity, and that is OK, but we should let people choose the Christ, not opt to stuff the Christ down their throats.
When I think of the Passover as being the celebration of Jews being liberated from slavery, I cannot help but see the value of Christians participating in that celebration. We Christians have sanctioned slavery, using the Bible as justification. To participate in an event in which the joy of having been liberated from slavery is obvious could serve to soften hearts of Christians. That would be momentous.
The celebration of Passover by Christians might also get them to realize how important it is for people to be free.
I keep thinking of how religious people so often do not, as author Obery Hendricks says in his The Politics of Jesus, “treat the needs of the people as holy.” There is a need for Jewish people to celebrate their history and deliverance, and we Christians ought to treat that need as holy, respect it, share in it if we can, and glean from it lessons we as Christians can grow from.
One of the lessons that Jesus taught came from Jewish teachings. It’s called the Golden Rule. In the Bible it reads, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Sometimes all of us, regardless of religion, fall short in trying to follow that rule, and to try to remake or reshape Passover into a Christian tradition shows our shortcomings.
The Passover already is jointly a part of both Jewish and Christian religious history, as Christians were spawned from the Jewish faith. God’s passing over the houses of the chosen people includes us as Christians already. We should leave it at that, and celebrate with the Jews, not compete with them
Susan K. Smith | Apr 20, 2011 3:08 PM