Monday, April 9, 2012

Every Tradition Starts Somewhere

Seven years ago, i celebrated Easter at home with my family. We did the whole nine yards: Pancake Day (or Fat Tuesday), Lent, Good Friday services, Sunrise Services, Easter baskets, and egg hunts. That was my last Holy Week at home.

Six years ago, i was in Spain from Fat Tuesday (February 20th that year) until the middle of May. I spent all of Lent and Holy Week in Seville and Badajoz and Malaga (with a day trip to Portugal).

Five years ago, Agelseb's mother came up to Boston for Easter weekend, and we celebrated together.

Four years ago, i had no roommate and all of my friends had gone home for Easter break, so i went to CVS and bought crackers and grape juice and a candle. I lit the candle in my room (even though it was against the rules), and took communion and read scriptures alone as my own Good Friday service. I seem to remember also doing my own Sunrise service that year, but i'm not sure.

For the next two years, i did some variation of this service. Once i played worship music softly in the background, once it was silent. Once i fasted, once i did not. Last year i bought fancy bread and high quality grape juice and prayed quietly in my room.

This year, i am expanding this new tradition a little. On a whim, i invited John to participate. He suggested that i invite Benji and Mrs. Benji as well. And then i invited Pammer and Larissa (though none of them could make it). And i have spent much of my week researching Passover seder traditions and the Haggadah. I've been writing menus and reading scripture and thinking about seating.

As it turns out, the Haggadah is really freaking long. Like, fifteen pages, and most of that is the post-meal blessing. I hope no one will be offended by this, but since none of my guests are Jewish and most of the service is a reflection on Jewish history and culture, i cut it down to about three pages. I wanted to keep some sense of the history, but i also wanted to reflect my own culture and the culture and needs of those i had invited to break bread with me. The Haggadah says that anyone who does not mention the lamb, the matzo, and the bitter herbs has not done their job, so i have included those things. Wherever possible, i kept the original language, and only condensed it. I have written only about two or three lines in this service. The details are still being ironed out, but i'm kind of looking forward to this odd new tradition of mine.

First, a blessing for the wine:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.
drink wine

Then, a blessing on the greens and side dishes:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.

A blessing on the matzo:
This is the bread of affliction. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.

A blessing on the lamb:
This is the Passover sacrifice for deliverance. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.
A blessing on the bitter herbs:
These are the bitter herbs of suffering. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.

A general blessing:
The Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed not only our fathers from Egypt, but He redeemed also us with them.
Thus it is our duty to thank, to glorify, to exalt, to adore, and to honor the One who did all these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us from sorrow to joy, from deep darkness to great light, and from bondage to redemption. Let us therefore recite before Him Hallelujah, Praise God!
Now eat and drink to your heart’s delight.

After the meal, all who ate recite the Grace:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who, in His goodness, feeds the whole world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the King who is good and does good to all, each and every day. He has done good for us, He does good for us, and He will do good for us. To You alone we give thanks.
Even if our mouths were filled with song as the sea, and our tongues with joyous singing like the multitudes of its waves, and our lips with praise like the expanse of the sky, and our eyes shining like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet swift like deer we would still be unable to thank You Lord, our God and God of our fathers, and to bless Your Name, for even one of the thousands of millions, and myriads of myriads, of favors, miracles and wonders with You have done for us and for our fathers before us.

And then Scripture readings:
Exodus 12:1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.’

Luke 22:19 And He (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Luke 23:44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"
48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. 49. But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

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