Thursday 15 July 2021

Bible Book:

'The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.' (vs 13-14)

Exodus 11:10 – 12:14 Thursday 15 July 2021

Psalm 22:1-18


This passage describes the institution of the first Jewish Passover, so-called because God’s judgement on Egypt would ‘pass over’ the houses of the Israelites. It is a day which is to be remembered and celebrated ‘in perpetual ordinance’, and indeed, the festival itself and many of the traditions which are associated with it continue to this day within the Jewish community. Passover is one of many things connecting Jews and Christians. The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, has its roots in the Passover festival which Jesus shared with his disciples shortly before he died. As part of the Passover tradition, Jesus took bread and wine and shared them with his disciples and, reminiscent of God’s challenge to the Israelites in Egypt to hold a day of remembrance, he implored his friends to "do this in remembrance of me".

Passover and Eucharist both continue to this day as sacred celebrations that retain their distinctive traditions. They root each community within its history and define the uniqueness of their religions. It can be tempting for Christians to think that the Eucharist somehow replaces the Passover, that Christianity supersedes Judaism, that the New Covenant renders the Old one obsolete, yet this is to simplify and narrow God’s purposes. We should also acknowledge at this point that Moses (Musa) is a key figure in Islam, an important prophet, sent by God to the Pharaoh of Egypt; the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses’ leadership is believed to prefigure the migration of Muhammed and his followers who were being persecuted in Mecca.

It is a challenge for all people of faith to look back and make judgements about which traditions, rituals and beliefs remain relevant in the modern world. We need to acknowledge their original context and assess whether today they are helpful and healing, or whether they have become meaningless, or even harmful. It's an age-old question. The prophet Micah asks what honours God: “With what shall I come before the Lord… shall I come before him with burnt offerings... with ten thousands of rivers of oil?... what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8)

If ancient ritual and belief unite, connect and gather people together and offer a sense of the presence of God, then I say let it live! Passover, Eucharist, Hajj (the pilgrimage Muslims make to the birthplace of Muhammed in Mecca), all these things connect people. On the other hand, where ritual and tradition divide patronise, exclude, or perhaps simply just confuse, then I say let it go!

To Ponder:

  • What traditions, beliefs and rituals are important to you in the expression of your faith and why are they important?
  • What traditions, beliefs and rituals from the Christian or other faith traditions might be harmful and divisive in the modern world?
  • No Christian Seders Please!  is an interesting perspective on the Christian tradition of celebrating a Jewish Seder meal on Maundy Thursday. 


Previous Page Wednesday 14 July 2021
Next Page Friday 16 July 2021