1. The Lighting of the Candles

Leader: The Passover begins as the woman of the household kindles the festival lights and recites a traditional Jewish blessing. 


Designated Reader: (Will say the prayer in Hebrew)


Mothers: Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us by Thy commandments and hast ordained that we kindle the Passover lights.


Leader: It is most fitting that a woman kindles the lights, for we are reminded of God's promise that the Messiah, the Light of the world, would come not from the seed of man, but from the seed of woman and by the will of God. As the prophet Isaiah declared.


Mothers: "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.


All: A light to lighten Gentiles.


Leader: And the glory of Thy people Israel."


All: Amen.

2. The First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification

Leader: The Passover has begun, and during the course of our Seder we will drink from our cups a total of four times. (All raise the first cup.) The first cup is called the Kiddush cup, or the Cup of Sanctification.


All: With this cup, we commit our observance to the Lord, and pray for His blessing upon the rest of the service to follow.


Designated Reader: (Will read in Hebrew first)


Fathers: Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.


All: Amen.

3. Washing of Hands

Leader: It was concerning this first cup that the Messiah declared:


All: "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come." (All drink the first cup.)


Leader: Ritual washings have been a part of Jewish life since God commanded Aaron to bathe his hands and feet before approaching the altar of the Lord. And so we customarily wash our hands at this time as a token of our desire to live lives of acceptable service to our Almighty God.


All: Yet Jesus carried this notion of servanthood one step further on that Passover night in the upper room. "He laid aside His garments, and took a towel, and girded Himself... and began to wash the disciples' feet."


Leader: How graciously has He taught us the fullest meaning of servanthood: humility.


All: "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant... and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."


(All wash hands)

4. The Seder Plate

(The Leader points to the Seder plate and declares)


Leader: Behold this Seder plate and these traditional symbols.


All: What do they mean, and of what do they speak?


Leader: The story of Passover is a story of our deliverance from bondage, and all of the elements of the Passover meal are part of the portrait of redemption.


All: What is the meaning of the karpas, or greens, and the salt water?


Fathers: The greens represent life, and the salt water represents the tears of life. Before we eat the greens, we dip them into the salt water, for truly...


All: A life unredeemed from sin and death is a life immersed in tears.


Leader: Let us eat the karpas. (All dip a piece of the parsley in salt water and eat.)


All: What is the meaning of the hazeret, the root of the bitter herb?


Fathers: This horseradish root reminds us that the root of life is often bitter, as it certainly was for the sons of Israel in the land of Egypt.


All: And what is the meaning of the maror, the bitter herb itself?


Fathers: As we partake of the freshly ground horseradish, we are reminded afresh of how bitter life is without redemption.


Leader: Let us eat the bitter herb. (All eat a small helping of horseradish with matzah.)


All: But what is the meaning of the haroset and why is it sweet to the taste?


Fathers: The haroset is a reminder of the mortar with which the Israelites made bricks for Pharaoh.


All: But why should such a sweet mixture represent such bitter toil?


Fathers: Even the bitterest labor is sweetened by the promise of redemption.


Leader: Let us eat the haroset. (All eat a small helping of haroset between two small pieces of matzah.)


All: And what is the meaning of the egg, the hagigah? And why is it brown?


Fathers: Hagigah was the name given to the daily Temple sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. It is roasted to turn it brown, just as the daily offerings were burned with fire upon the altar of the Lord. The hagigah is a token of grief to the Jewish people, grief over the destruction of the Temple; and first before we eat it, we dip it into salt water - the tears of life.


Leader: Let us eat the Hagigah. (All dip a piece of the egg into salt water and eat it.)


All: And what is the meaning of the zeroah, the shank bone of the lamb?


Leader: Passover is also known as the feast of the Passover lamb, and yet in Jewish homes throughout the world, lamb is not served at any Passover table. Instead, we have this zeroah to remind us of those first Passover lambs which were sacrificed on the night of our redemption. As it is written:


All: "In one house shall it be eaten, neither shall ye break a bone of it."


Leader: "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses."


All: But why do we no longer partake of the Paschal lamb as in the days of old when the ancient Temple stood?


Leader: Simply because the Temple stands no more. The Passover sacrifice, as well as all sacrifices, could only be offered upon the altar in Jerusalem. And so, since the Temple's destruction in 70 A.D., no sacrifices have been made, and no lamb is found on the Passover table.


All: But without sacrifices, how can we atone for our sins, for the Law declares, "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Does this mean that atonement and redemption are no longer possible?


Leader: May it never be! Those of us who know the Messiah, know too that God has provided a sacrifice for our sins: the Passover lamb who takes away the sin of the world.


All: The Messiah Jesus.


Leader: Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord our God, who offers redemption from death, and atonement for sins.

5. The Bread of Affliction

Leader: Rabbi Gamaliel said, "He who has not explained the three symbols of the Seder has not fulfilled his duty: the Passover lamb, the bitter herb, and the unleavened bread."


All: We have heard of the Paschal lamb and we have eaten of the bitter herb, but what of the unleavened bread?


(The leader holds aloft a piece of matzah.)


Leader: Behold the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.


All: But what is the meaning of this unleavened bread?


Fathers: Throughout the Bible, leaven is frequently employed as a symbol of sin. In olden times a small piece of bread from the previous loaf was used to ferment an entire portion of fresh dough. Thus was the leavening of each batch of dough related to the original loaf, and it was the leaven that caused the dough to rise.


Leader: In the same way, we are related through the generations to the sin of our first forefather, Adam. And as the leaven in bread causes the dough to rise, so the sin in our life causes us to rise in our own estimation - to become puffed up.


Fathers: But on this night, and for the seven days to follow, we eat nothing that contains any leaven. And so we demonstrate our desire to be cleansed of our sin, and to live lives devoted entirely to the Lord.


All: "For I am the Lord your God... and ye shall be holy; for I am holy... Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us."

6. The Matzah Tosh

Leader: (Lifts the matzah tosh and, referring to the stack of three matzahs on each table, says) One of the most intriguing items on the Passover table is this pouch called a matzah tosh, which is a unity. Yet concealed within this unity are three pieces of unleavened bread - matzah - and each piece is separated from the others by a piece of cloth.


All: Though the matzahs are concealed, yet we know that they are there.


Fathers: (As leader removes the middle matzah) But now the middle matzah is removed from its place among the others and made visible to our eyes.


Fathers: (The leader performs the following activities while describing them.) It is broken, and half is set aside while the other half is wrapped in a white linen cloth. In a moment it will be hidden from view.


Leader: This broken piece of matzah has a special name: The afikomen. This is not a Hebrew word, but a Greek word, and it means "that which comes after." The origin and significance of the afikomen and the matzah tosh are shadowed in mystery - a mystery we will explore as our celebration unfolds. But for now, guesses must give way to a game. (He explains the game) We are going to hide the afikomen as you children close your eyes. If you find it, we have to buy it back from you, or the Passover cannot be concluded. And remember...


All: Great is the reward of he who finds the hidden afikomen.

7. The Four Children

Leader: The children are essential to the Passover celebration, for it is through this feast that they may learn of God's redemptive nature. And so at this time, the children come forward to learn the meaning of Passover by asking traditional four questions. Who will ask the four questions for all the children?


Designated Reader: (Will first read in Hebrew)


Child: Why is this night different from all other nights?


Fathers: Once we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord in His goodness and mercy redeemed us from that land with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.


All: Had He not redeemed us, surely we and our children would still be enslaved.


Child: On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread; on this night why do we eat only unleavened bread?


Fathers: We eat the unleavened bread to remember that the sons of Israel, in their haste to leave Egypt, had to take their bread with them while it was still flat.


Child: On all other nights, we eat herbs of every kind; on this night, why do we eat only bitter herbs?


Fathers: We eat the bitter herbs to remember how bitter it is to be enslaved.


Child: On all other nights we do not dip the sop even once; on this night, why do we dip twice?


Fathers: By dipping, we remember that a life of bondage is bitter indeed, but that even the harshest bondage is sweetened by the promise of redemption.


Child: On all other nights we eat our meals in any manner; why is this night so special?


Fathers: This night is truly special; for once we were slaves, but now we are free, so we recline in order to appropriate and appreciate the rest He has wrought for us. 


Leader: By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. In gratitude, let us then worship our God and recount the story of Passover.

8. The Story of Passover

Narrator: The Bible teaches that during a great famine in the land of Canaan, the sons of Israel journeyed to Egypt to purchase food. There they were reunited with their brother Joseph. Because of his influence, they were permitted to dwell in the fertile plains of Goshen. At first, the house of Israel numbered less than eighty souls. But in time their numbers swelled, their flocks increased, and they became a mighty people. And then there arose a new Pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph. He beheld the might of Israel, and he feared that in time of war, the sons of Jacob might join themselves with Egypt's foes. And so he subdued the Israelites, and afflicted them with cruel labor. Taskmasters were placed over the Israelites, to compel them to make bricks and to build Pharaoh's great storage cities of Rameses and Pithom. But despite their hardships, they continued to thrive just as God had promised. This caused Pharaoh even greater alarm, and he ordered the slaughter of Israel's infant sons. By his command, every male child born to the Hebrews was to be cast into the Nile and drowned. How sore were the afflictions of the Jewish people. In anguish they cried unto the God of their fathers. And God heard their cry. God remembered His covenant. And God raised up a deliverer, a redeemer - the man Moses. And He sent Moses to Pharaoh's court to declare the commandment of the Lord: "Let My people go!" But Pharaoh would not hearken to the Lord of Hosts. And so, Moses pronounced God's judgment on Pharaoh's house, and on Pharaoh’s land. Plagues were poured out upon the Egyptians, upon their crops, and upon their flocks. But Pharaoh's heart was hardened. He would not yield to the will of God. He would not let the house of Jacob depart. Then the tenth plague fell upon the land: the death of Egypt's first born. "And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sits upon his throne, even unto the first-born of the maidservant who is behind the mill; and all the first-born of beasts... And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment." But to protect the children of Israel, God commanded the head of each Jewish household to sacrifice a spotless lamb and to apply its blood to the doorway of his home, first to the top of the doorway, the lintel, and then to the two sideposts.


All: "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."


Leader: "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations."


All: ''Ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."


Narrator: By the blood of the lamb was Israel spared.


All: By the blood of the lamb was Jacob redeemed.


Narrator: By the blood of the lamb was death made to pass over.


Leader: Passover, or in Hebrew, Pesach; that holiday which commemorates the night when death passed over the houses of Israel because of the blood, the blood of the lamb - the Passover lamb. What a mighty act of redemption! And what a beautiful picture of a greater redemption destined to come. For just as no bones of the first Passover lambs were broken, so none of the Messiah's bones were broken.


All: And just as the blood of those first Passover lambs was applied in faith to the doorposts of Israel's homes, so the blood of the Messiah must be applied in faith to the doorposts of our hearts. And so tonight, we worship God not only because the angel of death passed over the Jewish people's homes,


Leader: But because all of us - whether Jewish or Gentile - may be redeemed from an even greater bondage through faith in the Messiah of Israel.


All: The Messiah Jesus.


Leader: Through Him, we may pass over from death to life.


All: Amen.

9. The Ten Plagues

Leader: Pharaoh defied the Lord and placed his will above the will of God. As a result, he brought destruction upon his house and land. How often do we, like Pharaoh, choose our desires over God's direction? And how often do we, like Pharaoh, bring harm upon ourselves and upon those closest to us? Because we share with Pharaoh the sin of disobedience, and because we regard all people as God's creations, we do not rejoice over the destruction visited upon the Egyptians.


All: For our sake they met with suffering and death. We mourn their loss and express our sorrow over their destruction.


Leader: And though we celebrate our liberation, our happiness is not complete as long as others remain bound to slavery and death. (Leader raises cup, and continues.) A full cup is a symbol of complete joy. Let us, therefore, diminish our cups as we recall the plagues which befell the Egyptians.


All: (Each participant empties a drop from his cup for each one of the ten plagues.) Blood. Frogs. Lice. Flies. Cattle disease. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. Slaying of the first-born.

10. The Second Cup: The Cup of Plagues

Leader: It is now time to drink the second cup. 


(All raise their cups.)


All: Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord our God, who createst the fruit of the vine. 


(All drink the second cup.)

11. The Leader's Grace Before Dinner


12. The Passover Festivities: The Songs of Passover

DAYENU

I-lu ho-tsi. ho-tsi-o-nu. ho-tsi-o-nu mi-Mits-ra-ytm.

Mi-Mits-ra-yim, ho-tsi-o-nu, da-ye-nu.

 

Da-da-ye-nu, da-da-ye-nu. da-da-ye-nu. da-ye-nu. da-ye-nu. (da-ye-nu)

Da-da-ye-nu, da-da-ye-nu . da-da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu. da-ye-nu.

 

I-lu na-tan. na-tan la-nu, na-tan la-nu et ha Sha-bat

Et ha Sha-bat. na-tan la-nu. da-ye-nu. (To Chorus)

 

I-lu na-tan. na-tan la-nu. na-tan la-nu et ha To-rah

Et ha To-rah. na-tan la-nu. da-ye-nu. (To Chorus)


ELIYAHU

E-ll-ya-hu ha-na-vi, E-ll-ya-hu ha-tish-bi.

E-ll-ya-hu. E-ll-ya-hu. E-ll-ya-hu ha-gil-a-di.

 

Bim-ne-ra v-ya-me-nu ya-vo e-le-nu.

Im ma-shi-ach ben Da-vid. im ma-shi-ach ben Da-vid.

 

E-ll-ya-hu ha-na-vi. E-ll-ya-hu ha-tish-bi.

E-ll-ya-hu. E-ll-ya-hu, E-ll-ya-hu ha-gll-a-di

 

LET MY PEOPLE GO

When Israel was in Egypt's land, Let my people go 

Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go

Go down, Moses. way down to Egypt's land

Tell old Pharoah. Let my people go.

 

“Thus saith the lord” bold Moses said, Let my people go

If not I’ll smite your first-born dead, Let my people go

Go down, Moses. way down to Egypt's land

Tell old Pharoah. Let my people go.

 

No more shall they in bondage toil, Let my people go

Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil, Let my people go

Go down, Moses. way down to Egypt's land

Tell old Pharoah. Let my people go.

 

The Lord told Moses what to do, Let my people go

To lead the children of Israel through, Let my people go

Go down, Moses. way down to Egypt's land

Tell old Pharoah. Let my people go.

13. The Afikomen

Leader: (Leader now sends the children in search of the hidden afikomen. The children who recover it return it to the Leader and receive a reward.) This hunt for the afikomen is certainly one of the more delightful moments of the Passover seder. And yet, some mystery surrounds the significance of the afikomen and the matzah tosh from which it has been drawn. We may justly ask,

 

All: What is the meaning of the three matzahs, and why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Leader: To many, the question is a riddle yet to be resolved. But for those who know the Messiah, it need not be a riddle at all. For where can we find a clearer picture of our Messiah than in this tradition concerning the afikomen which has been broken... buried... and then brought back? Even the matzah, a symbol of a sinless nature, speaks of Jesus. The rabbis have set down some very specific regulations concerning the appearance of matzah. If it is to be found suitable for use in the first place, it must be striped...

 

All: As was Jesus. For the prophet Isaiah says: "And with his stripes we are healed."

 

Leader: In the second place, it must be pierced...

 

All: As was Jesus. For the prophet Zechariah says: "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced."

 

Leader: Earlier, we called this the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt, and this is true. But it is also a symbol of the bread of life, which cometh down from heaven, and gives life unto the world. Jesus said:

 

All: "I am the bread of life; he cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

 

Leader: Let all who are hungry come and eat. (The matzah is lowered. The cups are refilled.)

 

All: Then what is the meaning of the matzah tosh, and why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Fathers: Some teach that the three matzahs represent the unity of the three patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

All: Then why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Fathers: Others say that the matzahs represent the unity of worship in ancient Israel: the High Priests, the Levites, and the people of Israel.

 

All: Then why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Fathers: Still others teach that the matzahs represent three crowns: the crown of learning, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship.

 

All: Then why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Leader: There is yet one final explanation, an explanation suggested by the design of the matzah tosh itself. For the three parts of the matzah tosh form a unity, a tri-unity, a mysterious three-in-one. Could it be that the tri-unity of the matzah tosh bears witness to the tri-unity of one God revealed in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?

 

All: Then why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?

 

Leader: Because Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, was broken, buried, and then brought back. It was at this time during the Seder that Jesus said, "This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me."

14. The Third Cup: The Cup of Redemption

Leader: It is now time for the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. The fruit of the vine at Passover is always red to remind us, our rabbis explain, of the precious blood of that ancient Passover lamb, the lamb that was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to Pharaoh. In the same way, the blood of another Passover lamb, the Messiah Jesus, was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to sin and death. It was concerning this very cup, the Cup of Redemption, the cup taken after dinner, that the Messiah Jesus said: "This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you." At Passover, each person at the Seder receives a piece of the afikomen about the size of an olive. And then, the morsel of the afikomen and the third cup of wine are taken together. For those of us who know the Messiah, this serves as a remembrance of the body and blood of our Passover lamb, Jesus.


15. Communion: The Lord's Supper


16. The Fourth Cup: The Cup of Hallel

Leader: (The fourth cup is filled.) Now comes the Hallel, the recitation from Psalms 113 through 118. Let us recite psalms of worship at this time, just as Jesus recited them every year as part of His Passover observance. Praise ye the Lord.

 

All: Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.

 

Leader: Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

 

All: From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised.

 

Leader: The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.

 

All: Who is like unto the Lord, our God, who dwelleth on high?

 

Leader: Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.

 

All: For His mercy endureth forever!

 

Designated Reader: (Reads the Hallel) 


(All drink the fourth cup.)

17. The Cup of Elijah

Leader: (Pointing to the Cup of Elijah on the head table.) The sharing of the afikomen and the Cup of Redemption are precious moments in the Passover Seder. Yet many of God's beloved Chosen People do not yet see how the Messiah and His promise to redeem them are portrayed in the breaking of this bread and the drinking of this cup. And so, they look ahead to the promise represented by a special cup set aside for the prophet Elijah. It is recorded by the Hebrew prophet Malachi that the Messiah's coming will be preceded by the return of Elijah the Prophet. And each year at Passover, a child goes to the door and opens it wide, hoping the prophet will accept the invitation, enter the home, and announce the coming of the Messiah. A cherished Jewish prayer is for the prophet Elijah to come soon, in our time, with the Messiah, Son of David. Yet we know that Elijah has returned. For when Jesus spoke of the prophet John, He said of him. "If ye will receive it, this is Elijah, who was to come." The prophet, the forerunner, has come. And so did the Messiah, even during Passover some 2,000 years ago. 


(All raise the fourth cup.) 


18. The Hope

Leader: As we partake of this Passover Seder, may our hearts be joined in gratitude to God for the coming of Messiah, for His death and resurrection, and for the promise of His return.

 

All: Praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise Him all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us; and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Hallelujah!

 

Leader: It is traditional to conclude the Seder by singing "L'Shana Ha-Ba-ah Birushalayim"- ''Next Year in Jerusalem." For generations, this song has captured in melody the fervent hope of the Jewish people, a hope to be restored to the ancient land of Israel in the presence of the Messiah Himself.

We too have a similar precious hope: the hope of Messiah's soon return. Let us all read from the Revelation of John.

 

All: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth... And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... The former things are passed away... Behold, I make all things new." (Rev. 21:1-5)

 

Leader and Congregation: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!