Read Exodus 12:1-14
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
This month shall mark for you the beginning of months;
it shall be the first month of the year for you.
Tell the whole congregation of Israel
that on the tenth of this month
they are to take a lamb for each family,
a lamb for each household.
If a household is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one;
the lamb shall be divided in proportion
to the number of people who eat of it.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male;
you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month;
then the whole assembled congregation of Israel
shall slaughter it at twilight.
They shall take some of the blood
and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel
of the houses in which they eat it.
They shall eat the lamb that same night;
they shall eat it roasted over the fire
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water,
but roasted over the fire,
with its head, legs, and inner organs.
You shall let none of it remain until the morning;
anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
This is how you shall eat it:
your loins girded,
your sandals on your feet,
and your staff in your hand;
and you shall eat it hurriedly.
It is the passover of the LORD.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night,
and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt,
both human beings and animals;
on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.
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.
You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD;
throughout your generations
you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
—from Rev. Bonnie Thurston, Wheeling, WV
It’s easy to get lost in the richness of the details. In the profound symbolism Christians borrowed from Judaism, the drama of Exodus 12:1-14, we can miss the reason for the community meal (v. 3-4, 6), the spotless lamb (v. 5), the blood (v. 7, 13), the unleavened bread and bitter herbs (v. 8), all to be eaten dressed for travel (v. 11) because this is the feast of liberation. At great cost to the Egyptians (v. 12), God provided a way out of bondage. At great cost to himself, God still does—in the slaughter of His own firstborn. The Passover images the meaning of Christ’s Passion: from Table to Garden to Cross to Empty Tomb, this is our story of liberation. Tonight we feast because “For freedom Christ has set us free, (Galatians 5:1; 5:13-14.) through body broken, blood spilled. “Do this in remembrance.” “Observe it as a perpetual ordinance.”
As we approach your common table, O God,
we find there uncommon things amid the common:
Life and forgiveness, hope and comfort,
a new family and a new mission, bread and wine.
Thanks be to you, O God, for your marvelous gifts!