I have a confession.
A painful one.
An embarrassing one (in some contexts at least).
I love a good Anglican prayer book church service.
There. It’s out. Feels better already.
It’s taken a long time to get to that point. Earlier in my life those same prayer book services drove me away from the church. To the teenage me they were boring, repetitive and meaningless.
Pomp without Purpose.
Ritual without Relevance.
Moments without Meaning.
Today, we read of the instructions for the passover in Exodus 12:1-28. Before jumping too quickly to consider the significance of the passover for Christians just stop for a moment to consider how this played out.
We know that the Israelites acted obediently (v27-28) and (SPOILER ALERT) that God did release the people from Egypt. There escape story is for the days that come but for now imagine the years between this story and the death of Jesus (which we will come to shortly). Whether wanderers in the desert, inhabiters of the inherited land or aliens in exile the Israelites were to “obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance” (v24) and to pass the meaning of them onto their children. The ritual came with a story that carried much meaning.
No doubt across the centuries there were children and adults who stopped celebrating the passover, or at least stopped explaining it’s significance and meaning. Yet some remained faithful not just to the ceremony but to the meaning. The story of God and his redemptive acts through the passover lamb, the story of how he rescued his people from slavery and liberated them to live together under his rule in the promised land… this story remained in the narrative of Jesus’ time.
It wasn’t a long lost story that Jesus played into, it was a known and experienced story which Jesus fulfilled. In Mark 14 we see the size of this festival (v1-2) and the disciples total engagement in it (v12f). At that passover, Jesus speaks of his own body and blood. His blood would be poured out for many. His disciples may well have remembered John the Baptists description of him as the ‘Lamb of God’ (John 1:29). Regardless, Jesus takes all the meaning of the passover and shows himself as the new passover lamb who is rescuing God’s people from slavery and liberating them to live under his rule.
Take a moment this morning to remind yourself of the magnitude of the story in which we live – this incredible story of God redeeming the world, forgiving sin, and liberating his people for a new life and new purpose. And next time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, allow its meaning to draw not only you, but those whom may ask the what and why questions, back into the grand story of our incredible God and his purpose for the world.