On Sunday, our friend from Israel came to our church and did the Christ in the Passover presentation. I had seen it a few years ago---and was tasked this year to gather the ingredients. For weeks, I have had the list and instructions taped to the door, and Bob helped me do the set up on Saturday, so that everything was ready except the chopped apple (motar).
The Passover celebration is such a visual teaching aid, and part of the observance is to teach the children, and once a year remind everyone how God miraculously brought His People out of bondage, out of Egypt. And the elements all point to Christ, our Passover.
In the Passover celebration today, there is a mixture of old and new customs. Since the Temple has been destroyed---they no longer sacrifice the lambs for the meal. In strange irony---they are not suppose to anyway, as Jesus is the Lamb of God. To continue to sacrifice lambs says they reject Jesus as Messiah. Many of the Jews have turned it into an elaborate ritual, and yet they miss the meaning behind it.
To understand our present day, Lord's Supper, I believe you need to understand how it came about, and the echos of Passover in our celebration. Because, if you did not see the connection between Jesus's Last Passover and His command to DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME,(Luke 22:19) you might miss the fact that it is to be done with unleaven bread, and that bread is to be shared, broken, eaten together, with thanksgiving...a blessing.
We need to strip away the traditions, and get back to the orign. I believe our church does it wrong by just setting out pitchers on the tables and having a plate of cut English muffin or yeast bread.
The original Passover was to be a family affair---each house was to take a lamb, roast it, eat it with travelling clothing on, break no bones, eat unleaven bread made in haste, and mark their doors with the blood of the lamb so that when the Death Angel came He would see the blood (obedience/faith) and Pass Over that house. Houses without the blood of the lamb lost their firstborns. ...as did Pharoah's house, and with this 10th plague, Pharoah let the people go, although he had second thoughts and sent out chariots later, hence the Red Sea miracle.
So, the whole idea of needing to slaughter the lambs at the Temple was something added. And leave it to the Jews to add rules to rules, and Jesus had to clean the Temple of their "money-changing" because they had invented a rule where you could not purchase a lamb for Passover with foriegn coinage.
While the Jews were busy selecting their lambs for that last Passover---Jesus was entering Jerusalem on a donkey. And as Jesus and His disciples ate their Passover meal the night before most folks, after sundown, it was technically the true Passover. When the rest of the city was preparing to sit down for their Passover, Jesus was hanging on the cross. His body was taken down and buried before sunset so that laws were not broken.
During that Last Passover, that Last Supper, Jesus's Last Supper before the cross, Jesus, being Jewish, probably ate roasted lamb, (and I wonder if the blood of that lamb was put or painted upon the doorway?). Jesus washed His disciples feet, demonstrated servanthood, and then reclined, as was the custom---we do not recline at table today, but we need to picture the intimacy, the relaxed and close picture because Jesus breaks the Passover tradition at cup four---and breaks bread giving each a piece, and giving thanks said: This is My Body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. (Luke 2:19)
Jesus was reclining/relaxed, close enough to reach out and give each a piece of
broken UNLEAVEN bread, which is like a big cracker
He prayed--giving thanks/a blessing
He instructed them to eat it together in memory or remembrance of Him.
He was starting a new tradition. Yet one born out of the old.
We need to know the old so that we can do the new correctly, in my opinion.
possibly after a meal where everyone has been served, satisfied, well fed
but, there needs to be a break---a time where whoever is leading
breaks conversation, so that everyone is listening/together/hearing
breaks the UNLEAVEN bread and shares it
(I guess in a larger crowd, the bread/matzah/unleaven cracker can be pre-broken and served by decons or ushers)
and then the leader repeats what Jesus said: Do this in remembrance of me. Eating this bread and drinking this cup---you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (Paul says in I Cor. 11:23)
and in I Cor. 10:16 bread we BREAK. and verse 17 one bread, one body ---we all partake of the one bread.
restoration--a time of confession/relationship smoothing---like washing of feet
thanksgiving--prayer of thanks
repeating Jesus words and actions
breaking the bread and giving a piece to each person
sharing the cup---or in our case, giving each the pre-filled little cups
songs at the end. hymns to leave by?
I Cor. 5:8 says: celebrate the feast NOT with old leaven nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleaven bread of sincerity and truth.
I need to think of an acrostic to go with all the elements--to keep it simple:
confession, thanksgiving, breaking bread, giving each a piece, sharing the cup of the fruit of the vine, repeating Jesus' commands, and what Paul said about how not to do it. hymns.
It can be as quick as twenty minutes, or as long as a long, drawn out supper where eveyrone is satisfied, and the elements taken together, with even foot washing, too, or as long as a Passover---to see whence the tradition came. Two hours, or more.