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06 Mar

A Christian Seder

Christian seder

The original Seder

MY FAMILY is Christian, although my husband is a Messianic Jew. We don’t often celebrate the Jewish holidays, but sometimes we enjoy doing it. There is no Biblical mandate for Christians to keep the Jewish feasts and fasts, as Christ came “to fulfill the law” (Matthew 5:17), but there’s no reason not to if you want to. This year, we will hold a Christian Seder meal to celebrate Passover, which falls in 2015 on Easter. Resurrection Day is my most favorite day of the whole year, when our salvation was secured over 2,000 years ago.

Passover is a commemoration of the time when God freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and brought the famous ten plagues down on Pharaoh who refused to let the people go. You probably know the story, but if you don’t, now would be a good time to read up on it. You’ll find the story in Exodus in the Bible. The story includes the favorite part of Moses parting the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on dry land, and then bringing the sea crashing down to drown Pharaoh’s army when they tried to follow.

Here’s a cheat sheet to the order of the Seder. I hope you decide to join us this year and remember the roots of our faith as we celebrate the deliverance of God’s people from slavery to Egypt and slavery to sin.

A traditional Seder table.

Seder service order

KADESH – the Benediction

With the first of four cups of wine, we recite the kiddush. We are reclining to eat the whole meal.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth the fruit of the vine. Amen.

URCHATZ – Purification

Our hands are washed in the ritually correct way, but without reciting the blessing. This is because the next step is dipping the karpas, which is done without utensils.

KARPAS -the Appetizer

Although it may not seem particularly appetizing, a piece of boiled potato or onion are the appetizer, which we dip in salt water, after saying the blessing over the vegetables.
Praised are you, Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth the fruit of the earth. Amen.
The salt water symbolizes the tears of the Jews in Egypt.

YACHATZ – Breaking the Matzah

Three pieces of matzah are used during the Seder. They have piercings and stripes on them which remind us of the pierced hands and feet and stripes on the body of Jesus. Two pieces are left whole and one is broken in half, symbolizing Jesus’ body, broken for us. Half of it is hidden inside a napkin, symbolizing Jesus’ burial. It is saved to become the afikoman, or last morsel eaten.

MAGGID – the Haggadah

At this point, the Seder tray is moved aside and the poor are invited in to join the family. A second cup of wine is drunk.

Now comes the most interesting part of the Seder ceremony, the haggadah or telling of the Exodus story. The story includes a brief history of the Jews, the time of their slavery in Egypt, the plagues and the miracles God did on their behalf.

Traditionally, the youngest child asks four questions about why the family is celebrating this day in this particular way, and you must know the story to answer the questions. This is how the traditions were passed from generation to generation, as each child at one point is the youngest. Here are the four questions:

1. On all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs; why on this night only bitter herbs?
3. On all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once; why on this night do we dip them twice?
4. On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining; why on this night do we all recline?
The answers to these questions can be found in Exodus 13:14.

ROCHTZAH – the Washing before the Meal

After the second cup of wine is drunk comes the traditional washing of the hands, along with the customary blessing in thanks for bread.
Blessed are you, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the ground. Amen.

MOTZI MATZAH – the Eating of the Matzah

Hold all three pieces of the matzot together, with the broken one between the two whole ones. Let the bottom matzah fall back onto the plate and recite the special prayer over them.
[God] who has sanctified us with His commands and commanded us to eat matzah.

Then, breaking off at least an ounce of each matzah, eat them together.

MAROR -the Bitter Herbs

Break off at least an ounce of the bitter herbs and dip it in charoset, shake it off, and eat it while standing. This symbolizes that the Jews had to be ready to flee in a moment, that there was no time to sit down to a meal (which is also why the bread is unleavened, besides the fact that leaven represents sin). Bless the herbs by saying [God] who sanctifies us by His commandments and has commanded us to eat bitter herbs.

KORECH – the Sandwich

Once again reclining, break off at least two ounces of the bottom matzah and make a sandwich with the bitter herbs between the one ounce pieces of matzah and eat it.

SULCHAN ORECH – the Feast

Now the feast begins, starting with hard boiled eggs dipped in salt water. This is a festive time and many delicious foods are served. Next week, I’ll post a list of recipes for your Seder meal.

TZAFUN – Finding the Matzah

After the feast, the children search for the afikoman, the half matzah that an adult may have hidden for this part of the Seder, or it is taken out of the napkin wherein it was wrapped, and eaten. This half of the matzah represents the risen Christ. (In Jewish culture, it represents the sacrificed Passover lamb, which Christ is!) It is the last thing eaten, and nothing else will be eaten or drunk except the last two cups of wine.

Here’s where the Christian Seder departs from the Hebrew one, because the last two cups of wine are drunk in anticipation of Elijah and the Messiah. Since Jesus said Elijah had already come in John the Baptist and Jesus is Himself the Messiah, we drink the wine in anticipation of Christ’s return, saying blessings and ending our feast with singing praise songs to God.

Next week I’ll post some Passover foods, and the week after suggestions for decorating. The final week, I’ll post children’s games and crafts.

06 Mar

Faux Stained Glass Kids Foil Picture

faux stained glass craft

THIS HAS been one long winter. With the official start of spring just a couple of weeks away (March 22), there’s still feet of snow in my daughter’s backyard. Of course, she lives in Kentucky, and I live in Texas. We got our share of snow this year, too (about 8″ over two snowfalls *grin*). But it’s been cold and rainy, making the yard here too wet to play outdoors. So Remy, my youngest granddaughter (3-1/2 years old) was bored out of image imageher little mind, and I didn’t want her just watching TV all day. We’ve read all the books over and over, and she’s ready for something new to do. Thus, the faux stained glass kids foil picture. Here’s what we did.

You’ll need:

thin cardboard (like from a cereal box)

a hole punch

string

brightly colored markers (we used Sharpies)

tape

scissors

aluminum foil

Here’s what you do:

Cut one side off a cereal box with the scissors.

Punch holes every inch or so all around the cardboard rectangle.

Cut a piece of string about 2 feet long.  Thread one end of the string through one of the holes and tape it to the cardboard. Feed the other end of the string through a random hole on the opposite side of the rectangle and back through another random hole on one of the adjacent sides. Keep wrapping the cardboard, going through random holes, until you run out of string. Be sure to tape the end to the same side the other end is taped to.

Cut two pieces of aluminum foil and stack them, shiny side down. Lay the string wrapped cardboard with the taped side up on top of the foil. Wrap the foil sheets around the cardboard like you wrapping a present. Tape the edges down. Turn the whole thing over.

Carefully feel for the strings and run your fingers over them, tracing lines on the foil. Don’t use your fingernails, as the foil tears quite easily!

Now take the markers and fill in the spaces between the strings, either solidly or with patterns. Be gentle with the markers! If your foil should tear, just wrap another sheet around the cardboard and you’re set to go. No need to pull the torn sheet off–in fact, it gives you extra padding to help prevent tears.

Isn’t that beautiful? After REMY did four of these, she decided to just draw on aluminum foil, which is a work of art in itself!

06 Mar

Help Kids Deal With Anger

kids and anger

EVER NOTICE that anger is contagious? Just let your two year old throw a temper tantrum in a public place, or listen to your elementary kid tell you she hates you, or witness a melt-down with a teenager, and you’ll find it’s true. You get angry too. Here’s how to help kids deal with anger.

Everyone gets angry. It’s not the sole province of either adults or children. And anger is not always wrong or bad. There are very legitimate reasons for anger.

In infancy, babies cannot communicate their needs. So they cry. And when the need is adequately met, they quit crying. But when the need is not met—possibly because the mother can’t figure out what’s wrong—the crying gets louder until suddenly the infant has balled up fists, a red face, and is breathing so hard she sometimes actually loses her breath. That’s developmental anger. Of course, all you can do is try to figure out what’s wrong. Wet diaper? Hunger? Hot? Cold? Lonely? Thirsty?

In toddlerhood, kids understand many more words than they can use. They still cannot adequately express themselves and this leads to frustration and then to anger. The child not only has trouble expressing herself to adults, but to other kids as well. But other kids are more her own size, so expressing anger may result in injury to another child.

This is the time we start to teach appropriate ways to handle anger. The one constant most people can agree on is that hurting other people or their possessions is not to be tolerated. When I was teaching a nursery school class of two and three year olds, one little girl came to class almost every day angry. She would scream and cry and flail her arms and legs, and woe to anyone in her path. So we set up an area padded with pillows and stuffed toys, and giving her a hug, we laid her down on the pillows. Then we walked away and ignored her. When her anger was spent, she smilingly came and joined the rest of the class—every time. She had learned an appropriate way to handle her anger. At this age, talking about future events is not very productive, because children of two or three have no clear concept of time. (That’s why it doesn’t help to say, “Mommy will be back after work.” The child lives in the now, not the later.)

Elementary aged kids still get mad at other kids for many of the same reasons that toddlers do. Another child took his baseball mitt or cut in line or said something mean. And often the response to that anger may look like a toddler’s reaction. But at this age, kids can start to learn about anger when they are not angry. When you and the child are both calm, that’s the time to talk about what’s okay and what isn’t. Is it okay to go outside and scream? Is it okay to punch a pillow? How about a wall or another person? Talk about how the child may act when he gets angry next time. Set ground rules and stick to them. Consistency is the single most important thing (next to love) that a parent can do to make sure a child grows up into a responsible, caring, compassionate adult.

 Of course, it works in reverse too. If you consistently show anger, yelling when something doesn’t go your way, that’s what your child will learn. As your child approaches adolescence, it is very important to be sure you model proper response to situations where anger could arise. This time is so important because it is the time that your child is testing you as she tries to discover who she is. Should I count to ten when I’m angry? Mom doesn’t. She just yells. She tells me to count, but she doesn’t and that makes me mad! Be sure you are setting a good precedent for your teen to follow.

 It’s important at any age to try and discover the source of anger so that it can be dealt with in a healthy way. Unexpressed anger will show up later, and it may not be expressed as anger. For example, many adults who have never dealt with the source of their anger suffer from ulcers or even heart disease. There is a major difference between expressing anger inappropriately and suppressing it. Deal with anger when it arises. Don’t put it off, or you may hide it from yourself and have much more difficult problems later.

God doesn’t condemn anger. He is often portrayed as angry in the Old Testament. Anger is simply one of the many emotions that reflect the Creator who gave them to us. Temper your anger, and express it quickly and suitably. Then move on.

Proverbs 29:11  “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

Ephesians 4:26  “In your anger do not sin : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”

James 1:20  “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

Here are some books to help you work through anger issues, whether with yourself or with your children. May God bless you on your way!

Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out: The Anger Management Book (Paperback), by Jerry Wilde

When Anger Hurts Your Kids: A Parent’s Guide (Paperback), by Patrick Fanning and  Kim Paleg

Feelings: Frazzled, Frenzied & Frantic,  by Mark Gillespie, Mike Gillespie

The Anger Workbook for Christian Parents, by Les Carter and Frank Minirth