By the time you read this, the Passover will have finished, but at the time I write this I am getting ready this evening and reflecting and eating dinner and preparing for the Passover. Admittedly, this Passover is one of the most unusual I have ever experienced, and there are quite a few odd Passovers that I have had, including watching a Passover as a young teenager in 1995 where the division was obvious, and keeping the Passover in Santiago when the deacons and elders went off to wash each other’s feet and separated themselves from the rest of us peasants to do so. By and large, though, my experience in keeping the Passover has been in larger congregations. Once I went to Hood River fairly early in my time in Portland, and it was fascinating to be a part of a congregation where there were only five baptized members or so, which required some finesse in terms of engaging in the ceremony of footwashing.
Yet there are a great many people who have long taken the Passover in home groups. If this has not been my own personal experience, it has been a much more common experience in the course of the history of the Church of God as well as the practice of many isolated families of believers. In this particular case, the isolation is as a result of the policies of government related to a public health crisis, but throughout much of history the issue of governments and the hostility of governments to assembling was a factor, even if the exact circumstances are not the same at present. It is perhaps useful to reflect upon our circumstances and how they give us a shared understanding of how life was like for believers in other periods. As someone who has long sought to gain experience with how other people live through travel and through a fondness of reading history, it is worthwhile to see how experience can be gained through changes in conditions even if one is not leaving one’s home to celebrate the Passover as one might normally do. These are by no means normal times.
It is worthwhile to ponder as well on some of the matters that are usually mentioned every Passover but perhaps without the same fervent understanding that we have at present. Paul warns us, for example, that not taking the body and blood of Jesus Christ seriously can lead to sickness and death, and sickness and death are certainly on everyone’s mind. The level of desire on the part of governments to scare citizens into staying home and not even exercising outside on a sunny day depends on causing people to have a great deal of fear in sickness and death. It is worthwhile to reflect, though, on the difference in the appeals that are made between stay-at-home orders and the demand that God makes that we take it seriously when we seek to share in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. Our governments cannot protect us and secure our safety, though they act as if they have that power. Through Christ, though, believers do receive access to eternal life and forgiveness of sins. It is far more reasonable to take such a sacrifice seriously by which we are forgiven of our sins and are adopted into God’s family and made citizens of His kingdom than it is to be panicking about a situation where the ability of government to help is limited and where advice is highly inconsistent and where the tone is frequently one of panicked overreacting. Such are the times we live in, though. It remains to be seen if this is a rare and odd one-off experience or the sort of experience that will linger long. In the meantime, I must be off to prepare; I hope you all have thought seriously about our times and our faith as well.