Passover at Home
The Passover Service is observed on the evening of the 14th of Abib, according to God’s Sacred Calendar. Passover is for baptized Christians. If you are unable to observe the Passover with other brethren, you can observe it in your own home. These general instructions are provided for your convenience. There is also an audio of the Passover Service.
In advance, purchase or prepare a small amount of plain unleavened bread. In most cases, you will be able to buy Matzos at the grocery store, if you so desire. Check the label to be sure that the unleavened bread does not contain any leavening. You will also need a small amount of natural red wine such as cabernet sauvignon, claret or burgundy. Have a small amount of the unleavened bread and small glasses of wine (one for each person) prepared before the service begins.
Be prepared to observe the sacred ordinance of Passover in the evening, after sunset. This is a special occasion, so provide a clean and neat room with privacy.
For the Footwashing, have small tubs, water and towels accessible before the service begins.
The Passover Service is the most solemn and sacred occasion of the year – the anniversary of the suffering and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and a memorial of His sacrifice.
Read Luke 22:7-8 and verses 14-15. Then go to Matthew 26:17 and verses 26-30. Next, read Paul’s instructions directly from Christ Himself in 1 Corinthians 11:23-31. Next, read John 6:53-54 where we find that this Passover Service is commanded for all baptized Christians. Then read John 13:1-17, concerning the Footwashing. We find that Jesus now asks us to demonstrate our love for one another in the same way that He laid down His life for us, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another… Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 13:34, 15:13).”
Then, if two or more people are participating, wash one another’s feet. If one person is observing it alone, the actual washing is omitted – though the scriptures pertaining to the Footwashing are read. The Footwashing demonstrates our willingness to literally lay down our life for others as Jesus laid down His life for us. Jesus made the Footwashing a requirement for salvation (John 13:8).
Because we have all sinned throughout the year, the Footwashing is a yearly renewal and rededication of our baptismal covenant. At baptism, our initial sins were wiped out. The Footwashing is a renewal of the grace of Jesus Christ in continuing our cleansing and forgiveness. The Footwashing is the outward expression of our repentance of sins committed throughout the year – in the same way that our Baptism was the physical manifestation of our initial repentance.
Next, the one conducting the service gives thanks to our Father for the gift of His Son, Jesus, and our access to the ‘bread of life.’ Ask God in prayer to bless the unleavened bread as a symbol of Christ’s body. Then, break the bread into small pieces and pass it around. Each participant should quietly eat one small piece of the unleavened bread, reflecting on its significance as a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice so that we might be reconciled with the Father (Romans 5:10). Through Jesus’ suffering we have healing of mind and body (1 Peter 2:24).
Then, over the wine, the one conducting the service will give thanks and ask God to bless it for the sacred use as the symbol of Christ’s blood. Next, pass the wine and let each participant take a glass and respectfully drink it in recognition of his acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins.
The one conducting the service should then read aloud from John 13:31 through John 17. These are the words Jesus spoke to His disciples after His last Passover supper with them just before He was scourged and crucified. Read and think deeply about such texts as Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Psalm 103. Since these are rather long sections of Scripture, you may wish to mark certain passages of these chapters in advance of the service.
After the scripture reading, sing a hymn just as Christ and the disciples did that night (Matthew 26:30). The hymn, “In Thy Loving Kindness Lord,” is a nice selection from Psalms 51. This concludes the Passover service.
After the service has ended, discard any portion of the bread and wine left over which had earlier been consecrated by prayer for this special use.
Warren M. Zehrung