‘Give the whole community of Israel the following instructions: on the tenth day of this month, let every house or family get a lamb. If there are too few people in a house to eat a lamb, let us associate with the nearest neighbouring family, taking into account the number of people; and we will choose the lamb according to what everyone can eat. His blood will be taken and the two studs and lintel will be brushed from the door of the houses where he will be eaten. You’ll eat it in a hurry, ready to go: the belt tied to the loins, the sandals to the feet and the stick in your hand. It will be the Passover that will be celebrated in honour of the Lord. I will travel through Egypt that night and strike every first-born man and beast in the land, and thus exercise my judgments against all the gods of Egypt; I am the Lord. Blood will be for you a sign on the houses where you will be; I’ll see the blood, I’ll pass over you. Thus the destructive plague will not reach you when I strike Egypt.’ (Exodus 12:3-4,7,11-13 BDS)
Hello beloved in the Lord, Easter is upon us, but we hardly realise it. This great Christian feast, which comes with all night prayers, church services retreats and other spiritual activities in the Church, is now falling into the period of general confinement.
This can be seen as a blow, an attack on Christianity. But, we can also see that it is rather an opportunity to celebrate it in its authenticity for at least three reasons:
1. The first Passover was not celebrated in assembly, but in every house. At most two houses could associate, no more. Jesus Christ himself celebrated Easter in a house with his family: the disciples, there were 13 of them (Luke 22:7-12). The disciples of the first Church also celebrated the Passover in their houses (Acts 2:46).
2. The first Easter was celebrated in a context where a destroyer was going to visit in the night to kill. In the same way today, COVID-19 scares the whole world and spreads like wildfire. Jesus Christ himself ate the Passover in a context of confinement, because he was forced to hide from the religious leaders of that time who wanted to kill him. The first disciples in Acts ate the Passover sometimes in a context of persecution.
3. The first Passover was the culmination of a process of liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The second Passover is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The cross and blood of the lamb assures us of our deliverance from the bondage of sin, disease, the devil and death. This is an opportunity for us to put our lives back in order in relation to his work. To live the reality of the benefits of the cross.
How to celebrate Easter with your family
Many families are embarrassed because they have only experienced this practice in the Church. But I want to share with you a simple and practical way to celebrate Easter as a family.
1. Prepare what you need
The symbol for the body of Christ: You can choose bread or a cake that you will cut into pieces.
Make sure that everything is eaten (as in Exodus) so one piece per person. The size of the piece doesn’t matter.
The symbol of Christ’s blood: choose what will symbolise your wine according to your convictions: eg juice or wine. Pour into small disposable glasses for each. Then cover it all with a tea towel.
2. Prepare your heart
‘That is why anyone who eats bread or drank from the Lord’s cup in an unworthy manner would be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Let everyone seriously examine himself and then eat this bread and drink from this cup. For he who eats and drinks without discerning what the body is condemns itself by eating and drinking in this way.’ (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 BDS)
It is important to go through a time of confession of sin to the Lord and to each other.
Let everyone take the time to examine their heart: What did I do that irritated God’s heart? What did I do that hurt a family member?
Each member of the family must also go and ask forgiveness for what he or she has done wrong against one of the other members. The person concerned welcomes him and asks for forgiveness. Parents should not hesitate to ask their children for forgiveness in case of offence.
3. Remember the cross and its benefits
It is a time to remember all that the cross has brought to humans: salvation, victory over sin, victory over death, healing of the soul and body, deliverance from satanic bonds, redemption, sanctification.
Remember all this and invite each member of the family to appropriate it through faith.
4. Remember the initiation of the last supper
Then use the texts of 1 Corinthians 11:22-26 and Luke 22:17-20.
- Reading about the bread, the head of the family takes a loaf of bread and breaks it.
- Reading about the wine, he lifts the cup and blesses it.
- Then he ends with a prayer that blesses this moment together.
- Give the tray to everyone to take the bread and eat, then add the drink.
5. Intercessory prayer
We pray that the reality of the benefits of the cross may be shared, for salvation, healing and divine protection covering this house with the blood of the Lamb. Let us pray for our extended family, our local church and our country. All this while singing hymns that speak of the work of the cross.
Happy Easter to all.
Jean Paul Dansou is ICMDA Regional Representative for Francophone West Africa