Standard

Beyond the Passover

On Sunday, this most holy of Christian days, it is finally time to get back to the sacraments. It took me a long time to decide on a name for this post. After all, religious tradition demands I call it by a more traditional, religious name. The Eucharist is an obvious candidate. After all, sacrament is a Catholic word, why not use the word Catholics are most familiar with? But I’m not a Catholic, neither, I suspect, are most of my readers. The good Protestant name for the ceremony would be the Lord’s Supper. Thaat is the one I grew up with. For a number of reasons i might go into, that one doesn’t feel right either. So, I decided to go Old school: Old Testament.

You see, there can be no Lord’s supper or Eucharist without the Passover. If that event in Hebrew lore is neither literal nor meaningful, then there is simply no foundation for anything built atop it. I will say up front, I do not believe in any of the details surrounding the Passover. In fact, I believe it is one of the most repugnant stories in all of scripture. It is not to be celebrated, but morned.

Quickly glossing over the details, god’s people were slaves in Egypt. He wanted to free them, but not too soon or too easy. He allowed them to stay in that condition for 400 years. When he decided to free them, he didn’t just open a door to freedom and have them walk through. First, he tormented the Egyptians with unnatural plague after plague, no doubt, killing countless innocents in the process. Having your entire water supply turn into blood can’t be healthy for the population.

He finally ends his reign of terror. by creating a situation he described as causing such sorrow as as never been experienced before. He didn’t just want to free the Hebrews, which seemed to be a secondary goal, he wanted to build a reputation and really give it to those Egyptians. He did this by sending a death angel to slaughter every firstborn save for those who had an appropriate bloody sign on their doorpost. Naturally, the Egyptians didn’t get the message. God killed every firstborn of everyone in the region who’s doorpost was not appropriately bloodied. The death angel hacked and slashed his way through adults and babies alike, as well as livestock. The only homes that were passed over were those Hebrew homes with the bloody signposts.

That is why it is called the Passover, and that is why it is celebrated by the Jews. There was a meal and several other rituals involved. The bottom line is that by the time Jesus famously celebrated it, the Passover had become something else. Jesus had taken the place of the pascal lamb, and it was his blood that was to be placed on the doorposts of our hearts. But symbolism must have its basis in reality. If there was no death angel running around killing innocent children, then no Jews were ever save from such a fate. A ceremony that reenacted that ritual would be meaningless without the actual ritual to reenact. If god really cause that suffering in Egypt, then the Passover should never be celebrated. If he didn’t, then we are all fools for participating.

There is no need to get into the ritual of drinking blood, or the reenactment of drinking blood. to debunk this ghastly ritual. Your perspective on that matter simply does not matter on iota. If a death angel did not literally pass over the Hebrew people in the way described in Exodus, then the Passover, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper is a farce. There are a lot of superstitions that you have to wholeheartedly buy into to accept the Passover. I can’t, and lord knows I tried. I do not take it in any form these days. I simply cannot do so with integrity. If you can, feel free to leave a comment in the Comment section.

David Johnson

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Beyond the Passover

  1. You wanted me to read your post and I have. You also knew that I would disagree. I am not sure how much study you put into trying to prove it all these evens really happened. In a very short time of research, I found historical proof that these things did happen. Now there has always been and always will be scientist that will alway disagree, but there seems to be proof that those thing did happen. And there were reasons why these things happened, including the chooses that these people made. We all have a choose. To believe or not to believe. I choose to believe.

    • I appreciate your search for evidence to support that which you choose to believe. I would point out that you said you chose to believe. As a result of your choice, you found evidence to support that belief. I would respectfully suggest that there are better ways of coming to knowledge. If I choose to believe in Santa Clause, I could find evidence to support it. There are many who have chosen to believe the holocaust never happened. They have found evidence to support that belief. I can provide you with plenty of counter evidence and suggest a few books you might read on the subject. But it probably wouldn’t do any good because you have already chosen your beliefs.

      I do not believe there can be any evidence of the Passover event because the very nature of it requires the curtain of nature being pulled back for alien beings to enter our space/time to commit arbitrary acts of slaughter that overshadow the most horrific alien abduction stories. I don’t believe those either. One might could suggest the possibility of an undocumented plague that caused a large number of Egyptian infant mortality, but not something so specific that it only attacked the first born human and animal, alike. Further, this plague bypassed all Hebrews who had a certain arrangement of blood on their doorpost. There is no naturalistic explanation for this event. For it to be real, it would have to defy all nature and describe the kind of god I would defy with my dying breath, never celebrate.

      I hope that addresses the question.

  2. I certainly understand your reluctance to take communion with traditional meanings attached. How I reframe it is to consider communion a remembrance of Jesus’ teachings which to me represent the Bread of Life and a Cup of Blessing as I incorporate these teachings into the way I love and live. I have found this to be helpful when I partake of communion in the best way. Rote without thinking can also be a way for me to see past the body and blood imagery.

    • I understand your redefinition of the the ritual, and it makes a lot of sense. But we must be completely fair and honest, as you always are. It is a redefinition. Your brand of communion sounds interesting, and much less offensive than the one based on the Passover. Unfortunately, that is not the biblio-Jedeo-Christian communion we all know.

      That is something entirely different. It is a bit of a cheat. These religious sacraments have very particular meanings. Baptism is not about the washing away of the filth of the flesh, but for gaining a good conscience towards god. It is for the forgiveness of sins. You can’t just say it is to become a part of a social group and call it a day. That is not how the bible, or the spokesmen of the bible define it. Anything else is just making stuff up for the benefit of our own conscience.

      The Lord’s Supper is the same way. The bible has some definite things to say about it. We are told exactly what it is and is not. There is no room for a fudge factor. You are either taking communion as religion demands, or you are just having a snack based on your own, homegrown definitions. We do not have the right to reassign established religious tradition to something that strips out the uncomfortable religious parts.

      Either the Passover happened or it didn’t. We do not take communion today because of a non-literal adjustment to the definition and historicity of the Passover. If all we wanted to do was to commemorate the alleged teachings of a prophet, then there are better, less offensive, and more meaningful ways to do that than a pantomime of cannibalism in his name.

      Also, if we are going to go through the motions of participating in an established, religious ritual, with established religious meanings, then we ought to be more clear to the community about the fact that we are not really joining them in what they are doing. It seems wrong to perform the sign of the cross at a Catholic church if you do not actually believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Perhaps in your heart, you have created a new meaning for an old ritual. But we should be honest about that. It is wrong to be accepted by a community because you have made them believe you are in agreement with them in the practice of their rituals, when, if they understood your redefinition, they would not accept you.

      All of this sounds too much like a scolding, so I will quit. I can’t hold any of this against you since it is very much what I have been doing for some time, myself. I can no longer fool myself about these matters. More to the point, I can no longer fool my friends who may reconsider their brotherhood with me if they really knew what I did and didn’t believe. They have the right to know that I do not believe in the Passover, therefore, my partaking of the Lord’s Supper would mean something very different, and most likely, be unacceptable to the community.

      To our religious brothers and sisters, Jesus was not merely a great philosopher; he was the incarnate son of an otherworldly being. That is what their rituals reflect. Honesty requires us to ask permission to participate in those rituals even though we do not believe them in the same way. I drink no blood, nor pantomime the drinking of the blood of any deity, for any reason.

      We may all sit in a building and drink a sip of wine for our own reasons, but if one does it because he is ingesting the blood of god, while another honors the teachings of a great human, while yet another is an alcoholic who just needs to wet his whistle, we may all be taking the wine, but we are not, in any way, sharing communion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s