We ate what Jesus and His disciples ate. We said what Jesus and His disciples would have said. We did what people for over two centuries have done on that night. And it made Easter weekend so much more meditative and meaningful. I could (should?) write for a long time about my experience that night, but for now, here are a few highlights:
Savoring. Since the food eaten is small-portioned and symbolic, a seder meal is slow and purposeful. I particularly enjoyed tasting each bite and drink, thinking on it with the intensity and alertness of a food critic because I'm usually scarfing down whatever is quick and easy.
Remembering. The slow pace clears space for reflection and remembering, which is one of my favorite themes throughout the Bible. Remembering takes time and conscious effort and, yes, slowing down. For this I-don't-even-have-time-to-eat mama, the slowing was not just my favorite part; it was the most essential.
Experiencing the senses. The seder meal engages all the senses. Obviously, taste is used most, with the specific foods and wine to drink, but beyond that, the sight of the table set, candles lit, and friends gathered, the smell of lamb, the feel of breaking bread, and the sounds of singing and corporate readings elevate this meal to something extraordinary.
It's a family thing. The meal was intended for entire families to enjoy together, and parts of the meal are specifically designed for children, having them look around the house to find hidden objects and recite parts of the readings. I love this. I love that young children were trained in the traditions of their fathers and that families sat down to meals together.
Historical. People have eaten this meal and said these things for over two centuries. It's humbling to be a part of something that started long before I was alive and will finish when Jesus returns. Makes me feel appropriately small and simultaneously significant.
Bitter-sweet. The meal is a combination of sweet and bitter foods--a tangible reminder that life is a combination of sweet and bitter moments--moments that Jesus himself experienced. I like that this meal acknowledges the reality that tears and joy reside together this side of heaven.
Jesus symbolism everywhere. You can't miss the symbolism. The most poignant example for me: throughout the meal, guests each have four cups of wine, standing for freedom, deliverance, redemption, and thanksgiving. The one Jesus raised when he said, "Drink from this all of you"? The third one. And before that night, no one ever actually drank that cup, they just acknowledged it. Can you imagine how shocking Jesus' words were that night? Just wow.