I’ve decided before giving you more quotes from experts and also early church fathers, that perhaps the best way for us to get a real feel about the importance of this, is to simply attempt writing what an early day Christian would have experienced in their Passover/Easter meal, and hopefully, how it might have affected them. An effect, I might add, we’re not getting today. So…here we go!
“A Lord’s Supper Story”
As Eli walked home from his carpenter’s job, he couldn’t help but be a little excited. This was a special day, the beginning of Passover! This was the first year he and his little family would be celebrating it in the Christian way! He had even left work a little early, on this Friday, so he could get ready. The service would start promptly at sundown, and once inside the door of their House Church, no one was to leave until midnight! Because according to the teachings of Moses, they were to always remember this night, and when their children would ask questions about what they were doing, they were to explain everything to them, about the slavery of Egypt, and the night the Death Angel flew over!
This was the 13th day of Nisan, and a Jewish day always started at sundown, not midnight, or sunrise. For with God, as revealed in the creation story of Genesis, God’s days always go from the time of least light to greater and greater growing light. The path of the just shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, Eli quoted to himself as he walked.
So at sundown today it would become the 14th day of Nisan, and Nisan being the first month of the Jewish calendar, because God established it so in that time with Moses. God had actually made the month of Nisan their first month of the year, evidently to impress how important all this was.
Eli began running through his mind what had been happening with his forefathers in the days proceeding the 14th. He did not know exactly how many days the battle with Pharaoh and all the ten plagues had taken, but surely at least those first fourteen days had been filled with curse upon curse, and challenges of magicians, some curses even affecting the Jewish camps, before God began to show a difference. With this in mind, he understood that every new year, for the Jew, was a reminder of God’s battle with Pharaoh, and the great deliverance from slavery. This was how each new year started for them.
What must that have been like? All you have known is slavery to Egypt your whole life, and now this Moses shows up and begins a fight with Pharaoh. He says it is God. Yes, it would be nice to be free, but what if we all just end up dead? And so far, things have only gotten worse for us! “Hhmmm,” Eli ponders, “what must they have been feeling?” But finally Moses seems to think an end is drawing near, and everyone is to sacrifice a lamb for their family, put the blood on their doorpost, and seal themselves in the house, even while they are dressed and ready to leave on a moments notice! “Wow,” he thinks again, “What must that have been like?”
Eli knows when he gets home his wife will already have their food mostly ready to go. Their House Church did the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis, and it was known as the “Welcoming Table”. But this particular Welcoming Table only came once a year, the actual day of Passover, and the House Bishop, Daniel, would be sure to make it extra special. Tonight, they would not be leaving church until midnight. And then would begin the seven days of unleavened bread.
As Daniel entered the door of his small home, his two children ran to his arms all excited. “Daddy daddy! Mommy says we have church tonight? Will we get to see Bishop Daniel?” his daughter of ten asked. He had two children, one daughter, Emily, ten years old; and a son, Mark, eight years old.
“Yes children, we will all get to see Bishop Daniel tonight, and your other friends will be there too. This is a very special night. You will hear a great and exciting story! But run along and play now, because daddy needs to get ready.
“Okay, daddy!” and away they went. Mommy stepped closer and they shared a hug. “Everything is almost done. We have enough to share with a few. I’m especially thinking about the Abbot family. Lets be sure to check on them first, okay?”
“Sounds good. I should be ready in just a few.”
Daniel was true to his words and before they knew it they were approaching the door of the House Church, and much to their surprise, someone had painted red on the doorposts! “Daddy look at that!” Emily shouted and pointed. She was always the first to react, while Mark was more contemplative before reacting. “What is that? It’s just smeared on there, daddy! It don’t even look right. Did someone hurt Bishop Daniel’s house?”
Eli and his wife, Sarah, paused at the door and gave each other a look. “You want to answer this one, dear?” Sarah said.
Eli handed the basket of food to his wife, then knelt down on one knee and gathered his children close. “This is part of the story you are going to hear tonight,” he began explaining. “So make sure you pay very close attention, okay? And after Bishop Daniel tells the story, we will talk more of this.”
The children became even more excited once they knew this was part of “The Story” they would hear tonight.
“Why don’t you and the kids head on in,” Eli suggested, “I want to take a moment to breathe the air. Its been a busy day.”
Sarah understood, gathered the children and headed in as Eli opened the door, but then closing it behind them, he stepped back out into what was left of the sunlight. The sun was just beginning to set. It was likely that other families were still trying to get here before the sun went down. He looked back at the red on the door, representing the blood of the lamb that had been slain, because Moses had said…that God said…when I see the blood, I will Passover you.
It was hard to take his eyes off that blood. I bet if any Egyptians saw the Jewish homes with blood smeared on the doors, they probably thought what in the world? Such a gross people! What kind of gods do they serve? Although some had begun to respect this God of Moses, because of the curses. Eli knew that many Romans did not understand their God today, any more than the Egyptians did then. God’s people have always been misunderstood by the world. Even to the point of being persecuted, and those doing the persecuting believing they were doing the work of God!
He was still outside the door. If he stayed out there his family would not have been safe that night, nor any of his livestock. His first born son, and also of livestock, would die as the Death Angel passed over. He needed to walk through that door if he and his family would be saved. And it had to be one of these doors. A door with the blood on it. The Egyptians who did not believe, would have doors with no blood, and their house would be no safer than if they were outside in the elements. But because this door was marked with the blood of a spotless lamb, as long as they were in this house, and did not come out until summoned, they would be safe.
Eli turned and looked at the sinking sun again. Darkness was on the way. The Death Angel waiting his appointed time. There would be great wailing of the lost tonight. His children would learn this story and what it all means, but first there would be intimate fellowship, around a meal, just like the Lord had with his family that night. And those who had more would share with those who had less. And by the food they bring, it would be known who had more, and who had need. A special offering would be taken at end of service, and those having plenty would have a chance to give; and to be given to those with less.
Eli saw two families on there way to the door. With a big smile he greeted them, and as they entered, so did he. Once entering this door, he was not to come back out until the summoning.
Bishop Daniel was carefully greeting everyone, and also explaining that Elder Joe was stationed at a window watching the sun, and as soon as it dropped, the official service would begin, which meant the Lord’s Supper begins!
The food was not placed on one big table, like a pitch in, but each family kept their own, and it was up to them to share. The children especially loved taking things around and sharing with others. It was not merely to those who lacked, but it was also a sharing of special things. If someone had a special recipe, or an excellent wine, the family could share with whomever they desired. This also meant a family could be selfish, but with as much teaching as Bishop Daniel did concerning the “love of God”, and the Lord’s cross, this was rarely an issue. God’s people loved the chance to share, even if they ended up a little shorted compared to someone else. But the Fellowship worked hard at making sure everyone had plenty.
“It’s getting close!” Elder Joe shouted from the window. “Is everyone here?”
“I believe so!” Shepherd Daniel shouted back. “Everyone is in the safety of God’s House!”
“Darkness is coming!” Elder Joe shouted.
“Let it come!” Bishop Daniel answered back. “We are the people of God. We are the people of His light! We are safe in his family, in his light, and in his blood! And everyone says?”
“Amen!” People shouted. And children looked to their parents with questions on their little faces.
Little Mark tugged at his daddy’s sleeve and asked, “Are we to be afraid of the dark, daddy?”
“No my son. Jesus has saved us from the monsters of the darkness. See how we are safe in this House? And because of ‘The Story’ you will hear tonight, you will never need to be afraid of the darkness, no matter where you go, if you have Jesus in your heart.”
Little Mark thought for a moment, and then said, “I like that, daddy. I will keep Jesus very close in my heart, so I never need to be afraid of monsters.”
“Amen, my son. Amen!” And with that, Eli scooped up both his children and gave them a hug.
“Lock the door!” Elder Joe shouted. “No one else can come in! The sun has set, and the darkness is upon us!”
“To be continued.”