On Saturday night April 7,th Becky and I had the opportunity to attend a Seder Supper. We’ve got some friends who have invited us in the past and it has never worked out for us to attend. This year we made a point to attend because I have been asked to conduct the Sunday morning communion service at this year’s Witnesses Now For Jesus Convention. I thought it would be good to make a contrast between the Seder Supper and the JW Memorial that we attended last week. Boy, is there ever a difference. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Seder, here are a couple of web sites that explain what the Seder is about.
Because the above web sites do a good job of explaining the Seder, I will not get into the details of it, but will instead make some observation about the differences between the JW memorial and the Christian Seder.
The first difference that comes to mind is the atmosphere. While both ceremonies were buzzing with excitement, the JW Memorial was not exactly joyous. Babies were constantly crying and disturbing those who sat nearby. Some times the parent would leave the room, but many times they did not. The atmosphere of the Seder, on the other hand, was much more jubilant. The people were happy and looking forward to the celebration. While many JWs attend a party after the Memorial, the Seder for the Christians in attendance was a party.
The music at the Memorial was sad, piped in organ music. There is no worship leader and the music is from a tape or CD. There is one song sung at the beginning of the service and one song at the end. To the best of my memory, it has been the same two songs every year that I have attended. I can honestly say that I have never attended a religious service that has as poor quality music and singing as JW Memorials. It doesn’t even sound real.
The worship at the Seder could not be any more different. There is a worship team with instruments and a dance team in costume. Anyone was welcome to dance with the dance team and many people did. Dancers would hold hands, make a circle and dance around while doing choreographed moves. If you didn’t know the dance, you just watched the person who was in costume and did what they did. The moves were repeated over and over so most folks would catch on and memorize the dance by the end of the song. When I said it was a party, I wasn’t kidding. In a way, it reminded me of a festive wedding reception. People were happy and enthusiastically celebrating this sacred event.
As we were led through the Biblical part of the ceremony, the speaker, Pastor Randy Shapiro from congregation Beth Simcha, constantly made reference back to the Exodus of Israel and the story of the Passover. Step by step we were lead through the Passover story and shown the symbolism that points towards how Jesus is our perfect Passover lamb, our sacrifice that entitles us to be passed over in judgment. God forgave me and applied the merit of Christ to me so that when He looks at me, it is as if the angel of death is looking at the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites in Egypt and my judgment is passed over. I am forgiven because I have applied the blood of the Lamb of God to the doorposts of my heart. What an awesome thought! No wonder this was a party!
The JWs, on the other hand, had no such emphasis. There were absolutely no references made to the Exodus story at the JW Memorial. After reviewing my notes, I see that there was only one reference made to the Old Testament- Isaiah 65:21-23. This passage has nothing to do with the Passover whatsoever. While the Christians celebrated and participated in communion, the emphasis of the JWs was on exclusion. The Christians danced in the joy of their salvation. The JWs sat back and watched as the forbidden emblems of the New Covenant were passed from one rejecting hand to another.
This just boggles my mind. After attending the Seder supper, I have come to realize that for the most part, we as Christians have forgotten the Jewish roots of our faith. Isn’t it funny how Americanized our faith has become? The JWs are guilty of far more. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society teaches that communion should be celebrated only once a year, during Passover. If this is what Jesus had in mind, why the absence of the Passover story altogether? Where is the focus on deliverance? Why spend 45 minutes telling people that they are not included in the New Covenant and then pass a plate and cup around only to be rejected by the vast majority of attendees as if that somehow pleases Jesus? If you haven’t figured it out by now, I attend this meeting every year as a reminder of exactly how lost Jehovah’s Witnesses are.
If the blood of Christ is not applied to their sin problem, and it isn’t since the WT teaches that Christ only died for Adam’s sin, then JWs will some day face the wrath of God. I pray that they wake and come to Jesus for forgiveness of sin.