Messianic Passover Feast a time for Christians to get back to Jewish roots

  • Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Dr. Oscar Ramirez, pastor of Oakland Heights Congregation, blows a ram’s horn during the ceremony.
Dr. Oscar Ramirez, pastor of Oakland Heights Congregation, blows a ram’s horn during the ceremony.

Red crepe paper hung over the doors as people entered Enon Baptist Church earlier this week.

But the typically festive decoration took on a more serious meaning, representing blood from the first Passover.

More than 100 people gathered for the third annual Messianic Passover Feast, where they enjoyed traditional foods and practiced Jewish customs.

“It’s like a time machine,” said Dr. Oscar Ramirez, the pastor of Oakland Heights Congregation who led the seder. ”We’re trying to see and understand the full depth of our Jewish roots as Christians.”

During the event, Ramirez read from a Haggadah script that he has pieced together himself.

“There are over 30,000 Haggadahs that have been written,” he said. “But you are supposed to combine and construct your own.”

Ramirez said the feast has “two great moods.”

“It’s a very serious, sombre night, but it’s also a very joyful night,” he said.

People ate a traditional meal that included bitter herbs dipped in salt water and roasted shank bone.

Ramirez said the herbs represent the “tears and bitterness of slavery,” while the shank bone stands for humility.

“The shank bone is the front leg of the lamb, the arm of the Lord,” he said.

Jessie Penley, a member of Yadkin Baptist Church, said the feast really grabbed his attention.

“Most churches now give you a little piece of cracker and some grape juice,” he said. “It was really interesting sitting there and knowing what it was like for Jesus during the Last Supper.”

Penley said he thinks most Christians know about the Passover, but few have experienced it the way it was presented by Ramirez.

“Every person should do this to get a better understanding of what it means,” he said.

Melissa Euchner, a member of Enoch, said she enjoyed learning about the historical significance of the Passover.

“I learned a lot of different things about the ceremony and symbolism and what Passover meant back then in Egypt,” she said.

Euchner said the Jewish ties to Christianity should be an important part of worship.

“To me personally, I think at Easter when we as Christians celebrate Christ we should be familiar with his traditions,” she said. “That’s something I don’t think we are taught much.”

Steve Wilson, pastor of First Baptist Church in China Grove, said the annual seder is an exciting time for him.

“Most of the people in Christianity know the story of the passover in Exodus, but really folks don’t realize the depth of the tradition as it developed,” he said. “It really prophesies and gives you a foretaste of what Jesus Christ went through on the cross.”

Wilson said he’s learned a lot from Ramirez, who has spent decades studying Jewish customs.

“This is very close to the way the Jews themselves would do it,” he said. “He is well-versed and my folks went home tremendously blessed.”

Wilson said he also enjoys the community aspect of the Passover feast, which is held at a different church each year.

“We’re one family,” he said. “Sometimes we let denominational walls and even church walls divide us, so it’s just good that we can come together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.”

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.



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