This year’s Pesach seder was probably the most abbreviated one we’ve ever done. This was not without purpose. Many years past, it seems that the seders we’ve attended and hosted have been well over two hours long even with regular snacks and arranging the separate parts around the festive meal. This can be trying for adults, but attempting to keep several young children quiet, still, and attentive has proven to be a monumental task – one which we’ve never really completed successfully. As much as I love basking in the elements and the Scriptures, the specially-selected worship music, the taste of the afikomen, and getting swept up in the story of Passover, I’ve found that reducing the haggadah (which literally means “the telling”) down to the most basic element of all – Yeshua’s atonement as the Passover Lamb – has been the single most important thing I’ve managed to communicate to my children during this Passover season.

We are instructed by God to tell our children the story of Passover every year. In fact, the beautiful traditions associated with the seder meal are just that – traditions. Though wonderful and compelling in their multi-sensory flavors, they only serve as a tool to reinforce truth. In past years, I’ve found that I was losing my children’s attention because of the amount of time required to use the tools, instead of zeroing in on the foundational aspects of the festival. This year, we changed our approach. We started by narrowing the seder plate down to just the biblical elements – lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread (matzah). We brought Yeshua to the forefront by focusing on covenant and His ultimate sacrifice for us. After all, He is the only reason we can celebrate Passover with joy and hope. He gives us a future through His fulfillment as the Lamb of God. We can never spend enough time fixing our eyes on Him.

Pete led us through the service in less than 45 minutes (not that we were trying to win a blue ribbon for speed or anything) but we did not have to sacrifice any of the importance of the seder. Seeing our children come alive with excitement and answering questions, sharing Scripture, stories, and songs was such a joy to my heart. When we simplify our expectations and get back to the basics, it’s surprising how deep we can actually go into the meanings of this awesome festival. I know there will come a time when our children are ready for a more in-depth haggadah and I will be able to expect them to sit still and absorb a lot more, but this year I don’t feel like I missed out at all as we turned our hearts toward the children in order that they might truly grasp the significance of what we were doing.

Our goal to memorize Isaiah 53 as a family made this festival a special culmination of months of hard work. All of the children wanted to recite it at the seder, which blessed me because I had been concerned they wouldn’t want to stand in front of people and speak. I’m glad I was wrong. Something about the diligence they’ve had to have as they’ve memorized line after line and week after week made it seem like a small thing to stand up and say it. This chapter fit perfectly with our theme for Passover. May it remain written on our hearts in years to come, just as the words of the covenant have been etched there as well.