St. Andrews, Bandra is a parish that has been in existence for over 400 years and sitting by the sea inspires the congregation with waves of faith as says Isaiah 43.2, “when you go through deep water I will be there with you”.
Lent has always been that special time of the year for reflection and renewal. This year we were challenged to think out of the box and make Christ in the Passover come alive. As a result, ‘Christian Passover Seder’ made it to the top of the chart, as it would be the first time such a service would be conducted for the parishioners.
Fr. Glenford Lowe, who had dedicated his life to missionary work, was invited to conduct the service and personally injected great energy into the project.
The Passover Seder held on Palm Sunday at the Apostolic Carmel High School Hall, Bandra was restricted to 100 participants, as this was a new concept. Valencia Caterers had the onerous task of preparing the items for the Seder Plate.
Historically, the Seder is a ritual involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Multiple generations of families or communities recreated the experience. Here Fr. Glenford elaborated Christ’s actions to explain the scriptures.
“When was the last time someone washed your feet as a sign of forgiveness?” Fr. Glenford began. Washing of the feet was a ritual that slaves carried out. So, he asked, “How would you feel if this was done to you? How would you respond if Jesus did this to you?” After many thought provoking questions and reflection, the focus shifted to healing through reconciliation.
Fr. Magi went down on his knees and washed the feet of the attendee representatives encouraging all to do likewise in reconciliation. Reconcile means to walk together again, said Fr. Glenford and Palm Sunday is not about just waving palms, but understanding that Christ did not just see us, but saw through us and still decided to die for us.
Physically and spiritually moved, all present progressed to the hall to partake of the Seder. Ancient rites must be explained to fully understand the Mass. The hall was packed and participants had a preset plate before them.
Fr. Glenford explained the significance of each element set on the plate for the meal. I for one appreciated the original sounds of Hebrew as he elaborated the elements on the plate before me. Matzoh or Unleavened Bread is called the ‘bread of affliction’ because it recalls the unleavened bread prepared for the hasty flight from Egypt.
Moror or Bitter Herbs are a reminder of the bitterness of slavery—this element elaborates the different types of slavery in present times. When we abandon spiritual fulfillment we choose to become slaves.
The Seder was explored through the scriptures and the visual items each one had on their preset plate. Together they wove the Exodus story—a passage from slavery to freedom.
As each element of the Seder was explained in detail, the upper room experience came alive, and Easter empowered us with hope and reason to have a new beginning.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our salvation, said Fr. Glenford stressing that the banquet of reconciliation, is best used to explain the Gospel of the New Covenant and the good tidings of Christ in the Passover.
Trevor Pereira, one of the participants, summed it up saying, “Yes, that Seder meal was very informative, and meaningful. It sure gives us a deeper understanding of why and how the present day services are conducted”.
Kudos to Fr. Glenford for deepening our faith and making Christ come alive in the Passover.
John Curtis – Mission SONshine team