2011 Meal of Messiah

Seudat HaMashiach. The meal of Messiah. A custom traced to the Baal Shem Tov (founder of Hasidic Judaism, 1698-1760). On the seventh day of Passover, a meal celebrating the world to come and aspects of Messiah’s coming and his healing the world.

Seudat HaMashiach. The meal of Messiah. A custom now not only for Hasidic Jews, but many Messianic Jews and Judeo-Christians as well.

Seudat HaMashiach. The meal of Messiah. We had our first one last night (a night early) and it was otherworldly. Let me tell you about it.

First, a little background on why I so needed an experience like the Meal of Messiah . . .

I’d been speaking in churches every night except the first two nights of Passover. In fact, for the two weeks leading up the meal of Messiah, I’d been pulling sixteen hour days and sometimes more with no down time even for an hour. Sleep. Drive. Speak. Write. Try to keep up but mostly get behind. Heading for nervous breakdown.

Sunday morning, I had a new experience. A church currently without a pastor asked me, a rabbi, to come and speak on Resurrection Morning (that’s what I call it). I had my family come to hear and the church was full. It was a very enjoyable experience and I think they didn’t mind that my sermon was 45 minutes long. It was on Luke 24 (perplexity, remembrance, mystery, continuation).

From there, I was ready to settle in with some close friends at the synagogue and rejoice in Messiah . . .

We planned our Meal of Messiah early, at 5 p.m., and on the sixth night instead of the seventh night. That way, no one who came last night has to get up early this morning and go to work! Oh, and plus all that, we could light candles since it wasn’t the Yom Tov. I think very highly of the value candles add to Jewish ritual and communal gathering. I like to use lots of them.

We kept the setup simple. All food was covered dish. The three required items were matzah, wine, and fish.

Why fish? Because this is a Messianic Seudat HaMashiach. And Yeshua ate fish with his disciples after he was raised.

Vine of David’s Meal of Messiah haggadah is virtually perfect. The readings are very thoughtfully put together. I cannot exaggerate the degree to which I was impressed. (See the Meal of Messiah haggadah here).

They combine readings from Jewish tradition (such as the Talmud in Baba Batra about the messianic banquet at which we will feast on Leviathan), from later Christian writings (such as a saying of Yeshua cited by Eusebius via Papias), the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.

They include a CD with various songs, including some by Troy Mitchell (I’m now a fan). The songs are meaningful. No fluff. There is a great song about the messianic banquet that goes on for five minutes in Hebrew and then five minutes in English. There is a song (“Zeh Gufi,” “This is My Body”) which we will be using regularly when we have Zicharon (communion) observances for Yeshua’s body and blood.

Our turn-out for the Meal of Messiah was less than the second-night congregational Seder, but it was a substantial turn-out nonetheless.

And people felt free to get up and dance. We pounded the table. We rejoiced together in beautiful thoughts of the world to come.

I particularly liked this Syriac prayer, “May Messiah who came and changed water into wine, may he come and change us from wickedness to righteousness.”

I loved reciting the following words together and asked my friends if they thought this was in the New Testament. Guess yourself and see if you can find the answer: “You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Vine of David did something for us. They helped us communally experience a new level of messianic joy. And our little congregation was strengthened in practice and enthusiasm just a little bit. That’s a meal worth having!

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