A New Covenant: Day 11 of Lent

23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the c covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” -Mark 14:23-25

Also Matthew 26:27-29; Luke 22:17-18.

ELIJAH.  In a Seder (see below), it is customary to pour a fifth cup of wine-for Elijah-to refresh him on his expected return. And the youngest child goes to the door to see if he is coming and leaves the door slightly ajar in welcome.




The Passover Seder

Lighting the festival lights

1st CUP (Kiddush) poured and drunk



Spring herbs in salt water

MATZA (unleavened bread) uncovered

1st MATZA shared

(children “steal” and “hide” half for later dessert)


2nd CUP (Haggadah) poured

Explanation of “why this night above all others”

Lamb, matza, maror (herbs), charoset

Retelling of the story

Wine drunk


Ceremonial washing of hands

2nd MATZA with bitter herbs and charoset

Hillel sandwich dipped on charoset


3rd CUP (Thanksgiving) poured (drunk with meal)

3rd MATZA with main course of roast lamb, roast egg, vegetables

Dessert: includes Afikomen (Matza “stolen” earlier)



3rd cup drunk

Litany of blessings


4th CUP poured (and 5th for Elijah)

Hallel psalms

4th cup drunk




Passover is the great celebration for Jews, a family festival of thanksgiving to God for his deliverance and founding and care of their nation.

Everything that is eaten in this meal and said at the table has deep symbolic significance and meaning, which you may easily identify in the Seder.

The most significant elements—roast lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and charoset (a paste representing mortar) – are specifically identified in the Seder in response to the questions of the youngest present.

Everything is introduced with a blessing. Jewish practice is not to bless things but to bless God for them: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God for…” is the regular thanksgiving throughout the meal.

The Seder (Order), which is printed on the opposite page, has remained unchanged for centuries. It centers on three pieces of unleavened bread, which, together with four cups of wine (and a fifth for Elijah), make the framework of the meal.

The supper in the upper room may of had the same pattern and detail. But there are four points in the Seder that Jesus made very much his own by what he said and did.









I wonder,

in that upper room, and as tradition bids…


did you pour a cup for Elijah, Lord, when he is come already, and the way prepared already, and the kingdom at hand?


You give your own new meaning to the last cup, too:


the traditional cup of covenant is now sign and symbol and sacrament of your new Covenant.


Long looked for and always needed, the ancient hope becomes reality:

and we hold in our hands what Jeremiah dreamed of.


Now by your dying and self-giving love is your new law written on our hearts and within them.



as we pour out our wonder and our love to you, pour your love in our hearts;


write your new law of love upon our hearts;


and as you come to live in us, so may we live in you.






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