My First Seder and the Four Cups

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 at 7:24 am

I was eight years old or so and I wanted to finally be allowed to take communion at church.

Unlike the Catholic church or Lutheran church or other denominations that have a set schedule for “first communion” or “confirmation”, our church left that decision up to parents.

My parents wanted to make sure me and my sister (who was also clamoring for communion) understood what communion is all about.

So they bought a copy of Martha Zimmerman’s Celebrating Biblical Feasts and hastily prepared a Passover Seder.

So began my love affair with the Haggadah, one that has only deepened over time. In the almost twenty years since my first Passover, I have read dozens of incarnations of the Haggadah. Christian Haggadot. Judaic Haggadot. Secular Haggadot (which seems a contradiction in terms, but I assure you that secular Jews try their hardest).

I love the way the Haggadah points to Christ. I love the way Jesus fulfilled the traditions of Judaism (as well as its laws). I love unwrapping layer upon layer of meaning.

Martha Zimmerman’s Haggadah sparked something inside of me–but it and the host of other Christian Haggadah I’ve read and performed have left me still discontent.

They’re missing my favorite part.

Twenty years ago, my parents prepared a Seder so that my sister and I could understand the meaning of the cup. Now, twenty years later, I’m still marveling over the cup–and am disappointed that my first Christian Haggadah (and later Christian Haggadot) didn’t go deeper into the cups.

The Seders I grew up with numbered the four cups per tradition, and even gave them their traditional names. The Cup of Sanctification. The Cup of Deliverance. The Cup of Redemption. The Cup of Rejoicing. But those names were little more that the subheading before the blessing. Not one Haggadah bothered to explain where these names came from–or what they meant.


This is the first part in a four-part series on the four cups of the Seder. Stay tuned for the rest of the posts, which will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

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Reader Comments (1):

  1. Fascinating! I can’t wait for your other posts on this subject. I like learning more about Seder AND your background. Interesting stuff!

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