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Now we could do one with our eyes closed almost, but that sure wasn't how it seemed that first year... For several years we had been presenting Christian events within our community. We'd worked with some of the finest Christian entertainers to evangelize our little corner of Kansas. G-d had called us to study and to know our calling, and all around us pastors encouraged us in our area to walk in that calling. We moved freely within all the denominations without strife or division. We would just explain to the people that we talked to that we were called to present events that were free, and open to the public crossing denominational lines using public buildings and facilities. Always we saw His Hand at work. Lutheran would work beside a Pentecostal, and across the room would be a Baptist working at setting up a set with a Methodist. Over and over again, the L-rd blessed the work that HE had called us to, and we gave HIM all the praise and the glory. A community spirit of fellowship abounded whenever we would come together. But one day, we encountered a teaching that made us examine the passover....it's never been the same! All we wanted was to do one simple passover! Our lives have been changed forever as a result!... If you are brave, and want your life changed, too, then you will want to read on...
"Don't panic! Everything will be okay! Just make it through the music and then you can walk out!" These were the words of wisdom that my mother shared with me at "blast off time" at our first Passover Seder. Everything that could have gone wrong--DID! Everything! It was a disaster! But my mother calmed me down enough to stand up and greet the 158 people who had come to our biggest function at the fanciest hotel in town, and with determination I was going to make it through the music at the beginning of the service, and THEN go home by the back door and cry! Yes, that was what I would do!
For months--even years--I had done events in our area of the country and nothing had ever been so hard! NOTHING! So, I smiled my false smile of welcome, greeted the guests, and turned it over to the leader. I sat down with my husband, mother, and family with the determination to "just make it through the music," then sneak out the back door and GO HOME!"
The music began, and then the peace came! I don't know how to describe it, except that all the panic, fear and worries left! It didn't matter that everything had gone wrong! It only mattered that I was part of this great evening of seeing Yeshua revealed as The Messiah! I sat there and watched as lives around me were changed. And now, years later, I can say that even YOUR life will be changed when you read this story on the INTERNET. Who would have thought that you and I would be having this conversation? Who would have dreamed that my desire to have a few friends over to do a passover, would touch lives around the world--yours included! He is a wonderful Messiah, isn't HE? HE knew way back then, that someday I would be sitting here on a freezing sub-zero day in Kansas telling you about that candle lit night so long ago.
We contacted a messianic teacher back then, who sent me up a haggadah (half in Hebrew -so who could read it, right?) and one sheet of paper with a recipe for charoset (apple sauce mixture) on it. That's it. Nothing else. So I thought to myself, "How hard can this be?" WRONG! The closer I got the more paniced I became (Hence, the book titled The Anti-Panic Passover Guide later was written, okay?)
No where in rural Kansas does anyone know diddly-squat [that's Kansas slang for "less than a hill of sunflower paste"] about a passover. Nope! And believe me, the more I kept searching for information, the more I came to realize that I was a lost little girl and was going down the tube fast! "Glug! Glug!"...
I kept calling the ministry that we had contracted with about questions and they sounded totally worn out from my questions. They kept saying, "That's in the haggadah. Just read it." I would read it, but it was in HEBREW!!! So, now what?????? Just more and more panic!
A week before the event, I heard through the local grapevine that the hotel had been sold. "Great," I thought, "Now what could go wrong?" So I "dropped by" to see the manager. Guess what? He was no longer employed there, and the new people had no idea what I was talking about. Panic really set in! But I took a deep breath, and sat them down for a meeting. Their eyes were as glazed as mine by the time I had finished. They didn't understand even a third of the things that I had said with my badly pronounced Hebrew mixed in! They tried to be polite---G-d bless them all---but they looked like a crew ready to mutiny! I promised that I would be back OFTEN to answer their questions (after I went home to thumb furiously through that Hebrew haggadah myself in between meetings!).
Remember that one sheet of paper that I was sent? Guess what? I lost it the day before the event. I went up to the leader and asked if his staff would give me the recipe over the phone. He said, "Cheryle, it's the sabbath. They won't answer the phone on the sabbath." I left and went to the phone to call any way. Guess what? They didn't answer their phone. I prayed fervently while my friend and I cut a ton of apples, but still no recipe! So I just threw in the ingredients as I could remember them hoping that it would turn out okay.
I had scheduled a "training" for my table hostesses the day of the big seder only to discover that the tables at the hotel were set wrong. When I went to the manager that I had spoken with, guess WHO had taken the day off? You guessed it! So we were starting from Ground Zero with the waiters and waitresses as lost as my own people!
When I came out of the kitchen I couldn't hear myself think! This was a combined meeting with a Christian men's group, and they had decided without consulting me to furnish some Country Gospel singing group from Houston as a "surprise" for the guests. The group was setting up and tuning their instruments all around my already confused hostesses and hotel staff. ...a phrase that I learned from a rabbi friend years later is "Oivey!" That basically means "Now what do you do!" That seemed very appropriate at that time! Oivey!
I had all the haggadahs laid out to distribute when each person arrived and presented their ticket, right? WRONG! The person who was suppose to collect the tickets didn't show up, and so everyone just helped themselves to as many haggadahs as they wanted. My eyes were crossed by that time, okay?
So, I very calmly screamed at the top of my lungs, "Would everyone please leave the room? PLEASE! I need to finish setting the tables." The hostesses turned obediently to me. The gospel group decided to take the hint. The hotel staff ran for the kitchen with my mother in fast pursuit. And I calmly had everyone check their tables with tears running down my now red cheeks. We counted bowls and spoons, and so forth...until we were sure that everything was ready.
Then, we allowed everyone to enter the room and I waited to make my escape....
The greetings were exchanged, and then the gospel group stood up to sing. But they had learned during the break that this was a passover, and graciously bowed out to let the musicians and singers that we had chosen weeks before open the service. (The L-rd had been specific about who was to sing what and in what order when I had prayed. And so it was to be HIS music and not man's noise.] Baruch haShem (Praise be the Name Above All Names!) By the second song there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd! Even the singers had to stop singing in order to wipe their faces with handkerchiefs! Silence filled that room with a depth of holiness like few have ever experienced. We all looked around and knew that somehow, someway, we were in HIS presence as never before! You could have heard a pin drop! HE WAS THERE!
The service continued without a hitch. During the eating of the meal, people got up and mingled with each other. They made an amazing discovery...not one person had left their chair during the seder to go to the restroom. After all that grape juice, too! HE was in charge of everything, and we knew it!
When we closed the evening we knew without a shadow of a doubt that many lives were changed. We cleared the tables and started putting everything away.
....One more funny remark here and I will get down to the serious outcome of the event, okay? My mother was a table hostess for the evening. No matter what I do, she is always there to support me. I don't know what I would do without my precious mother. Anyway, she was dutifully trying to clear her four tables while I did my hostess things, and she was making trip after trip to the kitchen at the far end of the huge hotel. Finally I saw her eyes fly open and she let out a scream, "Oh, no you don't, Mister!" She had been trying to empty her four water basins and four pitchers. Every time she would carry a pitcher to the kitchen to dump it, she would come back to discover more water in another pitcher on one of her other tables. So she would take that pitcher and dump it all the way in the kitchen. Over and over she would carry another pitcher to the kitchen only to return to find still another one full! So finally she came back to find the hotel staff DUMPING THE WATER GLASSES FROM ALL THE TABLES into her pitchers! Mom thought it was the bottomless sea!!! [Now everyone in unison say that word together, okay? One-two-three----"Oivey!"] To this day my mother NEVER volunteers to be a table hostess, okay?
...so back to the big finish on this tale...
When our first Passover Seder was over, my son came up to me and told me that he had a vision during the Seder. I want to share this with you:
"We were sitting there in the hotel restaurant and the walls disappeared," said my son. "We were all in our places but held in a giant hand. It was the hand of G-d. The leader was at the front table and every time he would read or teach, G-d would smile from up above down on him. But every time we would respond from the Haggadah, G-d would smile bigger. As we moved into the Great Hallel G-d smiled still bigger and started to rejoice with us! And as we finished with "L'shanah ha-ba-a Birushalayim" (Next year in Jerusalem) G-d's tears flooded over us with His rejoicing!"
So, now you understand what doing a passover can be like. I sat down the night of that first passover with my computer and wrote 10 pages of notes so I wouldn't forget what I needed to know for next year. I gave the leader a copy as he left, and thought that was the end of it. But it wasn't. About 8 months later the leader's office called me. It seems as if they had been sending out copies of my notes all over the world to people who wanted to know how to do a passover. "What?" I screamed into the phone. "My misspelled-hurried-in-the-middle-of-the-night-notes are going where???" They were calling because they had lost their copy and wanted to see if I had mine. "Yes, I do," and now they are here for everyone to use...they are called The Anti-Panic Passover Guide.
So, you've laughed and hopefully rejoiced with me over our first passover. And I pray that you will allow my story to minister to you, too. You see when HE asks you to come to HIS TABLE and see HIM revealed in all of HIS GLORY---as HE intended--your life will be changed. Right now, just ask HIM to show you what HE wants you to do this passover season. IF you ask, HE will answer...
L'shanah ha-ba-a Birushalayim! Next year in Jerusalem...and how about this year sharing with us here in Kansas? We promise to make it look simple...just remember that the door is always open for you at our passover.
Shalom, Dear Friends,
Drop me an email at: email@example.com
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