Church examines ‘Christ in the Passover’
Manhattan resident Aaron Abramson, as a Detroit native whose childhood was divided between Seattle and Israel, has celebrated Passover in a variety of locations over the years, and now approaches the Jewish festival partially as a teaching tool in his role with Jews for Jesus.
Abramson, who directs the ministry’s New York office, was in Aiken on Tuesday, giving a “Christ in the Passover” presentation for dozens of listeners at Lighthouse Baptist Church. Included were readings from the Old Testament story of Moses and the Hebrew people’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery, and from the New Testament story of Jesus, a few hours before being arrested and condemned to death, breaking bread – presumably the unleavened variety – with the disciples.
An explanation of terminology was part of the package, including such Hebrew words as Haggadah (a service book, literally meaning “the telling”), karpas (greens), Pesach (Passover) and Seder (a “set order” of Passover service).
Abramson, whose background includes three years of service in the Israeli military (starting at age 18), sang blessings in Hebrew and gave translations in English, and offered an up-close look at the various elements that go into a Passover observance, such as candles, a roasted egg, the shankbone of a lamb and ground bitter herb.
His hope for such gatherings as the Lighthouse event, he said, are that people of Jewish heritage, if they attend “would be open to asking some of the deeper questions about what Passover is really about – the ideas of redemption and those key themes, and even, if they’re willing, to consider what Jesus taught at the Last Supper about himself and what he would do.”
As for Christians attending such a gathering, he expressed the hope that they “gain an appreciation and understanding of where their faith comes from, and ... the Jewish history, but also that they may have a deep compassion and heart for the Jewish people.”
“Our hope is that they would continue to reach out to them in love and pray for them and care for them wherever the opportunity may arise ... There’s a lot of stuff about Israel in the media and this and that, but to actually meet somebody that’s Jewish and say, ‘OK, what is it that they think and what do they believe?,’ it’s kind of informing Christians about that, too.”
Abramson, now in his 17th year with the San Francisco-based Jewish outreach, said he has visited the Carolinas for Passover during the past couple of years, visiting a variety of churches, in keeping with his Jews for Jesus’ tradition of giving presentations linked with Jewish holidays. The idea, he said, is to “help people in churches to kind of grapple with ... the under-girdings of their own faith and their own historical roots, and their faith in Jesus and the Bible.”
Campus visits, teaching, leadership of various projects and outreach in Jewish communities, he said, are a major part of the ministry’s activities.
“Our goal is to really engage Jewish people with the Gospel, to be able to make the Gospel compelling, and have them kind of reflect and consider, ‘Hey, why do all these people around the world believe in this guy Jesus, who happened to be Jewish?’ A lot of them, in some ways, have not heard much of that at all, so it’s sometimes ... interacting with it for the first time.”