By Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop
Al Dia Today
COCOA – The biblical story of Passover is one of liberation; a tale that inspired desperate slaves and civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to pursue freedom and justice.
The story is not a relic of ancient days, but a vibrant promise of redemption that lives on today.
On April 9, several Brevard County ministries plan to expound on the story of the Passover in an interactive community event that one organizer calls a ‘high-end bible study for all with a meal and a joyful purpose.”
The “Journey to Freedom: A Passover Story from the Exodus to Jesus” is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 9 at Montego Café in Palm Bay. The festive meal, called a Seder, will follow the pattern of the Jewish Passover and also show the wonderful Hebraic understanding behind the events of Jesus’ journey to the Upper Room where He held “The Lord’s Supper.”
“Passover is a time when we hear about the struggle for freedom, whether it be freedom from physical oppression or freedom from spiritual bondage. It is the call for people of all stripes to live up to their potential and the building of a community, even in the worst of times,” said Evangelist Jeff Gallop, head of Gallop Ministries, one of the event’s organizers.
“The Passover story is also interactive and teaches about the meanings behind some of our faith’s best-loved symbols and stories.”
Although focusing on the biblical significance of Passover, the event also will highlight the similarities between the Israelites’ journey to freedom and that of African-Americans in the United States.
“There is a real connection there that cannot be denied,” said Kathy Mardirosian, president of Project: Restoration, another event organizer.
Project: Restoration is a ministry that has been teaching Christians in Brevard County about the biblical feasts since 2003.
“In recent years, more and more Christians have begun celebrating the biblical holiday of Passover,” Mardirosian said.
Historians note that Dr. King was expected to attend a Passover Seder in New York City with a Jewish scholar, Rabbi Abraham Heshel, in April 1968. King, however, was assassinated in Memphis the week before.
The following year, activists held a ‘Freedom Seder’ to mark the connections between the black and Jewish communities. The special gatherings, held over a traditional Passover meal, continue through present day across the nation.
The Brevard County event will involve several area ministries, whether with reading biblical passages or providing music. Selections will range from traditional Hebrew songs to soul searching Negro spirituals and interpretations of modern praise.
The food will include a specially crafted menu featuring a Jamaican flair in homage to the fact that many Jews took shelter on the island after being expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago.
The Passover Seder is the world’s oldest, continually commemorated holiday, with celebrations across the globe. It was instituted by Moses, who ‘kept Passover by faith,’ according to the book of Hebrews, and was celebrated by Jesus and His Apostles.
In more modern times, the story also inspired blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement and was initiated in the White House by President Barack Obama as an annual celebration.
The “Journey to Freedom” celebration in Palm Bay will also include praise dancers, door prizes and special opportunities to fellowship. Ticket prices include a three-course meal and a choice of grape juice or wine, along with matzo—unleavened bread—baked in Jerusalem.
Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and under.
Call Kathy Mardirosian at (321) 536-0908 for more information or to purchase tickets. Ticket can also be purchased online at www.projectrestorationbrevard.org.