Growing up, Passover was my highlight of the year.
At my father’s church, large gatherings of several churches within the denomination came together. It is still something to look forward to today. The Passover celebration was a schedule filled with festivities. Not the kind you might be thinking about with arts and crafts, and bunnies, and egg hunts. But it was actually a weekend—two full days—of multiple worship services. The highlight? Commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection. Having Communion together was the focal point of the Saturday night service.
In preparation for the event, my father entered a time of solemnity and contemplation. He and my mother prepared the Communion bread at home, without yeast, for the Communion Service. Both my parents became quiet, a bit withdrawn. I never got a chance to see how they made the Communion bread. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate their dedication and quietude as their way of giving the utmost respect and honor for what Passover represents.
With lunches and dinners in between services cooked by the women of the church, Passover was a time of rejoicing, gathering, praising, meeting new people, and reconnecting with brothers and sisters from out of town you hadn’t seen in a year. Wearing something new, a new dress, a new pair of shoes, etc., was something I looked forward to. In my peculiar Hispanic world, I knew the Passover holiday as “Semana Santa”, that is, “Holy Week.”
God instituted the Passover Feast in Exodus Chapter 12.
He established it as an “everlasting ordinance” so that the Children of Israel would never forget His works and what He had done for them. As believers in Jesus, we get to participate as well. Passover is a time of remembering God’s faithfulness.
To the Jewish People, Passover is a feast to recount the story of the Exodus, their freedom from 430 years of slavery in Egypt. God hand-picked Moses to deliver the Hebrews from slavery. But Pharaoh’s heart became hardened and would not let the people go. Therefore, God sent ten plagues to show His power and wonder.
In saving their firstborn from the tenth and final plague, God instructed Moses for every Hebrew household to kill a lamb. They were to spread its blood on the doorposts and on the crossbeam of their houses. At night, when God sent the Angel of Death to strike the firstborn of Egypt, both man and animal, he would pass over their houses and deliver them from death.
Christian Believers and Messianic Jews complete the Passover Exodus story by making parallel references to Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah, the Passover Lamb of the New Covenant.
It is customary during the Seder to sing the Dayenu song after recounting the story of the Exodus. Dayenu is a Hebrew word that means “it would have been enough.” In offering God praise, there are several statements pronounced by the leader of the Seder while everyone else replies “Dayeinu, it would have been enough!”
If He had fed us manna and not given us the Sabbath.
Dayeinu! It would have been enough!
If He had brought us to Mt. Sinai and not given us the Torah.
Dayeinu! It would have been enough!
Since leaving El Salvador, Central America, and stepping foot on US soil in the summer of 1981, I have accumulated many, many Dayenu’s to praise God for. Here are my top six.
#1: If He had only brought us to America and not blessed us, it would have been enough!
God has blessed my parents, sisters, and our families mightily. He gave my father the opportunity to see his church, founded in our country, prosper in a foreign land. It paved the way for many who would later come to the US and find refuge in an environment they were familiar with.
#2: If He had only allowed me the opportunity to read and write and get no further education, it would have been enough!
God blessed me with the wonderful opportunity to even study abroad for a year in England. My dear parents only had the chance to achieve elementary school grades. They quit school to help their parents financially. In my mother’s case, her reason was even more compelling—to escape the merciless beatings of a harsh school teacher.
#3: If He had only given me the ability to learn one language and not dominate a second one, it would have been enough!
It is an honor to have the ability to speak, read, and write in Spanish and English. Spanish is a beautiful romantic language. English is complex. I still have trouble pronouncing certain words! Despite that, I can praise God with my English-speaking community singing the latest worship songs, and join my Spanish-speaking brethren singing old hymns. Language is no barrier. It is a privilege to navigate diverse environments in the Body of Christ and not feel like a fish out of the water.
#4: If He had only given me a roof over my head and not a place I can call my own, it would have been enough!
I’ve enjoyed the privilege of homeownership since our second year of marriage. We’ve owned multiple homes, both large and small, and have learned that our family relationship is much more important than the structure itself. The peace and love we enjoy inside are much more vital and beautiful than the curve appeal outside.
#5: If He had only given me a good husband and not a passionate preacher, it would have been enough!
God gave me more than a good husband, He gave me a godly husband. After a radical encounter with Jesus at 19 years old, he’s never let go of his passion for God. He never let go of his desire to one day serve in full-time ministry. I’ve seen him toil preparing teachings and sermons and writing books in the wee hours of the night all to help people encounter God in a personal way.
#6: If He had only given me two dresses and nothing else, it would have been enough!
I came to the US wearing two dresses, one over the other. With both my parents making a meager salary when we first arrived, I did not enjoy shopping for brand new clothes, let alone brand names. Not having much helped me embrace the gift of appreciation. That is why I enjoy taking good care of the smallest things and not be wasteful as my way of showing gratitude for the abundance I’m blessed with in this nation.
I’ve experienced God’s goodness and bounty. He has blessed my parents with wisdom and health, my sisters with beautiful stable families, and my own family with peace and love.
God surely blessed me with more than two dresses.
With greater understanding, I cannot wait to celebrate this year’s Passover. It will be the third one as a family and the first one at Shalom Church.
Why is it so important to remember God’s faithfulness?
To stay humble. To not let our hearts get haughty. To remember where we came from and remain grateful.
The meek will inherit the land, and delight in abundant shalom.Psalms 37:11 TLV
Make a list of your own “Dayeinu’s.” I’m sure it will include more than “two dresses.”