THIS year, Easter coincided with Passover, an event that was
celebrated at St Margaret's, Prestwich, with a Passover
(Pesach) supper on Wednesday in Holy Week, when 75
Christians, aged from seven to 92, took part.
The church is in one of the largest Jewish communities in the
UK, and it was on the day when their Jewish neighbours - with whom
they have good interfaith relations - were completing the second
full day of their Passover celebrations.
"It was a joyous family occasion," the Priest-in-Charge of St
Margaret's, Canon Debby Plummer, says. She had organised the
occasion, and bought the same foods as her Jewish friends used for
their Seder plates. The foods are "symbolic of the
Exodus", she says, "from slavery to freedom, as the seasons are
transformed from winter to spring - heralding a time of rebirth for
the Jewish people as a nation, and as individuals".
With them was Dr Irene Lancaster (right in photo) of
the local Orthodox Jewish community and chair of the local
Jewish-Christian dialogue group. She explained the important part
that children played in the Seder service; and the Bishop
of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker (seen here
holding the Seder plate), played the part of the
household's "father" for the meal while Dr Lancaster said the
Dr Lancaster tells me that she asked the children what religion
and nationality Jesus was, and had the answers "Jewish" and
"Israeli". She then went on to tell them the experience of friends
of hers who had gone with a diocesan group to the Holy Land, and
were faced at the Palestinian border with "Israelis not allowed
in", while Palestinians were welcome to visit Israel.
She said that if Jesus was living today, he would not, as a Jew,
be allowed into his home town of Bethlehem, but would be "very
welcome" in Israeli Nazareth. She does not say whether the children
were told anything of the background to that situation.