The Passover may be kept at home, alone or with other eligible members only when it is not possible for you to observe it in a formal church ceremony with an ordained minister.
If you meet the criteria established in Numbers 9:11, you may also keep it thirty days after the normal time in the manner described below.
In preparation, purchase or prepare a small amount of unleavened bread. Most are familiar with matzos. You may also use Rye Krisp (be sure to look for the word “unleavened” on the label, though, because some Rye Krisp is leavened). You may prefer to make your own bread. Make sure it contains no leavening agents such as yeast, soda, or baking powder. Also, purchase a natural, red, unfortified wine (burgundy, claret, zinfandel, etc.) with an alcohol content of between 10 and 13 percent. Do not forget the pans and towels needed for the footwashing service.
Make sure the area where you will observe Passover is neat and clean. Place a small amount of unleavened bread on a dish or tray, covering it with a napkin or cloth (linen, if possible). Pour about one tablespoon of wine in a small glass for each person taking the Passover. Cover these with a cloth as well.
Your service should begin in the early evening, shortly after dark, as Abib/Nisan 14 begins. All should come quietly and solemnly into the room prepared. No unconverted or unbaptized mates or children should participate, as this ceremony is only for Christ’s baptized disciples. There should be no visiting or joking conversation. This is the most solemn and serious occasion of the year since we are reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Those participating are expressing their faith in Christ’s death for the forgiveness of their sins, as well as renewing their commitment as servants of the Father and the Son.
The person conducting the meeting (the husband or father, unless one is alone) should begin the service without prayer.
[In lieu of this, you may wish to follow along with a recorded Passover service, several of which are available in our Audio Library.]
It is good to note that both eating and drinking are directly associated with eternal life. We symbolically eat and drink of Christ’s body and blood in the Passover service.
John 13:1-17 Following this, if two or more people are participating, they should wash each other’s feet. A husband and wife may wash each other’s feet. Odd numbers of any gender can work matters out so that each person washes only one other person’s feet. If there are four or more people, and at least two of each sex, the men may move to a different room for this part of the service. If only one is observing the Passover, this part of the service should be omitted. Afterward, remove all pans and towels from the room to restore it to a neat order and continue.
Remove the napkin from the bread and pray over it, asking God to bless it as a symbol of Christ’s body. Jesus’ example of suffering for us should teach us of what we must also be willing to do for righteousness’ sake. His body took a horrible beating for our physical healing, and this should be noted. Ask God for the heart and mind to promote unity and peace and to glorify Him as members of His body. Break the bread into small pieces and serve everyone. Individuals should eat the small piece of bread quietly and solemnly. Cover the unused bread with a cloth.
Uncover and pray over the wine, giving thanks and asking God to bless it in this sacred use as the symbol of Christ’s blood, shed for the remission of our sins. Thank God for giving us His only Son to die for us, washing us clean that we might be reconciled to God. Thank Him for Christ’s willingness to submit to His Father’s will, even to death. Each member should take a glass and quietly and reverently drink it. Replace the glasses on the tray or table, covering them with the cloth.
The leader should read aloud portions from John 13:18-17:26. These are Christ’s words after His last Passover just before being taken for the crucifixion. The leader may want to review this section before the service and mark certain portions to be read.
At the conclusion of the reading, sing a hymn if possible, and dismiss quietly without a prayer or conversation.
After the others have gone, the leader should dispose of any portion of the bread and wine left over, but only that portion that was brought into the room where the service was held. The wine may be poured out on the ground. The bread may be burned or put in the refuse.