Bishop Paul Lanier: What Christians Should Know About Passover
As we approach the holy season of Passover and Easter, host Yael Eckstein welcomes back to the podcast Bishop Paul Lanier, Chairman of the Board for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and pastor of Hope Community Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., to discuss the relevance today of the ancient and timeless Exodus story for both Christians and Jews. In this profound conversation, Bishop Lanier shares how the Passover celebration rallies people of faith around the table and reminds us of who we are in God. Through Passover, Bishop Lanier says, we find a message of hope that speaks across all generations, reminding us that God it with us amidst our afflictions and sufferings, bringing us His redemption. Listen to the entire conversation as you prepare for this holy time of year.
What began as a hallowed conversation between God and the children of Israel around a story of bondage and freedom, deliverance and redemption, has in recent years become a dialogue that many Christians are interested in joining.
And it is with this in mind that Bishop Paul Lanier, pastor of Hope Community Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and Board Chairman for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, joined Fellowship President and CEO Yael Eckstein to discuss what Christians should know about the Exodus story during this holy season of Easter and Passover.
“God uses the people of Israel to bless all the nations of the world,” Bishop Lanier said, “and so we [Christians] have been able to sit at the table and understand that the grace and mercies of God have expanded to include me. And while I don’t have ethnically that same conversation, that same history, yet God says, ‘Sit down and participate in this.’ It moves me.”
As a Christian, Bishop Lanier says, he understands that Jesus was an observant Jew, who would have gone to Temple and would have gone to Jerusalem three times a year for the pilgrimage holidays of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (the Feast of the Tabernacles). And it was quite possible that Jesus and his followers were celebrating the seder meal on the night he was arrested.
The Passover story is critical to understanding the Christian faith story, Bishop Lanier explains. “Oppression and deliverance are such a big piece of our stories. We see the oppression and inhumanity and brutality that the children of Israel experienced in Egypt,” he said. “Then, as a Christian watching Moses confront the powers that be, Pharaoh, and telling him to ‘let my people go,’ we see that same story replaying itself with Pilot of the Roman Empire coming in and binding and imprisoning the Jews. And then there’s Jesus coming to say, ‘let my people go.’”
For Bishop Lanier, the main message of Passover is hope. “We are kept, we are sustained. We are together, we are one,” said Bishop Lanier. “And for me, Passover isn’t that we got exempted from a thing, but we were kept in the midst of that thing.”