It’s a good thing I went to my first Seder meal before I came to Israel. What’s a Seder? Oh, only the family atmosphere of Thanksgiving and the spiritual depth of the Lord’s Supper mixed together with the pageantry of a play, plenty of good food, and exuberant music. And I mean exuberant. By the end of the meal, my dad and Mr. Yacoubian [our Armenian friend, and father of six grown children] were dancing arm in arm, “Fiddler on the Roof” style!

Actually, a Seder is the Jewish Passover meal. God inaugurated it as an object lesson for His people, a way for them to teach their children about the amazing things He had done for them. It’s the same meal that Jesus celebrated when He had the Last Supper with His disciples. The symbolism in the modern Jewish ritual simply shouts about Jesus, at least for anyone with ears to hear.

But what does all this have to do with my trip to Israel? Well, the Seder ritual is where I got the only word that adequately describes how I feel about actually being here. That word is “Dayenu!” and it comes from a song describing God’s many miracles when He delivered the Israelites from slavery. After each miracle, the Jews exclaim, “It would have been enough for us!” Then they recount the next thing God did. “It would have been enough!” they repeat. But, God took them all of the way to the Promised Land. Gift upon gift. Pure grace. “Dayenu!”

But these gifts came at a cost. The ten plagues for the Israelites’ deliverance killed Egyptians. Our deliverance from sin meant Jesus’ death. So, ten times we dipped our pinkies into our glasses of grape juice, and let ten purple-red drops fall onto our white napkins. It reminded me of a prop we had for our Easter play when I was in Bible school: a white cloth heavily stained with red food coloring, meant to be wrapped around the person playing Jesus.

That’s a lot of blood! That’s a heavy cost for all our rich gifts. What in the world can I ever do in response? The next of the four ritual cups of grape juice we drank during the course of the meal was called “the cup of redemption.” It reminded me of a verse in the Psalms: “What shall I render to Jehovah for all His benefits toward me?” The answer: “I will take up the cup of salvation!”

Wait a minute. All I have to do is accept and enjoy all these things, when it cost Jesus everything? Well, what do you want someone to do when you give them a Christmas present? Some spontaneous delight is pretty satisfying, wouldn’t you say? You wouldn’t want your gift refused because they thought you spent too much, would you? I didn’t think so.

Well, there is something more you can do. Worship. When the Holy Spirit helps you see what Jesus has done – and is doing for you today – it comes pretty easily. Our emotions don’t always cooperate, I must admit. I spent my last week before I left for Israel wandering around in a busy, tired haze wondering why I didn’t feel excited. Not too surprising, really. And now that I’m here, I have moments when I feel like I have to pinch myself, because I can’t believe I’m actually, finally, after dreaming about it for six or seven years, really and truly HERE. And other times, when I do believe it, there are no words to express how I feel. Singing works sometimes. Dancing works, too. And the simple words, “Thank You.” But they don’t really cover all I feel, or all He does.

It doesn’t make sense. Look at all the things God has already done for me. Look at His best gift, Jesus. Why did He bother giving me anything else? Now I know why the Jews wrote their song about the Exodus, saying, “It would have been enough…” So, I borrowed their word. Here’s my first journal entry after arriving – the whole thing:

May 10, 2003 Jerusalem, Israel


– by Elisabeth A.

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