On Monday evening, I attended the first Freedom Seder organised by the Council for Christians and Jews (CCJ).
The Seder is a ritual which takes place at the beginning of the Jewish festival of Passover. At its most basic the Seder (Hebrew for “Order”) is designed to remind people of the story of the Exodus from Egypt through various retellings and symbolic foods, and includes a ceremonial meal at its centre. The photograph shows the ceremonial meal: the lamb bone, the bitter herbs etc on the plate, the box of unleavened bread and the red grape juice.
The Freedom Seder is a project, supported by the URC (specific thanks go to Revd David Tatum) and managed by the CCJ to highlight the issues of human trafficking. It is building on Freedom Sunday, a global day of Christian worship, prayer and action on human trafficking which UK Jewish communities and partners have participated in since 2015.
This Freedom Seder brought together elements of a traditional Jewish Seder and modern reflections on social justice. A Haggadah (the traditional book read at the Passover Seder) was specially prepared for the event and included personal (and traumatic) stories about trafficking and reflections from community and religious leaders.
The Haggadah Companion for the evening included several very interesting comparisons of modern trafficking issues set against traditional Seder insights:
- Part of the ‘reminding’ includes the truth that ‘God heard our voice’ (referring to the voice of the Israelites in slavery in Egypt). This is juxtaposed with the significant signs of modern slavery that we need to look out for and listen to.
- The Ten Plagues are shown alongside the ten forms of modern slavery.
Prior to the Seder I looked back through a number of the GA reports and found that we passed a resolution focussing on child trafficking in our 1998 General Assembly. Resolution 7 was ‘General Assembly resolves to continue to bring pressure to bear upon Parliament to eradicate worldwide exploitation and sexual abuse of children, and to this end, encourages each synod, district council and local church to support the work of ECPAT(UK) (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and the Trafficking of children for sexual purposes). I must admit that I was rather dismayed to hold this resolution in contrast with the report in the Guardian late last week exposing the trade in Vietnamese children used as slaves to look after illegal cannabis farms in the UK! We do not seem to be very active in this arena, and we don’t seem to have progressed very far.
Please pray for those working to eradicate slavery in all its forms, and pray that God, the fount of all love and justice, will reign supreme in their lives.