Growing up with a Jewish father, Patricia Sherman-Lilly recalls attending Passover Seder dinners as a child.
What she recalls most was her dislike for the food. Bitter herbs? Vegetables dipped in salt water? A roasted egg? Yuck.
As an adult, however, Sherman-Lilly appreciated the tradition. And as a Christian she was interested in the Seder meal's significance for Christians.
Last year, she suggested to the brand-new pastor at her church, St. Timothy Lutheran, that the church organize a Seder meal. The Rev. Rafe Allison readily agreed. About 160 members of the congregation attended and a new tradition was born.
For tonight's meal, preceded by a Maundy Thursday church service, 190 church members have indicated they will attend.
Sherman-Lilly said the evening melds and makes sense of Jewish and Christian traditions.
When Jesus and his disciples gathered for the Last Supper - it took place on the Thursday of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday - it was the first night of the Passover celebration. Passover is an eight-day festival celebrated by Jews in early spring to commemorate Israelites being freed from slavery in Ancient Egypt.
During that Seder meal, Jesus instituted Holy Communion.
Some Christian churches have a tradition of observing a Passover Seder meal with Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, and Sherman-Lilly thought St. Timothy should be one of them.
"It helps our congregation live through the Old Testament into the New Testament," she said.
Allison said the evening begins in the church sanctuary, where the altar is stripped in preparation for the somber event of Good Friday, and with readings that include Chapter 11 from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians describing the Last Supper. It will include chanting in Hebrew by church member Bob Morris, who also serves as a cantor for Charleston's Temple Israel.
The ceremony then continues in the church's community room, where leaders have been designated at each table to light candles and hold chalices of wine.
The meal takes participants on a journey from Exodus and the night in which the Angel of Death "passed over" those families whose homes were marked by lamb's blood.