Questions From Readers
If a Christian is sick or is traveling and thus not able to be at the Memorial celebration, should he celebrate it a month later?
In ancient Israel the Passover was held annually on the 14th day of the first month, named Nisan (or, Abib). But we find a special provision at Numbers 9:10, 11: “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Although any man of you or of your generations should happen to be unclean by a soul or off on a distant journey, he too must prepare the passover sacrifice to Jehovah. In the second month [named Iyyar, or Ziv], on the fourteenth day between the two evenings, they should prepare it. Together with unfermented cakes and bitter greens they should eat it.’”
Notice that this did not establish two alternative dates for the Passover (Nisan 14 or Ziv 14), with any Israelite or household free to choose, depending on convenience. The provision of a Passover meal in the second month was limited. It was an exception for an Israelite who was ceremonially unclean on Nisan 14 or was at a great distance from where the regular celebration was held.
The only recorded instance of this being widely used was at the time when faithful King Hezekiah revived the observance of the Festival of Unfermented Cakes. There was no time to get ready for the first month (the priests not being ready nor the people gathered), so it was held on the 14th day of the second month.—2 Chronicles 29:17; 30:1-5.
Other than such exceptional circumstances, the Jews kept the Passover on the date that God designated. (Exodus 12:17-20, 41, 42; Leviticus 23:5) Jesus and his disciples celebrated as the Law required, not treating this date casually. Luke reports: “The day of the unfermented cakes now arrived, on which the passover victim must be sacrificed; and [Jesus] dispatched Peter and John, saying: ‘Go and get the passover ready for us to eat.’”—Luke 22:7, 8.
On that occasion Jesus instituted the annual celebration that Christians know as the Lord’s Evening Meal. The value of Christians’ attending cannot be overemphasized. This is the most important event in the year for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jesus’ words show why; he said: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Thus, each of Jehovah’s Witnesses should plan months ahead to keep the date of the celebration free of any other appointments. The Lord’s Evening Meal will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 6, 1993, after sundown locally.
In rare cases some unforeseen circumstance, such as illness or travel complications, might prevent a Christian from attending as he or she had planned. What should be done in such a situation?
During the celebration unleavened bread and red wine are passed, and those who have been anointed with God’s holy spirit and chosen for life in heaven partake. (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:28-30) If one who has each year been partaking is this year confined to a sickbed at home or in a hospital, elders of the local congregation will arrange for one of them to take some of the bread and wine to the sick one, discuss appropriate Bible texts on the subject, and serve the emblems. If an anointed Christian is away from his home congregation, he should arrange to go to a congregation in the area where he will be on that date.
In view of this, it would only be under very exceptional circumstances that an anointed Christian would have to celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal 30 days later (one lunar month), in line with the command at Numbers 9:10, 11 and the example at 2 Chronicles 30:1-3, 15.
Those who are of Jesus’ “other sheep” class, with the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth, are not under command to partake of the bread and the wine. (John 10:16) It is important to attend the annual celebration, but they do not partake of the emblems. So if one of them is sick or is traveling and thus not with any congregation that evening, he or she could privately read over appropriate scriptures (including the account of Jesus’ instituting the celebration) and pray for Jehovah’s blessing on the event worldwide. But in this case there is no need for any additional arrangement for a meeting or a special Biblical discussion a month later.