Maundy Thursday – Set my people free!


Seder Plate - children's passover
Today unlike yesterday is very practical and if I was in a parish working with children that were on school holiday, I would be running a hands on workshop with them as I have done for many years.

Today we have a chance for us to remember the last supper that Jesus spent with his friends – his disciples, in the upper room.

They were gathered together to celebrate the Passover.  The Passover is about telling the story of the people’s slavery in Egypt and their God rescuing them. 

The story is told in a multi-sensory way through taste, texture, prayer, readings and song.  Drinking wine/grape juice, and breaking of bread. 
It was during this meal that Jesus told his disciples of his own life being broken and poured out to save us from the slavery of sin.

It was the very first Communion. 

It’s a very interactive meal and one that the children will very much join in with from the lighting of the candles to asking the questions.
 
I remember I did this during a children’s Easter workshop held in church on Maundy Thursday.  It was a really positive experience for everyone.

A few months later, I was leading a family service the theme was the bible and I asked the children what their favourite bible stories were, a little girl about 4 and a half came up to speak at the microphone, her words amazed everyone there and me.  She told everyone that her favourite story was the last supper, then went on to tell everyone the story.  By doing rather than just hearing she not only heard the story but she obviously understood the story. 
It proved to me that we ought to give children the opportunity to experience God whenever we can. 

I used an order of service and allocated readings to different children.

I set up the tables in the middle of the room, put white table clothes on them and distributed the food along the middle with a leaders table at one end with candle sticks.  Don’t forget to leave an empty chair for Jesus.

Whilst the meal is prepared and the table is arranged the children would be in another room.  Perhaps listening to the story.  During this time I explain about Jesus washing the disciples feet and allow the children to have the same experience.  Or if you want to set the scene you could show some of the Prince of Egypt DVD where Moses leads the people to safety. 

This is my version of the Passover meal, if you would like to stick to the more original Jewish version there are plenty that you can download online

If you have time a seder plate is a great idea to make and they can take them home: I particularly like ideas 2 and 4.


You will need:

·         Salty water
·         Sprigs of parsley
·         Dish of maror (bitter herb) Maybe horseradish sauce
·         Dish of haroseth (sweetness of freedom) a mixture of grated apple, raisins, chopped nuts and cinnamon, made into little balls.
·         A basket of matzo (unleavened bread)
At the leaders table you will also need a lamb bone, and a hard-boiled egg, and three pieces of matzo under a napkin.
Before you start hide a piece of Matzo so the children can go and find it when the meal is finished.

Introduction: 

Today, we are going to take part in the Passover A Seder meal that is celebrated by Jews. The Passover celebrates the time that Moses was told by God to help the people escape from slavery out of Egypt.
Although we aren’t Jews Jesus was a Jew and he would celebrated the Passover with a Seder meal with his disciples in the upper room.
At that meal Jesus told the disciples to take the bread – and drink the wine in remembrance of him.
Jesus knew he was going to die and he wanted a way for the disciples to remember him and everything he taught them.
We leave an empty seat especially for Jesus as we remember the words he said that night.

We light the candles:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.
Thank you for the gift of light, so that we are no longer in darkness.
May these candles be to us the light of your love shining in our hearts.
Amen

We say Grace:
(with glasses filled with a little grape juice or wine)
We raise our glass,
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine.
Blessed be God for ever.
(Everyone drinks)

We wash our hands:
As we wash our fingers in the bowl of water we pray:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.
Today we come to you and thank you for all that is good in our lives,
And ask your forgiveness for everything we have done wrong.
Blessed be God for Ever.

We dip our herbs:
The salty water reminds us of the tears that the people at the time of Moses shed when they were slaves and of the waters of the Red Sea. (sea water is salty) God parted the waters so the people could pass through to safety and freedom.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.
For all that grows on the earth and for springtime a time of new growth.
Blessed be God for ever.
Dip your parsley into the salty water twice and eat it.

We share the bread:
The leader picks up the matzo.
We remember the words that Jesus said: This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And then we share the bread with each other.  Take a bit and pass it to the person next to you. 

Leader: We remember the hungry as Jesus told us to do:
             Let one of the children open our door
             To show that we welcome all those who are hungry,
             In body and spirit.

Ask one of the children to open the door.

The Story:
We come to the questions asked by the children.

CHILD: Why is this night different from all other nights?

Adult: Because we are remembering something amazing, Our ancestors were once slaves of a Pharaoh in Egypt, but the God rescued the people.
The terrible suffering of slavery was turned into great joy and happiness.

CHILD: On this night, why do we eat only unleavened bread?

Adult: The bible says that the people had to leave Egypt in a hurry so that they didn’t have time to let the bread rise. So they made flat bread instead.

CHILD: Why do we eat bitter herbs. Why do we dip them?

Adult:  Because this reminds us of the bitterness of slavery. On this night we dip into salt water to remind us of the tears.

Child: Why do we have the sweet stuff to eat?

Adult: The sweet stuff reminds of the sweetness of freedom when God rescued the people.  It also reminds us of the sweetness of God’s goodness and love that conquers evil.

Child: Why do we eat parsley?

Adult: We have parsley because it reminds us of the fresh green plants of springtime.  Which brings new life to the world every year.

Child: Why is there a lamb bone?

Adult: Because people ate lamb on the last night in Egypt and put it’s blood on the door posts to save them from the plague of death that night.
And today we also remember that Jesus is the lamb of God sent to rescue us from sin. 
God wants us love one another as he loves us, so tonight we remember all people whether our friends or enemies.

Child: Why are we taking so much trouble over this meal today – with clean cloths, candles, flowers and party food?

Adult: Because thanks to God’s loving rescue, we have been set free from slavery and sin! In spite of all the tears and sadness in our world there is lots and lots to thank God for, and we want to enjoy thanking him as well as we can for all he has done in our lives.
The egg represents offerings that were brought to God in the Temple of Jerusalem in ancient times. You may also tell them that the empty shell of the egg can remind us of the empty tomb.

Blessed be God for ever
We all drink our juice and re-fill our glass. 
Now we are all ready to enjoy the Passover meal. 
When we have eaten the meal the children can go and find the matzo. The one who finds it is given a reward.
Then the bread is broken and shared.
Then sing a song of celebration: eg, Jubilate everybody, Our God is so strong, You shall go out with joy.

Grace after the meal:
Leader:
The bible tells us that when you have eaten and are satisfied you shall thank the Lord our God for all that he has given us.
Everyone raises their glasses and we pray:
All:  O Lord our God, we praise you and thank you for feeding us in body and spirit.
Women and girls:
We thank you for the good earth and it’s fruitfulness.
Men and boys:
We thank you for the friendship we have shared tonight and for the loving kindness you give us every day.
All:
We thank you for freeing us from slavery and sin through the gift of your forgiveness.
We pray that all God’s children may be freed from hatred and hunger, oppression and guilt, free to live happily in your love.  Amen
We all drink our juice.
Leader:
We hold hands as we share the grace together:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.  Amen.
We sing: Shalom, my friends


Please note that this is my interpretation for use with children.  
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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