All four of the Gospels give us an account of the events at the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. In the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus explains that one of the disciples will betray him and institutes the Lord’s Supper. In John, Jesus identifies Judas as his betrayer after he washes the feet of those with whom he is eating.In all four Gospels we have a command from Jesus to do something in and for his remembrance (wash feet and share this meal).
(1.) To retell the story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples
(2.) To identify the significant things the Gospel writers tell us happened at the Last Supper.
(3.) To practice remembering Jesus meal with his disciples and particularly the institution of the Lord’s Supper or his washing the disciples feet.
Remind your students that this is the last day of Sunday School before Easter and that next Sunday will be Palm-Passion Sunday.
Hear the Word
Share the story of footwashing from John 13:1-5 or Jesus bread breaking from Luke 22:19-21. These texts focus on particular practices that our children will likely recognize from Church. If you would like to share some of the context around these practices, we have a few books in the Christian Ed. Library for your use.
Respond to the Word
(1.) Contemplating art: Find art depicting scenes from the synoptics or John. Use them to reflect on the story of Jesus last meal with his disciples. I love this serigraph of communion and this serigraph of Jesus washing the disciples feet, both by John August Swanson. You may have other images you would like to explore. After discussing and working with several depictions, invite each child to make an artistic rendering of their own.
(2.) Last Supper Diorama: As a class, create a diorama of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. Use a cardboard box for the structure. Construct a table with scrap wood (in the supply closet) and cardboard. Make simple linens from fabric. Depending on the number of children in your class, provide each child with a clothespin to paint or color and dress (you can use fabric and yarn or tissue paper). You can be as elaborate (yarn hair) or simple as you would like and is appropriate for your age group. Invite each child to name their figure after one of the people present at the supper. Then, as a class, discuss the events of the night. Perhaps you would like to focus on Jesus’ giving the bread and wine as his body or maybe the footwashing from John’s Gospel caught your attention. Talk about what those things–communion and footwashing–tell us about how Jesus wants us to follow him.
If you have extra time after creating your diorama, younger children may enjoy retelling the story using their figures. Older children may enjoy imagining that they are one of the disciples (or a fly on the wall) and writing about their experience in first-person in the Lenten journals. When you are finished, you may leave the diorama in your class and I will store them for later use.
(3.) Footwashing: Work together to set up buckets and sponges or cloths from the Christian Education Supply closet (If the weather is nice, your class may enjoy doing this outside). Put children in pairs and ask them to gently wash one another’s feet. Respond together to this practice. Was this an odd choice? How does it show love?
Bonus: If you have a younger class you may want to play a game with the water, buckets, and sponges after washing feet. Use the sponges and buckets to have a bucket-filling relay race (similar to the baptism or woman at the well water game).
(4.) Last Supper Poems and Prayers: After your class hears the story of the Last Supper, read the poem(s), “The Passover,” “Last Lesson,” and/or “Communion” from At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter by Nikki Grimes (I will put this book at the front of the commons for you to use). Take some time after each poem to look at and observe the beautiful woodcuts featured in the book (by North Carolina artist, David Frampton). Ask your students to share what they think the Last Supper was like. How did the disciples feel knowing that they would only have Jesus for a short time? What did they think when Jesus broke bread with them and gave them wine? What about when he washed their feet? Then, invite your students to write their own poems about the Last Supper in their Lenten journals. If you have time remaining, invite students to share their poems with the class.
(5.) Last meal, last thoughts: Reflect together on what it might feel like to be present with Jesus at the Last Supper. You might talk about what Jesus was thinking about or why he chose to show his love in a meal (the Synoptics) and footwashing (John). What were the disciples thinking as Jesus shared with them the details of what was about to happen? What did they think about having their feet washed? What did they think about Judas? Share your reflections with each other before writing about them in the Lenten journals.
(6.) Last Supper Play-Doh Meal: Young children may enjoy this activity. Use the print out and have your class make play-doh (closet near the nursery) or clay (closet near the 3+4 year old class) images from the Last Supper (bread, chalice, or water basin).
Lenten Journals: Ask your students to draw a depiction of the Last Supper. They may like to focus on communion, footwashing, or both.
Close in Prayer