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Bible passage: Luke 22:7-23
Background: If we have grown up in church, then Communion or Eucharist (or whatever your tradition calls this) can seem a familiar thing. This session should help your group (and you) understand some of the depth of meaning of what Jesus does here. The symbolism echoes back to the Passover, a landmark event in the story of the people of God, and explores how what Jesus does here could have been inflammatory to his enemies.
Get the group together and share out the refreshments you have brought. Try to get a mix of healthy snacks and more indulgent ones! As you eat and drink, chat about your week and share any highs and lows you have all had. Ask the group to think about a time when someone has done something controversial. What did they do in response? What did they say?
You will need: internet access and tablet or laptop; concordances and study Bibles; The prince of Egypt DVD and the means to play it; youth Bibles; pens and paper
Show the group the resources you have brought with you and challenge them to find out all they can about Moses, Exodus and the first Passover. This could be by searching the internet, looking through concordances and other Bible study guides - you could even watch relevant clips from The prince of Egypt.
After a few minutes (don’t spend too long on this, otherwise it’ll turn into a school lesson), share what you have discovered. Try to draw out that God rescued his people from slavery, that he commanded them to celebrate this event through the Passover festival and that the festival was central to the Jews’ view of who they were and how God loved them.
If you have time, ask if the young people have any stories that are central to their lives. It could be the story of their birth or an important event. Alternatively, it could be the story of their faith.
You will need: Bibles; flatbreads; grape juice; horseradish; Romaine lettuce; charoset (grated apple mixed with cinnamon and walnuts); roasted lamb bone (or a picture of one); hard-boiled egg; parsley; salt water; paper cups and plates
Set out all the elements of the Passover meal and briefly explain what they would have meant to Jesus and his disciples as they came to celebrate the festival:
- Flatbread: bread without yeast, bread made quickly as the Hebrews had to leave Egypt in a hurry.
- Horseradish and Romaine lettuce: bitter herbs symbolising the bitterness of slavery.
- Charoset: represents the mortar used by the Hebrews to build in Egypt.
- Egg: symbolises the pre-festival offering made in the temple.
- Parsley: represents the back-breaking work done by the Hebrews.
- Salt water: represents the tears of the Hebrews.
Read Luke 22:7-23, surrounded by the Passover meal. Re-enact what Jesus does with the flatbread and ‘wine’ (grape juice). Remind the group that the disciples had been together for around three years by this point. Ask the young people how they would have reacted when Jesus used these very potent symbols of the Jewish story to refer to himself. Do they think the disciples would have understood what Jesus was saying about himself?
Then ask the group what the disciples would have thought when Jesus said someone at the table would betray him. After three years, do you think they suspected who it might be?
You will need: cracker recipe; ingredients; one or two toppings; access to oven; clean-up and cover-up equipment
Before the session, search for an appropriate cracker recipe on the internet and get all the necessary ingredients.
Have a go at making crackers as a group. Work together to mix, roll out and bake the crackers. As you make them, take the chance to chat to the young people about the story you have explored and what they have discovered.
Once the crackers are baked, eat them with the toppings you have brought. You will need to risk assess this activity and be aware of food allergy issues.
You will need: grape juice and flatbreads from Bible exploration (or crackers from Creative response)
Make sure everyone has a cup of grape juice and flatbread or a cracker. Read out Luke 22:17-20, with the young people eating and drinking when Jesus’ words indicate it.
As they eat and drink, ask your young people to chat with Jesus about his sacrifice and this reminder of the significance of what he did. (Depending on your church tradition, you might need to make it clear that you are not formally celebrating Communion. However, you might be able to invite a clergy member to come and celebrate Communion with you, if appropriate. Explore that with your church leadership. If your church tradition is happy with a more informal celebration, then continue as you are.)
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