Meals with a meaning
Parents’ pause for thought: Take time to read the Bible story below, and in the Bible. When Jesus ate his last supper with his disciples, he changed the old Jewish Passover into a meal with special significance that Christians still celebrate today.
Soon after eating this meal, Jesus was betrayed into the hands of his enemies by Judas, a disciple who was supposed to be a good friend. He was brought before the High Priests, who were disturbed by his popularity, interrogated by Pilate and condemned to a humiliating death on the cross by the same people who had cheered his arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, just a few days earlier. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked his disciples to eat bread and to drink wine, and to continue this ritual in order to remember his body broken for us and his blood poured out for us on Good Friday; to remember that he died for each one of us so that, despite our failings, we can enjoy a close relationship with God and live life in the hope of heaven.
Think about taking communion at church and the way in which you feel this brings you closer to Jesus. Be prepared to share this with the children in your life so that, the next time they attend a communion service, it will have more meaning for them. Encourage them to listen to the words being spoken by the Celebrant (telling the story of the Last Supper) and to look for the bread (wafers) and the cup of wine.
The disciples ate and drank as Jesus asked them to do. But there were many things they did not yet understand. It was only after they had seen the risen Christ that they began to realise that Jesus had given his life willingly on the cross and that this was all part of God’s plan to bring forgiveness and new life to all people who trust in him.
The story: The last supper (Based on Luke 22:7-22)
For an interactive story, you will need: some herbs; a tablecloth; a breadbasket with flatbreads; a jug of red juice; cups.
“I can’t wait for our special supper tonight!” said Dan, dancing about with excitement.
“Not long now!” replied Mum as she chopped sweet-smelling herbs. (Smell the herbs.)
Today was the Passover Celebration. Later, Dan would share a special meal of roast lamb and flatbreads with his family. But the best part would be when Dad told them the Passover story again. It was all about the time when God rescued their ancestors from Egypt and took them to a land of their own. What’s your favourite celebration meal?
Now two men were at the door. It was Peter and John, Jesus’ friends! Dan had met them the other day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a little donkey.
“Hello!” they greeted Dad. “Jesus wants to know, where is the guest room that you are going to lend him and his disciples for the Passover meal, please?” Where do you think it was?
“I’ll show you!” cried Dan. “Follow me!”
He led them up some stone steps on the outside of the house that went up to the flat roof. But now he stopped at a door on the first level.
“Here you are! The room’s all ready for you!”
The two men looked in at the large room with its long table and nodded approvingly.
“Thank you, Dan. We’d better get ready for the meal. Can you lend us a hand? ” (Set the table with the items.)
After supper with his family, Dan went up to peep around the door of the guest room. Jesus was sitting between his disciples at the table.
“My friends, I’ve been looking forward so much to eating this last supper with you,” he said. Dan was puzzled. Was Jesus going away again so soon?
Jesus took the wine, thanked God for it, and shared it among his friends. (Pour juice into everyone’s cup.)
Then he took some bread, thanked God for it, broke it and gave it to them, saying: “This bread is like my body which will be broken for you. Please do this to remember me.” (Break some bread and give everyone a piece to eat.)
Next, Jesus took the wine and said: “This wine is like my blood, which will be poured out for you. Please do this to remember me.” (Ask everyone to drink their ‘wine’.)
Dan thought Jesus looked very sad as he looked around at his friends. “One of you is going to hand me over to my enemies,” he said.
Dan shivered. Surely nobody would want to hurt Jesus, would they? He went back down to join his family, wondering what was going to happen next.
The Last Supper: Read the story together, perhaps using the props to help bring it alive. Chat about the story making sure that the youngest have a chance to contribute.
What’s your favourite part of this story?
I wonder why this story is called “The Last Supper?”
What do you think was going to happen to Jesus?
Do you think people still remember Jesus with bread and wine today?
Setting the table: Before family meals, ask children to take turns to set the table. Alternatively, ask them to do so in readiness for a visit by special guests such as visiting grandparents. Encourage them to take care over making the table look attractive, perhaps with a jug of flowers, candles, homemade name cards, place settings, etc. Fold napkins in different ways. Put mobile devices away for the meal to encourage conversation. Link all this with the story of Peter and John getting the meal ready for Jesus and the disciples.
Easter decorations: Break some eggs in half, saving the insides for cooking. Clean the shells. Decorate the insides and outsides of the shells with poster paints or felt-tip pens. Glue a small toy chick in the shells. You could make one for each guest!
Easter cards: Your family will really appreciate a homemade card. Fold some card in half. Starting near the top of the fold, draw a large oval egg shape, finishing near the bottom of the fold. Cut out the egg shape, through both layers of card, but don’t cut along the fold! Decorate the egg with crayons, felt-tips, paints or stickers. Write an Easter greeting inside!
Easter Grace: One, two, three four five, My friend Jesus is alive, Six seven, eight, nine, ten, Died for us and rose again/ Thanks for special meals, Amen
Meaningful Meals: Chat together about any special/celebration meals that you regularly eat together as a family, eg a birthday tea or a dinner on the last night of a holiday. What is everyone’s favourite and why? Are there any food items that always form part of the celebration, or perhaps a favourite restaurant/picnic place? Could you introduce some new celebration meals that might become a tradition in your family – eg Friday night is Pizza night? Traditions build happy memories and strong families!
Family Quiz: Many meals and food items have a special meaning. Can you say what the following food helps us to celebrate and/or remember?
Hot cross buns
Simnel cake (what are the decorations on the top and why are there
eleven of them?)
Easter egg (an egg makes us think of new life – why do we think
particularly of this at Easter?)
Communion bread and wine
Washing your feet! If you are supervising bath time, helping with shoelaces or footcare, remind children that before the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. They had all arrived in the upstairs room of the house in Jerusalem, no doubt hot and dusty. They probably wore open-toed sandals. But there was no servant to wash everyone’s feet and perhaps the disciples weren’t keen to volunteer! (This job was usually given to the least important member of the household.) Jesus loved his disciples, and though he was their Lord and Master, he wanted to show that he was willing to serve them in this lowly task. It was then that he gave them a new commandment. Can you try to memorise it?
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
A world famous painting: Can you find a painting called The Last Supper on the internet? Try the website: www.milan-museum.com
What do you think of it?
Where in the world can it be found?
How big is it?
If you research further, can you find a picture of The Last Supper made in salt? In which country can that be found?