Note to the Teacher
The main idea from this lesson is to understand the importance of serving others. The ice breakers encourage laughter and silliness, allowing students to learn names. The discussion encourages students to consider the history of Passover and helps them understand the lesson Jesus was teaching us during his observance of Passover with his disciples. The activity is contemplative, and it allows students to consider the significance of serving others with humility. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Teeth! (10 minutes)
If meeting in person:
Have the students sit in a circle and say their names. Pick one student to start the game by saying his/her name twice, followed by the name of another person in the circle twice. The student is do this without showing any teeth. For example, Johnny will say “Johnny, Johnny, Emily, Emily”; then pass it to Emily. Emily then says her name twice, followed by the name of someone else in the circle twice. This all must happen without students showing their teeth.
If a student does show teeth and another student notices, the student who noticed flaps his/her arms like a bird and yells, “TEETH! TEETH!” while looking at the offender, keeping in mind that he/she also cannot show any teeth. The student who was showing teeth is eliminated, and the student who noticed begins the name part again.
The game can continue like this until there is a winner.
If meeting online: Virtual Tour
Have students do virtual tours of their homes. Tell them to take their computers/phones/tablets and show the rest of the group their homes, explaining something special that has happened in one location of the home.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
The passage from John takes place just a few hours before Jesus is arrested on Thursday night while the disciples were preparing for the Passover feast. The passage from Exodus describes the Passover and the final plague brought upon Egypt to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The feast the disciples were preparing for commemorates this event from Exodus.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Let’s first focus on the passage from Exodus. What stands out to you from it? What makes you think or question?
- What do you think about all of the preparations that God was having the Israelites do before God passed through Egypt to strike down every firstborn? Do any of them seem strange?
- Why do you think God was having the Israelites prepare? What were they preparing for?
- How has God been preparing you during this Lenten season? Remember, this is a season of repentance and reorienting ourselves toward God.
- Why would Jesus, God made flesh, kneel down to wash the feet of his disciples? Isn’t it beneath him to do that?
- Maundy Thursday is celebrated with sharing in Holy Communion and often has a foot-washing element incorporated into the service. Why do you think we emphasize these two elements so heavily on Maundy Thursday?
- Jesus is telling us, too, in this passage to “wash one another’s feet” with our very lives. How can you do that this week? What can you do to serve others and put them before yourself this week?
Lent is about repentance. Encourage the students to think about ways they might need to repent when it comes to having or not having served others. For what or from whom do they need to seek forgiveness?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
If meeting in person:
Set up a separate room with a calm, contemplative atmosphere. Think about using low lights and candles; play soft worship music in the background. Tell the students that we are going to remember Maundy Thursday by washing one another’s feet and considering how we might need to do that for the world around us.
In the room where you are initially meeting, have students pair up, or you pair them up, and have each pair grab a chair. At each chair, place a bowl large enough for someone’s feet. Supply warm water, a washcloth, and drying towel. Explain to the students that they are going to wash one another’s feet, as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. While they do so, everyone is going to pray silently and ask God to reveal to them how they might serve others.
Re-read John 13:1-17, play soft worship music, and encourage the students to one another’s feet. One student will sit in the chair while the other washes; then they will switch.
When they have finished, everyone will move into the separate room that you have already set up. In that room will be a cross and paper and pens. Tell the students to think about the ways they have missed opportunities to serve and love others. Tell them to write down those missed opportunities. Instruct them to pray for God’s forgiveness and for God to open their eyes to people in their lives they need to serve. Then, tell them to put that paper at the foot of the cross in the room, knowing that when they confess, God is faithful to forgive.
End the activity in an appropriate way for the atmosphere you have created. Consider praying together, providing a few minutes of silent prayer. Move into a time of worship through song if you have someone with you who can lead.
If meeting on Zoom:
Prepare students ahead of time by telling them to have a candle ready to light for the discussion time.
First, share this clip from the movie, The Gospel of John. When you share your screen, be sure to click “share computer sound” as well. . [Please check to be sure your church has the correct licenses before using any video clips. See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/online-worship-music-resources-for-livestreaming for information.]
Second, share this clip from the musical Les Misérables. This scene takes involved Jean Valjean, who was homeless and on the run after his escape from prison.
- What stood out to you from the clip that showed Jesus washing his disciples’ feet? How did they react when he started doing so?
- Why might some think that Jesus acted strangely by washing their feet?
- Jesus washed their feet to give them an example of the lengths his disciples should go to serve the world. Have you ever done something so drastic to serve others? How could you do something so drastic to serve others?
- What stood out to you from the clip from Les Misérables?
- How did the priest show Christ-like love to Jean Valjean?
- How did the priest “wash the feet” of Jean Valjean? How was God’s grace demonstrated?
Close in prayer or in whatever method is customary for your group.
Total time: 50 minutes
If meeting in person:
- Bowls for every two students with warm water, wash cloth, and drying towel
- A way to play worship music softly
- Paper or index cards
If meeting online:
- Each student needs a candle
- Device to connect to Zoom or other platform