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HOLY THURSDAY

Below is a ready-made plan and script for a whole-day school retreat with the theme of Holy Thursday.

Feel free to adapt it to suit your school and age group.

You can also submit your own scripts via
timeforassembly@btconnect.com


This site was formerly known as
'School Assemblies for Busy Teachers'.





Assembly Title
Holy Thursday - a retreat

Submitted by
M. McDermott

Age Group
4-13+

Aim
To gather the whole school together to focus on the Triduum before breaking for Easter

Faith Group
Christian

Resources
Candles, banners, music, cross, prayer table, screen, light, play items

Time of Year
Holy Thursday

Other Details
Each class to go back to own classroom and design activities around each mini-prayer session. 

Change look of classroom so it feels different to the children

Script
Background

Each session will look at some of the qualities of Jesus or teachings of Jesus - love, goodness, courage and forgiveness. 
When you return to the classroom afterwards, please have children do something related.

Setting

Quiet music will be played as children enter the gathering space the first time. 
Chanting will be sung as children enter the gathering space each time after that. 
All children should be seated where they can see the action on the screen.

Candles

At the entrance, one student will hold a lighted candle which announces the theme (on a large banner). 
After everyone is seated, the candle is placed on the prayer table – set up at the front and to the side of the screen.

Opening

A short welcome, review of what we are doing and an overview of the day.

Set-up

The “leader” and “prayer” parts are read from the front of the gathering space.

The “readers” of narration of the shadow play read from the back - are not seen, only heard.

The music group could also be at the side at the front.

Prayer table - 2 different heights set up, with symbols added to it throughout the day.

Characters

3 males - 2 females; with strong expressive, clear voices. These characters come out of the play to speak.

Readers – need to be strong - expressive voices, able to read slowly and to follow the action of the play - i.e. watch what is happening and read to the action. Can use a script, as they are not seen.

Leader can use a script and should have a solid reading voice, and be poised.

The voices that help in the play have short parts - perhaps 2 male and 2 females could cover all parts.

Shadow actors – some parts more demanding than others. Need to be spontaneous and out-going.

Prayers - need to have a good reading voice. Can read from a script. (Voices alternating)

Light person - needs to be able to follow directions as well as think for themselves.

Candle bearer.

Singers. To begin chants and songs.

__________________

Session 1          Love

Quiet music playing as children enter. 
The candle bearer is at the door holding the lit candle with the banner LOVE. 
Smile at people entering, do not welcome each child, but do so silently.

Leader: Lent is the season in which we take extra time to think about Jesus’s life and teachings. One way we do this is through prayer. In Lent there are many different opportunities for prayer - Stations of the Cross, retreats, reconciliation and so on. We take time to reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the good news that that is for us.

Today is Holy Thursday, the beginning of the holiest of all the days of the year. Today as we prepare for the death of Christ on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday we will take time to gather, learn more about Jesus’s life through scripture.  This is meant to help us better understand the events that we recall during these next 3 days as we prepare for Easter.

Chanting begins - either 'Dona Nobis Pacem' - or 'Jesus Remember Me'.

Lights on shadow play - only the shadow of the cross showing.  After about 5 rounds, 2 characters come into the shadow of the cross, pause, shake heads and move to the mic in front of the audience. They look very upset as they begin their dialogue.

(If they could memorize these parts that would be best.)

Shortly after they begin talking, the lights go off and actors behind set up for the play...

Zacchaeus
This all leaves me so troubled, so deeply troubled.

Old Man
I know what you mean Zaccheus. Jesus was a loving, wonderful man. He wasn’t a criminal - he didn't hurt anyone. Jesus loved all people. He reached out to both Jews and non-Jews, to the Gentiles and the Samaritans.

Zacchaeus
Yes, he ate with Pharisees as well as tax collectors like me! He welcomed Roman soldiers and zealots. He connected with the rich and the poor and blind old beggars like you. He loved children and all men and women. He had friends who were lowly shepherds and friends who were powerful leaders. He loved everyone.

Old Man
Yes, Jesus treated everyone with dignity and respect no matter who they were. You and I are real witnesses to that, right Zacchaeus. Remember that day when we met Jesus as he was traveling to Jericho….

(Light goes on on shadow play and the story begins.) Zacchaeus and old man join in the play. Old man goes to the forefront for the first scene; Zacchaeus goes off to the side.

Readers: (voices - reader, old man, Jesus one other person.)
As Jesus was coming near to Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road, begging. When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked.
“What is this?”

"Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him. 

He cried out,
“Jesus! Son of David! Take pity on me.”

The people in front scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly,
“Son of David! Take pity on me!”

So Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him. When he came near Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”

“Sir,” he answered, I want to see again!!”

Jesus said to him,
“Then see, your faith has made you well.”

At once he was able to see and he followed Jesus.

(A few players stay with Jesus and the others take their place as the next group of people meets Jesus.)

Readers: (reader and voices for Jesus, Zacchaeus and 2 other people.)
Jesus continued along the way and as he entered Jericho, he was once again met by a crowd of people. Among the people was a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was not well liked by the town’s people because he was a chief tax collector and he was very rich. Zacchaeus was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see over the crowd. So, Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree so he could catch a glimpse of Jesus as he passed by.

When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to Zacchaeus.
“Zacchaeus. Come down. Hurry because I must stay at your house today.”

Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Jesus joyfully. However, many in the crowd were upset and began to complain,
“Look at what Jesus is doing!!”
“He has gone to a sinner’s house to stay.”

But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord,
“Look sir, I am going to give half of my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.”

And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham”

(Lights go off)

Prayer leaders gather at the front mic. As well, the candle is brought to the centre and held during the prayers. After the prayers the candle is processed to the door as a sign that students are to leave the gathering space in silence.

Prayer 1: Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. To love God in this way we must develop a strong prayer life and always be open and willing to do God’s will.

We pray that – we, like Jesus will live a life that reflects a deep love and trust in God and we sing together,

Chorus of 'Love can Build a Bridge': or 'Love, Love, Love'.

Prayer 2: Jesus said, love your neighbour. Our neighbours are many; they include our family and friends, classmates and teachers. Our neighbours are also the people around us that we do not know by name - like the lady who lives across the street from the school and the people who work in the dollar store. Our neighbours include the children we support through the Holy Childhood Association and all those in other countries. Our neighbours also include all those we do not like; Jesus said, love your enemies and do good to those that hurt you.

We pray that – we, like Jesus, will live a life that reflects a deep love and trust in God and we sing together,

Chorus of 'Love can Build a Bridge': or 'Love, Love, Love'.

Prayer 3: Jesus said, love yourself. This may be the place where it all must begin. It is important that each of us loves, respects, and cares for our own body and soul. God has given us the gift of life. Loving God means thinking about yourself as a positive, gifted person; it means treating yourself gently and kindly; it means using your talents and growing to your full potential.

We pray that - we, like Jesus, will live a life that reflects a deep love and trust in God and we sing,

Chorus of 'Love can Build a Bridge': or 'Love, Love, Love'.

Leader: as we go back to the classrooms, let us try to think about what it means to love as Jesus loved and to treat our neighbours in the ways in which we want to be treated.  What does inclusive, unconditional, respectful love look like?

Chorus of 'Love can Build a Bridge': or 'Love, Love, Love'.

(Candle is processed to the doorway.)

__________________

Session 2          Goodness

Students at entrance with candle and banner - Goodness

Chanting of 'Dona Nobis Pacem'

When all have entered shadow of the cross come on – one person sitting in front of cross staring up at it. . is away from the cross, still in the shadows.  (An apostle.)

Apostle gets up and moves to the mic.

Apostle
I miss him so much. He was such a good person and a wonderful friend. He loved to laugh and visit with people; he was a terrific storyteller, a master teacher and great leader. He was kind and generous and loving. There was nothing that he wouldn’t do for us. Being with Jesus was a powerful experience and one thing I will never forget.  That’s our challenge now, to go on and continue to be like Jesus - to serve and teach and love as he loved. He asked us to do that - to be like him. The last time we met for supper, he was very clear about what we had to do.

Reader
Jesus sent Peter and John saying,
“Go and make the preparations for us to eat the Passover. Go into the city and you will meet a man; follow him into his house and he will show you a large dining room where we can eat the Passover. Make all the preparations there.”

And so they set off and found everything as Jesus had told them. They went into the room and prepared the Passover table.  (Table, bowl and jug.)

When the hour came and Jesus and his apostles took their places at the table. Jesus got up and took a towel, poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.  He came to Peter who said,
You shall never wash my feet

Jesus replied,
“If I do not wash your feet Peter, you can have nothing in common with me.”

After Jesus washed Peter’s feet, he went back and sat down, he explained to his disciples,
“You call me master and Lord. If I, then, have washed your feet, you should wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”

Jesus went on to say,
“I give to you a new commandment – to love one another- just as I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples. I shall not be with you much longer, but if you love me you will keep my commandments and remember my words.”

Jesus could see the concern on the faces of the disciples. He comforted them and said,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me. I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Jesus continued to talk with the disciples, to prepare them for what was to come. While they were eating, Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said,
“Take this and eat. This is my body, which is given up for you. Do this in memory of me.”

Jesus then picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God and he gave it to his disciples and they all drank some. Then he said,
“This is my blood which is poured out for many people.”

Shortly after Jesus left the supper and went into the garden to pray.

(Shadow lights go off.)

Prayer speakers gather at the front. As well, the candle is brought to the centre and held during the prayers. After the prayers the candle is processed to the doors as a sign that the students are to leave in silence.

Prayer 1: Jesus said, “I have given you an example, so that you can copy me and do as I have done.” Jesus was a person of service; this means that we, too, must be people of service and help out whenever we can regardless of the type of job that needs to be done or which person is in need of help.

We pray that - we will live a life that is filled with goodness so that our lives reflect a Christ-like image to all around us.

Chorus of Song 'The Lord Jesus'.

Prayer 2:: Jesus cared about people - all people. He was good to everyone he met and he wanted his disciples to carry on in the same way. This means that we too are called to live a life of goodness and consideration for others. To treat people with respect and dignity.

We pray that - we will live a life that is filled with goodness so that our lives reflect a Christ-like image to all around us.

Chorus of Song 'The Lord Jesus'.

Prayer 3: Jesus was filed with goodness and compassion. He knew that it would not be easy for his disciples to carry on after he was gone and so he told them to simply “trust”. Trust in God and trust in him. We too are faced with times when things are not as easy as we would like them to be. During these times, we too, must continue to trust. To trust in God and know that Jesus is there with us, to help us do as he would have done.

We pray that – we, like Jesus, will live a life that is filled with goodness so that our lives reflect a Christ-like image to all around us.

Chorus of Song 'The Lord Jesus'.

__________________

Session 3          Courage

Students at entrance with candle and banner – Courage

Chanting of 'Dona Nobis Pacem'.

When all have entered shadow of the cross come on – a woman is kneeling beside the cross. She gets up and moves to the mic. At the front.

Woman
I was there you know. I saw it all. What courage Jesus had. I mean the whole thing was so unfair; there was no justice. So many people were filled with fear. There was confusion everywhere and many of his friends were so scared that they ran away too. But not Jesus, he knew that what he was doing was right - his courage and strength shone through….

Reader
Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He called to his father and said,
“Father if it is possible, don’t let this happen to me. You can do anything. I don’t want to suffer, but do what you want, not what I want. “

As he continued to pray, Judas and a group of Roman soldiers and some temple guards appeared. They were armed and carried lanterns and torches. Jesus knew everything that was going to happen to him and so he stepped forward and asked them,
“Who is it you are looking for?”

  Jesus of Nazareth!” they said.

  “I am he” he said, “ If you are looking for me, let the others go.”

Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. (Pause)  Jesus said to Peter,
“ Put your sword back in its place. Do you think that I will not drink the cup of suffering which my father has given me?”

The men arrested Jesus and led him off to Caiaphas, the High priest. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin gathered together with their council. They said,
“If you are the Messiah, tell us.”

Jesus replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe.”

All of them asked.  Are you the Son of God?”

Jesus said to them, “You say that I am.”

The high priests did not know how to deal with Jesus so they passed his case over to Pilate the governor. Pilate questioned Jesus but could find no basis for the charges against him. He called together the chief priests once again and explained that no one - not even Herod, could find Jesus guilty of any of the charges.

So, Pilate tried to set Jesus free. Because it was festival time, the custom was that the governor could release a prisoner for the crowds. Anyone the crowd wanted. So, Pilate gathered the crowds and asked them who they wanted released.  The crowd shouted,
“Barabbas!”

Barabbas was a notorious criminal. So Pilate asked again,
“Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”

Again the crowds shouted, “Barabbas!”

Pilate did not know what to do so he asked the crowd,
“So what am I to do with the man you call King of the Jews?”

The crowds responded, “Crucify him!”

So, Pilate gave Jesus over to the crowds to be crucified. 

The soldiers took Jesus inside to the courtyard of the governor's palace and called together the rest of the company. They put a purple robe on him, made a crown of thorny branches, and put it on his head. They began to salute him saying,
Long live the king of the Jews.”  
They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him and whipped him. When they had finished, they let him out to be crucified.

(Shadow lights off.)

Prayer speakers gather at the front and candle is also moved.

Prayer 1: Jesus showed us that we are called to speak the truth, even if it is not the popular thing to do.  It takes courage to stand up and speak out, but we must.  We must speak out for those who are treated unfairly or suffer injustice, we must speak out for those who are poor and do not have what we have. We must speak up when things are not right.

We pray that - we, like Jesus will have the courage to speak the truth and live a life that reflects a deep love and trust in God and we sing together,

Chorus of  'You are Mine' David Haas

Prayer 2: Jesus showed us that it takes courage to act with justice and live according to God’s will. He had the courage to treat all people with dignity and to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. We too are called to treat others with respect and kindness and to be honest in what we say and do. It is not always easy to follow in Christ’s footsteps. Jesus calls us to do hard things.

We pray that - we, like Jesus will have the courage to speak the truth and live a life that reflects a deep love and trust in God and we sing together,

Chorus of  'You are Mine' David Haas

Prayer 3: Jesus had the courage to listen to others and then challenge them if they were not speaking the truth. This, too, is what we are called to do.  We must have the courage to speak the truth and challenge others when they are not speaking with honesty.

We pray that - we, like Jesus will have the courage to listen to others and respond to them in a way so that our relationships reflect a deep love and trust in God and we sing together,

Chorus of  'You are Mine' David Haas

Leader
When we go back to our classrooms, let us try to spend time thinking of the quality of courage. What does it look like in other people? When have we been courageous? What can we do so we can grow in our ability to be people of courage?

Chorus of  'You are Mine' David Haas

Afterwards  'Jesus remember me.'

Candle is processed to the door.

__________________

Session 4          Forgiveness

Students at entrance with candle and banner - Forgiveness

Chanting of 'Dona Nobis Pacem'

When all have entered shadow of the cross come on – a woman is kneeling in front of cross staring up at it.

Woman (Mary) gets up and moves to the mic. In front.

Mary
My son had such compassion and love. He was always willing to forgive those who had hurt him or who sought forgiveness for the things they had done. It was very hard for me to stay by him during this time, but I am glad that I did.  It gave me a chance to see just how loving a person he was……

(Shadow lights on.)

Reader
They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha and there they crucified him. 

They offered him wine and myrrh but he refused it.

The passers-by jeered at him. They shook their heads and said,
“He saved others, but he cannot save himself.”

And Jesus said,
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

There were also two robbers who were crucified with Jesus, one on his right and one on his left.  One of the robbers hanging beside Jesus abused him and jeered,
“Are you not the Christ?" he said, “Save yourself and us as well”

But the other spoke up and rebuked him saying,
“Have you no fear at all of God? You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it; we are paying for what we did. This man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Indeed I promise you,” Jesus replied.  Tonight you will be with me in paradise.”

It was about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

With these words he breathed his last.

(Shadow light flashes on and off - thunder?)

'St. Theresa’s Song'.
As this is being sung Christ is taken down from the cross and carried off.

At end of song, lights – empty cross and lights go off.

Prayer speakers gather at the front and candle is also moved.

Prayer 1: Jesus died for us - because of our sins.
So that we will always remember Jesus’s sacrifice and turn to him for forgiveness we sing,

Chorus of 'Father I have Sinned' or 'We come to ask your Forgiveness'

Prayer 2: Jesus was always willing to forgive those who said they were sorry. There are many times when we do things that hurt others. Even though we may not mean it or think that we were only joking, when we have hurt someone we must say sorry and ask them to forgive us.

We pray for the ability to ask for forgiveness and to say we are sorry in a heartfelt and sincere manner.  And we sing together,

Chorus of 'Father I have Sinned' or 'We come to ask your Forgiveness'

Prayer 3: Jesus gave us the sacrament of forgiveness. It is the way in which we receive God’s forgiveness, grace and blessing after we have caused pain or hurt in ourselves or others. In thanksgiving for the sacrament and for the ability to know that we are forgiven and can always turn to God for friendship we sing together,

Chorus of 'Father I have Sinned' or 'We come to ask your Forgiveness'

__________________

Leader
Conclusion - today we have spent time looking at the life of Jesus and how he showed his ability to love all people, to live a life of goodness and compassion, to have the courage to follow his Father’s will and to forgive those who hurt him.

Thank all the classes for their reflective and prayerful presence.  Important time in the Church year. We will be at church lots in the coming days.  Tonight is Holy Thursday - the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. And so we say a special prayer of thanks to all our priests today. Events happening in the church.

I will come to you in the silence,
I have called you each by name
You will hear my voice,
I claim you as my choice,
be still and know I am here.
I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadow of the night,
I will be your light,
Come and rest in me.
Refrain:
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name
Come and follow me, I will bring you home.
I love you and you are mine.
I am strength for all the despairing,
healing for the ones who dwell in shame.
All the blind will see, the lame will all run free,
and all will know my name.
I am the Word that leads all to FREEDOM;
I am the peace the world cannot give.
I will call your name, embracing all your pain,
stand up, now  walk and live.

The Prayer of St. Theresa
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he moves
compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks
To do good.
Yours are the hands with which
He blesses all the world.
Yours are the eyes, yours are the feet.
Yours are the hands, you are his body.

We come to ask your forgiveness, O Lord
We come to ask your forgiveness, O lord
And we seek forgiveness from each other
Sometimes we build up walls instead of bridges to peace
And we ask your forgiveness, O Lord.

Love Can Build A Bridge

Love can build a bridge

Between your heart and mine

Love can build a bridge

Don’t you think it's time?

Don’t you think it's time?




S. Daly 2000


Last updated 25-7-12.


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