The Three Days -- Maundy Thursday
We Receive and Hand On
Prayers for Maundy Thursday
This is intended to be a simple service of song, scripture, reflection, and Communion. Questions are provided to help shape the process of reflection, which may be done by the pastor, by individuals or small groups. Provide writing paper and basic art supplies in order to encourage people to write or draw images, thoughts, or feelings they experience during the time of reflection. If time allows, invite those present to share their reactions to the readings.
Call to Worship
The Israelites cried out to God in their oppression.
Their voices still echo around the globe:
in India, Sudan, Mexico, and in American cities.
God hears the cries of the suffering,
and delivers those who wait on God.
All who suffer, who die, who are alienated
are precious to God;
Let us love the Lord who restores liberty,
And gives us hope for peace.
Today we remember the One who gave himself for us,
Jesus the Christ.
Let us worship God!
Jesus, Lamb of God, we bless you today,
remembering what you have done for us.
You poured out your life to show us the love of God.
Today we celebrate your gift of life
as we somberly recall your death
and exult in your resurrection. Amen.
Hymn God of Grace and God of Glory TNCH 436
Prayer of Confession
Giver of Life, from time immemorial you call us to yourself.
In ways too numerous to mention, we fail to respond.
Forgive us, we pray.
Our limited understanding of culture
gets in the way of fellowship
with those different from ourselves.
Our limited vision of community
gets in the way of your call
to accept the cost and joy of discipleship,
to seek justice and peace for all.
Replace our arrogance, Merciful One,
with the humility and caring service Jesus modeled,
for truly we are not greater than our Teacher and Savior. Amen.
Words of Assurance
God gives us grace and more grace.
Be assured of this truth, that in Christ you are forgiven!
Listening for God in the Stories of our Tradition
Recalling the Passover
Reading: Exodus 12:1-14
Hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past TNCH 25
or I Love My God Who Heard My Cry TNCH 511
Imagine yourself and your family in this text,
among the Israelites who were enslaved and desperate.
What thoughts might go through your mind
as you follow these instructions and prepare this meal?
How would you explain to children
why you are eating “hurriedly”?
Are you excited? Fearful?
What images of oppression and liberation come to mind?
Where do you experience the need for freedom in your life?
in your community?
in our world?
What is the cost of freedom?
A New Commandment from Jesus: Servant Leadership
Reading: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Hymn Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love TNCH 498
or Un Mandamiento Nuevo TNCH 389
Imagine yourself in this upper room with Jesus and his friends.
With whom do you identify? How do you feel?
Peter resists Jesus’ service of footwashing. Would you?
Are you surprised that Jesus included Judas
in the footwashing?
What would it take to offer a service of love
to someone who hurt or betrayed you?
What manner of love does Jesus model and command of us?
Community and Communion: God in Our Midst
Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Hymn O Bread of Life TNCH 333
or It Was a Sad and Solemn Night TNCH 225
This commemorative act, central to our tradition,
comes alive for us each time we gather
at the Communion Table.
In re-enacting this event, what is it that we receive from the Lord
and pass on to future generations?
At this table, and especially on this night,
we stand remembering our past, faithful in our present
and hoping in God’s future,
proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes again. (1 Cor 11: 26)
Certainly we remember Christ’s death when we gather here,
but what does a future rich in grace and hope look like,
when Christ will come again?
What does this moment feel like,
entwining memory, faith, and hope?
Do you welcome Christ when you sit down to break bread with friends? Whom does Christ call you to invite to join you at the Lord’s table?
Sharing the Meal
The Communion Table presents an opportunity
for reconciliation in the community;
to give and to receive forgiveness and service;
to hear anew our beloved story and to re-tell it for this moment;
to enter the new covenant through the Lifeblood of Christ.
Hymn What Wondrous Love is This? TNCH 223
or How Can I Say Thanks? TNCH 14
Go out into the night,
contemplating what Jesus faced on that fateful Friday.
Make note of what you experienced this evening.
May you be continually transformed into the image of Christ.
Just as Jesus honored God by placing God’s will above his own,
may God be glorified through our lives.
Be of good courage!
Trust in God in whom we have salvation and hope.
We Receive and Hand On: Prayers for Maundy Thursday was written by the Rev. Renee C. Jackson, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, presently serving as Pastor and Teacher of the First Congregational UCC in Ypsilanti, Michigan, an Open and Affirming congregation where God is still speaking.
Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.