We Receive and Hand On
Prayers for Maundy Thursday
April 9, 2020
This is intended to be a simple service of song, scripture, reflection,
Handwashing and Communion to be done online for congregations,
or by individual households on their own.
Each person or household should have available a small bowl of water and a towel for handwashing,
bread and juice, wine or water for Communion. Set up a comfortable, beautiful space on your table with these elements.
Questions are provided to help shape the process of reflection, which may be done by individuals or in 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 their reactions to the readings.
Music: Suggested songs are available in The New Century Hymnal, and are either in public domain or licensed under OneLicense.
Households worshipping at home should choose songs they know by heart.
Call to Worship
|Leader:||The Israelites cried out to God in their oppression.|
out loud, but muted
Their voices still echo around the globe:
in India, Sudan, Mexico, and in American cities.
God hears the cries of all who are suffering,
and delivers those who wait on God.
All who suffer, who die, who are alienated
are precious to God;
out loud, but muted:
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.
out loud, but muted:
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 O God, Our Help in Ages Past TNCH 25
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
God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire.
“And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to God.
“I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.
“This will be a memorial day for you; you will celebrate it as a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always.
Hymn I Love My God Who Heard My Cry TNCH 511
text and tune in public domain;
At this time, when we are sheltering in place,
do you feel connected in some way with the experience of the ancient Israelites?
Separated from common spaces
—school, playground, offices—
what does it feel like to have freedom of movement hindered?
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 “in a hurry”?
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
Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to God. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.
Jesus knew that God had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing,
but it will be clear enough to you later.”
Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.
Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man [the Human One] is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, God is glorified—glory all around!
“Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the religious authorities, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Hymn Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love TNCH 498
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?
Dip your hands into bowl of water, and when they are wet lift your hands to camera
and imagine the pastor is there and giving a blessing or offering forgiveness or praying over your hands
Community and Communion: God in Our Midst
Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important.
I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you.
The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,
This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup,
you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master;
you will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns.
You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Hymn Jesus is Here Right Now TNCH 348
or It Was a Sad and Solemn Night TNCH 225
Invite people to have bread and cup of juice or wine or water
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,
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? (Perhaps call names of family and friends who are unable to be present).
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.
Opportunity to experience oneness even though we are at a distance.
Hymn What Wondrous Love is This? TNCH 223
As we leave this holy time,
contemplate 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. Dr. Renee C. Jackson, Minister for Ministerial Formation, MESA Team
Copyright 2020 Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO 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.