Maundy Thursday A — April 6
Maundy Thursday, April 6, 2023
“In the Presence of All”
Enter this room, all those who prepare with a heavy heart.
Approach the table, you who make rooms ready, who serve with what you
have at hand.
Sit elbow to elbow, those with secrets burdening your hearts.
Eat and drink deeply, you who wear grief and betrayal plainly upon your face.
We are welcome here. Christ Jesus made room for all, and there is space at the table still.
We are none of us strangers at the table. Sit. Come as you are, weary, sheltered, beloved.
I love to tell the story of unseen things above Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know ‘tis true, It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Jesus, you who walked among us and lived so radically that in the end, even your friends betrayed you – give us Courage. Gift us with breath that fills our bellies and soothes the panicked fluttering of our hearts.
Jesus, you who wept as we weep, who ate and drank, who prayed loudly and alone, who spent a lifetime filled with doubt, but didn’t allow that to stop you from speaking up and acting out – grant us Strength. Move not only our mouths to prayers of justice, but our bodies to action.
Jesus, you who brought sight and life, who calmed storms and fed the masses, you who welcomed all who were excluded – gift us Rest. Guide us to those who will share the load so that when the pain becomes too much to bear, we may lay down knowing the good work will go on. Amen
Passing the peace
May Christ’s passion for what is right fill your heart And flow out through our hands. May we serve others with a joyful spirit And accept their gifts wholeheartedly in return. Let us remember we are never alone. God’s grace will bind us, and our prayers revive us. The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. (Please greet one another)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Spirit of Christ, we come to you with our hands outstretched, hearts heavy with dread. We hold up to you the grief in our hearts – the personal failings, the endemic injustices, the catastrophic disasters – and the weight of it all brings us to our knees.
We need to be reminded that you see us though a lens of love and compassion.
With every breath, we invite in your forgiveness and encouragement.
We stumble, and you catch us.
We yearn, and you listen.
We hunger, and you fill us up.
Just as I am though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears – within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
John 13: 1-17
A Symbolic Washing of Feet
(Take a pitcher filled with water and pour it out into a bowl. Pick up the towel and dip it into the water, then hold it up. If desired, these statements may be read by one or more lay people instead of the pastor)
Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his disciples as a reminder to them and to us that there is no call to place any person above another. (Dip the towel in the water)
We must each spend time being tended, washed clean, and shown unwavering love in these precious, assailable bodies. (Dip the towel in the water)
We are also called to care for one another – to be humble, to listen enthusiastically, to show up for the most vulnerable people in our lives and communities. (Dip the towel in the water)
Every day, we must be ready to give and to receive. We must stay alert, for Jesus moves among us, and we will find him where we least want to look. (Dip the towel in the water)
We cannot stop at speaking the words Jesus taught us – we must be bringers of justice and mercy. (Dip the towel in the water)
We must embrace discomfort if it brings us in line with Christ’s message of radical love and acceptance. (Dip the towel in the water)
Jesus did all of this and more. He wept and despaired. He felt the agony of a human body, and the pain of betrayal by those he loved. He was beaten and rejected and left to die, questions on his lips even at the very end.
And yet, he washed feet. He continued to show up, even knowing what he did about how flawed people could be. His human heart must have been breaking, and yet he stayed to teach and to be in community with his disciples. (Dip the towel in the water)
Let us take a moment of silence.
Spirit of Christ, we pause to extend to you what feels most vulnerable in each of us. We ask you to pour out compassion over us as you did water over the feet of your disciples. We may be prideful, uncomfortable, anxious, depressed. We may be grieving or overwhelmed, but we ask for your help attuning ourselves with your guidance, strength, and hope. Amen
Won’t you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?
Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey, we are trav’lers on the road.
We are here to help each other go the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you in the nighttime of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.
Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?
Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant, too.
Gathering to Remember the Last Supper
Matthew 26: 17-30
We gather to remember the Passover meal. This night was a tradition, a predictable holiness for the Jewish people, and a yearly rededication for and of liberation.
Prayer of Consecration
Place a pebble in our shoe, God, that we may recall the pain of betrayal on a holy night. Let us walk with Christ and his disciples, taste this precious meal, and reflect on our place in the story.
We are each of us Judas, who should be scorned and threatened, who should be turned away from the table, and yet, he remained, just as we are asked to do.
We cannot bring peace without liberation, nor forgiveness without grace. We cannot taste this bread or cup without remembering the bitterness of many choices we’ve made. We cannot share it together without being reminded that we have a place here, and it is as a cherished member of this faith, and this family. We are loved, no matter what.
This bread and cup bind us together. May it fill us with the spirit of Christ and empower us so to break the chains that keep us all from being free. Amen
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins; do this, as often as you drink of it, in remembrance of me.”
(As the Bread is lifted up, please name the joys of this last year. As the Cup is lifted up, please name people, living or dead, whom you would bring to the covenant meal.)
God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your pow’r;
crown your ancient Church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.
We leave this time together surrounded by the figures in this story. Christ and his disciples walk with us as shadows of what we have done and what we can yet choose to do. The story is not finished. Tonight we must lay down and weep, but soon, soon we will be lifted up again.
In the Presence of All: Service Prayers and Liturgy for Maundy Thursday Year A was written by Maria Mankin.