Online Maundy Thursday – April 9

Maundy Thursday
Service of the Word, Holy Communion, Tenebrae
by the Rev. Quentin Chin
An interactive service designed for virtual worship using Zoom
(May be adapted for other formats)
This is planned as one comprehensive service, however it can be separated into two or even three services, depending on pastoral circumstances.  Take and adapt!


  1. Worshipers, including the worship leaders, will be in different locations as this is a virtual service.
  2. All worshipers should have a piece of bread and wine, juice or water for communion. They do not need a paten and chalice. They should also have a candle, preferably white, for Tenebrae.
  3. Participants have unison responses, in bold They should say them out loud, but with their microphones muted, to avoid lag and distortion in compression.  There will be prompts to mute in red.  The leader of the service will stay mic’d and will lead the people’s responses. 
  4. Readers will have in advance a copy of their respective readings from Matthew’s narrative. They should be comfortable enough with Zoom to be able to end their video participation after their reading, but remain connected to their audio. Ideally, readers should not connect to the session by telephone.
  5. During communion, everyone will read aloud the Prayer to the Spirit (Epiclesis) along with the celebrant. They will also follow the celebrant’s motions, extending hands over the bread and cup at their tables.
  6. If singing hymns, consider singing them a cappella with a cantor to lead.
  7. Copyright info: Be very careful about copyright permissions for music.  Songs in the Public Domain may be reproduced and livestreamed without further permission; anything still copyrighted needs a license to reproduce or livestream.  net is offering free licensing to churches through April 15—check out their website to register. Professionally recorded music (CDs, MP3s, YouTube videos) is not covered under any license! Your best bet is to avoid using recorded music.
  8. As this service will take place during Passover, the communion prayer follows the pattern of the Passover song, Dayenu. Dayenu is a song of rejoicing over God’s generous blessings for the people of Israel: Dayenu means “it would have been enough”. It is found in the Passover Haggadah.
  9. The prayer that begins Tenebrae, the Phos Hilaron, is one of the earliest hymns of the church. It is traditionally used in early evening, at Vespers, or the Lighting of the Lamps, praise for Christ, the Light of the World.

Service of the Word


Beloved Ones, this is the beginning of our journey,
walking with Jesus to the cross. 
We will remember with the bread and the cup his final meal with his friends. 
We will remember that his friends left him alone in his hour of need. 
As light fades into darkness, we will remember that our lives are both light and dark
and that darkness calls forth from us our deepest trust and hope.

Litany of Confession

One: We come this night to begin our last steps to the cross. 
We have walked, often sightless, on the rocky road with Jesus.
During this journey we have slipped and fallen. We have wanted to give up. 
Our feet are sore.  We are tired. 
We ask God to help us on this last mile not to falter.
 (silent reflection)
Holy God, your love for us overflows, but we have not loved you
with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.
We beseech you, O Holy One,
Many: Out loud, but muted
Have mercy on us.
One: Holy One, we fail to remember that we are inextricably bound one with each other. We beseech you, O Holy One.
Many: muted
Have mercy on us.
One: Holy One, we are stubborn and cling to our old ways.
We beseech you, O Holy One,
Many: muted
Have mercy on us.
One: Holy One, remind us that we live for you and not for ourselves or by ourselves. We beseech you, O Holy One,
Many: muted
Have mercy on us.
One: Holy One, we have lost sight of our collective power we hold
when we strive to work together towards a common purpose.
We beseech you, O Holy One,
Many: muted
Have mercy on us.
One: (silence) May the Holy One, our God, have mercy upon us
and forgive us of our sins
through the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Hymn                                    What Wondrous Love is This                 223 TNCH

Words and tune in Public Domain, no further permission needed


Hebrew Scripture – Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19                                                                            NRSV adapted

Leader: I love the Lord, who has heard my voice and my supplications.
People: muted Because God has listened to me,
therefore I will call on the Holy One as long as I live.
Leader: What shall I return to the Lord for all this bounty to me?
People: muted I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of our God,
I will pay my vows to God in the presence of all the people.
Leader: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of the faithful ones.
People: muted O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant,
the child of those who serve. You have loosed my bonds.
Leader: I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
People: muted I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all the people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
All: muted Praise the Lord!

Gospel Lesson

(During the first part of this reading, make the sound of water dripping into a basin. It should stop when the narrative indicates Jesus finished washing the feet.

  1. divide this reading into parts: Narrator, Jesus, and Peter or
  2. rework this pericope to become a guided meditation, inviting worshipers to meditate upon being present in the room at that moment.)

John, 13:1-17; 31b-35

Translation from An Inclusive Bible, © 2011 Priests for Equality; reprinted with permission.

It was before the feast of Passover, and Jesus realized that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to Abba God. He had always loved his own in this world, but now he showed how perfect this love was.  The devil had already convinced Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. So during supper, Jesus—knowing that God had put all things into his own hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God—   rose from the table, took off his clothes and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He then poured water into a basin,(sound of water poured into a basin) and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and dry them with the towel that was around his waist. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Rabbi, you’re not going to wash my feet, are you?” Jesus answered, “You don’t realize what I am doing right now, but later you’ll understand.” Peter replied, “You’ll never wash my feet!” Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Then, Rabbi, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!”   Jesus said, “Any who have taken a bath are clean all over and only need to wash their feet—and you’re clean, though not every one of you.” For Jesus knew who was to betray him. That is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

(Begin the sound of water dripping into a basin as if Jesus were washing their feet.

Let this sound continue until the reader moves to the next paragraph.

Stop the water sound just before reading the paragraph)

After washing their feet, Jesus put his clothes back on and returned to the table. He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me “Teacher,” and “Sovereign”—and rightly, for so I am. If I, then—your Teacher and Sovereign—have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 

“The truth of the matter is, no subordinate is greater than the superior; no messenger outranks the sender. Once you know all these things, you’ll be blessed if you put them into practice.

Jesus said, “Now is the Chosen One glorified and God is glorified as well. If God has been glorified, God will in turn glorify the Chosen One and will do so very soon. My little children, I won’t be with you much longer. You’ll look for me, but what I said to the Temple authorities, I say to you: where I going, you cannot come. I give you a new commandment: Love one another. And you’re to love one another the way I have loved you. This is how all will know that you’re my disciples: that you truly love one another.”

Community Reflection (optional)

(Invite the congregation to share their thoughts about the gospel lesson. Begin with some reflective questions, such as “How would you feel if the person you have admired for years knelt before you to wash your feet?” “What is the difference between servanthood and subservience?”)

Communion Hymn                    Eat this Bread, Drink this Cup              788 TNCH

                    Covered under; contact them for appropriate license

Holy Communion


Great Thanksgiving

Everyone invited to mute their microphone, except leader)

God be with you.
muted And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
muted We lift our hearts to God.
Let us give thanks to God
muted It is right to give God thanks and praise.

That God created this world with plants and living things for our nourishment,
and had not made a new covenant with Noah,
muted it would have been enough.

That God brought Israel out of Egypt, and had not dealt justly
with Egypt for its oppression,
it would have been enough.

That God provided all that was needed during Israel’s forty years in the wilderness,
and had not provided manna and quail,
it would have been enough.

That God gave us the Law, and had not led Israel into
the land flowing with milk and honey,
it would have been enough.

That God returned Israel to Jerusalem after its exile in Babylon,
and had not rebuilt the Temple,
it would have been enough.

That God came to us as a baby named Jesus,
and had not healed the broken and the wounded,
it would have been enough.

That Jesus healed the broken and the wounded,
and had not challenged the authorities to embrace those
who lived in the shadows and at the margins,
it would have been enough.

That Jesus challenged the authorities to embrace those
who lived in the shadows and at the margins,
and had not died on a cross to rise again,
it would have been enough.

And yet, O God, you did this to remind us that life always overcomes death
and that out of death new life emerges. 
For this O God, we are eternally grateful.
We join all the saints who have come before to say the words of the ancient hymn:


Holy, holy, holy, God of love and majesty,
the whole universe speaks of your glory,
O God most high.
Blessed is One who comes in the name of our God.
Hosanna in the highest!

Words of Institution

One: On the night he was betrayed, the night we remember at this moment, Jesus sat at table with his disciples.  He picked up the unleavened bread, blessed it, and broke it saying to them, “Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. As often as you of this, remember me.”

Later he took a cup and after blessing it, he gave it to them saying, “Drink from this all of you.  This is my blood of the new covenant poured for all for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you drink of this, remember me.”

By this bread and this cup we proclaim:

Many: muted
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.


Prayer for the Spirit (Epiclesis)

Set your Holy Spirit, O God, upon this bread and this cup.
May they be enough.
Though we may be in separate places,
grant that by this bread and cup we will be one body in Christ
to support each other in this our time of trial
and to proclaim hope through our ministries of healing and grace.
We ask this with the prayer Jesus taught us saying:

Lord’s Prayer

Sharing the Feast

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We give thanks to you, O God, for gathering us together
at this table in this moment in time.
Though separate, by your Holy Spirit and this bread and cup,
we are bound as one body in Christ.
We go forth from here strengthened in love
and committed to bear witness to hope that never dies.
May we tell the story of life that always overcomes death
through our words and deeds. Amen.

Tenebrae (Service of Shadows)

(Instructions: Everyone has a candle. When each reader finishes their reading, they end their video. Ending the video would be equivalent to extinguishing a candle if this were held in a worship space amidst a physical congregation. The host has the ability to shut all video.)

Hymn                                          Were You There                                229 TNCH

Words and tune in public domain; use without further permission

Reading: Phos Hilaron 

(UCC Book of Worship, Page 210; other translations available)

O Gracious Light,
Pure brightness of the eternal Creator in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
And our eyes behold your vesper light,
We sing your praises, Holy God, One in Trinity.
You are worthy at all times
To be praised by happy voices,
O Christ of God, O giver of life,
And to be glorified through all the worlds.

Tenebrae Readings  all readings are from An Inclusive Bible © 2011 Priests for Equality; all publishing rights reserved.  Used with permission.

  1. Matthew 26:30-46

 30Then, after singing the Hallel, they walked out to the Mount of Olives. 

31Jesus then said to them, “Tonight you will all fall away because of me, for scripture says, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 32But after I  have been raised, I  will go to Galilee ahead of you.” 33Peter responded,

“Though all may fall away because of you, I  never will!” 34Jesus replied, “The truth is, before the cock crows tonight, you will deny me three times.” 35Peter said, “Even if I  must die with you, I  will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. 36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” 37Jesus took along Peter, James and John and started to feel grief and anguish. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Please, stay here, and stay awake with me.” 39Jesus went on a little further and fell prostrate in prayer: “Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. But not what

I want—what you want.” 40When Jesus returned to the disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake with me for even an hour?

41Be on guard, and pray that you may not undergo trial. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 42Withdrawing a second time, Jesus prayed, “Abba, if this cup cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!” 43Once more Jesus returned and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.

44Jesus left them again, withdrew somewhat and prayed for a third time, saying the same words as before. 45Finally Jesus returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping? Still taking your rest? The hour is upon us—the

Chosen One is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up! Let us be on our way! Look, my betrayer is here.”

End Video

  1. Matthew 26:47-56

47While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived—accompanied by a great crowd with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Judas had arranged to give them a signal. “Whomever I embrace is the one,” he had said; “take hold of him.” 49He immediately went over to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi!” and embraced him. 50Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, just do what you’re here to do!” At that moment, the crowd surrounded them, laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those who accompanied Jesus drew a sword and slashed at the high priest’s attendant, cutting off an ear. 52 Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. 53 Don’t you think I can call on my Abba God to provide over twelve legions of angels at a moment’s notice? 54But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen this way?” 55Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I  a robber, that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Every day I sat teaching in the Temple precincts, yet you never arrested me.” 56All this happened in fulfillment of the writings of the prophets. Then all the disciples deserted Jesus and fled. 

End Video

  1. Matthew 26:57-75

57Those who had seized Jesus led him off to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the religious scholars and elders had convened. 58 Peter followed at a distance as far as the high priest’s residence. Going inside, Peter sat down with the guards to await the outcome. 59The chief priests, with the whole Sanhedrin, were busy trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put him to death. 60 They discovered none, despite the many false witnesses who took the stand. Finally two came forward 61  who stated, “ This man has declared, ‘I  can destroy God’s sanctuary and rebuild it in three days.” 62The high priest rose and addressed Jesus, “Have you no answer? What about this testimony leveled against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest then said to him, “ I  order you to tell us under oath, before the living God, whether or not you are the Messiah, the Firstborn of God?” 64“You have said it yourself,” Jesus replied. “But I  tell you: soon you will see the Chosen One seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65At this, the high priest tore his robes and said, “Blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? You yourselves have heard the blasphemy. 66What is your verdict?” They responded, “He deserves death!” 67Then they spat at his face and struck him with their fists.

Ohers slapped Jesus, 68saying, “Play the prophet for us, Messiah! Who struck you?”

69While this was happening, Peter was sitting in the courtyard. One of the attendants came over and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too, weren’t you?” 70 But Peter denied it in front of everyone. He said, “I  don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71When Peter went out to the gate, another attendant saw him and said to those nearby, “This one was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72Again he cursed and denied it: “I don’t know him!” 73A  little while later, some bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You certainly are one of them! Even your accent gives you away!” 74At that, Peter began cursing and swore, “I don’t know the man!” Just then a rooster began to crow, 75and Peter remembered the prediction Jesus had made: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter went out and cried bitterly.

End Video

  1. Matthew 27:1-5

27 1At daybreak, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took formal action against Jesus to put him to death. 2 They bound him and led him away to be handed over to Pilate, the governor.

3When he saw that Jesus had been condemned, Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, felt remorse. He took the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders, 4 and said, “I have sinned! I have betrayed innocent blood!” “What’s that to us?” they answered. “That’s your affair!” 5 So Judas flung the money into the sanctuary and left. Then he went off and hanged himself.

End video

  1. Matthew 27:6-23

6The chief priests picked up the silver, observing, “ It’s against the Law to deposit this in the Temple treasury, since it is blood money.” 7After some discussion, they used the money to buy Potter’s Field as a cemetery for foreigners. 8 That is why that field, even today, is called Blood Field. 9On that occasion, what was said through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took thirty pieces of silver, the price for the One whose price was set by the children of Israel, 10and they paid it out for Potter’s Field just as the Most High commanded me.” 

11 Then Jesus was arraigned before Pontius Pilate, the governor, who questioned him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You say that

I am.” 12 Yet when Jesus was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no reply. 13 Pilate said to Jesus, “Surely you hear how many charges they bring against you?” 14But Jesus did not answer Pilate on a single count, much to the governor’s surprise. 15 Now, on the occasion of a festival, the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner, whomever the crowd would designate. 16 At the time they were holding a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you wish me to release for you? Barabbas? Or Jesus, the so-called Messiah?” 18 Pilate knew, of course, that it was out of jealousy that they had handed Jesus over. 19 While Pilate was still presiding on the bench, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man. I had a dream about him last night which has been troubling me all day long.” 20 But the chief priests and elders convinced the crowds that they should ask for Barabbas, and have Jesus put to death. 21 So when the governor asked them, “Which one do you wish me to release for you?” they all cried, “ Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what am I  to do with Jesus, the so-called Messiah?” “Crucify him!” they all said. 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” Pilate asked. But they only shouted louder, “Crucify him!”

  1. Matthew 27:24-31

24 Pilate finally realized that he was getting nowhere with this—in fact, a riot was breaking out. Pilate called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring as he did so, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours.”

25 The whole crowd said in reply, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” 26 At that, Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus whipped with a cat-o’-nine-tails, then handed him over to be crucified.

27 The governor’s soldiers took Jesus inside the Praetorium and assembled the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped off his clothes and wrapped him in a scarlet military cloak. 29 Weaving a crown out of thorns, they pressed it onto his head and stuck a reed in his right hand. Then they began to mock Jesus by dropping to their knees, saying, “All hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They also spat at him. Afterward they took hold of the reed and struck Jesus on the head.

31 Finally, when they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the

cloak, dressed him in his own clothes and led him off to crucifixion.

End Video

  1. Matthew 27:32-44

32On their way out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon, whom they pressed into service to carry the cross. 33 Upon arriving at a site called Golgotha—which means Skull Place—

34 they gave Jesus a drink of wine mixed with a narcotic herb, which Jesus tasted but refused to drink. 35 Once they had nailed Jesus to the cross, they divided his clothes among them by rolling dice; 36 then they sat down and kept watch over him. 37Above his head, they put the charge against him in writing: “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.” 38Two robbers were crucified along with Jesus, one at his right and one at his left.

39 People going by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40and saying, “So

you are the one who was going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Save yourself, why don’t you? Come down off that cross if you are God’s Own!” 41 The chief priests, the religious scholars and the elders also joined in the jeering: 42  “He saved others but he cannot save himself! So he’s the King of Israel! Let’s see him come down from that cross, and then we will believe in him. 43  He trusts in God; let God rescue him now, if God is happy with him! After all, he claimed to be God’s Own!” 44The robbers who had been crucified with Jesus jeered at him in the same way.

End Video

  1. Matthew 27:45-50

45 At noon, a darkness fell over the whole land until about three in the afternoon. 46  At that hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ?” which means, “ My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” 47  This made some of the bystanders who heard it remark, “He is calling for Elijah!” 48 One of them hurried off and got a sponge. He soaked the sponge in cheap wine and, sticking it on a reed, tried to make Jesus drink. 49 The others said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to his rescue.”

50 Once again, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, then he gave up his spirit.

End Video

  1. Matthew 27:51-54

Suddenly, the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was ripped in half from top to bottom. The earth quaked, boulders were split 52 and tombs were opened.

Many bodies of holy ones who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After Jesus’ resurrection, they came out of their tombs and entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

54 The centurion and his cohort, who were standing guard over Jesus’ body, were terror-stricken at seeing the earthquake and all that was happening, and said, “Clearly, this was God’s own!”

Shut all video

Sharp, loud noise: (suggestion: slap two 2×4 boards together)

Final Scripture:

Isaiah 53:4-9

Or Matthew 27: 55-66  (Jesus is laid in the tomb)

55 A group of women were present, looking on from a distance. These were the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee as ministers to him. 56 Among them were Mary of Magdala; Mary, the mother of James and Joseph; and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

57 When evening fell, a wealthy man from Arimathea named Joseph, who had become a disciple of Jesus, 58 came to request the body of Jesus; Pilate issued an order for its release. 59 Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in fresh linen 60 and laid it in his own tomb, which had been hewn out of rock. Then Joseph rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 But Mary of Magdala and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

62  The next day—the one following the d ay of Preparation—the chief priests and the Pharisees called at Pilate’s residence 63 and said, “We recall that, while he was still alive, the impostor made the claim, ‘After three days I  will rise again.’ 64Therefore, please issue an order to keep the tomb under surveillance until the third day. Otherwise, Jesus’ disciples might go and steal his body and tell the people, ‘Jesus has been raised from the dead!’ This final deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go and secure the tomb as best you can.” 66 So they went to seal the tomb and post a guard.

The host’s video returns showing the lighted Christ candle.


Extinguish candle at the end of the service. Relight the candle on Easter.

Maundy Thursday Liturgy for Zoom was written  by the Rev. Quentin Chin, member of the United Church of Christ in Lenox, Church on the Hill, Lenox MA

 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. 

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