A SERVICE OF WORSHIP FOR HOLY THURSDAY EVENING

On this night Christians commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, when Jesus washed the disciples' feet (John 13:1 –17) and instituted the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26 –29; Mark 14:22 –25; Luke 22:13 –20; 1 Corinthians 11:23 –25).

Six actions traditional on this night are included in the following service. They are (1) confession and pardon, (2) proclamation of the Word, (3) footwashing, (4) the Lord's Supper, (5) stripping of the church, and (6) Tenebrae. Of these, (1), (2), and (4) are essential; (3), (5), and (6) are optional and are thus marked with brackets. They require careful preparation when introduced to a congregation.

Footwashing is a powerful symbolic response to the Word, dramatizing the servanthood of Jesus, both on the night before his death and in his continuing presence in our midst. The alternative title for this day, Maundy Thursday, recalls the new commandment (mandatum novum in Latin) in John 13:34 . The service may appropriately be called Maundy Thursday when footwashing occurs in imitation of Jesus' actions and as a response to his new commandment to love one another. Careful advance planning and advance notice to the people are essential. It may be suggested that participants come without socks or hose and that persons are welcome to observe rather than participate. Representatives of the people or those volunteering to participate may come forward to the place(s) where chairs, a basin and pitcher of water, and towels have been placed. Mutual footwashing among pastor(s) and laypersons should be clearly visible, yet not overly dramatic. Love and care for one another may be expressed in the gestures. During the footwashing the congregation or choir may sing, or the footwashing may be done in silence.

The ancient practice of stripping the Lord's table and sanctuary following communion is a vivid and dramatic way of showing the desolation and abandonment of the long night in Gethsemane and what followed. Designated persons pick up the cloths on the Lord's table and the pulpit and other hangings, banners, candlesticks, and decorations and quietly carry them from the sanctuary. This may be done in silence, or Psalm 22 (UMH 752) may be used. The church then remains bare until the Easter Vigil, when the process is reversed.

See also A Service of Tenebrae, or Service of the Shadows.

ENTRANCE

GATHERING

GREETING *

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Christ has prepared a feast of love.

HYMN * Suggested from UMH:

 

285–301 Christ's Gracious Life: Passion and Death

626 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

635 Because Thou Hast Said

425  O Crucified Redeemer

 

633 The Bread of Life for All Is Broken

CONFESSION AND PARDON

My sisters and brothers,
      Christ shows us his love by becoming a humble servant.

Let us draw near to God and confess our sin in the truth of God's Spirit.

All may sing O Lamb of God (Hymn 201) or Señor, Apiádate de Nosotros (Hymn 188). A brief silence for individual confession.

 

Most merciful God,
we your Church confess
      that often our spirit has not been that of Christ.
Where we have failed to love one another as he loves us,
where we have pledged loyalty to him with our lips
      and then betrayed, deserted, or denied him,
forgive us, we pray;
and by your Spirit make us faithful in every time of trial;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ.
But Christ suffered and died for us,
      was raised from the dead and ascended on high for us,
      and continues to intercede for us.
Believe the good news:
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Glory to God. Amen.

 

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

 

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION*

SCRIPTURE LESSON Exodus 12:1 –14

PSALM Psalm 116:1–2, 12–19 (UMH 837)

SCRIPTURE LESSON 1 Corinthians 11:23 –26

HYMN*  See suggestions.

GOSPEL LESSON John 13:1 –17, 31b –35

SERMON

RESPONSES TO THE WORD

[FOOTWASHING] See introduction.

During the footwashing the following in UMH may be sung:

432    Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love
549    Where Charity and Love Prevail

CONCERNS AND PRAYERS  * See Holy Thursday (UMH 283).

THE PEACE *

OFFERING

 

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

 

TAKING THE BREAD AND CUP

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING *

The congregation turns to A Service of Word and Table III (UMH) or to one of the musical settings in  UMH, the pastor praying The Great Thanksgiving for Holy Thursday Evening, UMBOW pp. 64-65.

THE LORD'S PRAYER *

BREAKING THE BREAD

The pastor breaks the bread and then lifts the cup, in silence or with appropriate words.

GIVING THE BREAD AND CUP *

The bread and wine are given to the people, with appropriate words being exchanged.

The congregation sings Lenten hymns while the bread and cup are given.

When all have received, the Lord's table is put in order.

The pastor or congregation may give thanks after communion.

SENDING FORTH

HYMN* See suggestions.

[STRIPPING OF THE CHURCH] See introduction.

[TENEBRAE]

DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING * May also be omitted.

Go in peace.
May Jesus Christ,
      who for our sake became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,
      keep you and strengthen you this night and for ever. Amen.


GOING FORTH *

 

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Copyright: “A Service of Worship for Holy Thursday Evening” with Dismissal with Blessing by Don Saliers, Copyright © 1979, 1986 by Abingdon Press; Copyright © 1992 UMPH.

Categories: Lent, Holy Week, Liturgy and Worship