While the meal is usually central for this service, the commandment must also be in our consciousness. “Love one another, as I have loved you”: Jesus called it his new commandment for them. But it wasn’t new. It was how he had lived life in front of them. What is new is now they, and we, have to do it on our own. Except we are not on our own; the meal signifies his presence and his strength to enable us to live this life of service. As a sign of this sacrificial love, he washed their feet. We sometimes adopt this symbol and engage in foot-washing on this day. It can be a powerful sign of the lengths we are willing to go to be in service. But there are other ways to capture this experience. The key is to express obedience to and acceptance of the command to love with his love.
Call to Worship
(inspired by John 13, 1 Corinthians 11, Exodus 12)
A table is set before us. A feast is prepared for us.
A meal of bread and wine, of meat and bitter herbs.
The Lord calls us to this supper of remembrance.
The Lord calls us to serve and to be served.
As we break the bread and share the cup,
our understanding may fail us.
But we will never forget Christ’s example.
We will never forget the full extent of his love.
Posted on the Worship Elements page of the Ministry Matters website, http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/2478/worship-elements-holy-thursday-2015.
A General Prayer for the Day
Holy (Maundy) Thursday
O merciful and gracious God, time after time you have saved your people from disaster. You have given us a feast to remember your mercy and to be incorporated into your salvation. We sing your unending praises.
But we are always mindful that the reason you did these things for us is because we have fallen away from you. Human faithlessness caused the children of Israel to be taken into slavery, yet you delivered them from death. We, too, are enslaved by sin so that you had to send your only Son, the perfect and spotless lamb, to die for us. By his death we are rescued from everlasting condemnation. On this day (night) we are confronted with our sin. O God, take away the pain of its consequences and renew us by your forgiveness.
We are made new by your Holy Spirit. Give us also a spirit of humility that we may follow the example of our blessed Savior who stooped to wash the feet of his disciples. Help us to reach out to those who are in need and to become their servants for your sake. Fed on your word and sacrament, so may we feed others.
Accept our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, as we proclaim to all the world the Lord’s death until he comes again to take the whole world to himself. Empower us to love one another in the ways we have been called to love.
Be with us in all the dark gardens of our lives, and grant us the peace we need to accept your will in place of our own. Hear us blessed Lord, for we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Timothy J. Crouch, OSL, Nancy B. Parks, OSL, Chris E. Visminas, Mark R. Babb, OSL, And Also With You: Worship Resources Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year C (OSL Publications, 1994), 67.
(based on John 13:31-35)
Christ has given us a new commandment:
that we love one another, as Christ has loved us.
By this, everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples,
if we share that love with the world.
And through this love, all things will be made new.
Go now, and do as Christ commands. Amen.
From Making All Things New: Service Prayers for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, written by the Rev. Mary Nelson Abbott. Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways Archive, http://www.ucc.org/worship/worship-ways. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/04/sending-words-john-13-31-35.html.