Commanded to Love

In Awe of Grace

Maundy Thursday, Year A

Maundy Thursday. Or perhaps you prefer Holy Thursday. Either fits this day. But the title you choose might depend on the emphasis you wish to provide during this act of worship.

As the first service of the Holy Triduum that spans from the evening of Maundy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, the Maundy Thursday service sets the stage for the rest of Holy Week and beyond. As you plan your Maundy Thursday service, find ways to emphasize the mandate (maundatum) to love one another (John 13:34). Whether you choose to incorporate a footwashing ritual, a celebration of Holy Communion, or host a churchwide meal focused on gathering and fellowship, explore how the liturgy can invite the gathered people to embody the command to love one another as Christ loves us during worship. This mandate frames the rest of the Holy Triduum – we both receive and are called to give the love Christ demonstrates on the cross and in the Resurrection. To assist with connecting the footwashing narrative of Maundy Thursday with the ritual of Holy Communion, below you will find a Great Thanksgiving for Maundy Thursday inspired by John 13. This Great Thanksgiving includes instructions for using handwashing stations as part of coming forward to receive Communion, but it may be used without the handwashing ritual, as well.

Call to Worship

We gather with the dirt of the day on our hands, our feet, and our hearts.
We come in need of a Savior.

We gather with the disciples, preparing to come to the table, yet surprised once again by Jesus.
We come with our expectations only to be astonished by love.

We gather at the basin to be washed and at the table to be fed, in body and in spirit.
We come to receive a new commandment.

We gather in awe of the grace demonstrated in Jesus kneeling to serve.
We come seeking the grace to love one another as Christ loves us. Amen.

Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, September 2022

Prayer for the Day

Merciful Savior,
We have traveled this long, dusty Lenten journey.
Our feet are tired, dirty, aching, and calloused.
You have shown us Your love
by becoming a humble servant.
Humble us when we try to travel without You.
As Christ has washed us,
so let us wash one another.

Humble us when we believe some work is below us.
As Christ has washed us,
so let us wash one another.
Humble us when we are too proud
to accept help, or care, or love.
As Christ has washed us,
so let us wash one another.
Humble us when we do not fully receive
the gift of Your amazing and bountiful grace.
As Christ has washed us,
so let us wash one another. Amen.

Written by Karen Turner and posted on the Lifeway website, Reposted:

Prayer of Confession

(based on John 13:34-35)

God's love for the world has been revealed in Jesus Christ, who certainly loved us to the uttermost; Jesus – Saviour and Lord – who at his last meal with his disciples gave them – and us – that new commandment: “…love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Merciful God,
we confess that so often our discipleship has been weak ...
when we have failed to serve as Jesus served;
forgive us.

When we have failed to love one another as Jesus loves us;
forgive us.

When we have been happy to proclaim our devotion to Jesus with
our lips and then denied him by our actions;
forgive us.

Merciful God, empower us by your Spirit to be steady and true
to you in every time of trial; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

(based on John 12:47; 13:1)

Jesus said: "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world"
and "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."

The good news, therefore, is this: In Jesus Christ, we are loved and we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Written by Moira Laidlaw, and posted on the Liturgies Online website: Reposted:

Communion Liturgy

(with optional handwashing ritual)

The following Communion liturgy incorporates the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and giving his disciples a new commandment. If a separate foot-washing ritual is not an option in your congregation, consider setting up stations in your worship space where congregants can wash each other’s hands as they make their way forward to receive Communion. At each station, include a basin of water and hand towels that congregants can use after they finish washing each other’s hands.

As part of incorporating the foot-washing narrative into the Communion liturgy, place a pitcher of water, a towel, and a basin on the altar in addition to the Communion elements. Alternatively, place the pitcher and towel on the altar and use the baptismal font as the basin. It is recommended that the celebrant be joined by another pastor—particularly if you have a deacon on staff or in connection with your church—or a layperson who can assist during the liturgy


The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. The celebrant may lift hands and keep them raised.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
almighty God, creator of heaven and earth.
In the beginning, you swept over the face of the waters and
poured out your love over the formless void,
ordering creation to bring forth life.
You formed us in your image
and provided for us from the fruit of creation.
Even when we turned away and our love failed,
Your love remained steadfast, sustaining us and giving us life.
When we were thirsty, you brought water from a rock,
When we were hungry, you fed us manna from heaven.
When we questioned your provision, you gave us grapes
as evidence of the promised land.
And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

The celebrant may lower hands.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The celebrant may raise hands.

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.
When we turned aside from your way and abused your gifts,
you gave us in him your crowning gift.
Divine Love poured out in human form,
Christ fed the hungry, healed the sick,
ate with the scorned and forgotten,
and taught us how to love through his actions.
By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection,
you gave birth to your church,
delivered us from enslavement to sin and death,
and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

Pastor/layperson takes the towel and raises the pitcher of water while the celebrant says:

On the evening in which he gave himself up for us,
Jesus rose from the supper table, took a pitcher of water, poured it into a basin,
knelt down, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.
When he was finished, he sat down and spoke with the disciples.
He said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Pastor/layperson pours the water into the basin or baptismal font.

Celebrant and pastor/layperson prepare the Communion elements together.

The celebrant may hold hands, palms down, over the bread, or touch the bread, or lift the bread.

That same night, Jesus took bread,
gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."

The celebrant may hold hands, palms down, over the cup, or touch the cup, or lift the cup.

When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

The celebrant may raise hands.

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

The celebrant may hold hands, palms down, over the bread and cup.

As Christ, Divine Love poured out for us,
came to show us how to love one another,
pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood and called to
love one another as Christ loves us.

The celebrant may raise hands.

By your Spirit, make us one with Christ,
one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty God, now and forever.

If you include stations for handwashing, direct congregants to go to one of the stations first to wash one another’s hands in pairs. Invite them to cup water in their own hands and pour it over the other’s hands while saying a simple blessing like, “You are a beloved child of God” or “May the love of Christ surround you.” Then, the pair will switch roles.

Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, September 2022. Adapted from “The Great Thanksgiving for Holy Thursday Evening,” Copyright © 1972 The Methodist Publishing House; Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1985 UMPH; Copyright © 1986 by Abingdon Press; Copyright © 1987, 1989, 1992 UMPH. Used by permission.”


So may the blessing of the God who calls the people out of Egypt
call us out from our comfort and our safety
to embrace a journey of challenge and risk.

May the blessing of the Son who kneels and washes our feet
call us out from our comfort and our safety
to embrace and serve those we meet on the journey.

May the blessing of the Spirit who weaves dreams of a new community
call us out from our comfort and our safety
to provide welcome and hospitality to strangers as well as friends.

Written by Rev. Dr. Clare McBeath and Rev. Tim Presswood. Posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website Reposted:

In This Series...

Palm/Passion Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Maundy Thursday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Good Friday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Holy Saturday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Easter Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes