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Maundy Thursday at home

09 April 2020

Dear St. Luke’s,

With nightfall tonight, our Lenten observance comes to an end, and we join Christians around the world in celebrating the Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is one of the most intimate and embodied days of the church year, as we remember Jesus’s last supper, washing the disciples’ feet, and giving us the commandment to love one another. My heart and my prayers are with you as you keep Maundy Thursday at home.

This evening, set aside some time to gather together around the dinner table. Set the table and make it feel warm and welcoming. The order of worship is below, along with links to the readings, music, and sermons.

If you live alone, you are still invited to keep this day: reading, singing, and praying aloud in your home. God is with you. If you’d like to be paired with someone else to pray over the phone or Zoom, please contact me.

It’s not too late to sign up to be part of our all-night prayer vigil tonight into tomorrow morning. You can sign up here or contact Pastoral Intern Elle if you need help signing up.

The peace of Christ, who loves us to the end, be with you this night and always.

Pastor Erin


What you’ll need to get ready:
  • This order of worship
  • Candle and matches
  • Bible
  • Food and drink
  • Bowl or sink with some water
  • Towel
  • Be ready to clear the table after dinner
  • Choose someone to be the leader (this person will read the leader parts)
  • Choose reader/s to read the first reading, second reading, gospel reading, and sermon
  • Everyone will say the bolded words

In many cases, multiple options are offered. Option A is prepared specifically with children in mind. Feel free to choose whichever option works best for your gathering, and feel free to skip parts if you need to. For example, if you need to keep this worship on the shorter side, you might choose to omit one or more of the readings, or just read the gospel reading.


As you get ready, listen to a prelude by Cantor Bev at this link.

Begin by lighting a candle. Something special and holy is about to happen.


The leader says:
When we come before God, sometimes we’re carrying a lot on our shoulders. We might be worried about what happened today, we might feel guilty or sad. So usually before we begin worship we talk to God and each other about it. Talking to God helps all that stuff we’re carrying feel a little easier.

Now, have a conversation with each other about what you’re carrying. One word the church has for all this stuff is sin. After everyone has had the opportunity to share, say to each person in turn:

God hears you. God hears you.
God heals you. God heals you.
God forgives you. God forgives you.
God loves you. God loves you.
Amen. Amen.


The leader says:
In this season of Lent we have heard God’s call to struggle against sin, death, and the devil—or whatever name you use to call all that keeps us from loving God, each other, and creation. This is the holy struggle to which we were called at baptism.

God never wearies of mending our broken places, forgiving our sin, and giving the peace of reconciliation. On this night let us confess our sin against God and our neighbor, and enter the celebration of the great Three Days reconciled with God and with one another.

Take a time of silence for reflection and self-examination.

The leader begins:
I confess to God Almighty,
before the whole company of heaven,
and to you, my siblings,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed.
I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me,
forgive me all my sins,
and bring me to everlasting life.
Almighty and merciful God
grant you healing, pardon,
and forgiveness of all your sins. Amen.

I confess to God Almighty,
before the whole company of heaven,
and to you, my siblings,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed.
I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me,
forgive me all my sins,
and bring me to everlasting life.
Almighty and merciful God
grant you healing, pardon, and
forgiveness of all your sins. Amen.


The leader says:
The God of grace is with us all.

Let us pray.
Holy God, source of all love, on the very night when friends would betray, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as Christ loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others just as you were the servant of all in your Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


FIRST READING – Exodus 12:1-14

Israel remembered its deliverance from slavery in Egypt by celebrating the festival of Passover. This festival featured the Passover lamb, whose blood was used as a sign to protect God’s people from the threat of death. The early church described the Lord’s supper using imagery from the Passover, especially in portraying Jesus as the lamb who delivers God’s people from sin and death.

Before the reading, the reader says:
A reading from Exodus.

The reader reads Exodus 12:1-14 from their Bible or at this link.

After the reading, the reader says:
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.

PSALM – Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

Sing along with the recording by St. Luke’s musicians and singers at this link.

SECOND READING – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

In the bread and cup of the Lord’s supper, we experience intimate fellowship with Christ and with one another, because it involves Christ’s body given for us and the new covenant in Christ’s blood. Faithful participation in this meal is a living proclamation of Christ’s death until Christ comes in the future.

Before the reading, the reader says:
A reading from First Corinthians.

The reader reads 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 from their Bible or at this link.

After the reading, the reader says:
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL – John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The story of the last supper in John’s gospel recalls a remarkable event not mentioned elsewhere: Jesus performs the duty of a slave, washing the feet of the disciples and urging them to do the same for one another.

Before the reading, the reader says:
The holy gospel according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

The reader reads John 13:1-17, 31b-35 from their Bible or at this link.

After the reading, the reader says:
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.


The leader reads:
Did you know Jesus’ last night with his friends was spent in a place called the Upper Room? That’s where they gathered around a table for their meal. They thought it was going to be a meal just like so many other meals they had shared with Jesus, but this one turned out to be unlike any meal they had ever known.

You may have seen pictures of the Last Supper where Jesus and the disciples are sitting in chairs, the way we do it. But actually, they reclined on cushions at a table on the floor. It was a “laid back” occasion.

There were two really important things that happened at this meal. It was the first time Jesus took the bread and wine, blessed them, and said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” Every time we celebrate communion, we’re remembering this night when Jesus shared himself with the disciples around the table. Jesus has promised to still to come to us, even today, in the bread and wine.

Christians celebrate Holy Communion when the community is together. The meal isn’t just about the bread and wine; it’s about receiving this gift from one another and with one another. During our love-distancing these days we’re not experiencing Holy Communion in the same way, but we look forward to the day when we’ll all gather again to receive Jesus who gives himself to us in this amazing way.

But before Jesus even got to the part where he gave the disciples Holy Communion for the first time, Jesus did something to show them how much he loved them. He knelt before them and washed their feet. This was Jesus’s way of showing them how to love and serve one another. Jesus gave them a new commandment, that they love one another as Christ loved them. In fact, the word maundy means commandment.


Click here to hear tonight’s sermon by Diaconal Intern Lora Salley

Group reflection or silence for reflection follows the sermon.


The leader says:
On this night we have heard Jesus’s commandment to love one another as God has loved us. We who receive God’s love in Jesus Christ are called to love one another, to be servants to each other as Jesus became our servant. Our commitment to this loving service is signified in the washing of feet, following the example that Christ gave us on the night before death.

You are invited, but not obligated to participate in this sign of loving service. Here are a couple of options:

  • Take turns washing the feet or hands of the people in your house. You can do this at the table or at the sink or tub. Pour water gently over the feet and dry with a towel.
  • Wash your own feet or hands as a sign of loving service to yourself and others. During this time of pandemic, washing one’s own hands is a powerful act of loving service. If the absence of physical touch during this time is painful for you, consider taking time to name that before God, or give space to it in your group. 
  • If you prefer not to wash, you can simply meditate on Christ’s love for you, and your own call to loving service.

As you wash or meditate, you may sing:

Sing along with the recording by St. Luke’s musicians and singers at this link.


The leader says:
Let’s go around the table and share our prayers with God. First, when I say, “We thank you, God,” we’ll say things we’re thankful for. Then, when I say, “We ask you, God,” we’ll say things we want to ask of God.

We thank you God…
We ask you God…
Amen. Amen.


The leader prays:
Let us pray for new life in the church, new hope for the world, and God’s love for all who are in need.


Holy One, you bow down to serve your people. By your love and mercy, shape us to reflect Christ’s example of service to others. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

You provide an abundance of food from your creation. Lead us into equitable ways of distribution, and gather households’ resources together, so that no one’s table is lacking. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

Your Beloved Jesus washed the feet of, and ate with, the ones who would deny and betray him. Transform the world by reconciling enemies to one another and overcoming evil with love. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

You listen to the cries of your people and mercifully attend to them, especially those who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit due to the pandemic. Use us to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, heal the sick, and welcome the lonely and outcast. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

You announce the promise of deliverance through the people of your first covenant. Bring joy to the Passover celebrations of our Jewish siblings, and lead us to proclaim your goodness together. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

People of God, for what else do we pray? Here you may add your own prayers.

You prepare a welcoming feast table for all nations. Through the witness of your saints, reveal the heavenly vision to the world, and extend an invitation to everyone. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

Attend to the needs of the whole world with your saving grace, and lead us all into new life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The leader says:
The peace of Christ be with you always.
And also with you.

Share signs of peace with each other.


Before you start eating, pray this table blessing:
Lord Jesus, on this holy night you washed the feet of your friends, and you shared your last meal with them. Bless this meal that we share tonight. Help us to remember that whenever we eat, you are here at the table with us, teaching us to love one another the way you have loved us. Amen.

Then pray the Lord’s Prayer together, using this or another translation:
Our Father/Mother/Parent in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.

Enjoy your food and drink!

As you eat together, think about some of the special meals that you have shared with the people you love. What made them memorable? How is this like or different than Holy Communion? What do you miss about taking Holy Communion?


After eating, read aloud:
When we come together to worship in our church building on Maundy Thursday, we end our time together with the stripping of the altar. As we hear a psalm sung or said, all the sacred ornaments are removed: candles, bible, altar book, communion ware, linens and paraments. When it is finished, the altar is completely bare. It reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through the resurrection.

As we clear the table, we are getting ready for the rest of the Holy Week story.

As you clear the table, you might like to do some or all of the following:

  • Gather any faith related items you may have in your house — icons, statues, religious art and symbols that can be easily removed. Pack them away somewhere, in a storage bin or a bag. You might also cover any large items with a cloth.
  • Remove all items from your table so it’s completely empty and thoroughly wash it so it is both cleared and cleaned.
  • Leave your table bare until Easter morning. You can bring the faith-related items back for your Easter celebration, either the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening or Easter Sunday morning.
  • Read Psalm 22 before, during, or after clearing the table. You could read either the whole thing, or just verses 1-5. Notice how this psalm foreshadows the death of Jesus on the cross and leads us into the sorrow of Good Friday.
  • Dim the lights
  • Keep silence for a while for prayer.

The leader says:
In Matthew’s version of the Last Supper, Jesus goes outside after dinner and goes to the garden to pray. Jesus asked the disciples to stay with him, to remain awake, and to pray. Let’s end our Maundy Thursday worship by singing this song, praying and keeping watch with Christ.

Sing along with the recording by St. Luke’s musicians and singers at this link.

The worship service is over for tonight, and will continue tomorrow night with Good Friday.


Copyright and licensing information:

Children’s sermon and other liturgical elements from Pastor Nancy Kraft (Ascension Lutheran Church, Towson MD)

“This is How” by Chris deSilva ©2017; arranged  by Paul Tate ©2019 GIA Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Stay with Us” Contributor: Jacques Berthier, Taize; ©1984, Les Presses de Taize, GIA Publications, Inc., agent. All Rights Reserved.

“Ubi Caritas” Contributor: Jacques Berthier, Taize; ©1979, Les Presses de Taize, GIA Publications, Inc. agent. All Rights Reserved.

“Psalm 116-Our Blessing Cup” – Refrain text ©1969,1981 ICEL All Rights Reserved. Used with permission. Verses text ©1970, 1997, 1998, CCD. All rights reserved. Used with Permission. Music ©2006, Tom Kendzia, Published by OCP. All rights reserved.

All of the above broadcast by permission under OneLicense Annual License #A-721574

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