Maundy Thursday Liturgy

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     This was one of the most powerful, and enjoyable services of my ministry.  It gives the connection between the Passover, and The Lord's Supper.   The service starts with finger food Passover meal.

     This service can be a finger food dinner composed of the items found in the traditional Passover Feast of the Jews.  Place the food on trays on a table at the front of the church.  Read the Passover story and then invite the people to come and eat.  Bless the food with a traditional Jewish blessing.  Blessed art thou, O Lord, the King of the Universe who gives us this bread.  Amen.

    Encourage the people to come, eat, taste, enjoy, ask questions and visit together. 

    Following  is a list of the food you will need.

Barclay's Commentary .... THE GOSPEL OF MARK

There were certain things which were necessary, and these are the things which the disciples would have to prepare and get ready.

(i) There was the lamb, and the lamb was to remind them of how their houses had been protected by the badge of

blood when the Angel of Death passed through Egypt.

(ii) There was the unleavened bread which was to remind them of the bread they had eaten in haste when they

escaped from slavery.

(iii) There was a bowl of salt water, to remind them of the tears they had shed in Egypt and of the waters of the Red Sea through which they had miraculously passed to safety.

(iv) There was a collection of bitter herbs-horse radish, chicory, endive, lettuce, horehound-to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.

(v) There was a paste called Charosheth, which was a mixture of apples, dates, pomegranates and nuts, and which was to remind them of the clay of which they had made bricks in Egypt. Through it there were sticks of cinnamon to remind them of the straw with which the bricks had been made.

(vi) There were four cups of wine. The cups contained a little more than half a pint of wine, but three parts of wine were mixed with two of water. The four cups, which were drunk at different stages of the meal, were to remind them of the four promises in Exodus 6 6, 7,

I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will rid you of this bondage.  I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.  I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God."

Such were the preparations which had to he made for the Passover. Every detail spoke of that great day of deliverance when God liberated His people from their bondage in Egypt. it was at that feast that He who liberated the world from sin was to sit at His last meal with His disciples.  Barclays commentary on Mark: page 350 ,Mark 14:12-16

     After everyone has taken a turn around the table the clergy takes a large piece of Matzo Bread separates it from the table saying,  "Jesus took the bread" ...  Take it to the altar, or communion table and place it there for all to see.   The go back to the table take a cup of wine,  say:   "Jesus took the cup and said this is my blood" ...place the cup on the altar.   These elements become the bread and wine for Holy Communion.  Few of our modern Christians are really aware of the connection between the Passover, and Holy Communion.  They will know and remember after this experience.

     Have the congregation sing a favorite Lenten Hymn while the clergy depart to robe up for the Communion Service.

       The closing part of this service will set up Easter Sunday Morning in a great way.  There's a stark reality between the bare altar, and the fully decorated church on Easter Sunday Morning.

 

MAUNDY THURSDAY

SERVICE OF DIVINE WORSHIP

Designed by T.M.Faggart

7:00 PM

PRELUDE

WELCOME

*THE CALL TO WORSHIP

Return to the Lord, the God of all mercies,  for a feast of love has been prepared for his own.
I will bless the Lord at all times.
His praise shall be continually in my mouth.
O taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Happy are they who take refuge in God.
O magnify the Lord with me And let us exalt God's name together.  (Psalm 34)

*THE HYMN          "In the Cross of Christ I Glory"

PRAYER OF 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.  Believe the good news:

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

FIRST LESSON                         Exodus 12:1-14

*THE PSALTER                        Psalm 116

*THE AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                "The Apostles' Creed" 

*THE HYMN                       "In the Garden"

THE GOSPEL LESSON                 St. Mark 14:12-25

THE ANTHEM  

THE GOSPEL LESSON: St. Mark 14:26-42

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING:   (Liturgical prayers of your church preceding the sharing of the bread and wine.

MINISTERS COMMUNE

THE LORD'S PRAYER

THE CONGREGATION COMMUNES

HYMNS TO BE SUNG DURING COMMUNION:

            "What Wondrous Love is This"

            "Beneath the Cross of Jesus"

             "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

             "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross"

             "Alas!   and Did My Savior Bleed"

THE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

*THE HYMN        "0 Love Divine, What hast Thou Done" 

*THE BENEDICTION 

CONGREGATION IS SEATED: During the next few moments you will establish the foundation for celebrating Easter. As you sit, allow your senses to absorb the ending of the service.  The choir or a soloist will sing... "Where you There When They Crucified My Lord."  During the singing of this song the Altar Guild of the church will remove all the Paraments from the altar, the candles, and flowers.  The cross will be covered with a black cloth.  When the song is finished, and the altar is bare everything gets quiet. (death)

The clergy lead the people out without saying a word.  (Print in bulletin)  After the anthem you may leave quietly, or kneel at the altar and then leave. Please do not talk in the Sanctuary.  Allow the Spirit to close this service for you.

Easter Sunrise begins with bringing paraments back into sanctuary, plus cross and candles.  The candles are lit while the congregation sings the Hymn of Praise.  

I never preached on Maundy Thursday.  I preferred to allow the symbols and scriptures tell the story.  They are far more powerful than the spoken word. 

 

An Excellent sermon: 

 

Mail

First United Methodist Church
227 E. Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

"Almost a Christian!"

Rev. Gary Hollar

Acts 26:24-32, Maundy Thursday Communion and Tenebrae

24While he was making this defense, Festus exclaimed, "You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!" 25But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. 26Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."

 

28Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?" 29Paul replied, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains."

 

30Then the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those who had been seated with them; 31and as they were leaving, they said to one another, "This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment." 32Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor."

Once every three years, John Wesley was responsible for preaching at Oxford University. So on July 25, 1741, he entered the pulpit of St. Mary’s church and found there the largest crowd he had ever seen at Oxford. He declared that he did not know their motives for being there. But since he had last visited three years before, Wesley had become the best known and most abused man in England. He had been excluded from all the churches in London, save four; he had begun the practice of preaching in the open air; he had founded the ‘Societies’ which were the germ of the Methodist Church; he had opened for worship the Foundry on Windmill Hill; love-feasts and watch-night services had been started; laymen and women had been permitted to exhort and preach; and the papers were full of abuse of this rapidly growing movement and of both Wesleys. Indeed, John was surprised that the University authorities allowed him to preach! But it was hardly surprising that all Oxford flocked to see and hear him.

It would be a grave understatement to say that Wesley was disturbed by what was happening at Oxford. He declared that the Deists there were actively seeking to "sap the very foundation of our Church" and that "the faith of a devil and the life of a heathen make up what most call a good Christian in Oxford." He actually threw away the sermon he had intended to preach to Oxford – it was found after his death, written in Latin. Instead, Wesley took for his text this passage from Acts, in which Paul gives an account of himself and his faith before King Agrippa. Paul knows that Agrippa believes in the Hebrew prophets and building on this attempts to persuade him to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Wesley uses a literal translation of the text, in which Agrippa says to Paul "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

Wesley quickly notes that there are many who come only as far as Agrippa, but no farther: they are "almost" Christian. What does this mean to be "almost," but not "altogether," a Christian? It’s a good question to be asked on this holy night in which we share our Lord’s Supper and prepare ourselves to remember his passion, death and resurrection. Is it possible that we who gather here might, like Paul’s judge, find ourselves accused of being "almost" but not really, followers of Jesus Christ?

Wesley quickly draws a sketch of the person who has come as far as Agrippa, but goes no further! They are just persons, he says: they do not steal from their neighbors, neither do they oppress the poor or cheat the rich. They are concerned also with truth. They do not lie, nor do they slander their neighbor or falsely accuse any one. The "almost Christian" helps others. They will feed the hungry, if they have food to spare; clothe the naked if they have extra clothing; and, in general, give to any that need such things as they do not need themselves.

In addition, the "almost Christian" has the appearance of godliness. Such a person does nothing that the Gospel forbids. She does not swear by God’s name! He observes the Lord’s day. They avoid all evil, backbiting, tale telling, and evil speaking. If they are wronged, they do not seek revenge. They do not return evil for evil. They do not seek to wrong, hurt or grieve any person, but follow the rule: "Whatsoever you would not have another person do to you, do not do that to another."

Such a person seeks to do good to others, reproving the wicked, instructing the ignorant, confirming the wavering, quickening the good, and comforting the afflicted! In all of these things, Wesley adds, they are sincere! They heartily seek to serve God! They desire to abstain from evil and follow the instructions of God.

 

Friends, this is the picture of a very good person! Would that all of us here could qualify by such strict guidelines! And Wesley himself asks, "Is it possible that any person living should go so far as this, and nevertheless, be only almost a Christian?" He answers that it is possible to be so good a person and yet be almost a Christian and that he knows this both by the teaching of the Scriptures and by his personal experience.

Then Wesley shocked the huge crowd with a confession of his own. For many years, he said, he sought to avoid all evil. He redeemed time, using every opportunity to do good to all, carefully using all the public and private means of grace. His true desire was to serve God and to do God’s will in all things, and to please the One who called him to fight the good fight. Yet, Wesley concluded, "my own conscience bore witness that all this time I was but almost a Christian."

 

What was lacking in Wesley’s life? What might be lacking within you and me, by which we ought to examine our selves? What is meant in being "altogether a Christian"? The primary quality, Wesley declared, is the love of God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." "Such love," says Wesley, "consumes the whole heart, takes up all the affections, fills the entire capacity of the soul, and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties."

The second ingredient in being altogether a Christian is the love of our neighbor: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Wesley adds, "If any one asks, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ we reply, Every person in the world; every child of the One who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Nor may we in any wise except our enemies, or the enemies of God and their own souls. But every Christian loves these also as himself, yea, ‘as Christ loved us.’"

Should anyone desire to know this love more fully, consider St. Paul’s description of it. It is long-suffering and kind. It does not envy. It is not hasty in judging. It is not puffed-up in self-importance, but makes one who loves the least, the servant, of all. It thinks no evil. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things! Such is the love of one who is altogether a Christian.

There is yet one thing more that is essential, says Wesley, but it is in no way separate from the quality of love. The ground of all that is implied in being altogether a Christian is faith. To every one who believes is given the power to become children of God. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. One who believes passes from death into everlasting life.

Here Wesley desired us to have a clear understanding. Belief alone is not faith. As the scriptures note, even "devils" believe that Christ exists, that he worked miracles, and that he suffered a most painful death to redeem us from death. Anyone might believe these things! But to trust in them for your salvation is entirely different. To have such a trust and confidence brings about an inward change. True faith brings about repentance and love, and all good things. Such a faith purifies the heart. Otherwise it is a dead and devilish thing.

The great question for all, then, still remains," declared Wesley, "Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Can you cry out, ‘My God, and my All’? Do you desire nothing but God? Are you happy in God? Is God your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing? And is this commandment written in your heart, That whoever loves God loves his brother or sister also? Do you love every person, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul? As Christ loved you? ...And does his Spirit bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?"

"Awake, then, all you who sleep!" If you have knocked upon the gate, but did not enter, the door is open! For why would you set out on a journey, if in your heart you intend to go only part way? If you believe in Christ, but have not trusted in him, let today be the day! If you have sought to be the best, most moral person you can possibly be, but have not had God’s love permeate every corner of your being, allow yourself to be made anew!

This is possible only through Jesus Christ, who first loved us. He beckons us to lay aside every weight that would hold us back. He invites us to accept his yoke, a bond that is easy, a burden which is light. He bids us to accept the love which can set us free, giving us new life from above!

As we gather here at this Table, let us not withhold our hearts. May we all experience what it is to be, not almost, but altogether Christian! By God’s grace, may we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope; having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.

Let us pray: Our Lord and our God, as you met with your disciples for that final meal, there were those who were not willing to let you wash their feet, who were not willing for you love them so thoroughly that you would be their servant. And so you took the bread, declaring that it was your very body, and that all who partook of it were part of you. You shared the cup, announcing that it was your blood poured out for our forgiveness. Thus, even today in this meal you would give all of yourself to us – and you desire not merely part of us, but all of us. In these moments, may we be completely yours, and may we be united as one body in your love. Amen.

 

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