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Mar 26

Maundy Thursday (Year B)

taste and seeExodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14

  • This passage gives us the history of the Passover meal.  While most folks will (most likely) not focus on this passage during this service, it does provide a background for the Passover festival.  It also describes another way in which God has provided both guidance and protection for the Children of God in interesting – and sometimes rather unique – ways.
  • “Remembrance” is mentioned in this passage, as well as in the reading from 1 Corinthians.  What do we remember about these events?  What do we remember and hold-dear about the meal(s) we share?
  • Since this passage describes the Passover meal, it is certainly appropriate to use elements from a Passover meal in your worship decor.  Unleavened bread (pita bread, flatbread, matzoh crackers), bitter herbs (parsley), and wine (juice) are easy to find and arrange on the Table.
  • If you are celebrating Communion, use unleavened bread – perhaps the same unleavened bread you are using in the worship display.
  • You may want to go all-out and host an actual Passover meal.  There are lots of resources available online.  One interesting link that I discovered this week provides an easy-to-read narrative about the process of hosting a “Christian Seder” – it may provide you with some ideas, as well as answer some basic logistical questions about hosting an event like this.
  • The entire family partakes of the Passover meal.  May we be just as welcoming (if not more so) at our Tables…

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

  • This psalm is perfect for use as an “Invitation to the Table” (right before Communion).  You may want to have it read by a worship leader; or, you may want the congregation to read it together.
  • Considering the reference to “the cup of salvation”, having a cup (chalice) displayed on the Table is especially important if you are focusing on this passage in worship.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

  • Practically every pastor has these words memorized, as they provide us with the “Words of Institution” (the words we say as we break the bread and pour the cup).
  • It seems obvious that this passage can be used during Communion.  Since most congregations are used to hearing these words said by the minister, it could be quite dramatic to have the congregation say these words – either in unison with the pastor, or simply in unison as the congregation.  As they says these words, the pastor can break the bread and pour the cup.
  • Maundy Thursday gives us an opportunity to serve/partake in Communion in different/creative ways.  For example, you could set up your worship space to include several small tables (each with seating for 4-6 people).  At each table, have a plate with unleavened bread (not yet broken), a cup (or cups), and a bottle of wine (or, a bottle of grape juice – though, I suggest putting the grape juice in a wine bottle so it looks nicer).  When it is time for Communion, someone at each table can break the bread (along with the pastor, who can break bread at the Table) and pour the cup(s) (again, along with the pastor).  Then, the people at each table can serve each other.  The pastor can either serve the worship leaders (not seated around one of the tables), or join one of the tables to serve and be served.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

  • Since the name “Maundy Thursday” comes from this narrative (Jesus’ giving the new commandment), I would bet that most folks will be reading – if not focusing – on this passage.
  • John’s narrative doesn’t focus on the supper, like many of the other Gospel writers do.  Instead, this passage features Jesus’ act of washing his disciples’ feet – dramatically highlighting Jesus as a servant-leader.
  • You may want to use a large basin, pitcher, and towel in your worship display.  Also, since Jesus would have (possibly) removed the disciples’ sandals to wash their feet, you may want to include a pair of dusty leather/rope sandals in your display.
  • Some churches actually include foot washing ceremonies as part of their Maundy Thursday services.  I encourage you to announce that this will be included in your worship service in advance, so that people can plan their footwear accordingly.
  • Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of having someone touch their feet.  So… how about having a hand washing?  You could set up a simple station in the worship space – just a large bowl, pitcher of water, and a towel.  Have folks place their hands above the bowl, and pour a small amount of water (from the pitcher) over their hands.  Use the towel to gently pat their hands dry.  You could do this as people enter the worship space, or you can do this during the service at one (or multiple) station(s).
  • If you are looking for an easy giveaway to use for this service, why not get some plain white wash cloths (as a reminder of Jesus’ saying “So, if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”)?  Packs of 10 or more basic, cotton wash cloths are available in most discount stores or online.

Other Ideas

  • Since not all churches are able to host Good Friday services, you may want to include a reading of the Passion narrative in your Maundy Thursday service.  One way to do this would be to read John 18:1-19:42 after Communion (at the conclusion of worship).  You could follow the reading with the tolling of a chime or bell (33 times, once of each year of Jesus’ earthly life).  The congregation would be invited to exit the worship space in silence.
  • Many churches will “strip the church” of all decorations during this service (preparing the church to resemble the tomb).  This can be done in silence, or it can be done while someone is reading or singing.
  • If you don’t want to take everything out of the sanctuary, you can cover your worship decor with black cloth (as though covered in a shroud).  A king-sized black bed sheet works well.  And don’t forget to check your local fabric stores for sales.

2 pings

  1. Maundy Thursday (Year B) » The Worship Closet | pastorleaders.com

    […] Excerpted Recommended PASTOR LEADERS article FROM http://worshipcloset.com/?p=391 […]

  2. Maundy Thursday (Year C) - The Worship Closet

    […] and reflections last year (Year B), and the readings are the same this year (Year C).  Click here to check it out.  Also, there are liturgy suggestions […]

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