Maundy Thursday Readings, Meditation & Love Feast

First, I pray that all of you are as well as you can be as we travel through this difficult time.  Remember that you are loved and held in His hands and that you are never alone.

As we enter into the Three Holy Days of this Holy Week, I am a bit saddened that we are not able to be together face-to-face.  I would like to offer this brief service for you to participate in if you choose as we remember the night that our Lord, Jesus, gathered together those he loved in an upper room.  Speaking with them and gathering with them for the last time before his journey to the cross on our behalf.  I will be doing this service myself from home at 8:00 pm if you see this in time and want to do so at the same time.  The time however doesn’t really matter.  We are together in heart.

Note:  During the Love Feast part, we will be following an adaptation of a service called: “Holy Communion in Special Circumstances.”  Covid 19 is a special circumstance.  You do not need to do this part if you are not comfortable.  If you wish do take part, you will need a small cup of juice, wine or water and a small bit of bread or cracker.  This will be a love feast to remember this special night together..   

Prayer of the Evening:  (Let us pray)  Holy God, source of all love, on the  night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us.  Write this commandment in our hearts and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

Readings for Maundy Thursday:  (Since they are long, I will give the locations.  Please look them up in either your Bible or on the Web. The comments are from Sundays and Seasons.)

First Reading:  Exodus 12:1-14 In this reading, Israel remembered is 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.

Psalm:  Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 –  I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 11:23-26In the bread and the cup of the Lord’s supper, we experience intimate fellowship with Christ and with one another because it involves his body given for us and the new covenant in his blood.  Faithful participation in this meal is a living proclamation of Christ’s death until he comes in the future. 

John 13:1-17, 31b-35The story of the last supper in Jon’s gospel recalls a remarkable event not mentioned elsewhere. Jesus performs the duty of a servant, washing the feet of his disciples and urging them to do the same for one another.

 “”God so loved the world’, John writes.  The gospel reading for this evening offers a vivid picture God loving the world.  Jesus kneels before his friends, washing and drying their feet. John takes his time narrating the event, as Jesus took his time doing it…Jesus speaks of love.” (Mary Hinkle Shore)
Jesus speaks of love.  His actions from the very securing of this upper room, through the washing of their feet, right through to the meal that Jesus will bless and leave them with the remembrance of how much they were valued and loved.  This had to have given them strength to meet the events of the coming days, when Jesus would be taken from them. “Do this in remembrance of me.”   
Through my years of ministry, I have been privileged to witness this tremendous gift of Jesus’s love in so many ways and in so many circumstances.  In very public and very open gatherings where we worshiped together and celebrated the sharing of the peace and the Lord’s Supper together.  I have seen it also in small quiet moments where I have met with someone who needed and wanted the reassurance that they were forgiven and that God still cared.  I have seen during this time of COVID 19 the wondrous love of Jesus shown through those in the health and medical fields (even our own Council President) who have continued to be there for those that Jesus loves even if it might mean they would contract this disease.  Others, have continued to share prayers and encouragement with one another on facebook, tweets, internet, phone calls, notes.  I have seen others give up a place in line at the grocery store to someone who just could not stand that long, or offer them their toilet paper or eggs because the isle was empty. Some have sown masks and given them to others for protection.  Others have even fed the homeless and wandering…those in need…all these acts of self-sacrifice and love reminding us that we are not alone, abandoned but still held in the love and mercy of Jesus. Giving us hope that we will make it through this time.
Jesus loves and he calls us out of our fears and worries, out of our depressions and loneliness.  He calls us to remember him.  Not only in the breaking of the bread and the lifting and drinking of the cup but to remember him in one another.  We are the disciples in the story.  We are the beloved whose feet he takes hold of and washes all the bad away.  We are the people of God.  As we remember this together, let us gain strength and hope from it.  Amen.

Love Feast –  Please place the bread or cracker and the wine, juice, or water in front of you.
Greeting:  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. (And also with you.)
Confession and Forgiveness:
Friends in Christ, in this Lenten season we have heard our Lord’s call to struggle against sin, death, and the devil–all that keeps us from loving God and each other.  Within this community of the church, God never wearies of forgiving sin and giving the peace of reconciliation.  On this night, let us confess our sin against God and our neighbor, and enter into the celebration of these Three Days reconciled with God and with one another.
Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you wit our whole heart and we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.  For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.  Amen.

(Hear these next words and speak them out loud as a blessing:)
God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin, and made us alive together with Christ.  By grace we have been saved.  In the name of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven.  Let us rejoice and be glad.  Amen.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
  (Please now take up the bread or cracker and hold it up in front of you)      “Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who bestows good things upon the unworthy so that even in the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, broke it, and after having given thanks gave to his own and said, “Take and eat, this is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Now eat the bread/cracker.)
(Please now lift up the cup)
”  Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe.  Who gave us good things such as the fruit of the vine that we might remember and be saved.  We remember that on that night, Jesus took the cup and when he had given thanks gave it to all to share saying, ‘Take and drink, this is my blood shed for you and for all for the forgiveness of sin.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  (Now drink from the cup)

Prayer of thanksgiving:
Lord Jesus, you came among us as servant to teach us to be servants of all. May this night strengthen us to follow where you may lead.  May this night be a reminder of how much we are loved.  Amen.

The service of worship is not over.  We continue tomorrow night as we remember the sacrifice on Good Friday.