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Liturgy - Easter Week

A Liturgy for Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. During the meal Jesus took bread and wine and shared them with his disciples. Christians continue to share bread and wine as part of their worship in church. The Last Supper was probably a Passover meal – the meal which Jewish people share together to celebrate the time when God delivered Moses and the people from slavery in Egypt.

The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

This act has sometimes been followed literally in history as a good way of reminding rulers that they are here to serve their subjects.
In England, the custom of washing feet by the Monarch was carried out until 1689. Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey. (You should, however, note that the feet were first washed by Yeoman of the Laundry before the monarch had to wash them and kiss them!). Food and clothing were also handed out to the poor.

The normal elements of a Maundy Thursday service will include a sharing of the Lord’s Supper and possibly the symbolic washing of feet – a reminder of Jesus’ command to follow his example of service.

 Rather than write a liturgy, because services for Maundy Thursday differ in their various elements between denominations, I have included below a few prayers for you to pick and choose from that might be suitable, with their elements on God's love, and our need to 'love one another as I have loved you' which is expressed in our dedication to service.

The Love of Jesus

This is love.
Not that you spoke words of comfort,
walked with the unclean and unloved,
shared wisdom, bread and wine,
brought healing into lives
and challenged the status quo.

This is love.
That you spoke the word of God,
walked a painful road to the Cross,
shared living water, bread of life,
brought Salvation to the world
and died for the sake of all.

This is love.
It is a seed
sown in the ground,
which germinates,
and spreads its sweet perfume.



Love grows
as it is given,
as it is shown.

Love flows
like a steam,
that which is sown.

Love grows
as it is spoken,
hearts and souls.
Love flows,
like a river
empty vessels full.

Love grows
as it is taken,
as it is shared.
Love flows
like an ocean
around the world.



Your love
flows like a stream
into the ocean of your Grace.
Your love
encircles this world,
displays your faithfulness.
Your love
is patient and kind,
brings wholeness and true peace.
Your love
is all we desire
to heal our brokenness.
As all things pass
and fade away
love remains



Prayers of Confession

You call us to be your voices in this world
and we stay silent.
You call us to be your hands in this world
and we keep them hidden.
You call us to be your feet in this world
and we go our own way.
When we meet those who are doubting
and say nothing, forgive us.
When we meet those who need your touch
and do nothing, forgive us.
When we are called to take up your cross
and carry nothing, forgive us.
Breathe life into these bones
bring freedom to these lives
that we might declare
with heart and soul and voice
that you are our Lord and our God. Amen



You call us to live your life,
follow where you have trod,
be your presence in these streets,
show compassion to the poor,
support the weak,
embrace the outcast,
bring lives into your kingdom.
Yet our hearts are troubled,
we are fearful of the task,
deafened to your promise
to be with us
wherever we might go.
Forgive our timidity,
grant us peace for the journey,
and strength for the day,
that we might demonstrate our love
in the life we live and share . Amen


Our Response

Your commands are not burdensome,
your way of life our example,
your footsteps there to be found.
‘Love one another; care for children,
brothers, sisters and outcasts.
If you are my disciples,
then show the world,
demonstrate your discipleship
and love both lovely and unloved.
Show God's Grace to this world!'
And as we open our hearts and lives,
and follow as you have shown,
others discover you through our words,
and by the life we share.
For the love you have given us,
and the blessings you have shown us,
we thank you, God of Love and Grace



You call us to love those
whom you would love,
and give us the words to say.
You call us to bring wholeness
to lives that are broken,
and give us the words to say.
You call us to bring comfort
to those who are grieving,
and give us the words to say.
You call us to bring good news
to those who are seeking,
and give us the words to say.
Your word, living water
in desert sands.
Your word, blossoming
in parched earth.
Your word, bearing fruit
wherever it is sown.



When we walk with you,
in the light of your love,
it is your glory seen,
not ours.
When we talk of you
to those whom we meet,
It is your words that speak,
not ours.
When we minister
to people in need,
it is your hands that heal,
not ours.
When we worship you
and offer our lives,
your name is glorified



What a privilege to serve,
to share your love
through word and action.
What a joy to know
that what we say
can bring change in others.
What a blessing to see,
hearts touched
by the riches of your Grace.
What a harvest to be,
when seeds we sow
produce fruitfulness.


Thanksgiving for Others

For all those who have gone before,
walked the path we tread,
and, by their example,
wise words and teaching
led others into your Kingdom,
we offer our grateful thanks.
For all who, through their actions
put others before self,
demonstrating the meaning
of generosity,
giving from their riches
and also from their poverty,
we offer our grateful thanks.
Through the one who gave
everything, that we might
understand the true
riches of this life,
and the one to come.



The blessed in your eyes
are not those who have everything
but those who have nothing.
Not the rich in earning
but the rich in spending
who give their all for you.
Your ordinary saints
being your hands,
feet and words
in their ordinary lives,
doing extraordinary things for you.
The blessed in your eyes
are not those who desire honour,
but those who merely seek to serve.
Thank you for the servants in your kingdom.


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©John Birch · Prayers written by the author may be copied freely for worship. If reproduced elsewhere please acknowledge author/website
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