Maundy Thursday Liturgy
Epworth United Methodist Church
April 6, 2023
This service includes the washing of feet or hands, a Love Feast, and optionally, a meal. In preparation, gather something to eat and drink. It is customary not to use communion bread, wine, or grape juice because to do so might confuse the Love Feast with the Lord's Supper. The bread may be a loaf of ordinary bread, crackers, rolls, or a sweet bread baked especially for this service. The beverage has usually been water, but other beverages such as lemonade, tea, or coffee have been used. Prepare two bowls of warm water and towel. This liturgy is meant to be shared by small groups who have been meeting throughout Lent, families, couples and other gatherings of friends.
Leader: The “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin word for “commandment.” The commandment has to do with love that is embodied in service.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34 NRSV).
This is the command to love we suggest for this service. It might seem unreasonable to command love, but that is what Jesus does. This means that part of what we need to do here is to help people understand what this kind of love means. When Jesus says, “as I have loved you,” he is pointing back to the washing of the disciples’ feet. The command is to serve in loving ways. This isn’t about an emotion or a feeling toward others; it is an act that we can perform.
Let us pray:
Creator of earth and heaven,
Thy hungry children feed,
Thy grace be to our spirits given,
That true immortal bread.
Grant us and all our race
In Jesus Christ to prove
The sweetness of thy pardoning grace,
The manna of thy love.
This Lenten season at Epworth, we have been walking the path that leads to discipleship. We began with skepticism, then moved to exultation, then to confusion, then fear of commitment, then betrayal, then acceptance. Each Sunday in Lent is thought of as a little Easter, a moment of transformation, a witness to resurrection. What are the points on this journey where you experienced growth or insight, or transformation or even resurrection?
Take time for each person to share around the circle.
Washing of Hands and Feet: the Maundy
Reader: John 13:1-17; Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet
Designate one bowl for feet and one for hands. Leader goes to first person in circle and asks to wash hands or feet. The washing commences and the hands or feet are dried with the towel. Each person proceeds in turn.
Prayer (may be sung or read)
Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.
Reader: Psalm 145:8-10, 14-18, 21
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and her compassion is over all that she has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is just in all her ways
and kind in all her doings.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.
Each person then passes the plate of bread/cracker/wafer, saying to their neighbor, “This is God’s commandment: that we love one another as God has loved us. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Bread and liquid are consumed.
Sharing with One Another at Table
It is suggested that participants then share a meal together.
Closing Prayer (unison)
Gracious and Loving God, You have given yourself to us, Holy Jesus. Now we give ourselves for others. Your love has made us a new people; As a people of love we will serve you with joy. Your glory has filled our hearts; Help us to give glory to you in all things. Amen.
Parts of this service are adapted from the Maundy Thursday service from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.