Maundy Thursday Liturgy and Prayers
What Does Maundy Thursday Mean?
Christ's "mandate" is commemorated on Maundy Thursday-"maundy" being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means "command." It was on the Thursday of Jesus' final week before being crucified and resurrected that he said this commandment to his disciples.
Jesus and his disciples had just shared what was known as the Last Supper and he was washing their feet when he stated:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" -John 13:34
On Maundy Thursday, it is traditional for Christians to gather, show love for each other, eat together, (sometimes observe holy communion and foot washing) and remember this event.
This year, we are providing a liturgy for a Love Feast to be shared by small groups who have been meeting throughout Lent, families, couples and other gatherings of friends. For more on the United Methodist tradition of a Love Feast, see https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/the-love-feast
Preparing the Space
Prepare a space where you can imagine yourself as one of the disciples having a meal with Jesus. Set the scene with candles and place at the table for everyone.
Prayers, reflections, and a Love Feast will be shared. This is similar to communion but instead of the traditional liturgy celebrated by a pastor, this is a sharing among the beloved of God. 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. You may also incorporate an actual meal if you choose.
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.
Read aloud John 13:33-35:
"Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer...So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Possible Questions for Reflection
You may save some of these for further conversation if you are sharing a full meal together.
What is the new commandment that Jesus gave his disciples?
What does it mean to love in a time of unmooring? How do we show it?
One of the ways that Jesus showed his disciples that he loved them was by washing their feet. How do you think washing their feet was a good example of love? How is this engagement with one of the parts of our bodies we often hide an embrace of being unmoored?
In this season, what are some ways you have come to know that Jesus loves you?
Think of someone you love. What can you do to show them that you love them?
Read aloud John 13:1-17; Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet
Reader 1: Jesus’ presence with us in this life, even to death on the cross, is the ultimate act of love. He walked with us, enduring all we suffer and all in which we rejoice.
Jesus didn’t just give a new command at the last supper, Jesus also gave us a new way to remember that command. Jesus took some bread and some wine and he gave it to his disciples. He said that the bread and wine would remind them of how much he loved them. Ever since, people who follow Jesus take bread and wine/juice as a way to remember his death until he comes again.
Reader 2: As disciples of a new age who still hold to that same handrail of faith, we participate in the traditions of that gift, and reflect it now in our love feast.
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.