04.09.2020 Maundy Thursday


We gather with Christians around the world in celebrating the Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This year, we cannot do these important services together in a church.  While Easter is a joyful festival, we approach the day in a time of difficulty and world-wide sorrow.  Still we believe that Christ is with us in God’s word.  We are drawn together by God’s Spirit and believe that the gospel of Christ gives us strength amid distress and comfort in the face of our sufferings.

Opening Song                      Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

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Jesus, keep me near the cross, there’s a precious fountain; free to all, a healing stream flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever; till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me; there the bright and morning star sheds its beams around me. 

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever; till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God bring its scenes before me; help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever; till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, hoping, trusting ever, till I reach the golden strand just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever; till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Assurance of God’s Forgiveness

Together, we remember God’s forgiveness 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.  Our sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus Christ.  Almighty God strengthen us with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in our hearts through faith.  Amen. 

Prayer of the Day

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 servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Reading                                         Exodus 12:1–14 

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The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Gospel and Message                 John 13:1–17, 31b–35

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1Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

31b“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Hymn of the Day                  What Wondrous Love is This

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What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!  What wondrous love is this, O my soul!  What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down, when I was sinking down, sinking down, when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing; to God and to the Lamb I will sing; to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM, while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing, while millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on; and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing God’s love for me, and through eternity

I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Prayers of Intercession

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United with Christians around the globe on this Maundy Thursday, let us pray for the church, the earth, our troubled world, and all in need, responding to each petition with the words.  Lord, hear our prayer.

Blessed are you, holy God, for the church. Gather all the baptized around your presence in the Word. Strengthen the people of your church even when we cannot assemble for worship. Grant bishops, pastors, musicians, and all worship leaders faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time, and accompany those preparing for baptism.  Lord, hear our prayer.

Blessed are you, bountiful God, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into care-givers of your plants and animals.  Lord, hear our prayer.

Blessed are you, loving God, for our nation. Inspire all people to live in peace and justice. Grant wisdom and courage to leaders and to legislators as they face the coronavirus. Lead our elected officials to champion the cause of the needy.  Lord, hear our prayer. 

Blessed are you, faithful God, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, health care workers, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization.  Lord, hear our prayer.

Blessed are you, gracious God, for you care for the needy. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying. Lord, hear our prayer. 

Blessed are you, gracious God, for you care for all people. Preserve our lives, comfort our anxiety, and receive now the petitions of our hearts.  Lord, hear our prayer.

Receive, merciful God, our prayers, for the sake of Jesus Christ, who died and rose that we might live with you, now and forever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.  Amen.

Closing Song               When I Survey the Wondrous Cross 

                                                                   (verses 1, 3, 4)   

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When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

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What Is Stripping the Altar?

Stripping of the altar – removing all ornaments, linens, candles, plants, flowers, etc. – is an ancient custom of the Church. Congregations mark the way Christ’s life was stripped from him by stripping the altar of all signs of life and beauty during a special service. This almost-bare worship space reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through his resurrection. This at-home activity mirrors the church custom, stripping a table at home instead of an altar.

Materials Needed

  • Bible
  • Storage box/bin/bag
  • Dark cloth/blanket/towel
  • Towels/cleaning supplies- something to wash a table with

How To Do It

  1. Read together Psalm 22:1-5.
    1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
    2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
    3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
    4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
    5 To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
  2. Discuss/think about the church custom of stripping and washing the altar and what it symbolizes.
  3. Gather and remove items. Go through the house to gather all icons and religious symbols that can be easily moved (crosses, candles, prayer beads, etc.) Work silently as a sign of respect for the task. Pack these items away in the storage bin/bag/box. Use dark cloth/blanket/towel to drape any other items that are too large or permanent to pack away.
  4. Wash the table. Finally, remove all items from your dining or kitchen table and together wash the table thoroughly.
  5. Wait. Leave the table bare until Easter morning.

After all the items have been packed away or covered, and the table has been washed, take a moment to notice how your home looks and feels. This is similar to stripping the altar on Maundy Thursday and preparing the worship space for Good Friday.  Through this stark ritual we recall that Jesus was abandoned by his followers, stripped of his dignity, and left to face the cross alone.

Finally, remembering Jesus going to his arrest and his death, the events from which all the mercy that fills this night flows, we pray this Psalm.

Psalm 88

 1O LORD, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
 2let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.
 3For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.
 4I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I am like those who have no help,
 5like those forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
 6You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep.
 7Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
 8You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a thing of horror to them.  I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
 9my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call on you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you.
 10Do you work wonders for the dead?  Do the shades rise up to praise you?
 11Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
 12Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?
 13But I, O LORD, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
 14O LORD, why do you cast me off?  Why do you hide your face from me?
 15Wretched and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.
 16Your wrath has swept over me; your dread assaults destroy me.
 17They surround me like a flood all day long; from all sides they close in on me.
 18You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me; my companion is darkness.

The Three Days continue tomorrow with the service for Good Friday.

From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2005 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.  Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #22432.  New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Hymns reprinted with permission. CCLI#116214