Maundy Thursday Worship, April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the Three Days – the ancient observance of the mystery of our salvation, which plunges us into the death of Jesus and brings us with him to resurrection life.

Confession and Forgiveness

Pastor – Brothers and sisters 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 from loving each other. God never wearies of forgiving us when we sin and from giving us the peace of reconciliation.   Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbors, and enter this most holy of weeks reconciled with God and with one another.

You may be seated or kneel. Silence is kept for reflection and self-examination.

Pastor – Most merciful God,

All – 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 with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors 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.

Pastor – In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake God forgives us all our sins. As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All – Amen.

The cross that is on the deacon’s kneeler.


Pastor – May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All – And also with you.

The Prayer of the Day

Pastor – May the Lord be with you.

AllAnd also with you.

Pastor – Holy God, source of love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment: to love one another as he had loved them. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others with love and generosity, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  

All – Amen.

Saint Stephen’s processional cross

The First Reading – Exodus 12:1-3 & 11-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell 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.

This 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. For 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. The 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.

This 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.

The Word of the Lord.

All Thanks be to God.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-17

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,

I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.

O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving-maid. You have loosed my bonds.

I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.

This parament covers the Communion chalice at Saint Stephen.

The Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

This depiction of the Lord’s Supper sits in our chancel most Sundays.

The Gospel – John 13:1-17, 34-35

Pastor – The Holy Gospel according to Saint John the 13th chapter.

Now 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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus 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.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

After 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? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

PastorThe Gospel of the Lord.

All – Praise to you, O Christ.

The Message

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On Monday evening – as I was concocting supper for the McFarland household I overheard a rather heated discussion coming from our backyard where Will was playing with his very best friend in the whole wide world.

These 2 have been playing together their entire lives. Usually they play together pretty happily. Most of the time all is well. But sometimes they get under each other’s skin. Sometimes there are passionate disagreements.

Monday evening there was a disagreement. In fact – I could tell Will and Annabelle were struggling a bit.

Knowing these two wonderful – but – passionate – life-long friends – I knew – it was best to give them time to work it out themselves. So I just listened – watched and waited.

As I listened – I heard Annabelle declare while flipping her curls in the evening sun – “William McFarland – you are NOT the boss of me!” Hmm – I thought – she must be annoyed. She called him William instead of Will and she tacked on a McFarland for added emphasis.

I wondered – what my own little spitfire would do with this declaration. I have heard Will say something quite similar to Jack when deeply provoked . . .

Will – took a deep breath and replied – “I know Annabelle. Your mom is. But I really wish I could be the boss.”

“Well you’re not William – so just STOP IT!” – came the declaration from Annabelle.

And by some miracle – he did STOP IT.

Most of us are just like Annabelle and Will. We don’t like to be bossed around or told what to do.

Instead – we want to be in charge.   We want to be the boss. We want to make the rules. So we cross our arms and passionately declare “you’re NOT the boss of me!”

Yet – here we are on Maundy Thursday. Which is just nerdy – church talk – for Commandment Thursday.

But whether we call today – Maundy Thursday or Commandment Thursday – the name comes from the fact that on the very first Maundy Thursday – Jesus gave us all a commandment he wants us to keep.

In our Gospel reading for today – Jesus commands us to love one another.   Jesus doesn’t say he is giving us a new recommendation. Or a new suggestion. Or a new tip.

Nope – Jesus tells us it is a commandment. It is something he expects us to do.

And this commandment isn’t an easy commandment. Oh – how I wish Jesus had said – “I give you a new commandment – you are to tolerate one another.” That would have been a whole lot easier to do. We might get that commandment right every once in a while.   Tolerating people is so much easier than loving people.

But Jesus didn’t say tolerate – he said LOVE.

Of course – we are supposed to love the people it is easy to love.   You know – the people who are like us and agree with us and are nice to us.   But Jesus also meant we are supposed to love our enemies – and people who annoy us – and people who don’t seem very loveable.

When Jesus said we are supposed to love one another – he meant we are supposed to love absolutely – positively everyone.   EVERYONE!

Thankfully Jesus showed us how to love others.   Jesus showed us how to keep this commandment. So how did Jesus show this sort of love in his own life?

Well – loving one another does not mean we are always going to agree with each other.   Just look at Jesus’ earthly life.   Jesus did not agree with the Pharisees and Sadducees on much of anything. But – Jesus loved them anyway.

And the same is true for us. We are called to love even the people with whom we disagree. Even those people who don’t have their masks on or who are careless about social distancing or who disagree with us about how to handle the pandemic. Jesus showed us quite clearly through his own words and actions you can passionately disagree with someone and still treat them with kindness and love.

Jesus loved everyone – yep – that’s right – everyone. Jesus loved Judas – even after Judas betrayed him. Jesus loved Peter even though Peter denied knowing Jesus when Jesus needed him the most. Jesus loved the men who were crucified with him – even though they were criminals.   Jesus loved the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross. Jesus loved all people.

And the same is true for us. We are called to love all people – even people who disappoint us – even people who annoy us – even the people we are tempted to call enemies. Even people with whom we passionately disagree!

Jesus shared what he had. He fed the hungry – healed the sick – and cared for people. Jesus was never too busy to spend time with someone. Jesus knew a very important part of loving others was sharing yourself and your possessions with them. And we are called to do the same thing. Jesus was generous and we are called to be generous too!

Most importantly Jesus showed us loving other people means telling them about God’s love, grace, and mercy. Jesus knew the most loving thing you could ever do for someone was to tell her about God.   And the same is true for us.   Part of loving people is sharing the Good News of God’s love, grace, and mercy with others.

Jesus’ final commandment asks a lot from us. Jesus’ expectations are high. He loves us enough to ask us to strive toward being better people.

And Jesus promises us if we do these things and have love for one another – then everyone will know we are Jesus’ disciples. Truly that is Good News. Amen.

This cross is found where we keep the offering plates.

The Apostles’ Creed

God has made us his people through our baptism into Christ Jesus.  Living together in trust and in hope, we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.

All:  I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Pastor Trusting in our Lord, let us pray for the church, the world, and for all who are in need.

A brief silence.

Pastor You are our Teacher and Lord. Guide those with authority over others to live lives of service. Bring an end to war and injustice. Lord, in your mercy,

Allhear our prayer.

Pastor Feed those who have no food. Comfort those who have been betrayed. Console those who mourn. Tend those who are sick especially those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy,

Allhear our prayer.

Pastor You give us a new commandment, to love one another. Welcome to your table all the faithful who come this night. Work through our hands, so that others will know we are your disciples. Lord, in your mercy,

Allhear our prayer.

Pastor You love us to the end. Keep us mindful of those who have gone before us in the faith, who served their neighbors faithfully just as you have served your people. Lord, in your mercy,

Allhear our prayer.

Pastor Now is the acceptable time to offer our prayers to you, God of grace and truth. Receive them in your mercy, and grant us all that we need, in Jesus’ name.


This cross is found on the top of Saint Stephen’s Communion trays.

The Celebration of Holy Communion

Pastor – May the Lord be with you.

All – And also with you.

Pastor – Lift up your hearts.

All – We lift them to the Lord.

Pastor – Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All – It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Pastor – It is indeed right, our duty and our joy that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, through our Savior Jesus Christ; whose suffering and death gave salvation to all. You gather your people around the cross, transforming death into life. And so, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

All – Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.

The Words of Institution

Pastor In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: take and eat; this is my body, given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying:  this cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.  Do this in remembrance of me.

Pastor Lord remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray:  

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.  

This cross is found on our hymn board.

Invitation to Holy Communion  

Pastor The feast is prepared. You are welcome at the Lord’s Table.

Reception of Communion  

You are welcome at the Lord’s Table.  We encourage you to gather wine and bread or grape juice and crackers and join us in celebrating Holy Communion.  Jesus used what he already had to celebrate Holy Communion at the Last Supper.  Jesus literally picked up the bread and the wine that were on the table right in front of him and used those.  Jesus did not order anything special.  Jesus used what was available to him.  We can do the exact same thing.  We can use what we have in our homes.   

Pastor – The body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – given and shed for you.  

Pastor – May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.  

All – Amen.  

This cross is located in our church flowerbed.

Post Communion Prayer  

Pastor – We thank you, O God, for the free gift of righteousness and peace in Jesus Christ, whose body and blood have nourished us here. Lead us out of this house of prayer to the places you will show us, so that we may be a blessing to others in the name of Christ, our redeemer.  

All – Amen.  

There is no benediction at this service.      

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.