A Liturgy of Preparing, Eating, and Serving for Maundy Thursday At Home
On Maundy Thursday, we remember the night before Christ’s betrayal, when he joined his disciples for a meal (which would become The Lord’s Supper). John tells us he then washed the disciples’ feet as a sign of how he came to serve, and how we are to serve others. This liturgy is based on that story and invites participants to prepare and eat a meal together and to serve others in various ways. It can be done individually or with a small group.
What will I need?
- A Bible.
- A recipe and the ingredients. (You may also wish to make unleavened bread, since that is a central part of the meal Jesus was eating.)
- Two basins—one for washing, one for rinsing—and towel for drying feet (or you can move to the bathroom, if you’d rather use the bathtub.)
- If you cannot wash the feet of another person, you may need to…
How should I prepare? Set aside the whole evening, if at all possible, so you don’t have to rush any of the parts. If you can, print this page. Then, before beginning, turn off your digital devices and live into where you are and what you’re doing. Part of the power of mealtime is the shared experience, which can be diminished by distraction from screens.
How should we pray this liturgy? This at-home liturgy is still simple but it is a bit more involved than the others. It’s probably easiest if one person “guides” the liturgy. For example, when you’re preparing the meal, someone should come back to the paper from time to time to move the group onto the next discussion question, while the others continue preparing and helping. Who will that person be?
Bible readings should be done by one person at a time but various people should read, if you’re in a group. (And everyone should pause whatever they’re doing for the reading of Scripture.) All prayers should be prayed together in one voice.
Standing in the Kitchen
Pray:O Lord who is preparing the great heavenly feast, we prepare this meal so that we might celebrate Your grace. You provide our daily bread and the bread of life. We ask that You would make Yourself known to us, by Your Spirit, as we celebrate you. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Read: Matthew 26:17-19
Then, as you prepare the meal, set the table, etc…
- Preparing a meal makes us aware of the cost of sacrifice. In order for us to eat, plants and animals alike are sacrificed. As you prepare the meal and work with the plants, meats, and other ingredients, give thanks to God for the sacrifice of His beloved creatures. Talk about how the language of “sacrifice” makes you think about the meal you are about to eat. Does it make it more meaningful?
- Jesus doesn’t name whose home he’ll be going to. As you read this story, one way of becoming a part of it is to imagine that your home is the one at which Jesus will celebrate the passover. What would you think if Jesus showed up at your house for this meal? (Don’t scold him for not social distancing!) How would you prepare differently?
- Attention to preparation. How does the attention you give your meal, preparing for this dinner in Jesus’s presence, remind you that life with God takes both attention and intention? Discuss ways you have been intentional lately as well as ways you could become more intentional.
Moving to the Table
Pray: Lord, we open our table to you. Teach us. Remind us of who you are and what you’ve done. Nourish us with your presence, that we may be strengthened to live according to your will. We give unending thanks for the sacrifice of your creatures, by which we live physically, and the sacrifice you offered on the cross, by which we live eternally. In Christ, amen.
Read: Matthew 26:20-30
Then, as you eat the meal…
- What would it be like to eat dinner with someone you know will betray you, and lead you to die a cruel death? (For children: What would it be like share snacks with a person who was very mean to you, even when you’d been very nice?) How does Jesus’s own action seem to teach us about enemy love, about praying for those who persecute us? Pray for God’s help to love your own enemies, even enough to eat with them some day.
- All of the disciples ask if they are the one who will betray Jesus. In a sense, because of the sins we commit, we all betray Jesus. Confess your sins to one another. After each confession, all together should say, “Lord, in your mercy, forgive us.”
- Jesus uses the bread and wine at the table to teach about the meaning of his own death. We reenact this every time we share communion. How does it feel to do it in the context of an actual meal? How might it add meaning to the action? You may wish to share communion with one another now.
After all are done eating…
Sing: Psalm 115:1-3 to the tune of “Come, Thou Fount” or “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (translation from Seedbed Psalter).
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name glory be;
Because of Your lovingkindness, and Your truth shown faithfully.
Why do nations ask in wonder, “Where’s their God? We don’t see Him.”
Our God is in heaven, and He does whatever pleases Him.
An Act of Service
Pray: Lord, having heard of how Your body is broken and Your blood is shed for our forgiveness, may we live as living sacrifices for Your glory. May we serve You through serving others. Guide us we pray. In Christ, amen.
Read: John 13:1-17
Option 1: Wash one another’s feet. As you wash, pray for one another. Then discuss by reflecting on what it is like to serve one another in such an intimate way. How does that help us understand Jesus’s love for us? How does it challenge us to love one another?
Option 2: Our health care workers are serving the sick even as we eat and pray. We might serve them and others by making masks to share with friends, coworkers, etc. so that we slow the spread of disease, which is an act of service toward those who work in hospitals and other health care locations. As you make these masks, pray for those who will wear them and those who care for the sick.
Option 3: Pray for God to lay someone on your heart. Call and ask that person if there is any way you can serve them. You might have surprised them by calling out of the blue like this, so be willing to accept no for an answer. But don’t give up on calling them again in the next few days. Maybe they will accept your service then.
Option 4: If you cannot do one of the other three options, serve your community by financially supporting a local organization. As you make your offering pray for the Lord to bless those whom the organization serves.
Concluding Prayer & Song
Pray: Lord, now that we know these things, may we do them so that we may we bless You and be blessed by You.
Sing: Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below. Praise God above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.