Maundy Thursday, 2021

Prayer of the Day

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 the 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.

Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14

1The 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.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1I love the Lord, who has | heard my voice,
  and listened to my | supplication,
2for the Lord has given | ear to me
whenev- | er I called.
12How shall I re- | pay the Lord
  for all the good things God has | done for me?
13I will lift the cup | of salvation
and call on the name | of the Lord. 
14I will fulfill my vows | to the Lord
  in the presence of | all God’s people.
15Precious in your | sight, O Lord,
is the death | of your servants.
16O Lord, truly I | am your servant;
  I am your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me | from my bonds.
17I will offer you the sacrifice | of thanksgiving
and call upon the name | of the Lord.
18I will fulfill my vows | to the Lord
  in the presence of | all God’s people,
19in the courts of | the Lord‘s house,
in the midst of you, | O Jerusalem. 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23For 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, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In 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.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

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.”

Sermon – Pastor Meggan Manlove

The name of our worship service, Maundy, comes from the commandment or mandate Jesus’ gives his disciples, “to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” The world needs that love so much, always but maybe especially right now. Jesus has just demonstrated the love through the act of foot washing, something we witness tonight. 

Foot washing has often been the focus of our Maundy Thursday worship services here at Trinity, and for good reason. But in my first call in Iowa, Holy Communion was central because this was the night the fifth graders celebrated their first Communion. My theology around the Lord’s Supper became robust on the prairie of Western Iowa as my congregation and I moved to weekly Communion and as I began to talk with them about lowering the age of first Communion. 

Those theological discussions and changes in practice had occurred in this congregation by the time I became your pastor. We had classes on Communion for our upper elementary, Confirmation, and adult students. But it was not until this past year with the pandemic that we really had to consider our theology around the Lord’s Supper.

It was Thursday evening. The next day Jesus would die. He knew it and he told his disciples. They were at supper together, a farewell meal. As they were seated around the table, he took bread and wine and told them that this was his body and blood and that they should eat and drink.  He told them that after he was gone, they should continue to observe this supper, for forgiveness of sins and in remembrance of him. 

Last Sunday I helped lead a group of 7th and 8th grade confirmation students through a discussion of the Last Supper as recorded in Mark’s gospel. The conversation lagged until I called on one student who usually contributes. “What strikes you in this story?” I asked. The student replied, “The story begins with Jesus saying someone will betray him and it ends with him saying Peter will deny him. Right in the middle of those two things, Jesus breaks the bread and shares the cup.” I was speechless. If not on Zoom, I would have caught the eyes of the other adult leaders and we would have shared a gaze of admiration. Yes, in the middle of betrayal and denial, Jesus shares this love feast with its gifts of forgiveness and mercy.

Ever since that night, the followers of Jesus the world over have observed or celebrated the Lord’s Supper as their most solemn act of worship. The Holy Spirit has used this simple meal to give the church some of the most profound and rich truths and gifts of God.

When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we come to remember him. We recall who Jesus is and what he has done, what he continues to do and what he yet will do.  He is not visibly with us as he was with the disciples that evening. As we remember him, we dwell on his life, from his birth in Bethlehem to his ascension. We remember especially the cross, where his body was broken and his blood was shed for us.

Whether we see him or not, our risen and ascended Lord is here in a living presence. He is with us, singularly in bread and wine, his body and blood. We not only have a memorial; we have a presence. And in the bread and wine he gives himself. This is the good news of the gospel in visible form.

And so, it is called a communion. Receiving life with him and in him, we are in fellowship with him, and through him in fellowship with each other. We are reconciled to God and to each other. We are the restored family of God.

Whenever and however we receive him, we come in repentance and faith. We come to receive the forgiveness of sins. We come in penitence, in sorrow for the sins that grieve him. And we come in glad confidence that he forgives us, as he has promised to do.

It is a sacrament of thanksgiving, called the Eucharist.  When a Christian stands before the throne of God, when all sins are forgiven, all joy restored, then there is nothing left to do but to give thanks. Thanksgiving is our only full and real response to God’s creation, redemption, and the gift of heaven. All the motifs of the faith, like melodies in a great symphony, are brought together in the sacrament—repentance, faith, forgiveness, joy, love, hope, and thanksgiving.  

A year ago, I said that theology about Holy Communion during a Pandemic, with new technology available had not yet been written. It would be written in the next months. And that’s what happened, on social media, in journals, in emails. I was grateful our synodical bishop found a way to give us permission to share the meal through new mediums. It fed and nourished our members in ways my words may never have. People told me it took some practice, but it gave them comfort and sustenance, both of which were needed. 

Now we have reached a chapter where we can again celebrate the meal in person—what a gift—but we will retain the home altars and home communion during this bridge time. And later, we will take all we have learned and do more Holy Communion theology together for a brand-new time. Lest we think this is the first time Christians have had to work out our Holy Communion theology, just read all of First Corinthians Chapter 11, not just the four verses read tonight.

Pastor and theologian Al Rogness wrote, “The Lord’s Supper is God’s gift to us to strengthen our faith. The Christian who realizes this will want to receive this gift often, probably as often as it is offered…. No matter how often, communicants should prepare their hearts by careful self-examination and by prayer.  The Scriptures warn against coming casually as a matter of form without repentance and without faith in the Lord’s promise of forgiveness.”  Rogness lays out the balance that must be struck—receiving the gift of Communion as often as it is offered and receiving it with a prepared heart.  

During our Holy Communion classes at Trinity for the 4th-6th graders, I say that the Lord’s Supper is a gift they will continue to learn about throughout their life. This was not his final lesson. We are never finished being reminded of the gift of the Lord’s Supper. 

After this past year, I come to this meal tonight we a renewed appreciation for the gifts of forgiveness and abundant life. I come exceedingly grateful to share it in-person with other embodied human beings. I come with a bit more awe and wonder. Even though I believe Jesus’ promises are sure, I trust that the gifts are guaranteed, and I believe Jesus’ presence is real, I can never explain exactly how it all happens. In the end, I am comfortable not needing to explain or fully understand. There is just enough mystery in the Lord’s Supper to leave me bewildered by the mystery of it all. It is a mystery I love sharing with others. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

The prayers are prepared locally for each occasion. The following examples may be adapted or used as appropriate.

United by the servant love of God in Christ, we pray this holy night for the needs of the world.

A brief silence.You call your people to hand on what we receive from you. Form all the baptized into teachers of faith. From one generation to the next, give your church hunger for your promises in the sacraments and joy in receiving and sharing your word. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Your creation provides all that we need. Cleanse and protect the water you have given for washing and drinking, water on which all life depends. Sustain crops and herds that provide food; teach us how to live so that there is enough for all. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

You redeemed your people from slavery. Preserve people throughout the world who flee violence and oppression (especially). Establish just leadership in place of tyranny and peace in place of war. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.Jesus loved his followers to the end. Grant assurance of that love to all who need it: those living with guilt, those struggling to forgive, those who are lonely or overlooked. Heal the sick and embrace the dying. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Jesus washed the feet of the one who betrayed him. Inspire this congregation’s ministries of service (especially), that we love as Jesus loved us. Give us renewed courage to serve. Bless the ministry of deacons throughout the church. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Here other intercessions may be offered.Your glory shone in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We thank you for generations of the faithful who have proclaimed our Lord’s death. Unite us with them in hope until he comes again. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Hear these and all our prayers, O God, in the name of the one who loves us to the end, Jesus Christ our Redeemer.Amen.

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