Maundy Thursday 2020
Call to Worship
Leader: All heaven and earth proclaim the majesty of God’s creative power!
All: Praise God for the amazing and awesome beauty.
Leader: God has given us codes by which to live together in harmony and peace.
All: In these commandments, God has summed up the ways we must respect one another.
Leader: Rejoice in the Goodness of God!
All: Praise God for God’s complete and steadfast love for us. Amen.
In the Cross of Christ I Glory GTG 213
In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time; all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’er-take me, hopes deceive, and fears annoy, never shall the cross forsake me; lo, it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming light and love upon my way, from the cross the radiance streaming adds more luster to the day.
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, you sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost. We confess that we have strayed from you and turned aside from your way. We are misled by pride, for we see ourselves pure when we are stained, and great when we are small. We have failed in love, neglected justice, and ignored your truth. Have mercy, O God, and forgive our sin. Return us to paths of righteousness through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Words of Assurance
I declare to you in the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning. Is now and ever shall be. Word without end. Amen. Amen.
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 again 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.
Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you taught us to pray, and to offer our petitions to you in his name. Guide us by your Holy Spirit, that our prayers for others may serve your will and show your steadfast love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord:
Let us pray for the world.
Let us pray for the church.
Let us pray for those who govern us.
Let us pray for world leaders.
Let us pray for the sick.
God of compassion, bless us and those we love, our friends and families that, drawing close to you, we may be drawn closer to each other, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What has coronavirus taken from you?
What has coronavirus not taken from you?
What has coronavirus given you?
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Sermon “Foot Washing in a Pandemic”
Let us pray,
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be pleasing and acceptable to you, our rock and our redeemer…
On the eve of his arrest, Jesus gathers his disciples together for a last supper.
Jesus knows what is about to happen. Judas is going to turn him over to the Roman authorities. Peter will deny knowing him. But instead of exposing the hearts of his betrayers. Jesus reveals himself as the one who loves them to the end by becoming their servant.
On this Maundy Thursday, we read the familiar story of Jesus expressing his love of his disciples through the act of foot washing. To wash another’s feet is an intimate, vulnerable act. Particularly in the Ancient Near east where people’s feet were always caked in mud. And probably smelled horrible. This service was usually performed by the lowest servant of the household. Certainly not by Jesus, the honored guest. Jesus does it to show his disciples how they are to love others.
Not all of his disciples welcome his feet washing. Peter even says, ‘No, you shall never wash my feet!’ Peter’s protest illustrates how not everyone is able to receive Jesus’ love. Not everyone can stand the discomfort that love demands. But the discomfort Peter feels over Jesus washing his feet is precisely what Jesus calls us to offer up daily. Our discomfort with baring our need and exposing ourselves to the needs of others.
A fair question to ask of the text this evening is what exactly is Jesus calling us to do here? Jesus says, ‘Now that I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet.’ What Jesus means by this is that we should treat one another with love even when it’s difficult to do so. That we should love one another with the same vulnerability Jesus displays when he washes his disciple’s feet. Jesus says, ‘a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
We gather together virtually this evening to reflect on how we are to wash one another’s feet in the midst of a global pandemic. Jesus’ command that we wash one another’s feet remains unchanged during these unprecedented times. We may not be allowed to touch one another right now. But we are still called to love others even when it is difficult, even when we don’t know how, even when we aren’t sure if we’re doing it right. And that love has to be an embodied practice. Or a practice that we live out in our bodies, not just in our minds. Our acts of love witness to the unity of Christ in our shared humanity.
However, since we are in the midst of a global pandemic, how we embody the love of Jesus will look different than it has in the past. One way that we can embody the love of Jesus in the midst of a global pandemic is to continue to stay home as much as we can.
When we have to go out, we can continue to practice social distancing- keeping six feet of separation between us and other people.
We can wash our hands frequently. Definitely after we are in public places. Certainly more than we are used to.
We can wear face masks when we go to the grocery store or pharmacy. If we don’t have a face mask we can either make one, or use something we already have at home as a makeshift one. I’m using this running sweatband as my facemask.
We can postpone family Easter gatherings, or hold them virtually.
We can continue to pray for our medical professionals, essential workers, and local leaders.
Another way we can embody the love of Jesus in the midst of a global pandemic is to get creative and think outside of the box. This week, while on a Zoom call with other pastors in our Presbytery, our executive Presbyter asked us to reflect onhow ministry is being necessarily changed for the better during this time? Instead of seeing this time as a time of waiting for things to get back to normal, he challenged us to name what new skills we’re learning that we can add to our toolbox for our new normal. While we hope that this period of being apart from each other will end soon we can look at this time as an opportunity to learn new things.
One new skill we’re all learning is how to use technology to build community. Session opted to hold worship this evening via a Zoom meeting so that we could celebrate communion together. When we gather together to receive communion- even when we do so virtually- we proclaim to the world that that which divides us is not as strong as that which unites us.
I love watching our congregations partake of the elements together in this new way. Necessity has forces two congregations from opposite sides of our city to come together to partake of this holy meal. People who don’t always agree with one another. People who want to love one another but who don’t always know how. All coming together to receive this holy meal in this time and in this place.
Friends, I truly believe that Jesus’ command to love one another begins at the table. But it doesn’t end there. Having received this holy meal, we are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ where we can, as we can, and with who we can. Sure, how we do this will look different in the coming weeks and months as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. But I am convinced that the only way out of this global pandemic is if we all do our part to embody the radical love of Jesus Christ in this new normal.
Thanks be to God,
In Jesus’ name,
Were You There GTG 228
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?) Were you there when they crucified my Lord? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? (Were you there?) Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble , tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?) Were you there when they pierced him in the side? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?) Were you there when the sun refused to shine? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they laid in him the tomb? (Were you there?) Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? (Were you there?)
Remember, you go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has a plan and a purpose to you being there. Christ who dwells in you has something he wants to do, through you, wherever you are. Believe this and go in his grace, and love, and power.