|Liturgy by TLW|
by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Maundy Thursday service is one
of endings and beginnings. What was begun on Ash Wednesday is brought to a close
here today. What begins today does not end until the resurrection of Easter. It
is the ancient Triduum, "The Three Sacred Days," which lead us to Easter: Maundy
Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
The theme is love, our Savior's love for us, expressed in the washing of the disciples' feet, in giving himself in bread and wine, in dying upon the cross.
An invitation to confession is given. The focus is on forgiveness. On Ash Wednesday, we began Lent with a major act of confession and ashes, but we did not receive forgiveness in the absolution. That forgiveness comes now "in the name and by the command of our Lord," at the service celebrating Christ's love. The peace is shared after absolution and seals that forgiveness in a loving embrace, as if embraced by Christ himself.
The lessons of love are read. A new command derives from it: "Love one another." A song and a sign of love goes with it.
The prayers are said. The table is made ready. The time of the Lord's Supper arrives, and our Lord is revealed in bread and wine as once he "revealed himself to his disciples." It is a solemn moment, but we cannot linger here. Nor could the Lord. His betrayal was imminent.
Before we know it, the markings of betrayal are seen before us. The symbol of Christ in our midst, the altar, is stripped bare. Christ is stripped of his power and glory. Good Friday is inescapable. The powers of darkness work upon him.
In silence, we depart without benediction. The Three Sacred Days continue with the Good Friday service tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Prelude and Silent Prayer
Entrance Hymn "What Wondrous Love Is This"
P. Friends 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 each other. This is the struggle to which we are called at baptism.
[We have shared this discipline of Lent with new brothers and sisters in Christ
who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil.]
Within the community of the church, God never wearies of forgiving sin and giving the peace of reconciliation. On this night let us confess our sin against God and our neighbor, and enter the celebration of the great Three Days reconciled with God and with one another.
Confession and Forgiveness:
P. Let us make confession to God.
Silence for reflection and self-examination.
P. Almighty God, merciful Father:
C. I, a troubled a penitent sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities with which I have offended you and for which I justly deserve your punishment. But I am sorry for them, and repent of them, and pray for your boundless mercy. For the sake of the suffering and death of your Son, Jesus Christ, be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being; forgive my sins, give me your Holy Spirit for the amendment of my sinful life, and bring me to life everlasting. Amen
P. On Ash Wednesday, you began this season of repentance with confession, and you came forward to receive the ashes of repentance. Come forward now and receive your absolution, the forgiveness which comes from Christ our Lord.
Those who desire, come to the altar to receive individual absolution, either kneeling or standing.
The minister, laying both hands on each person's head, addresses each in turn:
P. In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.
Each person responds: Amen
When all have been absolved, the liturgy continues:
P. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C. And also with you.
Prayer of the Day:
P. 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.
Verse: "Return to the Lord Your God"
P. On this night we have heard our Lord's commandment to love one another as he has loved us. We who receive God's love in Jesus Christ are called to love one another, to be servants to each other as Jesus became our servant. Our commitment to this loving service is signified in the washing of feet, following the example our Lord gave us on the night before his death.
Hymn "Love Consecrates the Humblest Act"
During the hymn, a representative group of the congregation comes forward and sits in chairs provided near the altar.
The humble act of footwashing takes place in solemn silence by the Presiding Minister. The minister says to each person whose feet are washed:
P: Where charity and love are found, there is God.
When all the footwashing is completed, the Presiding Minister addresses the congregation:
P: Jesus says, "If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, then you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."
C: Where charity and love are found, there is God.
Hymn "Where Charity and Love Prevail," stanzas 1-2
During the hymn, the representatives return to their pews and the ministers prepare for the prayers.
Prayer of the Church
Offering: Hymn during the Offering:
Hymn "Now We Join in Celebration"
A. Let us pray. Almighty God,
C. Creator and Redeemer of the world, we give you thanks that you have loved us and given us the bread of life, your Son, our Savior. With these gifts of bread and wine and our possessions, we dedicate ourselves to a life of love for the sake of him who gave himself in love, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Great Thanksgiving (sung)
Holy, Holy, Holy
Eucharistic Prayer for Lent (ELW IV, LBW III)
Our Father (sung) (ELW p.163, LBW p.112)
At the Breaking of Bread:
P. This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
C. We do not presume to come to your table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and so to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us. Amen
Hymn "O Christ, Thou Lamb of God"
A. Let us pray. Lord Jesus, in a wonderful sacrament you strengthen us with the saving power of your suffering, death, and resurrection. May this Sacrament of your body and blood so work in us that the way we live that the fruits of your redemption will show forth in the way we live, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (ELW 387)
STRIPPING OF THE ALTAR
Psalm 22 (spoken in unison)
As the Psalm is spoken, the chancel is stripped.
When the Psalm is completed, all depart in silence.
There is no benediction this evening. The service continues with the Good Friday Liturgy tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Remain and pray as long as you wish.