Maundy Thursday Communion Service
Our service begins as we break bread and share the cup just as Jesus did at the Last Supper, long ago.
We will then share in a reflective walk as we go into the dark of the evening into the garden and in our mind’s eye re-visit the garden, the courtyard and come to the foot of the cross.
We will then return to the church and share in a meditation as we look to the cross.
Let’s be quiet for a few moments …
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
Hymn 300 Jesus, we thus obey
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’ They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, ‘Surely, not I?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread,
A Prayer of blessing
and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’
Share the bread
Then he took a cup,
A prayer of thanksgiving
and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’
Share the cup
The Lord’s Prayer
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Hymn 124 When my love to God grows weak,
As we journey with Jesus and his friends, we will travel from the shadows of the garden, hearing the shouts of soldiers and the clash of swords to the busyness of a crowded courtyard. We will stand at the foot of the cross with the crowd and then return to reflect on the difference the cross made to one and makes for all.
Let’s set off now on the journey and make our way to the first signpost.
Station 1 – Gethsemane
Stand together at the signpost pointing the way to Gethsemane
Voice 1: The night was dark and silent. Jesus knew that his enemies would soon be upon him. He and his friends went to a place they knew well – a garden where olive trees grew. Let’s make our way to Gethsemane now.
(Stand on the grass near the tree at the front of the church)
Jesus asked his friends to keep watching and praying as he went forward alone into the garden.
Voice 2: He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. (Luke 22 v 41 – 43)
Voice 1: Jesus wanted more than anything to do what his Father God wanted. What lay ahead would be his greatest challenge. He would soon be surrounded by a violent mob who wanted to arrest him and kill him, though Jesus had done nothing wrong. So the first thing he did was pray, and God gave Jesus the inner strength he needed by sending an angel.
Reflection / voice 2: Sometimes, when things seem too difficult to face, everything in us wants to run away from them. Jesus showed real courage by turning first to God in prayer.
Response / voice 1: Take the white ribbon and tie it to one of the branches of this tree so that the other end of it touches the ground. Perhaps there is a challenge you are facing that seems too difficult to overcome. As you look at the ribbon touching the earth let it remind you of the angel God sent from heaven to strengthen Jesus. Pray that God will give you the courage you need.
Quietly go to the next signpost.
Station 2 – The courtyard
Stand together at the signpost pointing the way to the courtyard.
Voice 1: A long night had begun. Jesus was arrested and taken away, but what happened next was very confusing. Through the night he was taken from place to place, questioned, mocked, rejected and finally sentenced to die. It was all very frightening. Most of Jesus’ friends ran away, but his best friend Peter tried to stay very close. He followed the crowd to the courtyard of the high priest, Caiaphas. He tried not to think about the words Jesus had said just a few hours before at the special meal; ‘Peter, before the cock crows you will deny me three times’
Let’s walk together to the courtyard
The story – The courtyard was full of people. There were soldiers and servants, curious strangers, dogs, children and Peter the disciple. In the firelight one of the serving women stared at Peter. ‘Hey you’ she shouted at him. Peter jumped. ‘You know Jesus don’t you?’ ‘No’ said Peter firmly. The woman turned towards a man standing nearby. She pointed at Peter. ‘He knows Jesus, I’m sure he does’ ‘No I don’t’ said Peter even more loudly. The man looked at him curiously ‘I reckon you do know him’ he said. ‘No. No. No!’ shouted Peter. ‘I have never seen him in my life’ At that moment the cock crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words and pushed his way out of the courtyard. It was the most terrible moment of his whole life.
Reflection / voice 2: I wonder why Peter didn’t say ‘yes’? I wonder what kind of a feeling he had?
Response: We all make wrong choices, say hurtful words. Do unkind things. You might remember a time when you let someone down or were let down yourself. As you look at the fire in the courtyard imagine dropping your regret into the flames, and remember that God forgives everything.
Voice 3: If we tell God the things we have done wrong, God can always be trusted to forgive us and take away our sins (1 John 1:9)
Voice 4: God says turn back to me! I have rescued you and swept away your sins as though they were the morning mist (Isaiah 44)
Voice 5: God willingly forgives and God’s love is always there (Psalm 86:5)
Quietly follow the guide to the next signpost.
Station 3 – Golgotha
Stand together at the sign pointing to Golgotha
Voice 1: the Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman Governor, to be sentenced. But Pilate couldn’t find anything that he was guilty of. The crowd turned against Jesus and shouted louder and louder, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him! Finally Pilate gave in and soldiers led Jesus off. They put a purple robe around his shoulders and a crown of thorns upon his head. Jesus was made to carry a heavy cross on his shoulders to a hill outside the city wall, called the place of the skull.
Let us walk together to Golgotha – gather in front of the three crosses.
The story: Jesus was crucified on a cross. Two criminals had also been sentenced to death and were crucified that day with Jesus. One of the criminals began shouting insults at Jesus. ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Then save yourself, and us.’ But the other criminal stopped him and said, ‘you should fear God! We are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Turning to Jesus he said ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus looked at him with love and said ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’
Reflection / voice 2: The cross is a sacred symbol for Christians because it helps them remember that Jesus died so that those who believe in him, like the thief who was sorry, will be forgiven and have a new start.
Response: Use natural materials that you find around you to make a cross on the ground. As you do this think about the things that have happened in your life or in the world that have gone wrong and need forgiveness. When others see your cross it will help remind them that our God is a loving God who forgives everyone who is truly sorry.
We return to church to reflect on the difference Jesus made to that thief on the cross, the difference Jesus makes to us all.
We return to church for a reading of Ateemos
Hymn 131 When I survey the wondrous cross
Words of Blessing