What is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday receives its name from the mandatum (commandment) given by our Lord: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (john 13:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and commanded them to love and serve one another as he had done. This day commemorates the Lord’s example of servant ministry, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal leading to the crucifixion.
What You Will Need:
- A copy of this liturgy, either on a device or in printed form, for each person participating with you
- A candle (or 7) and a lighter
- A Bible or Jesus Story Book Bible
- A cross to place at the center of the table.
- Basin, water, and towel
How to Engage the Liturgy:
It is typical to do a Maundy Thursday liturgy in the evening, and some of the symbolism works better then, but you can choose to do this liturgy when you would like. Before you get started, you may want to determine who will read the introduction, section on foot washing, reflection questions, and various instructions. You can decide if you want to pray all together or have one person do that. It’s up to you how to participate!
Light a Candle
Begin your time by lighting a candle to represent Jesus, the Light of the world, and to remember his presence with you
Call to Worship
Leader: Blessed be our God
All: Now and forever. Amen.
Leader: This is the night that Christ the Son of Man gathered with his disciples in the upper room.
This is the night that Christ our Lord and Master took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet, calling us to love one another as he has loved us.
This is the night that Christ our God gave us this holy feast, that we who eat this bread and drink this cup may here proclaim his perfect sacrifice.
This is the night that Christ the Lamb of God gave himself into the hands of those who would slay him.
Let us pray.
All: God of love, as we prepare to remember the events of this night, open our eyes to see the beauty of Jesus’ self-giving love, and by your Spirit work in our community a desire and commitment to serve each other and our hurting world.
In Jesus name. Amen.
Leader: Let us draw near to God and confess our sins.
All: Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in though, word, and deed: by what we have done, and what we have left undone. We have not love you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, the glory of Your Name. Amen.
Leader: Grant to your faithful people, merciful Lord, pardon and peace; that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All: Amen (You may cross yourself with the sign of the cross as a reminder of your baptism and that you are a child of God)
Song of Praise
Feel free to just listen or sing along.
Old Testament Reading
Exodus 12:1–14 (ESV) or The Jesus Story Book Bible, pg 84-91.
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
New Testament Reading
John 13:1–17, 31-35 (ESV) or The Jesus Story Book Bible, pg 286-293
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them…
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Leader: This is the Word of the Lord
All: Praise to you, Lord Christ!
Song of Praise
Feel free to sing along or just listen.
Fellow servants of our Lord, Jesus Christ: On the night before His death, Jesus set an example for his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the kingdo*Im of God come not by worldy power and authority but by such lowly service.
We are reminded of our Savior’s words in John 13:12, “The Lord Jesus, rising from supper, laid aside his outer garments, took a towel, and washed his disciples’ feet. Then he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done for you? If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.’” And from John 13:14, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
We now take time to wash one another’s feet as a symbolic act that reminds us of God’s great love for the world and God’s call upon us to love and serve others.
Instructions for Foot Washing
Take your bowl/basin, pitcher filled with water, and towel. Simply pour water over a person’s feet with the basin underneath. Then dry their feet with the towel. Take turns doing this for each other.*
As you wash each other’s
“As Christ humbled himself to serve me, so I humble myself to serve you.”
*If you are alone this Maundy Thursday, you can wash your feet as a reminder of what Christ has done for you, but then engage in another activity where you can serve another from afar, i.e., write a letter of thanksgiving and love.
Take a few moments to pray for each other (invite kids to participate too!)
All: May Jesus Christ, who for our sake became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, keep you and strengthen you this night and forever. Amen.
If you are looking for another option for observing Maundy Thursday, I recommend you check out Living Word’s Living Last Supper on YouTube.