a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Confession: Prepare the Upper Room

Beloved God, you have told us to prepare the upper room for a special meal – and we have gotten lost on the way. Everything seems so straight-forward, like when you ask us to find a man carrying a pitcher of water when we enter Jerusalem. But is it that man over there? Surely it can’t be the one with the long hair, or the strange tattoo, or the one who smells funny. Right from the start, we are overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of the City. Where are you in the midst of this chaos and commotion? How will we ever accomplish what you have sent us to do? But then – finally – we start to see your face in the outcast, the poor, and the weak. In seeing your face, we can do what you have asked us to do. We ask the questions you have us ask, and find the upper room prepared as you said it would be. Help us to remember you. Help us to remember to trust you. Help us to always see your face in the people we encounter – and thus know your eternal loving presence. Amen.

– Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Ancho + Corona Presbyterian Churches, New Mexico

(Based on Luke 22:7-12, for a Maundy Thursday service)

Maundy Thursday: Surely Not I?

a prayer to be placed right after the part of the reading where the disciples ask if they are the one to betray, and Jesus answers Judas with “you have said so.”

Surely not I, Lord? Surely not us? Surely not.
Surely I am not the one who will betray you.
Surely we are not the ones.
It’s someone else who denies knowing you,
someone else who uses you for their own gain,
someone else who wants to control you.
Surely not us.

For the times when we protest too much…
For the times we point fingers to cover up our own wrong…
For the times we think of ourselves more highly than we ought…
Forgive us.
For the times we have betrayed you with our words—
speaking thoughtlessly,
hurting someone to get a laugh,
denying that your call extends to the parts of our lives we would rather keep to ourselves…
Forgive us.
For the times we have betrayed you with our actions—
living as if you are confined to the sanctuary, leaving us free when we are not here,
acting as if we have ben given domination over, rather than stewardship of, your creation,
walking away from those in need, literally and politically…
forgive us.
For the times we have betrayed you with our hearts—
putting you far down our priority lists,
loving our ideas about you more than we love you,
longing for our way to be the one you choose…
forgive us.
For the times we have lived contrary to our baptism,
dipping our hand in the bowl but keeping our whole selves out,
believing we can earn grace…and that they should work for it too,
Forgive us.

Surely not I, Lord?
You have said so.
The truth rings in our ears…and it hurts, O God,
to admit it: it is us.
We follow other gods, we are a poor reflection of your glory,
we use our wealth, status, and power in ways contrary to your will,
we imprison you in our understanding of your word,
we refuse to create justice or to love mercy,
and walking humbly with you would mean letting go of our way.
The truth hurts us, Lord, even as we hear you say: you have said so.
And yet we believe—
we believe that you have the power to transform us and through us to transform the world.
We believe that your grace is enough.
We believe that we have received more love than we can imagine.
We believe that you are the Way, the Life, and the Truth—
the truth that sets us free.
Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

Maundy Thursday prayers

Opening Prayer (in unison)

O Lord our God, tonight we gather to remember our Savior Jesus and his sacrifice of love for us.  We pause to remember his last meal with his closest friends and disciples.  We pause to remember the betrayal he would suffer.  We pause to remember the pain that would be His to bear.  We gather to bear witness to our Savior.  We gather to grow in our faith and be renewed once again by the Story of mystery, Story of the Resurrection.  Send your Spirit to be with us this night till Easter morning.  In Christ we pray.  Amen.  

Prayer of Confession (in unison)

We confess tonight that we are like those who crucified our Lord.  

We are like those who denied Jesus—refusing to claim him as Lord of our whole life.  

We are like those who have mocked him—forgetting his power in this world.  

We are like those who made him a crown of thorns—diminishing his authority in our lives.  

We are like those who hung him on a Cross—choosing the allure of violence and fear rather than justice and peace.  

We are like those who turned away their gaze—afraid to enter into the suffering of this world.  

Forgive us.  Have mercy upon us.  

On these days of emptiness and death before the Resurrection we begin tonight to offer our confessions to you in silence…..

 

-Silence is Kept-

 

Assurance of Pardon (responsive)

Even in the darkness of this night, even in the emptiness of these hours that stretch out before Easter morning the promise of the Resurrection is still at hand.

It is a dim light, and yet to the light we cling.

Give us grace to receive this assurance of your love.

Grant us peace on this night.  Amen.  

 

Submitted by Rev. Shannan R. Vance-Ocampo, Transitional Presbyter, Albany Presbytery

Maundy Thursday: a complete service

Call to Worship             (based on Psalm 26:3-12)

God’s steadfast love is before our eyes.
We walk in God’s faithfulness.
We wash our hands in innocence.
We go around your altar, Lord.
We sing a song of thanksgiving
And tell about your wonderful deeds.
O Lord, we love the house in which you dwell.
We love the place where your glory abides.
In the great congregation, let us bless the Lord.
God’s steadfast love is before our eyes.

Hymn                  Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts (or Communion hymn focused on body/blood)

First Lesson                    John 6:1-14

Reader 1: After Jesus healed a paralyzed man near the Temple and argued with the Jewish authorities, he went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they had seen the miraculous signs he had done among the sick. Jesus went up a mountain and sat there with his disciples. It was nearly time for Passover, the Jewish festival.

Reader 2: Jesus looked up and saw the large crowd coming toward him. He asked Philip, “Where will we buy food to feed these people?” Jesus said this to test him, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Reader 3: Philip replied, “More than a half year’s salary worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each person to have even a little bit.”

(Communion elements are brought forward by an adult and a child.)

Reader 1: One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?”

Reader 2: Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread. When he had given thanks, he distributed it to those who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, each getting as much as they wanted. When they had plenty to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces, so that nothing will be wasted.”

Reader 3: So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that had been left over by those who had eaten. When the people saw that he had done a miraculous sign, they said, “This is truly the prophet who is coming into the world.”

Prayer of Confession

Holy One, forgive us. We believe only the things we can see. We want to be faithful to you, but we get caught up in the numbers. A year’s salary will only go so far. Our time gets spent just as fast as our paychecks. We look around and see “not enough” instead of rejoicing that you have given us more than enough. We hold onto what is ours for fear it will all disappear.

Bend back the fingers we have clenched tight shut around the last piece of bread or the last bit of fish. There is more left over than we can calculate. Help us to see it.

(Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon

Our God is not a cruel parent. Our God seeks to be in relationship with us. Our God loves us enough to take on our form and live among us.
God will not turn us away when we have come confessing with open hearts.
God offers forgiveness and welcomes us to the table of grace and plenty where all the faithful gather. This is the Good News that brings new life.
We thank God for it.

Communion Invitation           

The same people who ate the loaves and fishes followed Jesus the next day, all the way to the other side of the lake. Did they follow him hoping for more signs that he was God? No. Jesus said to them, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

Friends, we gather at this table not to fill our stomachs but to be fed by spiritual food. Jesus told the people, “The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Believing in him, we come to this table to share a holy meal.

Communion Prayer  

Let us pray. Lord, we come to you looking to be fed. We remember the stories of miraculous feeding, of manna in the wilderness, and the abundance of loaves and fishes, and the miracle of the wine at the wedding in Cana. We ask your blessing on these ordinary elements, the bread and the juice. We believe you feed us in ways that go far beyond our literal understanding. Through the awesome wonders of creation to the joy of human love and the power found in a group of people working on your behalf, you have blessed us. You became present to us in Jesus and blessed us further with your grace and mercy. You remain present to us in the working of the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for all the ways you show your love for us as pray together using the words Jesus taught us:

Our Father, etc. Amen.

Words of Institution

Jesus said to them, “I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me lives because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It isn’t like the bread your ancestors ate, and then they died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Sharing of the Bread and Cup

This is the bread. This is the cup. These are the things of God for the people of God. Come, for all things are ready.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy and gracious God, for the meal we have shared, for the nourishment of the spirit and for the life of this community, we give you thanks. Help us to see miraculous signs wherever we see you. Help us to work always for the food that endures, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Anthem/Hymn                             Ah, Holy Jesus (or similar hymn)

Second Lesson                              John 19:23-24                (Reader Three)

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and his sandals, and divided them into four shares, one for each soldier. His shirt was seamless, woven as one piece from the top to the bottom. They said to each other, “Let’s not tear it. Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the scripture, They divided my clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. That’s what the soldiers did.

Lord Jesus, we divide you. We claim you belong to us. Others claim you belong to them. Help us to see you in your wholeness, pouring out your love for all people.

(Reader Three leaves during hymn, to be followed by choir members, Deacons/Elders w/ chancel items.)

Hymn                                  When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (or similar hymn)

Third Lesson                                  John 19: 25-27               (Reader Two)

Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Lord Jesus, some of your followers stayed with you to the end. We want to have that kind of faith. Give us the strength to see things through, even in the midst of darkness, danger and despair.

(Reader 2 leaves as hymn begins, to be followed by remaining choir members, Deacons, etc.)

Hymn                                  Beneath the Cross of Jesus (or similar hymn)

Fourth Lesson               John 19:28-30                                (Reader One/Pastor)

After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was nearby, so the soldiers soaked a sponge in it, placed it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.

Lord Jesus, you showed us God’s abundant hospitality and turned water into wine. We showed you human hospitality and let things go sour. We showed no mercy, and yet we ask for your mercy, Lord.

When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.

(Reader One closes Bible, carries it out of sanctuary.)

 

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, Reflectionary.

confession: denial

You, O Lord, are the giver of every good gift. Your love is the ground of our being. You call us to listen, to feast upon your word, and to follow in your way. You call us to trust you with everything we are and everything we have. Yet so often we deny you—by claiming we deserve what we have, by remaining silent in the face of injustice, by keeping busy so we do not have time to hear the cock crow.

For all the ways we have betrayed you, and ourselves, forgive us, O God.

~silence~

One:    Open wide the door of life, O God,

All:     and give us courage to walk through.

confession: we keep you at arm’s length

You, Lord, are closer to us than breathing, nearer than hands and feet. And yet we so often try to keep you at arm’s length, even as we beg for you to be with us. We close the door to protect our privacy, believing security can be gained by keeping others out. We stand outside, believing you don’t really invite us in…and if you do, certainly not along with them.

When we take a step back, insisting on both physical and emotional distance in the name of what is proper, forgive us. When we believe that surface relationship is plenty deep enough, and protest your call to be fully real with one another and with you, forgive us. When we rely on custom as a way to keep ourselves apart, forgive us.

Close the gap between us, Lord, and show us what true love does.

~silence~

One:    Open wide the door of life, O God,

All:     and give us courage to walk through.

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

call to worship: in Jesus’ love

Jesus said “As the Father has loved me, so I will love you.”

We will live on in Jesus’ love.

Jesus said, “You will live in my love is you keep my commandments”

We will live on God’s love.

Jesus said, “All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete”

We will keep this commandment: we will love one another as Jesus has loved us.

 

based on John 15:9-12; submitted by Rev. Shannon Meacham, Ashland Presbyterian Church, Cockeysville, MD

Maundy Thursday communion prayer: wondrous love

This communion prayer includes sung congregational responses using three verses of the hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This.”

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Eternal God,
it is right to give our thanks and praise,
for your love marks the expanse of creation,
your justice stretches out into the farthest land,
and your peace makes all things complete.

You are worthy of praise.

Yet we fall short.
We have stepped away from your love.
We have ignored your call for justice.
We have sowed conflict rather than peace.

Yet you know no boundaries.
Nothing we say or do can keep you away from us.
Even amidst all our brokenness, you kept calling us back,
with prophets and messengers and kings to guide us in your ways.

And in the fullness of time, you sent your own son, Jesus,
to intervene in our world,
to call us to know your love,
to show us that we are worthy to bring you praise.

And so we join our voices with the multitude of the ages,
singing joyfully of your wondrous love:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul.
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the heavy cross for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the heavy cross for my soul.

Your love in Jesus Christ is wondrous, almighty God.
In him you stepped into our world;
in him you taught us how to live in harmony with one another;
in him you healed and made whole;
in him you challenged us to journey a new road together.

In his death, you took on the fullness of our pain and suffering,
and in his resurrection, you showed us that death will never have the final word.

So just as he did with his disciples on the night of his arrest,
so we too gather,
sharing a meal,
receiving the bread of his body,
welcoming the cup of his salvation,
and trusting that we too will be made whole.

And so we sing our praise to you for the wonder of this gift:

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I Am,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing!

And so gather us with those millions, loving Lord.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and cup,
that the bread we break and the cup we bless
may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.

By your Spirit, make us one with Christ and one another,
united in faith, hope, and love with all those who share this feast
as we reach out and serve the world with your grace, mercy, and hope
until your kingdom comes
and we are free to sing with all creation forever and ever:

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York

Sunday’s Coming: EASTER!

Okay, so many of us are covered in snow. But still–Easter is coming! Like, really soon.

And before that, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Do you have plans? Worship services every day, or just one or two days? Do you do an Easter Vigil?

What kind of liturgy will you use this week? Footwashing? Communion? Stripping the Sanctuary? Sunrise?

Are you planning to stick to your congregation’s traditions and do what you did last year, or write something new?

We’re here, ready to brainstorm, commiserate, plot, and create with you!

Maundy Thursday prayer after communion

On this night, in the midst of the festival celebrating the freedom you gave our ancestors the Israelites, we give you thanks that still you free us and show us how to be a new kind of people. You call us to love one another the way you love us—extravagantly and without reservation, even to the end. We give you thanks that as Jesus’ re-defined this feast, we can see your abundance, your joy, and the true meaning of love—to be broken and poured out for others.

We want to live your abundant life, and we thank you that in this feast you have given us the strength for that journey. We want to live in your extravagant love, but we are afraid that the outcome won’t be any different for us than it was for Jesus—ridicule, pain, distress. Give us courage to claim you when others betray, courage to follow you when others desert, courage to love even when we are not loved in return.

You have broken yourself open to show us love and life. Help us to do the same, loving, serving, and caring for your world. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake IL.