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Maundy Thursday Remembrance
By John R. Wible, Suggested by Dave M’Meara
Maundy Thursday is observed during Holy Week on the Thursday before Easter. Also
referred to as "Holy Thursday" or "Great Thursday" in some Christian denominations,
*and “Green” Thursday in Germany,+ Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper
when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was
crucified. In contrast to joyful Easter celebrations when Christians worship their
resurrected Savior, Maundy Thursday services are typically more solemn occasions,
marked by the shadow of Jesus' betrayal.
While different denominations observe Maundy Thursday in their own distinct ways,
two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday
Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this
lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus "showed them the full extent
of his love." By his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another
through humble service. For this reason, many churches practice foot-washing
ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.
During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it. He
broke the bread into pieces, giving it to his disciples and said, "This is my body, given for
you. Do this in remembrance of me." Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his
disciples and said, "This wine is the token of God's new covenant to save you--an
agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you." These events recorded in Luke
22:19-20 describe the Last Supper and form the biblical basis for the practice of
Communion. For this reason, many churches hold special Communion services as a part
of their Maundy Thursday celebrations. Likewise, many congregations observe a
traditional Passover Seder meal.
What Does "Maundy" Mean?
[The majority authority suggests that it is d]erived from the Latin word mandatum, [or
novum mandatum] meaning "commandment," [or New Commandment.] Maundy refers
to the [new] commands Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: to love with humility
by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice.
Mary Fair Child, “Maundy Thursday.” About Christianity.
http://christianity.about.com/od/easter/qt/maundythursday.htm Accessed 04/11/14.
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Some suggest that the English name "Maundy Thursday" predates Henry VIII’s great church
schism and arose from "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" of alms that King John
distributed to the poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day in 1210. If that is the
case, "maund" is connected to the Latin mendicare, through the Old French mendier, “to beg.”
There is a darker meaning to the word. The Latin manibus also means “hand” or to “hand over”
as by force. It was on this night, Maundy Thursday that Jesus was handed over by Judas Iscariot
to the Temple authorities for trial, thus beginning the Passion of the Christ.
In English, the word, “Maundy,” itself seems to have a dark or somber meaning, perhaps
reminding one of “maudlin” or “mournful.” It is in that shade that the service is traditionally
cast. In contrast to the decorations of royal purple of Lent and the bright white of Easter,
traditionally, Maundy Thursday observances are start and devoid of decorations. Indeed, in
many traditions, even the altar is stripped bare, perhaps reminiscent of the stripping bare of
Jesus before his flagellation. Participants should enter with an attitude of reverence and leave
on a pensive and incomplete note, much like the last line of a musical piece which has failed to
resolve its chordal structure. For musicians, imagine playing a piece in Ab minor with the last
chord being 5th
tone, G7 rather than resolving into the tonic Ab.
Suggested by a service written by a Southern Baptist Pastor and published by the Southern
Baptist Convention and with suggestions by Deacon Dave O’Meara of Gateway Baptist, I offer
the following Maundy Thursday service. You will see leader’s notes.
* * *
A Maundy Thursday Observance
(There are three presidents, the Deacon who is the leader who gives explanations and brief
notes, the Cantor who leads the songs, and the Lector, serving as chief reader. Food to be served
will consist of baskets of flat unleavened bread like pita bread, bowls of hummus, and bowls of
olive oil with herbs and spices sprinkled in. The beverage will be a red-colored mixture of
unsweetened grape juice, cranberry juice and Sprite . It should be served chilled in clear glasses
or cups poured from carafes.)
(Deacon) Welcomes and Invites all to greet one another, to sit at the tables that will be used
for the meal and to participate in the observance with reverence.
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Join in Praise. Cantor leads in singing “We have come into this House.”
We have come into His house and gathered in His name to worship Him. We have come
into His house and gathered in His name to worship Him. We have come into His house
and gathered in His name to Worship Christ the Lord. Worship Him, Christ the Lord.
Let's forget about ourselves concentrate on Him and worship Him. Let's forget about
ourselves concentrate on Him and worship Him. Let's forget about ourselves
concentrate on Him and Worship Christ the Lord. Oh, Worship Him, Jesus Christ the
So forget about ourselves, magnify His Name and worship Him. Forget about ourselves,
magnify His Name and worship Him. Oh, forget about ourselves magnify His Name and
Worship Christ the Lord. Oh, Worship Him, Jesus Christ the Lord.
An Invocation based on Psalm 25: 1-5 (Lector.)
To You, O God, we lift up our souls. To You we offer our praise and prayer,
Our worship and thanksgiving, even our very lives.
Make Your ways known to us. Show us the path on which we should walk. Lead us in
Your truth and teach us.
For You alone are the God who saves, The God in whom we trust;
And the One on whom we wait. Amen.
An Explanation of Maundy Thursday - Leader
Maundy is from the Latin word for mandate or charge based on John 15:12, 17. Jesus gave His
followers the mandate to love one another. Maundy Thursday is a time to remember the
events of the Lord’s last evening with His disciples in the Upper Room.
But there is a darker meaning to the word. The Latin manibus also means hand or to hand over
by force. It was on this night, Maundy Thursday that Jesus was handed over by Judas Iscariot to
the Temple authorities for trial, thus beginning the Passion of the Christ.
Join in Song. “Sing Hallelujah.” Lead by Cantor and All.
Sing hallelujah to the Lord, Sing hallelujah to the Lord, Sing hallelujah, Sing hallelujah,
Sing hallelujah to the Lord. (Repeat.)
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A Call to Love
Read the Word Responsively. John 15:9-14, 16-17. (Lector with all in BOLD type.)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My
commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and
abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.
You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave
does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made
known to you.”
Join In Song. “Love Lifted Me” (Led by Cantor. All sing.)
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, sinking to
rise no more,
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
(Refrain.) Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When I was down and out, (you know that) Love
Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves, He will lift you by His love, out of the
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey, He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.
(Refrain.) Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When I was down and out, (you know that) Love
lifted me! (Repeat.)
A Call to Remembrance
(Deacon.)The setting for the evening was the Passover celebration. According to Exodus 12,
Passover was celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan (March-April) for seven
days. It was climaxed by the Passover Seder. The Seder celebrated today has developed a lot
since the time of Jesus. It was simpler then. When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, they left in
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such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, no
leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover was called the feast of unleavened bread.
Hear the Word. Exodus 12:1,3,7,8,11-14. Read by Lector.
12 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “. . . 3
Speak to all the
congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for
themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. . . . 7
they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the
houses in which they eat it. 8
They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and
they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. . . . 11
Now you shall eat it in this
manner: with your loins girded, 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 go through the land of Egypt on that
night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and
against 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 live; 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.
‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord;
throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. 15
you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses;
for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall
be cut off from Israel.
(Deacon) Painting of the Lintel. On each table is a red pen. Please take the red pen in turn and
paint the red color on the doorposts and header of the lintel pictured in your program. The red
color represents the blood of the lamb that has slain for each family and required by God to be
painted on the lintels with hyssop branches so that the death angel would pass over. Thus was
instituted the “Passover.”
Hear the Word of the Lord. John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; Rev. 5:6, 7:9-10. (Lector)
The next day he *John the Baptizer+ saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world!”( John 1:29.)
Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For
Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old
leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of
sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7,8.)
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And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing,
as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into
all the earth.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from
every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the
Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10
and they cry out with a
loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation
Painting of the Cross-. Please take the red pen once again and paint your Cross on the last
page. You will paint three red dots, one on the base and one each on the tip of the cross bar
(the tau.) The red represents the points at which Jesus was pierced and bled for each of us.
Also, it reminds us of the red we have painted to represent the blood on the door posts in the
Exodus narrative, a fore-type of Jesus blood which was shed for us and which now finds its
completion in the Passion narrative.
A Call to the Table. (Deacon.) We will all now focus our attention on the table and host before
us. Having noted the symbolism of the Blood of Christ, we will now see the symbolism of the
Body of Christ broken for us.
Read the Word Responsively. John 6:32-35, 47-51, 59-63. (Lector and All)
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you
the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the
Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and
he who believes in Me will never thirst.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48
I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50
This is the bread which
comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51
I am the living
bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;
and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60
of His disciples, when they heard this said,
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“This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61
But Jesus, conscious that His
disciples grumbled at this, said to them,
“Does this cause you to stumble? 62
What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to
where He was before? 63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the
words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
Reflections on Jesus, the Bread of Life.
(Deacon gives short devotional based on John 6.)
Responses and Prayer . . . . . . . . . (Participants share as they are led.)
A Blessing: “The Cantor’s Song” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cantor
God, our Father, Lord of all, we thank You for your blessing.
Thou, upon Whose Name we call, our grievous sins confessing.
There is no speech or language known where thy voice is not heard.
Thou hast revealed Thyself to us in nature and Thy word.
Holy, God, Our Father, Lord of all, we thank You for Your blessing. AMEN
Sharing of the Meal. (Deacon talks the participants through the meal.)
Deacon: (At the conclusion of the mean. “After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of
Olives.” (John 14:26.)
A Parting Hymn “God Be With you” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cantor and All
God Be With you ‘til we meet again;
by His counsels, guide upholds You.
With His sheep securely fold you.
God be with you ‘til we meet again. AMEN.