Thursday, April 9, 2020
This evening we enter the Upper Room. First, Jesus washes our feet, forgiveness. Next we gather around the Last Supper, communion with the Him. Finally Jesus gives a new mandate, commandment, as we head to the Garden of Gethsemane. I invite you to place near your script for this virtual worship experience, a candle to be lit, a bowl of water to wash in, a piece of bread or cracker, a glass fluid to consume and a spoon. This evening we will walk with the disciples through this last meal. Lord speak to us.
Let us open our service in the name of the Father, +the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Confession and Forgiveness
Friends in Christ, in this Lenten season we have heard our Lord remind us in the visit with Nicodemus of our true identity through rebirth in Him. We have been challenged to find our security in Him in the living water only he could offer to the woman at the well. And we were reminded that all power rests in Him as He spit in the dirt, created eyes for the man born blind. We open our service tonight with confession. We seek His forgiveness. Lord, refresh our relationship with You.
On this night let us confess our sin against God and our neighbor. Let us bow our heads for a moment and reflect.
Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin, and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith. Amen.
Join me in this Prayer of the Day
Holy God, source of all love, we remember that 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 the 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. Amen.
Gathering Hymn: Jesus is calling us to join him this evening. Let us sing Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling (copy this You Tube link, skip ads and join ins singing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf_glkmbNbQ)
Readings and Psalm
Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14 The passover that foreshadows Communion
1I love the Lord, who has heard my voice,
and listened to my supplication,
2for the Lord has given ear to me
whenever I called.
12How shall I repay the Lord
for all the good things God has done for me?
13I will lift the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all God’s people.
15Precious in your sight, O Lord,
is the death of your servants.
16O Lord, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me |from my bonds.
17I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the Lord.
18I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all God’s people,
19in the courts of the Lord‘s house,
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Hymn: What Can Wash Away My Sin? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k-MjVTMbUg
Gospel: John 13:1-10
1Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”
Sermon Part 1 – Place the bowl of water near the script.
Maundy Thursday has three major parts: foot washing, communion, and the new commandment. It seems to me the journey we go through this evening parallels our growth in faith. In this final meal with the disciples, Jesus is physically walking us through truth. We must first have our feet washed. We can then relax in His presence and commune with him. We now are prepared to relate to others as channels of God’s love.
The evening opens with Jesus humbling himself and washing the feet of the disciples. Peter objects. Jesus finally responds, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Without the washing away of sin, our relationships with God and people are dysfunctional. Why are forgiveness and daily repentance so important?
FOREGIVENESS – A Bowl of Water
Walter Wangerin Jr wrote a book, As For Me and My House, that I have given to all my children when they married. While about marriage, it really is talking about all our relationships with others. His seventh chapter is on forgiveness. Conflict with others is unavoidable. But how to resolve it is the dilema. For relationship to be restored we must work forgiveness – for our sake. Whether the pain is with someone deceased, someone distant, or with someone close, broken relationships drain us. It often takes a miracle to find reconciliation, God washing our feet.
Wangerin shares. Forgiveness is not just forgetting, it is not automatically healed by time, is not a change of heart on our part, and certainly is not just turning to the other and saying as our parent demanded “I forgive you,” Forgiveness requires a realistic evaluation; reflection to decide if our pride was hurt or if there was truly a sin committed. Realistically name it. Next, breathe deep and remember our own forgiveness. I sacrifice my rights as “forgiveness places the burden of reconciliation upon the one who suffered the mess (pg.99)” Then if possible the offended goes to the other and in clear words followed by actions that live out forgiveness, seeks forgiveness.
Jesus comes to the disciples, even Judas whom he knew would betray him, and washes their feet. He knew they needed to be washed to start the evening. Their feet were dirty. We start our service with confession and forgiveness in this truth. I invite you now to use the bowl of water in front of you to sprinkle water on your feet, or wash your hands, or dip your fingers and place a cross on your forehead to symbolize washing your thoughts, or on your ears to symbolize what you listen to, or on your lips for better speech, or even perhaps on your heart for grudges harbored. Tonight we have the opportunity in the quietness of our homes, to get real with God about places in our lives that we know we need Him to wash.
Let us pray with king David: “Have mercy on me, O God; according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (Psm 51:1-4)”
Hymn: Let Us Break Bread Together
Gospel: Matthew 26: 26-29
26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
SERMON – Part 2 – Place the candle, bread and fluid next to the script
Now place the bread substitute and wine substitute next to your script. Let us enter the institution of the Communion service we practice together every Sunday. I invite you to light the candle in front of you. Lighting the Passover candles was one of the two duties for women in the Old Testament. Our feet are washed and we now sit at the table with Jesus.
PRESENCE – A Candle
This evening let us put aside questions of Communion being a sacrament or an institution of remembrance. It is a ritual of intensification. We are living out our faith as we understand it. We do not need to discuss bread, unleavened or potato chips, or of wine, fermented or unfermented. Tonight we are in the presence of Jesus who has just washed our feet, and now invites us to commune with him.
Jesus assures us that whether we are battling for our lives with Covid-19, overwhelmed by anxiety for the unseen danger that threatens our loved ones, or just plain bored from sitting in our homes, Jesus has covenanted with us to be present. (If you are in a family setting, take turns reading these verses to each other. You can also personalize the verses by putting in the names of people that you know.)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me (Psm. 23:4)”
“He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121: 3,4)”
10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)”
The Great Commission ends with, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Mt 28: 20)”
I am guessing that consecrating the elements electronically is stretching denominational rules too far but as you now eat your bread substance and drink your wine-like fluid, reflect on how God is as close to you as the food in your stomach, as the blood flowing through your veins, strengthening you for the journey you are on.
Prayer: Lord bless this bread and wine to strengthen us for our journey as we remember your sacrifice and presence with us. Amen.
Hymn: Join me is listening to Neil Diamond sing Pretty Amazing Grace on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSQCiaG9G8s
Gospel: John 13: 31b-35
31b“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Sermon: Part 3
LOVE – A Spoon
We come to the end of Maundy Thursday and Jesus starts to turn his face to the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and Calvary. The meal is finished and he turns to the disciples and gives them a “new commandment.” Maundy is the word from which mandate or command comes. This is not a “new” command in the sense of being different. John is now summarizing Jesus’ mission. Love.
In John 1 the apostle presents Jesus as “the Word,” “the light of the world,” the one who came to his creation that did not understand BUT to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God. We have followed Jesus this Lent through the eyes of John and topics of life.
Take the spoon in your hand. It can be held to reach for and drink the water of forgiveness. It can also be turned upside down so that the water poured over the spoon flows outward to those around. Jesus in these words is telling us to take that spoon and dip it into the bowl of water to give water to others, to plants in your house, to wash hands or feet, to bless others and to live as forgiven people.
Jesus in this “new” command reframes the Ten Commandments, not to give a different commandment but to give us a new perspective and way of understanding the Ten Commandments. Have “no other gods before me,” is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength.” Do not swear is now to use God’s name to express love and blessing. We go to church to refocus on what is important and eternal. We honor family and commitments. We don’t take life, we give life. We don’t objectify the other for our lusts but honor and respect others’ bodies. We don’t take but we give to others. We don’t tear down others but build them up. We rejoice in other’s accomplishments. Matthew has Jesus answering the question about the greatest commandment in the Law by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
As we look at the bowl of water that represents how we have been forgiven, as we look at the candle and remember that Jesus is with us all the time, we also look at the spoon as a symbol of how we now relate to others. To say it crudely, what do we dish out in our lives? Are we treating others, as we would hope Jesus is treating us. He touched the leper; he didn’t toss the rock at the woman caught in adultery. He talked with an adulterous woman at the well. He cast out demons. He chose disciples from ordinary people like you and me. Now he summarizes the Law, not in the 600 plus rules that must be followed to please God, but in a simple command to love as Jesus loves, who gave his life for others.
A bowl of water, A candle, A spoon
Tonight we bow in the tremendous knowledge that we are forgiven, we are guardians of God’s light, and we are the spoon to feed others God’s love. Let us pray.
Lord, Thank you.
Hymn: Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love. Join a choir singing the song on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvQz513Jl8M
Let us pray for our world.
Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
God of love, unite your church in its commitment to humble service. Make us your faithful disciples. Speak words of truth and grace through us. Encourage us in self-giving acts of kindness. Let us love one another as you have loved us. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
God of love, tend to flocks, fields, and vineyards. Bring favorable weather for crops to grow. Guide the hands of those who cultivate, farm, and garden. Let the earth flourish so that all may eat and be satisfied. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
God of love, you give us a new commandment, to have love for one another. We give thanks for organizations that respond to disasters and for agencies that offer relief and humanitarian aid to populations in need. We especially pray for those on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
God of love, give ear to all who call upon you for any need of body or spirit. Provide for those who do not have enough to eat, those who are unemployed or underemployed, and those who rely on the generosity of others. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
God of love, you invite us to your table of mercy. Heal all divisions between members of this assembly. Extend the hospitality of this table beyond these walls, that your love and welcome be made known to all. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of love, glorify your servants who walked by faith in this life and who now feast with you. Inspire us by the sacrifice of those who were imprisoned, persecuted, or martyred for their faith. Comfort those who are grieving. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord.
Let us close with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, they kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
God of glory, receive the offering of our lives. As Jesus was lifted up from the earth, draw us to your heart in the midst of this world, that all creation may be brought from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light, and from death to life; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
I encourage you, before you blow out the candle, before you dump out the water in the bowl, and before you put the spoon away, spend some time in silent reflection or group prayer for those struggling with Covid-19 worldwide, for health workers working with them, and for those having to love from a distance. Spend time sharing those things heavy on your heart.
Dismissal: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.
Sleep secure in God’s palm, holding you.