Liturgy for Maundy Thursday



*HYMN Come gather in this peaceful place  (aka Come gather in this special place)


Dear Friends in Christ,

peace be with you on this holy night.

Why do we gather? What is this night?

It is a night of love

for on this night Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment:

to love each other as he loved them.

It is a night of communion

for on this night Jesus gave not only a commandment,

but also a sign: bread and wine broken and poured,

to remember him.

It is a night of loving service

for on this night Jesus gave us not only a commandment,

not only a sign,

but also an example: on his knees with basin and towel,

washing feet.

It is also a night of betrayal

for on this night a man Jesus loved

sold him for money,

and brought soldiers to seize and bind him

as he prayed.

This night is joyous, fierce, tender, terrible.

We begin in light, with memories and stories, friends and feasting.

We end in shadows, with a queasy fright.

We begin as the friends of Jesus did long ago: together, as one.

We end as they did: scattered in the dark.

We begin as they did: singing of love and deliverance.

We end as they did: without a single sound.

Friends, be at peace on this holy night.

Enter it with open hearts.

Now let us pray.


[This Collect may be offered by the leader or prayed in unison.]

God of deliverance and love,

look with pleasure on your people who gather here.

Send your Spirit to embrace us,

so that with hearts for a time made free of care,

we may receive in abundance the blessings of this night.

With Jesus we pray that whatever may come in life or in death,

your will, not ours, may be done.

Glory to you, yesterday, today, and forever.



Remembering God’s deliverance: Observing the feast of Passover.

 SILENCE (allow 40-60 seconds)


[The people stand for prayer.]

Let us pray.

Holy Deliverer, Breaker of Chains,

long ago you acted with power to save your people,

enslaved in the land of  Egypt,

and in every generation

the people of your heart remember.

At table they tell the story and they sing your praise.

On this holy night, with Jesus, our brother,

we too remember: We tell the old, old story

and we praise your faithful love.

As we eat the food and drink of liberation,

free us forever from the violence

that is our way of life,

and set us on a pilgrimage of peace.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 A  READING FROM THE EPISTLES I Corinthians 11: 23-26

What we have heard, we hand on to you: When they were eating, he took bread…

*RESPONSE  HYMN  Draw us in the Spirit’s tether

A READING FOM THE HOLY GOSPEL John 13: 1-17, 31b-35

The mark of the new community is love and service.

 SILENCE (Allow a full 40-60 seconds, or longer.)


[The choir sings this hymn in unison, unaccompanied, slowly and meditatively. A footwashing ritual takes place during the song. [See note on footwashing at end.] When footwashing is over, the confession follows. If footwashing is not done in the service, the following Collect might be used as a response in place of the anthem, with the people standing.:]


Gracious God, on this holy night,

impress upon our hearts the example of Jesus,

whose love embraced all people

and whose service extended even to the washing of feet.

May we know him from this day forward

not only in the broken bread and brimming cup,

but also in the bent knee, in the water poured,

in the touch of selfless hands —

in service given and received,

and shared with all the world.

In remembrance of him we pray. Amen.


Jesus said: If anyone has something against you,

before you come to the table with gifts, make peace.

Then bring your gifts, then bring your lives.

Dear friends, let us make peace in our hearts.

Then, let us lay down the burdens

that keep us from loving each other and our God.

SILENCE (Allow at least one minute or longer for people to reflect.)

SONG OF CONFESSION  These I lay down [Chalice Hymnal]

You may remain seated for the song.


Beloved, by the mercy of God

we have put down our burdens

at the feet of the one who in suffering love

laid down his life for us.

Rejoice and be glad:

Pardon, healing and peace are ours

through Jesus Christ, good brother and friend.

[Continue immediately with the invitation to share a sign of peace, below…]


On this night he gave us a charge:

Love one another as I have loved you.

Faithful to his commandment,

we forgive each other’s faults, as we confess our own,

and we offer each other a sign of his peace.

[The people share a sign of peace, after which they sit for the anthem.]

 ANTHEM   Now the silence [Jaroslav Vajda]

[Note to choir: Where the text has “the Father’s…” substitute “our dear God’s…”]


[When the anthem concludes, there is a brief silence, followed by this invitation to gather. After the invitation, the people come forward to stand in a circle around the table in the chancel. They remain standing for the entire communion liturgy, until the Service of Light and Shadows begins. Provisions should be made for those who have mobility challenges, or who prefer to remain in their seats.]

Come now and take your places at this table,

citizens of the kingdom,  heirs to the riches of God’s love,

friends of Jesus, who is our peace.

[Once all are assembled, the leader begins the Eucharistic prayer.]


Beloved, let us celebrate with Jesus at the table of peace.

For he loved his own, even to the end.

Let us eat the Feast with him.

For now nothing can separate us from his love.

And let us love one another well,

For he laid down his life for us all.


Praise to you, God of glory!

Your love created the universe and sustains it.

You breathed life into our dust and placed us in paradise.

You found us when we hid ourselves, ashamed of our sin.

Your love shaped a people,  and you are their God to this day,

in an alliance that lasts forever.

In the fullness of time, you called us also to be your own,

through the tender ministry of Jesus.

You spoke to us with his human voice

and healed us with his human hands.

He gave us his life in bread and wine,

and suffered for his faithfulness on the cross of shame.

But you loved him faithfully, raising him from the dead.

You sent his Spirit into our hearts

and adopted us, making us heirs of his glory;

forever we belong in your household of joy.

Holy and wonderful God, all your creatures testify to your love.

With them, we too declare it, as with the angels of heaven we sing:

SANCTUS Holy, holy, holy…


Now, O God, we remember Jesus.

SILENCE (15-20 seconds)

We remember that he longed to celebrate the Passover with his friends.

He arranged for a meal, his last in this life.

We remember that he gave them a new commandment:

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

We remember that he gave them an example:

He knelt before them and washed their feet.

We remember that his betrayer was with him.

Jesus loved and served him too.


And we remember that on that night,

with danger and death in the air,

Jesus remembered with joy

the deliverance of his ancestors

from the oppression of Pharaoh.

He told the victory story, ate bitter herbs,

shared the unleavened loaf,

and drank the cup of blessing.

In love for us, he took the bread,

gave thanks to you, and broke it.

[Note: The bread is not to be broken here, but at the fraction, below.]

He gave it to them, saying:

“Take and eat this, all of you:

this is my body, broken for you.

Do this and remember me”

And when the supper was over,

he took a cup filled with wine,

blessed it in your name,

and passed it to them, saying:

“This is the cup of a new covenant in my blood.

Do this and remember me.”


Holy Spirit, come make all things new.

Bless this bread and cup, and us who share them.

May they be for us life-giving food and drink.

Give us love for each other,

and make us your servants in the world

until your new age of justice comes,

and every creature  beholds it.

We pray in the name of Jesus,

who welcomes us all and taught us to say:



[An appropriate chant or song is sung by all as the one loaf (or loaves) is broken into many pieces and placed on plates and baskets for distribution. The deacons assist in the fraction. Song suggestions: One Bread, One Body…. Ubi Caritas…]


Friends, if you are hungry for a taste of what is to come,

when all creatures great and small will feast together

without fear in the household of God;

if you yearn to feast on a love

without condition and without end;

if you are thirsting for forgiveness,

given and received in humility and in joy,

then open your hearts to this meal,

a sign of grace, a gift of peace, the bread of life, the cup of joy:

[lifting bread and cup, if desired]

The gifts of God for all God’s people!


[Communion bread is distributed to all, followed by cups for intinction. After all have received, the people give thanks together.]


Let us rise and give thanks.

Thank you Holy God,  

for life in the Spirit of Jesus,

for gladness in this bread and cup,

for love that cannot die,

for peace the world cannot give,

for joy in the company of friends,

for the splendors of creation,

and for the mission of justice you have made our own.

Give us the fruits of this holy communion:

oneness of heart, love for neighbors, forgiveness of enemies,

the will to serve you every day, and life that never ends.

In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

 [Dismissing the people to return to their pews, the leader says:]

“And after they had sung the hymn,

they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

[The people return to their seats. The communion table and chancel are cleared of all signs of celebration. Appropriate instrumental music may accompany the people’s return to their seats and the clearing of the chancel.]


[Here follows a brief and very simple service of short readings about the garden prayer, arrest, and “trial” of Jesus, interspersed with responsive chants, verses of a hymn, short choral pieces, or brief prayers or collects. After each reading and response, lights are dimmed or candles are extinguished until the sanctuary is in darkness. There is a time of silence, then lights are brought up just enough so that people may depart in safety. The people should leave in silence.]



Footwashing may be done in a symbolic way, e. g., one member of the congregation or the pastor washes another person’s feet in a stylized, mime-like ritual, center chancel. If this option is used, opportunity for others to wash and be washed might be provided before or after the liturgy, perhaps during an pre-service agape meal or love feast, or after the service in a chapel or fellowship hall set aside for this purpose. Footwashing of more than one person or a small group of representative disciples may also be done in the service itself: there may be a general invitation to wash one another’s feet at stations set up around the sanctuary, or the deacons of the church may be sent to stations to wash the feet of those who wish to participate. The congregation needs to be prepared for a slightly longer overall service. If footwashing of all who wish to take part is the choice, quiet music or appropriate hymn-singing should accompany the ritual.