Hello and explaining Maundy Thursday


            Maundy Thursday (from the Latin mandatum meaning "command") begins the three day service often known as the Sacred Triduum lasting until Easter. From the invocation of this service to the benediction on Easter Sunday, it is but one solemn liturgy spanning three days that recounts the whole story--from betrayal and crucifixion to burial and empty tomb and the resurrection.

Maundy Thursday is remembered as the day Jesus washed the disciples' feet. More than that, there are several prominent themes.  The name itself reminds us of the new mandate or command Jesus gave to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). The washing of the feet, normally reserved for the lowest servant, is Jesus' way of demonstrating that kind of love.  They then ate the Passover, but Jesus gave new meaning to the old rituals. He called the bread His own body given for them for the forgiveness of their sins; He called the wine His own blood, shed for them for the forgiveness of sins. This is no mere symbolism.  Jesus says the bread and wine are no longer merely bread and wine but are, by His Word, His own body and blood. Lutherans have tried to resist attempts to explain how, preferring to take Jesus at His Word and believe that it is so. This night also recalls the sadness of one of Jesus' own, a person of the inner circle, betraying Him. After singing a hymn, they left the Upper Room for the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane where all things would be accomplished for us and our salvation.


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“Why do you test the Lord?”
Moses asks the unsatisfied,
people who left slavery
feverish work, the burden of taskmasters
who forced them to make bricks without straw
to build empires from the sweat of their brows.

 Wandering loose in the desert,
they were still slaves of their hearts un-liberated in their minds and souls. 

Unaware of God’s presence with them,
manna in the morning
life from hard and difficult places
water from rock—
tasting salvation upon their lips,
Deep calls to deep
as our souls cry to you, Oh Lord

 Asleep to the One who made earth and its seas
Not being able to see the glory in the suffering
The hope in the pain
We strive to make sense of our turmoil and toil
And often miss waters poured out,
around us and into us
to drink in the presence of God.

 As we encounter the waters of Jacob’s well
Deep echoes back
but we continue to thirst
for waters not dug from the work of our hands
to not drink from empty wells
and broken cisterns, that carry nothingness.

 Opening my eyes above these waters
I see myself in a pool of memories
committed to filling my own cup
and sustaining my own thirst
trying to quench a parched soul
with one person or another
with one thing or another
coming back to the void and seeing myself looking back.

 I have eaten bread from the labors of my hand
threshed through fields,
Cut my hands on thorns and thistles
land lashing back at me exchanging one job for another
labor without end
Only to find eternal retirement
in the same dirt that I have tilled.

 The waters that call us to this place
come from eternal springs flowing forth from a distant garden
to feed fertile grounds that yield a harvest of plenty
to fill dessert lands to spring forth from the heart
so we might do the work of the one who sent us
work full and filling that sends us forward to our awaited future.


Pastor: Let us humble ourselves, confessing our sins to Him, and imploring His forgiveness for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(A time for silent reflection)

Pastor: O almighty God, merciful Father,

ALL: I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your punishment now and forever.  But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.  Forgive me all my sins and grant me the power of Your Holy Spirit that I may amend my sinful life.

Pastor: God be gracious to you and strengthen your faith.

ALL: Amen.

Pastor: Rejoice, your sins are forgiven.

ALL: Amen.



Pastor: The Lord be with you.

ALL: And with your spirit.

Pastor: Let us pray.

(silent time for prayer)

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

ALL: Amen.


Old Testament READING Exodus 24:3-11

 3 When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws,they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.”4 Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord.6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lordhas said; we will obey.”

8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

The Epistle READING 1 Peter 4:7-11

 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

GOSPEL Mark 14:12-26

 12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Psalm: 116








Holy Father, on this night we remember the Passover of Your ancient people, the children of Abraham, and Your Son’s gift of the New Testament in His blood. We implore You to remember us, for we have not treated our brothers and sisters as we ought, even those in Your Church. Forgive us, we implore You, and create in us new and contrite hearts. Wash us, restore us and unite us in the bond of charity. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

At Your Son’s invitation, we come to His table this night. Help us to discern in the bread His true body and in the cup His true blood. Give us, by Your holy law, a right judgment of ourselves, that lamenting our sins we would receive pardon and absolution. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Strengthen all of our sister churches throughout the world who celebrate the mystery of Your Son’s Passover. Where there is strife, bring forgiveness; where there is suffering, bring help; and where there is persecution, bring joy. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Guard and defend the president of the United States, along with all who are in authority. Renew in our land reverence for all life, respect for our neighbors and good regard for our families. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Remember, Lord, all who suffer in body or soul. Most especially do we implore Your blessing on those whom we name in our hearts. [Pause] Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

As Your Son took on the form of a slave and washed the feet of His disciples, so make us ready to serve our neighbors ahead of ourselves. Teach us to love each other and bear one another’s burdens, and conform us to the image of Jesus. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, You have bought us with Your holy, precious blood, and by Your innocent suffering and death redeemed us. We are not worthy of the mercy and truth You have shown us. By this gift strengthen us; to You will we live, to You will we die and Yours will we be forever, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Lord’s Prayer.



My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.  But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:  “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.

Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.  From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me, or trouble is near and there is no one to help.  Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.  Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.  Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.  Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.  Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.  You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!  For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!  All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,  for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.  Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.