Worship Elements: Holy Thursday (Option 1)

Posted on February 18th, 2012

Color: Purple
Scripture Readings: Exodus 12:1-4 (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19;1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Theme Ideas

It was by the blood of a sacrificial lamb that the Hebrews were saved in Egypt, as God passed over their homes. And it was at his final Passover feast that Jesus ate his last meal on earth, showing himself to be the sacrificial Lamb of God, by whose blood the entire world is saved. This was a Passover feast unlike any other. Jesus changed its imagery forever by asking his disciples to eat his body, with the breaking of the bread, and to drink his blood with the sharing of the cup. And so, this meal became for us the Lord’s Supper, commemorated as the sacrament of Holy Communion. As doubtful and confused as the disciples must have been, Jesus left no doubt about his love for them, as he washed their feet—even the feet of Judas Iscariot, his betrayer. Sacrifice and love, then, are the foremost themes of Holy Thursday: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34b).

Call to Worship (John 13, 1 Corinthians 11, Exodus 12)

A table is set before us. A feast is prepared for us.
A meal of bread and wine, of meat and bitter herbs.
The Lord calls us to this supper of remembrance.
The Lord calls us to serve and to be served.
As we break the bread and share the cup,
our understanding may fail us.
But we will never forget Christ’s example.
We will never forget the full extent of his love.

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 13)

Christ’s love is poured out for us
like water poured into a basin.
Christ’s love washes us clean.
Christ’s love shows us who we are to be,
and what we are to do.
How blessed we are to know such love!

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 13)

God invites us to the table.
All are welcome, even those with their own agenda.
Christ serves us at this meal.
All may partake, even those who feel unworthy.
All are welcome; all are served; all are loved.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 116)

We love you, Lord. You hear us.
You listen to our prayers.
You have always heard us
whenever we’ve called to you.

Though death tries to bind us
and the gates of hell open before us,
we will call on the Lord’s name for deliverance.
You are full of grace and righteousness.
Lord, you are full of compassion!
You have saved us and preserved us, God.
We rest in your love and care.
How can we repay you, Lord,
for the gifts you’ve showered upon us?
We offer our thanksgiving to you
before all your people!

O praise the Lord!
Praise be to God! Amen.

Opening Prayer or Inivtation to Communion (1 Corinthians 11)

On the night of his arrest,
the Lord Jesus took bread and broke it, saying:
“This is my body, given for you. Remember me.”
As Jesus gave thanks to God,
we also give thanks for his sacrifice.

On that same night, in the same way,
the Lord Jesus took the cup, saying:
“This is my blood, poured out for you. Remember me.”
As Jesus gave thanks to God,
we also give thanks for this new covenant.

When you eat this bread and drink this cup,
remember the Lord Jesus. Remember and be thankful.
Remember until he comes!
Remember us when you come, Lord Jesus!
Thanks be to God!

Prayer of Confession (John 13)

Loving Christ,
on that night long ago,
you knew that your hour had come.
You knew full well what lay ahead of you.
Your disciples loved you and followed you,
but they had also failed you.
They would fail you yet again that night,
and one would betray you.
Yet you washed their feet, as a servant would.
even the feet of your betrayer.
We have also loved you and followed you.
We have also failed you,
and we cannot comprehend the love that you show us,
the love that is our example,
the love that tells us to do
as you have done for us.
May we be like you, Master, servants of all.
May all see how we long to be your faithful disciples.
May all see how we love each other,
just as you have loved us.
In your holy name we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance (John 13)

Now the Son of Man, the one who loves us, is glorified.
In him, God is also glorified.
The one who loves us gives us a new commandment:
to love one another!
As the Lord has loved us, you are to love each other.
Let all see this love among you, and glorify God.
Let all see how you belong to Christ!

Benediction (Psalm 116, John 13)

How precious to the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
How precious is the sacrifice of Christ.
You are the treasure for which everything was given.
Know that you are precious to God.
And know that you are worthy of Christ’s sacrifice.


Adapted from The Abingdon Worship Annual 2006, © 2005 Abingdon Press
The Abingdon Worship Annual 2012 is available now.

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