Maundy Thursday Worship, April 2, 2015
This is the service which will be used at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Bellingham, WA April 2, 2015.
- communion table completely empty
- two chairs in front of it, side by side
- two readers
- two “set builders”
- 12 disciples (not required; but more than a few!)
[single light on table between readers is turned on]
Reader One: [Gives big sigh.]
Reader Two: Long day?
Reader One: Long week. No, make that long weeks – plural. Why is it that the older I get, the faster time flies and the more stuff we try to cram into it?
Reader Two: Just wait. I hear it only gets worse as we get older.
Reader One: So, what have you been up to this week?
Reader Two: Pretty much the same old, same old. Well, that and getting ready for Holy Week.
Reader One: Palm Sunday was beautiful, wasn’t it?
Reader Two: It really was. I always love seeing people with their palm branches. And then seeing the palms strewn around the room.
Reader One: It always makes me wonder what it was like to be there – in Jerusalem, on that day.
Reader Two: It had to be an incredible experience.
[Is there a spotlight on the communion table? That could come on at this point.]
Reader One: What about later? Do you think someone came through the streets and gathered up all the palm branches or swept them away?
[set builders clean up and remove all the strewn palms]
Reader Two: It wouldn’t surprise me. Maybe they needed to remove all traces of their little celebration so the Romans wouldn’t know what they’d been doing. Or, maybe they just left it, thinking the Romans would think it was just more of the celebration, welcoming Pilate into the city.
Reader One: And that night – that very first Maundy Thursday, when Jesus and his friends gathered together for supper. Did any of them know how significant that night would be?
Reader Two: I think they must have thought they were just celebrating the Passover together. Just like any other Passover. [at this point set builders begin to decorate the table – tablecloth, plates, chalices] They probably just set the table. Just like any other meal. Somebody probably did the planning and somebody did the cooking.
Reader One: Maybe one person brought the lamb.
Reader Two: Someone else brought the bitter herbs.
Reader One: Somebody else brought the wine.
Reader Two: Can you imagine a potluck passover?
Reader One: Hey, why not? They were always on the move. It would’ve been much easier if everyone helped out.
Reader One: Then they all gather around the table. [disciples all come to the table] Eat a little lamb, a little horseradish. But, wait. There must have been some children there, to ask the questions.
[if any kids are present, they go to the table]
Reader Two: Oh, yeah. That’s right. At Passover, families always try to have children ask questions. What is it the kids ask? They start with, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Right?”
Reader One: Yeah. So they can remember their ancestors in the time of slavery. When Moses appeared before Pharaoh and demanded that he let the people go. And after all the plagues, how God finally sent the angel of death, who swept throughout the city, only passing by the homes that had the blood of lambs painted on their door posts.
Then the children have four questions about the meal itself. They ask about the dipping of the bitter vegetables, why they eat matzah – or unleavened bread, and why they recline as they eat.
Reader Two: I like that. It involves the children in the tradition and teaches the reasons why they do what they do.
Reader One: So, Jesus and his friends followed tradition. But, then he made it so different. I can’t even imagine what was going through their minds.
Reader Two: Imagine sitting and eating with a loved one and having them tell you that it’s the last time you’ll ever eat together. You’d be devastated.
Reader One: Did they have any understanding of what he was telling them? Did they know what was about to happen?
Reader Two: Maybe a little bit. But it had to be hard. You know how your heart pounds in your ears when something really traumatic is happening? I imagine that’s how it must have been for them. Or it must have seemed really surreal. Like they watched him and listened to him, but they thought it was some horrible kind of dream.
Reader One: I think you’re probably right. When he broke the bread [here, Jesus takes the bread and pantomimes as the readers speak] and broke it; when he spoke about it being his body, broken for them; how could they have comprehended…. How could their hearts have even withstood the pain as they listened to him? As they watched him break that bread? Pour that wine?
Reader Two: I don’t know. Just the thought of it is nearly unbearable. I don’t know how they could even choke it down, as they passed the bread around the table.
Reader One: And yet, they did. They stayed with him throughout that solemn, sacred moment. They shared the simple elements that became so much more.
Reader Two: They stayed with him in the garden, as he prayed.
Reader One: Until the soldiers came and they could stay no more.
Reader Two: It makes me wonder what we would do; if we were in their place. If we were to share that meal with him. Walk into that garden with him. Watch the soldiers take him away. What would we do?
[Jesus walks down from the table and serves communion to the two readers. They take the bread and cup as the set builders lead Jesus from the room. All are invited to come forward to partake of communion, at this point. Afterwards, they return to their seats for the closing of worship.]
Hymn – “What Feast of Love” lyrics by Delores Dufner, OSB (click on link to purchase hymn)
Leader: We walked this night to an upper room.
People: We shared a meal with our Lord.
Leader: We walked together to a garden.
People: And there he was taken from us. Where will these next hours take us?
Where will these next hours take Jesus, our Lord?
Leader: We wait. We wait for the sun to rise on a new day.
People: We wait. We wait for justice in our world; for justice to be done for God’s Son, indeed, for all of God’s children. How long will we wait? Will we sleep in the garden? Will we run when peril arrives? When our hope is bound in chains and carried away, how long shall we wait?
Leader: We have shared in his meal of remembrance.
People: What sustenance shall it give us? As we wait for the new day and what it must bring, may the bread and the wine strengthen us.
All: May God’s grace carry us through these next hours of uncertainty and waiting. For we know that even after the sunrise, more darkness must fall.
© Tamalyn L. Kralman, 2015