by British Hyrams
Maundy Thursday is the first of three Holy Week rituals following Palm Sunday and culminating on Easter Sunday. Maundy means “commandment.” Maundy Thursday acknowledges the new commandment that Jesus gave his disciples at the feast of the Last Supper. Maundy Thursday also recognizes Jesus’ incredible act of servant-leadership in washing the feet of his disciples. This is a solemn observance that helps us pay close attention to the significant details of the events leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection.[i]
The Setting for Maundy Thursday could not be more appropriate for an at-home observance. In his years of ministry, Jesus is often found at the table with the disciples. You can be creative about the table around which you gather for your worship: a formal dining room or an outdoor picnic table; do whatever works best. A digital table might be used to bring together friends or loved ones who live alone. (Think FaceTime, Zoom, etc.)
Families with young(er) children may want to focus on the abbreviated scripture text found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. This passage only includes the familiar words of the Last Supper. Families with older children or adults may also include John 13:1-17 (foot-washing) and John 13:31b-35 (love commandment).
Read selected scripture aloud. Participate in a Hand- or Foot-washing together.
Hand-washing Ceremony (in lieu of foot-washing)
[ii]Handwashing: A Spiritual Practice for Maundy Thursday
- Prepare a pitcher of water, a bowl, and towels
- Prayerfully pour water over each hand (or allow a family member to do so)
- As you pour, reflect on the grace and love of Jesus Christ poured out in your life
- Sing “Live in Charity” (GTG 205) or another setting of Ubi caritas (or other appropriate song)
- Dry your hands (or those of family members) with a towel
- Conclude with this or a similar prayer:
O God, your love is embodied in Jesus Christ, who washed disciples’ feet on the night of his betrayal. Wash us from the stain of sin, so that, in hours of danger, we may not fail, but follow your Son through every trial, and praise him always as Lord and Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW 276)
Final Thought: Maundy Thursday focuses on Jesus’ service and love: how can you love and serve today?
Listed below are resources (most are free), to help craft an at home worship service for Maundy Thursday. Adapt as necessary to suite specific situations; cut & paste, combine, or revise them in order to create a meaningful worship experience. Worship is simply gratitude and reverence toward God; prayer, music, and scripture (of course) are the most common elements of worship.