Maundy Thursday – Rituals of Remembrance (click here)
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Salmon Arm, BC
- Tonight, we are reusing the service from last year, as we lamented the start of the pandemic. Now a year later, we continue to lament and yet we still use the rituals of our relationship with God to remind us that God walks with us at all times.
- Tomorrow, we will walk with God in the Stations of the Cross a visual and physical reminder of God’s painful journey to bring us grace. Those who were not able to sign up for the actual walk, can make that journey in the company of John and Janet who have filmed it for us. As always, we are grateful that through the videos and through the printed services, we are all brought together in God’s presence.
Maundy Thursday, April 1, 2021: Rituals of Remembrance
(Please have in place a small container filled with oil for later in the service.)
Please light a candle as a symbol of us being together as one church, even though we worship from the scattered community.
Call to Worship:
Welcoming God, we gather in our homes today to worship and praise you.
We gather in this sacred place reminded that we are united as your people, and remembering how over many generations, our
forebears have gathered to worship God, sometimes in the community within the Sanctuary, sometimes in whatever place they stopped in their journey.
Responsive God, no matter where, or how we gather, you hear our prayers,
our sighs, our doubts and all our fears.
We give you our thanks for your loving awareness and care of us all.
We gather to as your people, together in Spirit and united in Christ Jesus to fulfill our commitments to you. As we gather, we affirm you calling to be the Church in this time and place.
We gather to offer our sacrifice, our homage, our gifts of praise and thankfulness to you, and to remember the gifts of your grace given through the generations.
We gather to recall all that Jesus calls forth from us, even as he prepares to give us all that you called forth from him.
We observe the rituals of remembrance, and remember our calling, even as Jesus reminds the disciples of their calling.
And so, we worship you, God; Father, Son and Spirit and we open ourselves to your blessing.
Hymn: Out of my bondage
Gathered in Prayer:
This is love.
Not that you spoke words of comfort,
walked with the unclean and unloved,
shared wisdom, bread and wine,
brought healing into lives
and challenged the status quo.
This is love.
That you spoke the word of God,
walked a painful road to the Cross,
shared living water, bread of life,
brought Salvation to the world
and died for the sake of all.
This is love.
It is a seed
sown in the ground,
which germinates, blossoms,
and spreads its sweet perfume.
May that love germinate in us and grow to
produce bountiful fruit.
In Jesus name, Amen
Prayer of Confession: Responsive Lenten Liturgy
God sent the Son into the world
Not to condemn the world
but to save the world
that all may have abundant life.
What shall we return to the Lord for such bounty?
Let us lift up the cup of salvation,
let us call on the name of the Lord,
let us pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all.
We lift up the cup of salvation
In remembrance of the crucified and risen one,
in remembrance of those who know the cup of suffering,
in remembrance of those who need liberation.
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Let us pray:
your love for the world is infinite and unending.
Your Son Jesus our Saviour commands us
to love one another,
to love our neighbour,
to love our enemy.
So may we live this holy love day by day
till all people and the whole creation
know your love and abundant life;
through Jesus the life of the world. Amen.
Lament as an act of faith
Look toward me, and have pity on me,
for I am alone and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
Put an end to my affliction and my suffering,
and take away all my sins.
Behold, my enemies are many,
and they hate me violently.
Preserve my life, and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
The Word of God
Exodus 12: 1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
Psalm 116: 12-19
What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Sermon: Rituals of Remembrance
There are rituals that I go through as I prepare for worship. On Mondays I look at the “plan” the list of readings, the hymns selected, any notations on what to include as the prayers, like during Lent that the Prayer of Confession would be the PWS&D Liturgy. I sing the hymns. I read the Scriptures.
Then I look at the research. My favorite study Bible, a few online commentaries that I like. I take notes, and I put everything aside until I am ready to write the Sermon. Then I start filling in the Call to Worship, the responsive prayers and email everything to John Love, who to this day remains astonished that I send him everything so early in the week.
The rest of the week I think about what I have learned, wonder what the Spirit is saying. Consider how to start. What stories do I want to tell?
Then on Friday I start to write in earnest… and usually what flows out of my fingers has very little to do with all the preparations that I had made, well except maybe hopefully the pondering about what the Spirit is saying.
We all have those rituals in our lives. The morning routine. The bedtime routine and the various routines that fill our days. We are creatures of habit.
Those habits also form the cycles of our lives. Sunday doesn’t feel like Sunday if we don’t go to worship.
But sometimes those rituals change. For me, the one I still lament is Sunday Soup. On Saturday my mom would make a huge pot of soup. We kids were enlisted to make “gehakt ballen” or little meat balls to put in the soup. Then Sunday at noon and again at supper we would eat the soup, with a bun and cheese or a bun and luncheon meat and the most important ritual of all—fighting over who had the most meatballs in their bowl.
This year our rituals surrounding worship have changed. And it is something that we naturally all lament. Yet we are all still able to gather in worship and today as we contemplate the Passover Ritual we will also look at other rituals, rituals that although new to us this year, will yet bind us together on this night that is different from all other nights.
We began our Scripture Lessons with the instructions on how to celebrate the Passover. This important meal is celebrated in family groups and the youngest child is the one who asks the why questions.
The first question is: Why is this night different from all other nights?
The answer: We were slaves in Egypt and the Lord God took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.
This Seder meal is a reminder that God is powerful and mighty, and that God cares for his people and hears their cries. He heard their cries in Egypt and he brought them out of slavery and through the desert and into the Promised Land.
This is the supper that Jesus ate with his disciples. At this meal they celebrated the mighty compassion and power of God. This was a meal in which they remembered that God always acted on behalf of his people.
This meal was an important memory to have in their minds and their hearts as they left the table and retreated to the Garden to pray. An important memory to hold in their hearts as they watched the Roman soldiers arrest Jesus.
This ritual established that God has the power and that God was always with his people. As a memory; important, as an article of faith: CRUCIAL.
It is important to note that at the time of crisis, when fear and flight war as a response, it is not always the time when we remember that other important F word.
Sometimes it is only as we look back at the unfolding of events that we see the faith that carried us through. Most of the disciples fled into the night. Peter denied Jesus. It seems like only John stood at the foot of the cross. Following the Crucifixion all were in hiding, in the Upper Room.
The same Upper Room where they celebrated the Passover and learned the rituals of the Communion meal. The same Upper Room where Jesus washed their feet and taught them to be servants of one another.
Sometimes fleeing to the place where we learned our faith is the best response we can have to stressful situations.
So where do we go when we can’t go to the building with which we associate our faith journey.
How do we celebrate the rituals of our faith when we can’t gather for the Lord’s Supper as we usually do on Maundy Thursday? We Lament the loss of the ritual of the Lord’s Supper and of being able to gather together, and we pray that next year we will again gather at the Table.
For our friends in the Jewish faith, this is a part of the Seder, which all long to celebrate in Jerusalem. At the end of the meal the blessing or benediction is simply this: Next year in Jerusalem.
And so, this night, which is different other Maundy Thursdays we look at other rituals that carry us into the presence and the grace of God, albeit in a different way, and we say, next year at St. Andrews.
We see that a part of the ritual of this night was that Jesus stopped to wash his disciple’s feet. This was usually a service that every host provided for his guests, who had walked long distances in sandals. Feet were dirty, sometimes sweaty and smelly, so this duty was always relegated to the lowliest servant.
We recall the time when Jesus attended a dinner party and the host apparently neglected to provide that service for his guests, but that a woman came and cried over the feet of Jesus, dried them, and then anointed them with oil.
Anointing with oil is a ritual that appears often in Scripture and is still practiced regularly in many Christians Traditions—although not commonly practiced amongst Presbyterians.
In the Scriptures we see oil being used to anoint for many reasons.
Samuel anointed David as part of setting him aside to be King of Israel.
Aaron was anointed to be a priest and a prophet.
Jesus was anointed by the woman as a preparation for his death.
Anointing was done for many reasons; but always was a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person.
Jesus preaching in Capernaum spoke of that anointing of power: Luke 4: 18-19
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
To be anointed is a sign of having been chosen and empowered by God.
In the letter of James we are instructed to anoint those who are ill among us. I have found this to be powerful in hospital visits with those who are very ill. I have anointed most often with those who were dying. The power of that was remarkable when I anointed Pearl for death. After the prayer I said to her this sign of the cross is a sign that God is with you. Afterward she kept touching her forehead. As the oil wore off, I reapplied it because she found so much comfort in it, and left some with her husband to reapply as needed. A powerful sign of the presence of God.
There is no doubt that this ritual has power and is a sign that God is present among us. It also a ritual that shows that we have been chosen and called forth by God.
In the Christian Church it has been used to mark the forehead of those who have been baptized, poured on the hands of the priests at ordination, to anoint the sick and dying, and to consecrate the church and the Holy Vessels. In these practices, as in all the Scriptural references, it is a sign of the Power and Presence of God.
The power of the Lord and the oil of anointing are directly linked. The oil of anointing stands as a physical representation of Jesus being given the Spirit to perform these functions for God in His service to all God’s people. When that oil is used to anoint the people, it is also linked with the power of the Lord and a sign that we have been filled with the Spirit.
So, as we gather we ask the question: Why is this night different from all other nights?
We are reminded that the Israelites in Egypt gathered that first time to eat the Passover meal as a sign of their confidence in God, who would deliver them from the oppression of Egypt.
So, as we gather in the Spirit this night we do so as a sign of our confidence that God will deliver us from this pandemic, just as he delivered Israel from the plagues that beset Egypt.
We remember that were slaves in Egypt and the Lord God took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.
We remember that we were lost in our sin and that God sent Jesus to live and to die that we might be saved.
And as a Post Easter people we affirm the hope that Jesus will rise again and that following his Ascension, God will send the Holy Spirit to fill us with power, and that we are baptized in water and anointed by wind and by flame.
We like Jesus have been anointed to preach good news to the poor and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Jubilee.
And so, we partake of the ritual of anointing oil, to remember God’s power, grace and mercy and to embrace our calling forth to serve in his name.
Please take your container of oil as we affirm the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
A reading from Psalm 133
133 1-3 How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
ordains eternal life.
Let us join together in prayer:
God of all consolation,
you chose and sent your Son to heal the world.
Graciously listen to our prayer of faith:
send the power of the Holy Spirit,
into this precious oil, this soothing ointment,
this rich gift, this fruit of the earth.
Bless this oil and sanctify it for our use.
Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it;
heal them in body, in soul, and in spirit,
to protect and deliver them from every affliction.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Where there are two or more gathered anoint each other's forehead with these words. (If you are alone anoint yourself.)
Through this holy anointing
may the Lord in his love and mercy
help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Now anoint each other's (or your own) hands with these words:
May the Lord who frees you from sin
save you and raise you up. Amen
Let us pray together:
God our Father,
we have anointed your child (insert your name, and all those with you)
with the oil of healing and peace.
Caress him/her, shelter him/her,
and keep him/her in your tender care.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
And now let us proclaim with faith: Next year in St. Andrew’s.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession:
As those who strive to follow Jesus in our living
and to trust your power in our dying,
we gather to reflect upon the life that ended on a cross.
We recognize in ourselves the strengths and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples:
although they loved him, they disappointed and failed him.
And yet, gathering with these imperfect friends at this last meal
Jesus washed their feet in service, and then
extended the bread and cup to each.
Jesus called them to love one another, and invited them to share in his very life and in his acceptance of the road ahead.
We are humbled, honored and inspired
by the deep love Christ extended to the world,
and we take seriously the calling to be the body of Christ today.
Grant us the vision to see the world as you see it,
with love and compassion for each creature and all of your creation.
We pray this night in joyous celebration, as we wait for your hand of deliverance. We wait knowing that our hope is not misplaced.
We pray this night out of our deep need for your deliverance and your protection.
We pray for hospitals their medical, maintenance staff and administrators. Keep them healthy and strong as they care for sick and dying. Fill them with your Spirit and give them wisdom and guidance.
We pray for first responders who answer emergency calls with little or no knowledge of what to expect. Keep them healthy as the respond to all the various needs and calls. Fill them with your Spirit and give them wisdom and guidance.
We pray for all who are in nursing homes. Fill them with a confidence in your presence and bless the staff that care for them with safety and wisdom from your Spirit.
We pray for all who grieve and mourn, simply because they can’t be present with loved ones, or that they were not with those whom they loved as they died and who cannot gather to mourn because of quarantine restrictions. Send your Spirit upon them all, with the power of your peace and comfort that they may know that you are with them.
We pray for your Church and for the part our congregation plays in this. Remind us in the words of Daniel that perhaps we were sent here to make a difference at a time like this. Help us to receive your Spirit and accept your commission.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray to you saying:
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. Amen
Hymn: Lo I am with you
It takes faith to wait without hope,
to trust that although there is no sense to this
we must do it anyway.
At the limits of our capacity to make sense of the world
at the edges of our grace, energy and love
lie this: with God there is always hope.
Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you Amen
Benediction Song: A New Commandment