My beloved Mt. Tam Church,
Our Holy Week this year is unlike any other year, for as we shelter in place, we will walk with Jesus in this holy time online and at home. Maundy Thursday commemorates the last night of Jesus’ life, when he gathered with his disciples for a Passover Meal. We now call this the Last Supper and it is the model for the sacrament of communion. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command” and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.” How loving to join Jesus and the disciples around the world for this night!
You will find two resources for marking Maundy Thursday—the first is the order of worship below, a short prayer service to be held at the start of your evening meal at home. The second is a video of this prayer service that Lindy and I recorded at the parsonage earlier this week. It’s about 8 1/2 minutes—you are welcome to use it at your table as you celebrate the ritual or view it separately. The title is “comfort food,” so we encourage you to prepare some of your favorite comfort foods (you’ll see our favorites at the end of the video!) and take comfort in the prayers and in the presence of Jesus, as both host and guest of your holy meal. For our homes and hearts are sacred in God.
“Comfort Food: A Feast of Love”*
A Maundy Thursday Service
April 9, 2020
To Use at Home During a Meal And as we worship together online through the Link provided at mtumc.org
When we “break bread” together as a church in worship, we remember that Jesus was always sharing a meal with others, inviting all to the table. On the last night of his life, as part of his ministry, his disciples and closest companions shared a special supper together. Only later did his followers recognize this as his “last supper” and then, create a similar gathering to become a sacrament, which we call communion. Though we cannot gather in our sanctuary at church during the shelter-in-place orders, we can gather via online services and in our own homes, around our own tables. So, for this very special Maundy Thursday, you are invited to prepare your favorite “comfort food,” and at one of your meals today, use this short service to worship for Maundy Thursday. There is also a video on the church website at mtumc.org of Pastor Kim sharing a meal from the parsonage. You can use the video to guide your table service or use the script below. Or use both!
Jesus used the parable of a great banquet to which all people are invited in order to talk about what the realm of God, the family of God, looks like. He said, “Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled.” He often invited the most unlikely guests to his mealtimes, confounding the disciples. In this way, he was encouraging a deep love and connection beyond social norms. He knew that we humans need connection and inclusion. Jesus comforts us, saying “you have a place at the table.” So whether we live on our own or in a larger family configuration or have invited others to join us via Zoom or another online source, Jesus invites us to let all people know they are welcome in our hearts and in our churches–even if we can’t physically be with each other right now. So, eat, drink, enjoy your meal! And let us be together in spirit!
“COMFORT FOOD: A CELEBRATION FOR YOUR
AT-HOME MAUNDY THURSDAY MEAL
Special Song: You are invited to sing this doxology, which means “thanksgiving,” the traditional tune called “Old One Hundred.” You will recognize it as one of the two doxologies we most often sing in Sunday worship:
Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored.
Your creatures bless and grant that we,
May feast in fellowship with Thee.
A Time to Include Others Who Are Not Physically Present:
We are not in an easy time. We are mostly confined to our homes and it might be difficult not to be near some of the people we love. We are worried or afraid. At this time, take a moment to say aloud the names of the people you wish were there next to you at your table today.
Take a moment of silence to allow people around the table to lift up names.
A Time of Prayer
Jesus is no longer physically on earth, yet every time we gather around a table and we call him to mind, he is present with us in Spirit. And so too, our loved ones are with us. Let this be a comfort to us. We also want to call to mind, the people we cannot name, whose names we do not know. But we know they need our prayers and God’s comfort. Let us pray for:
For those who have lost loved ones
For those who are sick and recovering
For those who are caring for loved ones who are sick at home
For those who are caring for persons in medical care
For those who are separated from loved ones
For those who are feeling alone and isolated
For those who are helping and are so very tired
For those who are struggling to find friends, food, and comfort
For those who are afraid
Who else shall we name at our tables?
A Breathing Prayer:
I invite you to take a deep breath on behalf of all those we do not know and cannot call by name. As we do so, we know that God knows who needs our prayers and the Spirit, Breath of God, is blowing from within us outward as a Spirit of Compassion and Presence.
Pause to take a couple of deep and audible breaths.
A Table and Meal Blessing:
Blessings at the table are part of our faith heritage. Indeed, Jesus adapted his Jewish ritual blessing spoken before and after meals. He asked us to remember him whenever we break bread and raise a cup in thanksgiving. This is why we call our communion prayers the “Great Thanksgiving.” In this feast of love and comfort, we can call to mind things for which we are deeply grateful. I invite you to speak aloud a couple of things that you are grateful for in this moment.
Pause to name things and people for which you are thankful.
Now, let us bless the food before us. Please raise a plate of “something” on your table, or a glass of whatever you are drinking, and let us bless it in this way:
(One person can be the ‘leader’ and name each line of blessing and others can respond with the same line. If you are eating with yourself, please pray the prayer out loud with yourself.)
We gather in your name…
invited by Jesus…
bound together with your Spirit…
in union with each other…
Feed our bodies and our spirits…
with your comforting presence…
so that we might be your comfort to others…
Bless this food…
and break open our hearts…
Bless this drink…
and pour out your love…
Blessing and Benediction:
As you pass and fill your plates, getting ready to continue to eat your comfort food, you are invited to imagine what extravagant love looks like as you reach across the social distance to loved ones, to friends, and even acquaintances or strangers. Let us remember the love that Jesus had for every person at the Last Supper, even Judas who was to betray him. Let us strive to be that kind of love in our homes and in the world. May the grace of God, the love of Christ and the peace of the Holy Spirit be with you this evening and always! Amen.
We thank Thee, Lord for this our food;
For life and health and all that’s good.
By thine own hand, we all are fed;
Give us each day our daily bread!
*With gratitude, adapted with permission from Dr. Marcia McFee’s series, “Heart of the Matter,” as found on her website, worshipdesignstudio.com.