April 1st, Maundy Thursday


Many of the events surrounding the last days in the life of Christ are shrouded in darkness.  In the fourth century a solemn observance of the Lord’s Supper, known as “Tenebrae” was celebrated.  The service involved the extinguishing of candles as a reminder of the darkness that covered the earth after the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  The word Tenebrae means darkness or shadows.
   Our service begins in silence and ends in almost total darkness.  The candles are gradually extinguished, symbolic of the gradual flight and denial of the disciples and friends of Jesus after the crucifixion.  As we see the pageant unfolding, we are reminded of our own falling away and the consequence of separation from God.  However, one light still remains; the light of Christ can never be extinguished.  In that light we find forgiveness and fellowship in communion with our Lord.  Christ is the light of the world, our source of light, love and hope.

PRELUDE                          When I Survey the Wondrous Cross              Robert Hobby    
   
UNISON CALL TO WORSHIP
     Jesus said:  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  On this day, Christ the Lamb of God gave himself into the hands of those who would slay him.  On this day Christ gathered with his disciples in the upper room.  On this day Christ took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet, giving us an example that we should do to others as he has done to us.  Christ our God gave us the holy feast, that we who eat the bread and drink the cup may proclaim his holy sacrifice and be partakers of his resurrection, and at the last day may reign with him in heaven.  

OPENING PRAYER


*HYMN    #215                             WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS          WONDROUS LOVE

 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

With its ballad-like repetitions before and after each stanza’s central narrative lines, this meditative text needs performance in order to be effective.  Its haunting melody proves the means of convincing yus that the only adequate response to “wondrous love” is to “sing on.”


    
SCRIPTURE READING                                                        MATTHEW 26:17-19, 26-29

The Word of the Lord. 
Thanks be to God. 

LORD’S SUPPER

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
COMMUNION PRAYER
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
SHARING OF THE BREAD AND THE CUP
UNISON PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
     God, we are before you now with the taste of bread and wine on our lips.  We feel the presence of your Son in our hearts and in our souls.  He is a part of us now, and we are a part of him, and so we are also a part of you.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit, God.  Make us into the body of Christ now and always.  Amen.


LIGHTING OF THE TENEBRAE CANDLES

SHADOW OF BETRAYAL:  
Matthew 26: 20-25

SHADOW OF THE AGONY OF SPIRIT AND ARREST:  Matthew 26: 36-50

SHADOW OF DENIAL:  Matthew 26: 69-75

SHADOW OF ACCUSATION:  Matthew 27:11-14, 20-29


*HYMN #221                              O Sacred Head, Now Wounded          PASSION CHORALE
  O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down;
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory,
what bliss till now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call thee mine.

 What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest Friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love to thee.
 This poignant hymn originated in a series of Holy Week meditations focused on the parts of Christ’s crucified body: feet, hands, knees, side breast, heart, face. FIrst joined to secular words, this chorale melody has appeared with this text since the mid-17th century.


SHADOW OF CRUCIFIXION AND HUMILIATION:  Matthew 27: 31-43

SHADOW OF DEATH:  Matthew 27: 45-54

SHADOW OF DEATH:  Matthew 27: 45-54

SHADOW OF BURIAL:  Matthew 27: 57-60

SILENT PRAYER BEFORE THE BENEDICTION.
                
Benediction

{As you sit in silence for a moment, try to keep the vigil of Good Friday alive in your hearts, contemplating the mystery, the awe, the power of the love that was poured out for us on Calvary, and that lives now and forever through the mercy and the grace of our Lord, our God.  Return here tomorrow between 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. for quiet prayer and meditation.  Then when we meet again, it will be to celebrate the joy of Easter morning.}