Maundy Thursday

Revd Rex A E Hunt
Web site:


For thousands of years Indigenous people
have walked in this land, on their own land.
We acknowledge the (NN) People
and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

Washing of hands
We begin with the washing of each others hands
because what we do and celebrate here is a holy thing,
drawing us into the presence of God.

It is also a remembrance that
on this night of nights, so our tradition says,
Jesus laid aside his outer garments and
taking the position of the servant of all,
washed the hands and feet of his disciples,
saying in actions as well as words:
'Remember all I have been to you'.

In that tradition let us wash the hands of our neighbours
and receive that act of service for ourselves.
Hands are washed
People return to their places standing behind their seats

Let us now eat and drink together,
remembering all that this night holds for us.
The people are seated 

Opening words
Tonight is a night of celebration. 

We are an extended family gathered around a table,
celebrating the way in which God is and has been, experienced among us.

Our tradition also reminds us, on the night before he died,
Jesus and his friends gathered in an upper room, for the meal...

Some claim it was a Passover Meal.
Others are not convinced a ‘special’ meal took place at all.
But all agree meals played a significant and important part
in Jesus’ relationships with others.

Tonight we too remember, as we tell our story.
We remember the great stories of Israel.
We remember the stories from the early Jesus Movement communities.
And we remember the stories from past and present traditions
which have shaped us, in (name of suburbs, towns in your area).

During this meal and celebration we will use some words
from the Passover Seder, and
from the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

We begin with the celebration of the people of Israel.
All Now in the presence of loved ones and friends,
and before us the symbols of festive rejoicing,
we gather for our sacred celebration.

With the household of Israel,
its elders and young ones,
linking and bonding the past with the future,
we heed once again the divine call to service.

Living our story that is told for all peoples.

Lighting of the candelabra
The candelabra is lit 

This is a time of happiness and rejoicing, of celebration and of cheer.
Its flame of freedom has never been quenched.
Its brightness has never been dimmed.

As a symbol of God’s eternal light,
may these lights which we now kindle
inspire us to use our powers:
to heal and not to harm,
to help and not to hinder,
to bless and not to curse,
to serve you, O God of freedom.
All In praising God we say that all life is sacred.
In kindling festive lights, we preserve life’s sanctity.
With every holy light we kindle,
the world is brightened to a higher harmony.

Song “Spirit who broods”    126 AA
Spirit who broods,
Spirit who sings,
mothering bird,
peace in your wings,
Come from within,
come make us one,
come and renew
the face of the earth.

Spirit of truth,
laser and light
searching the path,
seeking the right,

Spirit of love
larger than law,
quick to forgive,
keeping no score,

Spirit of hope
never subdued,
Spirit of God,
Spirit of Good,
Refrain  © Shirley Murray

The first cup
During this meal celebration wine is drunk several times
remembering both promise and hope.
People invited to fill their glasses

So let us give thanks to God for the deliverance
of our Hebrew ancestors from the slavery of Egypt...
All Praised are you O God,
King of the Universe,
who creates the fruit of the vine!

And for God’s care and protection
of the merciful and just throughout all ages.
All Praised are you, O God,
who gives this joyful heritage
and who teaches us to know light from darkness.
All drink 

Greens/Salt water
On the table are some greens and a dish of salt water.
Please take some greens
and pass the salt water among you,
dipping the greens in the water,
and waiting until all are served
so we may eat together.
Greens, salt water passed

All Praised are you, O God,
King of the Universe,
who creates the fruit of the earth.
Eat the greens

A plate is on the table in front of you with wafers or matzo on it.
Take one piece as we prepare to break it.
Because the bread of affliction becomes the bread of freedom
when we share it.
Take a piece of bread

Among people everywhere,
sharing of bread forms a bond of fellowship.
Together we say the ancient words
which join us with our own people, and with all who are in need;
with the wrongly imprisoned
and the beggar in the street.
All This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread,
which the ancestors of Israel,
our ancestors in the faith ate in the land of Egypt.

Let all who are hungry come and eat.
All Let all who are in want
share the hope of this celebration.
The bread is broken, shared and eaten

Seder psalm
The Psalm 113 will be read in Hebrew and then in English

Psalm 113  (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.

From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

The four questions
v1 Why is this night different from all other nights?
On all other nights, we eat either leavened or unleavened bread.
But why, on this night, do we only eat unleavened?

v2 On all other nights, we eat all kinds of herbs.
But why, on this night, do we especially eat
bitter herbs and nuts?

v3 On all other nights, we do not dip herbs at all.
But why, on this night, do we dip them twice in salt water?

v4 On all other nights, we eat without special festivities.
So why, on this night, do we dine with special ceremony?

An. We eat only unleavened bread tonight because
when our Hebrew ancestors left Egypt
they were in so great a hurry there was not time to prepare the ordinary bread.

We eat bitter herbs tonight to remind ourselves
of the bitter times our Hebrew forefathers and mothers had in Egypt,
and to remind us of the bitterness of millions
in our world today who are still in bondage.

And we eat nuts to remind us that in the world
of actuality and physicality, it is a tough job
to break through the hardened hearts
of our own and others,
to taste the sweetness that is hidden within.

We dip the greens in salt water so that we shall remember
that everything that grows is the gift of God.

For in honouring the fruitful earth we are also
echoing the procession of the seasons,
from snowy winter to the full red of autumn leaves.

And tonight we celebrate with ceremony because
each one of us rejoices in the freedoms we have.

Ten drops of wine
To remember the preciousness of our freedoms
and of the freedom still to be won by many others
we pour ten drops of wine.

Each drop of wine we pour is hope and prayer:
• that people will cast out the plagues 
that threaten everyone, everywhere they are found, 
beginning in our own hearts;

• the making of war;

• the teaching of hate and violence;

• the despoilation of the earth, perversion of justice and of government; 

• fermenting of vice and crime;

• neglect of human needs;

• oppression of nations and peoples;

• corruption of culture;

• subjugation of science, learning and human discourse;

• and erosion of freedoms.
Ten drops are poured...

The meal symbols...

Shank or Lamb bone
In family groups, the people of Israel ate the paschal lamb.
For them it was a reminder of one of their stories:
that God had passed over the houses
of their ancestors in Egypt.

Unleavened bread
Of old, unleavened bread was meant to recall
that the dough prepared by the people of Israel
had no time to rise, as they fled oppression.

Maror was eaten they said,
because the Egyptians embittered the lives of the ordinary people.

The egg
The egg reminded the people of Israel of the Temple’s destruction.
It is dipped into the saltwater - the symbol of tears -
and then eaten.

And this year we add another meal symbol... the olive.

These olives are placed here in sorrow because
each and every year Palestinian olive trees
are intentionally chopped down, burned, and uprooted
by some of the children of Abraham with Sarah.

These trees are the source of livelihood
for many Palestinian families,
the children of Abraham with Hagar.

Tonight, these olives are a sign of our identification
with those Israelis and Palestinians
who are doing everything in their power to work for peace:
to make enemies into friends
despite the voices of hate and incitement from both sides.

The second cup
People fill glasses a second time

Remembering... we look now with hope
to the celebration of a future time,
to the building of the City of Peace
in which all will rejoice.
All Praised are you, O God,
Sovereign of all Existence,
who creates the fruit of the vine!
All drink

Passing of the peace
Please light the candle on your table.

As it is lit, name those people who are not with us...
family members near and far away
we would want to include in God’s blessing.

And then welcome one another, offering the blessing of God,
for whose sake we gather.
The Peace is passed  

The meal is served with conversation and story, song and merriment.
We celebrate who we are.

The story of the Jesus Meal
On this night of nights we are also reminded of the story of the Jesus Meal.

Long ago, our tradition says,
just prior to his arrest, the one we call Jesus
took some bread from their common meal,
offered a special thanks, and broke it:
'This bread is broken, as my body will be'.

And he handed it to his friends, inviting them to eat:
'Remember all that I have been to you'.

Long ago, on that same night, our tradition also says
Jesus poured a cup of wine, offered special thanks for it,
and gave it to his friends:
'This wine is poured out, as my life will be.
Remember me and give thanks for all I have given'.

In this tradition let us also remember and celebrate.

God is the heart of life.
All And we are the heartbeat.
May our hearts be filled
with thanks and praise and songs of joy.
All We rejoice in the miracle of life
and delight in our participation.  Sherri Weinberg

Creating God, Source of Life, we offer our thanks.
The smell of gums after rain,
The surprise of ducks in flight,
The taste of peach and plum and nectarine,

For all gifts simple and profound,
in country and city,
in paddock, or back yard and on lake:
We give thanks.
All We give thanks.

We who hold all such good things in trust
give thanks to you as Good Creator,
joining in the praise of all your people:
All Holy! Holy! Holy! 
Heaven and earth are holy and good. 
Holy is peace.
Holy is truth. 
Holy is love.

In this season of transition
as the leaves begin their subtle change of colour
and our hearts cling to the warmth as the days shorten,
once again we are reminded,
that new possibilities can rise from our failures
or disappointments
or what has come to an end.

We give thanks for all the influences in our lives
that have helped us to see beyond the present:
that teach us to combine labour and rest,
that bring us the cycles of time and season,
that sustain us when we are in need.
All God loves in us.
God cares through us.
God laughs in us.
God cries in us, as nowhere else.  (Michael Morwood)

Especially we give thanks for Jesus of Nazara,
gatherer of folk,
teller of stories,
breaker of bread,
pourer of wine,
weaver of lives.

In his life, wisdom, stories and social vision
we recall the words he spoke
to call forth in us love, care and respect for one another:
All And we believe the same Spirit of God
that came to visibility in Jesus
yearns for visible expression in us.

Blessings and woes: A reading
Luke 6:20-26  (Scholars Version)

Congratulations, you  poor! God’s domain belongs to you.
Congratulations, you hungry! You will have a feast.
Congratulations, you who weep now! You will laugh.
Congratulations to you when people hate you,
and when they ostracize you and denounce you,
and scorn your name as evil, because of the son of Adam!
Rejoice on that day, and jump for joy!
Just remember, your compensation is great in heaven.

Recall that their ancestors treated the prophets the same way.

Damn you rich! You already have your consolation.
Damn you who are well-fed now! You will know hunger.
Damn you who laugh now! You will learn to weep and grieve.
Damn you when everybody speaks well of you!

Recall that their ancestors treated the phony prophets the same way.

So now we take some of this bread and some of this wine...

May they be a constant presence of the Spirit of Life and Love,
and making us whole.
All Together we remember our past.
Together we discern our present.
Together we shape our future.

Bread... the very stuff of life, in which is gathered up
warm sun, rich earth, gentle rain,
human labour and knowledge and skill.

Wine... fruit of the vine, nurtured, tended, harvested,
and pressed out for us to drink.
You are invited to bread bread and drink wine together, serving each other 

After Communion
All May the bread and the wine and the remembering
be a blessing on us all. Amen.

Song "God of all time"     49 AA
God of all time, 
all seasons of our living,
source of our spark, 
protector of our flame,
blazing before our birth, 
beyond our dying,
God of all time,
we come to sing your name.

Here in this place
where others have been building,
we come to claim
the legacy of faith,
take, in our turn
the telling of your story,
and though we tremble,
speak your hope, your truth.

Spirit who draws
our fragile selves together,
Spirit who turns
a stranger to a friend,
be at this table
where we greet each other,
be in the peace
we pass from hand to hand.

Let us not die
from poverty of caring,
let us not starve,
where love is to be shared.
Come, break us
open to receive your healing:
your broken body
be our wine and bread.  Shirley Murray

Reflection: Maundy Thursday
Read by a woman

Six women, Jesus, wait on you,
Not expectant, not waiting for a miracle,
Not believing you will leap to life before us and cause the
blind to see,
But simply waiting;
Being with you, being God.

No men have stayed - too busy,
Called to this and that activity -
This waiting business is women's work:

But Jesus waited,
Being holy, being God.
He waited for the woman with the haernorrhage to pour out her story;
He waited for Lazarus to be dead before calling him from his tomb;
He waited for Judas to lead his enemies to him;
He waited for the verdict of the people: Crucify!
He waited on the cross while his life blood left him,

Waiting in faith, in control of his death.
He waits now for us to turn towards him.
Longing for us to know he is waiting.

And so, here we are, we women who wait;
And as we wait we listen.  (Sarah Ingle/ljrd)


We pray:
Eternal God, Source of all Life,
your days are without end,
your mercies without number.

We tell your story in ever generation.
You are our familiar God.
God of Abraham and Sarah,
God of Abraham and Hagar,
God of Moses and Ruth,
God of Mary and Joseph,
God of Jesus and Peter, John and James and Martha.
God of Galileo and Darwin and Nightingale.
God of Crossan and Armstrong, Fiorenza and Spong.
God of (your name) and (your neighbours names).
All Your wisdom shines in all your works.
Your glory is shown in your goodness to all people.
Your grace and truth are revealed in all creation.

Therefore our God,
we adore you, for ever and ever.

Ending words
This time of meal and celebration has now concluded.
We have renewed friendships.
We have told our ancient stories.
We have observed all our rites.

Now we must leave this place...

All Peace for us!
Peace for everyone!

For all people, this our hope...

May we continue to recognise God-in-us
All and give generous expression
to this wonderful gift we all share.

Some of the resources used in shaping this liturgy:
Alleluia Aotearoa. Hymns and songs for all churches. 1993. NZ: Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
Funk, R. W.; R. W. Hoover. 1993. The five gospels. The search for the authentic words of Jesus. NY: New York. MacMillan Press.
Duncan, G. (ed). 2003.  Let justice roll down. A worship resource for lent, holy week & easter. OH: Cleveland. The Pilgrim Press.
Harrington, D. S. 1965.  A community seder for universal religionists and people of all faiths. Twelve Celebrations - Easter Pak. MA: Boston.  UUA.
Holy Bible. NRSV. 1989. TN: Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Morwood, M. 2003. Praying a new story. VIC: Richmond. Spectrum Publications.
Seaburg, C. (ed). 1993. The communion book. MA: Boston. UUMA.
Special seder resources.  (Gathered over a period of time).
Withrow, L. 1995. Seasons of prayer. Resources for worship. GtB: London. SPCK.

Web sites:
Sherri Weinberg. St Paul's Presbyterian Church Web site. NZ: Devonport.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow. The Shalom Center. <>