turn to the persons around you and quietly say to them, “God’s
peace be with you.” … You have just acknowledged our connection
with one another in the Lord - that we are here together as
God’s people living out the promise of Jesus that “wherever
two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.”
We have come on
this night to remember. However, unlike watching a video, we participate in this remembrance. We are not merely
observing. We are not watching from the outside, like a voyeur
might look in through a window upon someone else’s life. In all
honesty, that is how we often come to the Bible, observing from
the outside a story that does not really include us… But it
When Jesus said, “do
this in remembrance of me,” he was inviting us to come
in from the cold and dark, and to join in what is being
remembered, to participate – which means to become
a part of it all, such that we are empowered
through God’s Spirit to affirm that (as the old hymn sings out)
“this is my story, this is my song.” We are involved. Using the
hands and hearts of our deacons, our shepherding Lord has
prepared a table before us – perhaps even in the presence of
enemies that seek to steal our time or our sense of well-being.
We trust that this evening, God will anoint us, and will fill
our cup full to overflowing with his goodness and mercy, both of
which will stay with us long after this feast is over.
We do not simply watch. We
participate. In just a bit, we will journey to circles of
chairs, where each will be invited to stick our bare feet into a
tub and experience the cleansing touch of a brother or
sister-in-the-Lord as we sing gospel songs. Each will then be
invited to get down on our own knees (as we are able) and wash
the feet of someone else. This we will carry out because Jesus
said, “I have set you an example, that you should do
as I have done to you.” We know this is symbolic of larger
things – the sanctifying touch of God upon our lives, and the
call of Christ to humble service for others. Our participation
now etches upon our hearts and minds that we are to be the hands
of Jesus wherever we go, to participate with him in God’s work
outside the walls of this building.
We do not simply watch. From
the circles of chairs, we will then journey to the meal table,
where we will eat together. That’s what God’s people do. It was
in the middle of a meal that Jesus set an example by washing
feet. It was in the middle of a meal that he broke bread and
shared a cup of communion. It was from a meal that headed on to
the cross. We don’t “watch” a meal. We participate and enjoy the
goodness of it. We talk with those around us, and barriers come
down, and we realize we are in this together with Jesus. The big
words are “fellowship” and “community.” With all our faults,
together we are the body of Christ. No one can experience
community from the outside looking in. Sometimes it takes your
breath away, sitting across from someone and realizing how your
lives together are intertwined in Christ, even if for but a
moment in time.
We do not simply
watch. We participate - coming, then, to that central part of
the meal where we are called to remember, and to “do this,”
to break bread and drink from the Lord’s cup. As we eat and
drink, we sit at the foot of his cross as surely as we sit at
his table. The phrases, “broken body” and “shed blood,” burn in
our hearts and minds, as we bring bread and juice to our lips.
Yes, the old Dunker recipe for unleavened communion bread is
better than tasteless wafers. However, the holes in it are meant
to remind us of the pain and suffering and sacrifice that led to
our salvation. We are reminded that we did not, and do not save
ourselves. Of course, we do receive and we do join
in our salvation. It is not something done to us without our
willing participation. When we eat this bread and drink this
cup, the apostle Paul said, we “proclaim the Lord’s death
until he comes.”
This is our purpose this
evening, to do as Jesus instructed, and through our
actions to participate in the old, old salvation story, and to
“show” (as the King James Version translates the Greek word for
“proclaim”) Jesus’ death through what we do. For you see, he
died for me and for you!
Let’s begin with a hymn,
followed by a prayer to prepare us.
Unison Prayer of Preparation
How can we discern our errors, O God?
Clear us from hidden faults.
Let the words of our mouths
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our rock and redeemer.
Look graciously on our remorse;
help us to turn from evil.
We offer you ourselves,
body and soul, to be cleansed.
As we drink the cup,
give us assurance of forgiveness
through the blood of Christ.
Accept our promise to be true to you
and give us power to fulfill it.
Let us find strength in the breaking of bread
to live and to die,
for Jesus’ sake. AMEN
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the
Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come
from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off
his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured
water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to
wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Jesus came to
Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my
Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I
am doing, but later you will understand.”
Peter said to
him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you
have no share with me.”
said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my
Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does
not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.
And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was
to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are
After he had washed their feet, had put on
his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do
you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord -
and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and
Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one
another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also
should do as I have done to you.
I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are
messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these
things, you are blessed if you do them.”
Leader: We do not understand how to respond to daunting needs
that come with economic downturn, natural disaster, and war and
rumor of war.
People: Tonight, we "get up from the table,"
thinking later we will understand.
Leader: We do not understand what can relieve crowded
calendars, strapped finances, and rising expectations.
People: Tonight, we "take off the outer robes"
that so easily define and confine, intending that later we will
Leader: We do not understand where we will find energy to
move from robe and slippers to breastplates of righteousness and
shoes befitting the gospel of peace.
People: Tonight, we tie on a towel, hoping
later to understand.
Leader: We do not understand the way to
healing rivers, where weary spirits and broken hearts may be
People: Tonight, we pour water into the basins
we have, trusting later we will understand.
Leader: We do not understand the way to live in holy harmony,
when public discourse deepens division and threatens the fabric
of our nations, churches, and homes.
People: We do not understand apparent
double-talk about love, grace, and forgiveness, until we find
ourselves going eye-to-eye more than hand-in-hand.
Leader: So tonight we wipe feet and tears with the towels we
have, knowing later we will understand.
by Sandy Bosserman
Peace Valley, Missouri Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series"
Like Thomas in the
Bible, O Lord, we have our doubts. Shortly after washing the
feet of his disciples, Jesus spoke of going to prepare a place
for them, and Thomas wondered out loud, “we don’t know where you
are going. How can we know the way?” … Help us, Lord God, to
believe, to trust you enough to do what you have called us to do
in the here and now. Yes, we have heard and come to believe
(though sometimes by barely a thread) that Jesus is the way, and
the truth, and the life, and that we come to you through him.
Yes, we understand (though it stretches our prayerful
imagination) that in knowing Jesus, we know you, and that in
following him we are headed to you. Still, like Thomas, we
In washing feet, you have shown us the way. And so,
on this evening of evenings, we put our faith into this action.
In so doing, wonder of wonders, you make us a part of your
sanctifying, cleansing, healing work. We participate in what you
have done and are still doing. Yes, we understand (though our
grasp of it all in only partial) that what we do just now is
symbolic of a lifestyle of serving to which you have called us.
Help us to truly “stand under” what we do “understand.” As our
own feet are washed, may we feel your touch in the hands of
another. As we bend our own knees (as best we can), empower us
to sense your presence in and through what we do. Bless this
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my
love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his
love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in
you, and that your joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you
love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay
down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do
what I command you.
I do not call
you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what
the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I
have made known to you everything that I have heard from my
You did not choose me but I chose you. And
I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so
that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
I am giving you
these commands so that you may love one another.
We shift now from seeing
ourselves as servants to beholding each other as friends. That
may not be a stretch for many of us, for we already relate in
that way. However, the church of Jesus Christ is not made up
only of people who are already friends. If the truth be told,
there are folks in the body of Christ who are not our “buddies,”
persons to whom we would naturally gravitate. In fact, some may
be closer to the category of enemy rather than friend. So be it.
When the apostle Paul
challenged the believers in Philippi to live in harmony with one
another, he was not envisioning a church made up of people who
saw everything in the same way. Rather, he invited all to seek
the mind of Christ. As I hope we all know, Jesus was neither a
Republican nor a Democrat, a Liberal nor a Conservative, a
traditionalist nor an iconoclast. In Christ, scripture says,
there is no male or female, no slave or free. Race, ethnicity,
orientation, language – all the things that threaten to tear us
apart are meaningless at the foot of the cross, because (as the
song goes) “what a friend we have in Jesus.” Simply put, if
Jesus is your friend, you are my friend, no matter who you are.
I invite you now to this simple
meal. Yes, there’s meat and bread and broth (sorry, no
vegetables) on the table, but what’s really on the menu is the
love we share in Christ. We may not agree on many things, but we
are called to lay down our disagreements, to lay down our very
lives, even, for those who, in Christ, are now friends. In so
doing, we participate in the good news of the One who came to
tear down the barrier between us and God. You see, once upon a
time we were God’s enemies. Now, it’s a completely different
story, because of Christ Jesus, who laid down his life for us.
So now we turn to the heart of
this feast, and step into the way of communion with God. We do
so together with the other followers of Jesus in this room, his
disciples all, along with a host of characters past and present
around the world who have responded to the invitation of Christ
to “do this in remembrance of me.” Around this table have been
those who have done great things in Jesus’ name. Around this
table have also been those who, like Judas Iscariot, have
betrayed with a kiss.
At this point, we may say
something like “All of us who are in love and fellowship in the
family of God, who do truly and earnestly repent of our sins,
who humbly put our trust in Christ, and who desire his help that
we might walk in newness of life, are invited to draw near to
God and receive this holy communion to our comfort, through
Jesus Christ our Lord.” Having said that, however, make no
mistake. Our love and fellowship are incomplete. Our turning
from sin is not what it should be. Our trust in Christ is full
of holes at times. Our desire is half-hearted. It was so back in
that first upper room time. It remains so tonight.
And yet, he still
beckons us to come and partake, saying, “this is my body” and
“this is my blood.” … Please turn in your hymnal to #785 in the
back, a 2 part prayer of blessing. I invite you, along with the
person on the other side of the table from you, to pick up the
bread before you. There are two parts to each piece of
unleavened bread. Together, you will break it as you speak your
portion of the prayer. Together we will then eat. Let’s us pray
Blessing the Bread
Leader: Blessed are you, O God.
You made bread to strengthen us.
You set aside this bread
as a sign of your Son's broken body.
In breaking it, may we participate
in the reconciliation of Christ. People: May Christ's body be the bread of our souls,
to give us strength to continue our
being made worthy to sit with all the
at the marriage feast of the Lamb. ALL: Hear us, O God, through our mediator, Jesus
Leader: Blessed are you, O God.
You made the vine to strengthen us.
You set aside this cup
as a sign of your Son's shed blood.
In drinking the cup,
may we participate in the blood of
Christ. People: May Christ's blood make us strong
to drink the cup of suffering
without complaint, for Jesus' sake,
in the hope that we shall drink new wine
in your kingdom. ALL: Hear us, O God, for the sake of your eternal love.
rise… We have gathered to “do this in remembrance” of the One
who stepped forward from the garden of Gethsemane upon the way
of the cross. Jesus drank from that bitter cup, doing what his
“Abba, Father” asked. Here we stand under it all, barely
comprehending what we have just done, only scratching the
surface of what the crucifixion of our Lord is all about.
However, this is our story, this is our song. At this point, let
me simply say:
It’s Thursday. But, remember, Sunday is coming!
Go, blessed by the One who invited you to this table.
The lamb who was slain has begun his reign.
(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)