This Lent, I have been preaching through Jesus’ final discourse in John. Tonight, we will look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Here is tonight’s Maundy Thursday liturgy and order of worship.
As You Prepare for Worship
This chapter is the easiest in the whole of Scripture as regards to words, the deepest in meaning. – Johannes Bengel, John
Gathering Words John 13:1; 17:25-26
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
We gather in God’s love.
On the night before he died, Jesus prayed, “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
We gather in God’s love.
Gathering Song An Upper Room Did Our Lord Prepare (202)
Call to Prayer
Jesus has told us that whatever we ask in his name, we will receive. Let us join together as we seek the will of God in our confession.
Prayer of Confession
We have prayed for peace, even as we laughed at truth;
for blessing, but did not care to do Your will;
for mercy, and have shown none to others.
We have prayed for impossible things:
peace without justice,
forgiveness without restitution,
love without sacrifice.
Again, as the shadows fall, we ask forgiveness, and again we praise You, O God, the Source of peace.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Response What Wondrous Love is This, verse 1 (215)
Prayer for Illumination (unison)
We gather to hear the Word of the Lord. Holy Spirit, we pray that you would lead us in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Amen.
A Reading from the Gospel of John John 17
Message Eternal Life, Truth and Love
While John’s Gospel doesn’t institute the Eucharist, the sacrament’s reality is present throughout this final discourse in Jesus’ words:
- that we would be unified and strengthen one another’s faith;
- that we would discern and live truth together;
- that our lives would look different than the rest of the world;
- that we would embody peace and joy despite suffering;
- that we would be known by our mutual love for one another – including those who persecute us.
The Table represents Jesus’ prayer. It is here we seek to be sanctified in truth. It is here we proclaim our abiding with the Triune God and one another, and where we understand what love is. At the Table, we become the Church together, to be nourished so that we may go out into the world and continue the ministry of Jesus.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God, whose commandment is eternal life so that we may know you and be with you;
God, who so loved the world that you took on human flesh so that we may be saved;
God, who guides us into truth;
God, who has conquered sin and death;
God, who is I AM;
God, who binds us together as your holy Church;
God, it is to you, whom we give our thanks. It is in you that we remember how Jesus took the bread, gave thanks for it, and gave it to the disciples – your body broken for us. We remember how you also took the cup, gave thanks for it, and gave it to the disciples – your blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
We give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit who continues to make the presence and love of Jesus real in our lives today. Holy Spirit, may you blow through this place tonight bringing us into true abiding communion with Jesus and one another through this loaf and this cup. In unity as your people, we join our hearts and voices as we pray together, saying: Our Father…
Jesus came to the world, desiring that we would know him and believe. Come now, to the Lord’s Table, to be fed and nourished – and abide in Jesus’ love.
Prayer After Communion
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit: on this night set apart to remember, we try to comprehend how costly love can be. In the light of your love, what we can offer you in our prayer and worship seem much too insignificant. But we offer what we have in thanksgiving to you. And we pray that as we have been nourished at your table once again, we will be able to live into your commandment of eternal life, truth and love. Amen.
Our Sung Response What Wondrous Love is This, verses 2-4 (215)
We began our Lenten journey at a dinner party in the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, where Mary anointed Jesus with nard. We received ashes, mixed with nard, as we contemplated our own mortality.
Some scholars believe that the scent of the nard, poured so extravagantly over Jesus less than a week before he died, would have still been present at the time of Jesus’ torture and execution. The sweet smell may have reminded Jesus of those who loved him during the incarnation. The aroma may have been a reminder of who he was. Maybe even a hint of the promise yet to come.
Tonight, you are invited to be anointed with nard as we contemplate Jesus’ death and burial. May we remember the pain as well as the love; the scandal of death as well as the peace; sorrow as well as the joy, which cannot be stolen.
Sending Anthem In the Garden
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit: on this night set apart to remember, we try to comprehend how costly love can be. In light of your love, our offering of prayer and worship seems insignificant. But we offer what we have in thanksgiving to… Click To Tweet
 From the Yom Kippur concluding service, Gates of Repentance, 498.