worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.
Over a year ago the coronavirus converted our congregations from sanctuary-based to home-based ministries. This Lent we reflect upon our calling to be the Christian Community in new ways. May we be open to reinvention by the Holy Spirit.
About this Service/Devotional of Readings
In the Gospel of St John, between the summation of Jesus’ public teaching and his arrest in the garden, we find a powerful and profound string of teachings. These words belong to all disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us receive them this Holy Week with faith, hope, and love. Note: I imagined this material being used during the evening. Please adjust as needed.
Household Items Needed
- candle and matches or additional lamp with nearby switch
- food and drink for Holy Communion
- cloth to cover Communion elements
Prelude: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” Written by Johann Sebastian Bach. Guitar/Cello Duet Rendition and Performance by Jack Marti & Elisabeth Montague. (performance ends at 3:33, additional content follows)
Tonight, we remember. We choose to remember the tender last hours Jesus spent with his disciples rather than recounting the tale of his betrayal, arrest, unjust trials, as well as his physical abuse and death as a criminal.
While it is true that the Passion of Christ holds great value in Christendom as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, the eternal atonement for all human sin, it is also a very disturbing, violent, tragic tale of mortal suffering.
This past year we have lived through too much – too much danger, too much racism, too much vulnerability, too much death, too much violence, too much loneliness – so many tragedies. This evening, we choose to focus upon the Big Love moments in the last hours of Jesus’ life that reveal The Beloved’s profound love and comfort for all who call upon the Living Christ.
Tonight, we who are Jesus Christ’s friends, will abide in his eternal presence listening to his still-peaking words and actions. Tonight, we will be comforted.
Invocation (adapted excerpts from John 13:12-20 NRSV)
After washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus said:
“Do you know what I have done (meaning washing their feet)?
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.
Very truly, 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.
Very truly, I tell you,
whoever receives one who I send – receives me;
and whoever receives me – receives the one who sent me.”
Light the Christ Candle
Let us receive The Light of Jesus Christ and The One who sent him.
(light candle or turn on you special lamp)
New Commandment (adaptedfrom John 13:31-35 NRSV)
After Jesus predicted his betrayal and Judas left, Jesus said,
“Now the Son of Man has been glorified,
and God has been glorified in him.
Little children, I am with you only a little longer.
Where I am going, you cannot come.
I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Holy Communion (adapted from Matthew 26:20-29 NRSV)
When it was evening,
Jesus took his place with this beloved disciples.
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread,
and after blessing it,
Jesus broke it,
gave it to his disciples saying,
“Take eat. This is my body.”
Then Jesus took a cup,
and after giving thanks
Jesus gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the covenant,
Which is poured out for many
For the forgiveness of sins.
Tonight, we will share this sacred meal with loved ones who not physically present.
Let us gather them in in heart and mind.
(If you wish, speak their names.)
Dear Ones, let us receive The Body of Christ
and the Blood of the New Covenant.
(eat and drink quietly)
After Jesus had shared the loaf and cup with them,
“I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine
until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The Way, The Truth, The Life (adapted from John 14:1-7)
After the meal, the disciples were even more anxious.
Jesus comforted them, saying:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.
If it were not so, would I have told you
that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
so that where I am, there you may be also.”
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you will know my Father also.”
Abide in Me (adaptedfrom John 14:18-15:8 NRSV)
Jesus continued to assure them, saying,
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will know
that I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I in you.”
“Abide in me as I abide in you.
Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself
unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine – you are the branches.
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit,
because apart from me you can do nothing.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,
ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
My Father is glorified by this,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
*Song: “Abide in Me” Written and performed by Andrew Marcus. License: Interstreet Recordings (Northern Lights Records). Aug 18, 2020.
Loving Friends (adaptedfrom John 15:10-17 NRSV)
Jesus encouraged his friends to strength, saying:
“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 Father.”
“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 in my name.
I am giving you these commands
so that you may love one another.”
The Spirit of Truth (adapted from John 15:26-16:15 NRSV)
Jesus assured the disciples of on-going spiritual support:
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of Truth will testify on my behalf.
You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you;
but if I go, I will send him to you.”
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of Truth comes, it will guide you into all the truth.
It will glorify me, because it will take what is mine and declares it to you.
All that the Father has is mine.”
Pain into Joy (adapted from John 16:20-24 NRSV)
Knowing the disciples were grieving, Jesus said:
“Very truly, I tell you,
you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice;
you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.
When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come.
But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish
because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.
So you have pain now; but I will see you again,
and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
On that day you will ask nothing of me.
Very truly, I tell you,
if you ask anything of the Father in my name,
God will give it to you.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Take Courage (adapted from John 16:28-33 NRSV)
Jesus assured the disciples he would be fine, as would they:
“I came from the Father and have come into the world;
again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”
“The hour is coming; indeed it has come,
when you will be scattered, each one to his home,
and you will leave me alone.
Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.
I have said this to you, so that in me – you may have peace.
In the world you face persecution.
But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
We Pray for All Disciples (inspired by John 17:1-25 NRSV)
Let us pray, inspired by the prayer attributed to Jesus in St John’s gospel:
Beloved Parent of All Life,
You glorified Jesus Christ so that Jesus Christ could glorify You.
You continue to give the Living Christ authority over all people
to grant eternal life so that everyone may know You, O God.
Through Jesus Christ we do know You, O Heavenly One.
Through Jesus Christ, we receive all You gave him.
Through the petitions of Jesus Christ, we are lifted up.
O God, Your glory, shines bright!
We are protected by Your name invoked by Jesus Christ.
Continue to protect and guard us.
Keep us safe and alive, O Mighty God.
Holy One, we are transformed by the prayers of Jesus Christ.
May his joy be made complete in us.
May our joy bring You glory!
Understanding our trials, Christ calls upon You
to protect us from the Evil One.
Understanding Your power, Christ calls upon You
to sanctify us with Your holy truth.
Faithful One, grant us these blessings
that we might share Your Big Love on earth
as did Your Beloved One, Jesus Christ
On this Holy Night,
we ask to absorb, more fully,
the truth that You and Jesus Christ are truly one.
May the wonders You infused into the man of Nazareth,
be diffused among us as we attempt
to do Your will for the good of all.
May all become one.
May everyone know Your complete love,
a love which has existed
since the foundation of the world. Amen.
We Honor Christ’s Passion
Jesus’ last hours of suffering and cruelty are called “The Passion.” The Latin root word for the English word “suffering” is “passio.” Like the modern English word “passion” connoting a strong emotion experience.
After Jesus prayed for his disciples,
he left the place where they had gathered
and went to the garden to pray alone.
There, soldiers and religious leaders,
having been informed of his location,
arrested Jesus and his mortal suffering began.
Tonight, we do not recount the story of Christ’s Passion in words.
Rather, let us listen to this haunting performance that covers a range of emotions.
May our souls speak in the language without words.
Special Music: “Adagio for Strings” Written by Samuel Barber; Performed by COVID CELLO PROJECT 10. August 29, 2020. (cue up to start at 0:41; performance ends at 8:42)
After the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction we will enter a great silence – you may remain and pray or conclude this service/devotion in silence. After the Benediction, please extinguish your household Christ candle or lamp.
The Lord’s Prayer
May we hold close these words from Jesus Christ –
may they resonate in our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
Jesus is still saying to his beloved disciples:
“Receive me and the One who sent me.
Love one another.
This is my Body; this is the Blood of the Covenant.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Abide in me as I abide in you.
Friends, love one another.
Trust the Spirit of Truth.
Your pain will turn into joy.
Ask and you will receive.
Dear Ones, dear friends of Christ,
let us hold each other in our hearts
as we continue this Holy Week journey to Easter Morn. Amen.
Extinguish the Christ Candle
(blow out candle or turn off special lamp)
(the service is concluded)
(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source. Communion liturgy adapted from “With Christ and Spirituals” Holy Week Service of Readings and Hymns by Rev. Kathryn Schreiber ©2015.
(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.
2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.
Online Image: artwork: He Qui “Washing Feet”
Online Publishing Date: March 30, 2021.
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