An Agape/Love Feast Maundy Thursday at Home
prepared by The Rev. Carol M. McDonald, Parish Associate
Northminister Preysbyterian Church Indianapolis, IN
Adapted by Rev. Kathy Brown, St. Paul’s UMC, Tulsa , OK
Note from Kathy: The Love Feast, or Agape Meal, is a Christian fellowship meal recalling the meals Jesus shared with disciples during his ministry and expressing the koinonia (community, sharing, fellowship) enjoyed by the family of Christ…. One of the advantages of the Love Feast is that any Christian may conduct it. It does not require a clergy person to lead it.
For more information see: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/the-love-feast
The Thursday before Easter is known as Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. The name is derived from the Latin word for ‘command’ and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “love one another as I have loved you.” On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples where he breaks bread and pours wine, offers them to his disciples saying, “do this remembering me.”
(Note from Kathy: One of my favorite services is our Maundy Thursday service where we come together as a community of faith and remember this last meal Jesus had with his disciples. Last year we washed the hands of someone sitting next to us and shared the meal of Holy Communion together.) But Maundy Thursday 2020 comes to us at an unprecedented time in the history of our world.
This Maundy Thursday an At Home Liturgy is offered so that, at your kitchen or dining room table, you may engage in moments of remembering – by reading Scripture, listening to music, reflecting on the meaning of this holy day, and praying for each other and our world. I live alone and know that many of you do, too. Part of the reason I like this liturgy is that it could be used at a table of 1, or 2 or 3 or more– for I do believe that, as we worship this night, we are joined by our siblings in the faith. As we worship at home, we are joining a community around the world gathered to receive the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. May God bless our meals. May God bless our community.
About Maundy Thursday
The Last Supper was a Passover meal; Jesus was a Jew and observed the Jewish holy days. Jesus and his disciples ate unleavened bread to commemorate the exodus of the Jews from Egypt; when the people left Egypt so quickly, there was no time for the bread to rise.
We also associate foot washing with Maundy Thursday. In John 13, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, teaching them to be servants. Washing their feet is the ultimate symbol of servant leadership.
There’s also a dark side to Maundy Thursday. As he shares the meal with his disciples, he points towards his death by declaring he will not eat again until the Reign of God is fulfilled. And he acknowledges that one of his loved ones will betray him.
Preparing for Worship
You are encouraged to include your Maundy Thursday worship as part of your evening meal. Even as the Passover meal included special foods, prepare something special for supper. Set a time for all who will be at your table to gather for the meal.
Set the table with real dishes and silverware; use cloth napkins if you have them 😊. Create a centerpiece or worship focal point.
You might include:
A cross of another symbol of faith
A candle or candles
A small bowl of water representing the baptismal font
A special plate and cup for your agape meal. (an agape meal is similar to Elements for your agape meal – use any kind of bread or crackers you have in your pantry … use grape juice or wine or any kind of juice you have in your pantry or refrigerator. Remember these are symbols.
At the appointed time, come to your table.
Prayer before the Meal
Holy God, we thank you for all your gifts. For food that nourishes our bodies in these difficult lory days, we are grateful. For family, friends, and community who lift our spirits even in isolation, we are grateful. May our worship this evening be one small sign that we trust you to surround us, support us, and strengthen us no matter what. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Call to mind someone you know and love – perhaps someone you might have worshipped with at church this evening. Remember/share a story about that person or persons. Give thanks to God for them and the gifts they offer to your life.
Spend some time in prayer. Offer to God
- Something you are thankful for
- A time in recent days when you have experienced God’s love
- Any fears and concerns you’ve been holding during these days
- People and places you know need God’s special touch right now
- Our church, our community and our world
- Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer
The Agape/Love Feast Meal
Song of Praise – Let Us Break Bread Together UMH # 640
(This is a beautiful version sung by Joan Baez)
Vs. 1 Let us break bread together, on our knees;
let us break bread together, on our knees.
When I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.
Let us drink wine together, on our knees (repeat)
Let us praise God together, on our knees (repeat)
Scripture John 13: 12-15
After Jesus 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.”
What is the invitation to you in this passage?
What is the challenge to you in this passage?
Prayer of Thanksgiving
O God of all life, we thank you for this night – a night different from all other nights. On this night, we remember that Jesus ate with his special friends, even the one who would betray him. We thank you for his example of love and devotion and service. And we rejoice in the bread and cup he offered that night as symbols of his body and his blood. May the symbols on this table remind us we are nourished by the bread of life and the cup of salvation – for Jesus has promised we will never go hungry and we will never thirst. In his name we pray. Amen.
Sharing the symbols
As you hold and eat the bread, remember and give thanks that Jesus is the Bread of Life for us all.
As you hold and drink from the cup, remember and give thanks that Jesus is the Cup of Salvation for us all.
Prayer after the Meal
Holy God, you feed us with the bread of life. You quench our thirst with the cup of salvation. May this meal empower us to go into the world with courage and with generosity – to serve all we meet with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ – in whose name we worship and in whose name we pray. Amen.
Song of Response – Let Us Be Bread
Let us be bread, blessed by the Lord, broken and shared, life for the world.
Let us be wine, love freely poured. Let us be one in the Lord.
Go from this table, knowing that Christ walks behind you to hem your journey.
Go from this table, knowing that Christ walks before you to light your way.
Go from this table, knowing that Christ is beneath and above you,
that Christ is with you in all ways.
Go from this table, knowing that Christ surrounds you –
this night and forever. Amen!
Sharing the Peace of Christ
If you are worshipping alone, take a moment to send a text or email – or make a phone call – to someone to whom you want to offer God’s peace. If you’re at a table of 2 or more … offer Christ’s peace to one another.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Note from Kathy—I would encourage you to listen to What Wondrous Love is This sometime tonight before you go to bed. It is a beautiful hymn that captures Holy Week. This is a link to one of my favorite versions:
(skip the ad as soon as you can)