Maundy Thursday Service: Servant of All

You may choose to do this service in the fellowship hall if the sanctuary does not have moveable chairs. Set up tables, round ones if possible, for the congregational seating in the shape of a horseshoe to allow the monologue to be done in the opening. A worship center stands in the middle of the horseshoe, not too tall, so it won’t obstruct sightlines. It has water bowls and towels. Each table should have a pitcher of grape juice and a loaf of bread in the center, along with a cup and a paper napkin for each person. A priest or member of the Melchisedec priesthood (two, if possible) should sit at each table, with a basin of water and a towel for each. They will serve the Communion emblems and wash the feet. If possible the lighting should be soft, with no harsh overhead lights.

Prelude quiet and meditative

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:7–13
                             John 13:3–11


 "First It Was My Donkey"
(© John Arthur Horner 2005. Used with permission)

A middle-aged man in biblical clothes stands behind the pulpit, using it as though it were the check-in desk at an inn. His name is Nahum, and he is the proprietor. He is going over some paperwork, when he senses the congregation and looks up.

First it was my donkey.

That was first. I remember because it was the morning after Sabbath. (short pause) My name’s Nahum [pronounced NAH-hoom] by the way.

I had used my donkey, Becky—her name is Rebecca, but I call her Becky—anyway I had used her to haul a couple of jugs of water back from the well, and when I came back out to take care of Becky, there were these two guys who told me that their boss needed to use my donkey. For some reason I said okay, and they took her.

So, first it was my donkey.

Then, a couple of days later, a couple of other guys found me—hauling more water with Becky—and asked if they could rent my upstairs room Thursday night to celebrate the Passover, and could I cater it for them. Well, I can hardly ever get anyone to rent that place—it’s kind of drafty—so, a big group of a dozen or so business folks? Yeah, sure. You betcha. Just tell Nahum what you need.

So, second it was my upstairs room.

All fine and dandy. I’m finally going to get a little caught up on my bills—I’ve got this friend who’s been ready to throw me in jail, just because I lost a piddling little bet to him and haven’t been able to pay him off yet—though I know he hasn’t paid back the loan from his boss that comes close to being about what he makes in a year.

As I said, all fine and dandy. I had ordered the lamb and the bitter herbs and was getting ready to bake the unleavened bread. We’d knocked the dust off the couches upstairs. Biggest night these rooms have seen in ages—

And then two thirds of my staff up and quits.

Okay, okay, so I only had the three—but still, going from three waiters to one doesn’t make for the smoothest sailing in the world. Not that I’ve ever gone sailing, but, you know, it’s a metaphor.

Or something like that.

So, what was I going to do? Big group coming in for Passover, hardly any staff on duty.

Luckily my cousin Saul, who’s a businessman from Jericho, stopped by and wanted the family discount for one of the rooms.

I drafted him to be another waiter. He’s a little clumsy and isn’t really used to doing real work, but it was an emergency, right, so what are you going to do?

He’s a good guy, and he tries, but he’d never make it as a professional waiter. (very brief pause) Well, he drops things for a start, and it’s a good thing this was Passover, because, I swear, he was getting the orders mixed up, even though everyone was having the same meal.

But I couldn’t have done it without him.

Big problem is that Saul has this focus problem. "Take the food in, bring the dirty dishes back out," that’s what I told him. (pause) He keeps trying to give me reports on what they’re talking about. Some retirement plan from what I could make out, but Saul’s information was kind of spotty at best. Apparently their chief financial officer was pretty upset about it, because he took off before the entree was even served.

And I’ll tell you another thing—It’s a good thing there weren’t any Pharisees around, because that group took some real liberties with the Passover I was taught when I was a kid.

He takes a moment and then becomes more subdued and thoughtful.

At one point, after they had eaten, I slipped into the room with a basin and realized that everything had gone quiet, and the guy who seemed to be in charge had stood up and was moving back and forth, concentrating, trying to figure something out. Then he looked up and saw me. He motioned me over and asked if he could take the basin. I nodded, and he asked if he could have some water. I got the jug I had brought on Becky from the well and handed it to him. He thanked me and poured it into the basin. While I stepped back into the shadows, he took off his robe, knelt down by one of his group. And began to wash the man’s feet.

Then he moved on to the next one and washed his feet. And then the next. And the next. He made his way around the entire room, kneeling down and washing their feet. Until he finally came to this one pretty big guy, who put up something of a fuss, not wanting the boss to degrade himself like that, saying he wasn’t going to have his feet washed. His boss looked at him gently, shook his head, and told him if the big guy didn’t let the boss wash his feet, the big guy couldn’t be part of whatever he wanted to be part of.

Well, then the big guy went overboard the other way, telling his boss to wash his hands and face, too. His boss just kind of shook his head, then motioned me over. I reached for the water, but he guided me to sit, and when I did, he undid my sandals and started washing my feet. (He may start going through the actions.) "Do you understand? You call me Lord, and Master. Okay, if I have washed your feet, what should you do? The servant is not greater than the master." Then he dried my feet. "The greatest among you will be the servant of all."

They stayed kind of late, and we’re just now getting things cleaned up and packed away.

Their boss, though? I think he might go places. He had a real nice kind of quiet charm, you know? The kind of guy who’d really go to bat for you.

He shuffles his papers together, nods to us and leaves.

Foot Washing

The designated priesthood members at each table wash the feet of those at their table and then wash each other’s feet. If there are not two priesthood members at each table, the designated priesthood at adjoining tables will wash each others’ feet. If participants do not want their feet washed, wash their hands instead.

Scripture Reading: John 13:12–17
                             Luke 22:14–20

While the scriptures are read, those who have just performed the foot washing go to the worship center set up inside the horseshoe and wash their hands in preparation for serving the Communion.

Hymn: "’Twas on That Dark, That Solemn Night"

HS 337

During the singing of this hymn, the priesthood return to their tables and prepare the emblems.

Blessing of the Bread and Wine: "Communion Prayers"


A priest or elder who is a soloist should either sing the prayers or lead the congregation in singing them. The bread prayer is in Spanish, the wine prayer in English. The congregation should kneel as much as possible during the singing of the prayers.

Serving of the Bread and Wine

*Closing Hymn: "Jesus"




NS 22