Called to Be Servants
Worship setting: Prepare the Communion table with earthenware or wooden plates, bowls, and cups, as though it were set for Jesus and the disciples. Include bowls of fruit, plates of non-leavened bread, and anything else that may have been present at the Passover meal in Jesus’ time. In front of the altar place a small bench and a low table containing a pitcher of water, a basin, and several small white towels.
Consider using a PowerPoint presentation or slides of Communion emblems, the Last Supper, and foot washing during the prelude.
Call to Worship
Reader: Our forefathers were hungering in the wilderness.
People: We too, are travelers in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting.
Reader: And God gave them bread, manna from heaven to eat.
People: Give us this bread, too, that we may be filled.
Reader: Jesus said, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
People: Lord, we come to you in this place; we believe your promises.
Reader: Christ is the living bread that came down from heaven to do his father’s will, to give his life for the world.
—Adapted from John 5:31, 34-35, 39, 51
*Hymn: “Eat This Bread” CCS 528
OR “Holy Woman, Joyful giver” CCS 464
Disciples’ Generous Response:
Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely, despised, fearful, neglected, unloved. Reach out in understanding, clasp their hands, and invite all to share in the blessings of community in the name of the One who suffered on behalf of all.
—Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a
Jesus knew how to gather and give to his disciples. Tonight we are reminded that his giving was far-reaching. His sacrifice was for all – the lonely, despised, fearful, neglected and unloved. May we, too, be unreserved in our giving, so that our sharing may be a witness of God’s love for all.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn or Solo: “How Long, O God, How Long?” CCS 455
OR “Let Us Break Bread Together” CCS 521
Prayers of Blessing on Emblems
Serving of Communion
Foot Washing of the Generations
Prior to the service, select five people to represent children, youth, young adults, middle-aged adults, and senior adults. Ask them to come prepared to have their feet washed, wearing easy-to-remove shoes and no socks. Have the reader read the following scripture slowly, as an elder washes the feet of each of the five people.
Reader: John 13:3-17
Hymn: “Make Me A Servant” CCS 597
OR “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” CCS 605
Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden: John 17:1-8, 17-21, 25-26
Hymn: “’Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” CCS 456
OR “Jesus Remember Me” CCS 459
As we leave the table of the Lord, may we take with us the example laid here before us. Let the bread and wine of Christ truly live in us and through us. Let us take up the towel and basin into the world to which we are called to be servants of the Most High God. May we fulfill that calling through the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Hymns of Gathering
"As We Gather” CCS 73
"Lord, You Have Brought Us” CCS 76
"O Lord, Grace Our Communion” CCS 80
OR "As We Gather" CCS 73
"Come Away from Rush and Hurry” CCS 83
"O God beyond All Praising” CCS 90
Call to Worship: Psalm 100
*Hymn of Praise: "Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works" CCS 118
OR “ Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
Leader: O Lord, forgive us when we fail to respond to your call with faith.
People: Through your Spirit we stand in the assurance of your acceptance.
Leader: Forgive us when we are shackled by our narrow understandings of discipleship and our clouded sense of purpose.
People: Through your Spirit we are drawn into the illumination of your empowering love.
Leader: Forgive us when we are frightened of the future or pull back from the demand of your calling.
People: Through your Spirit we will trust you to lead us into new opportunities.
Leader Forgive us when we fail to sense your presence in our past, to acknowledge your grace in the present movement, and to trust you for our future.
People: Through your Spirit we offer ourselves in discipleship.
All: We stand together as your disciples.
We seek renewed and renewing faith.
Touch us now with your Spirit, Lord.
Touch us now with your Spirit.
—Adapted from Prayers and Readings for Worship, vol. 2, Peter Judd, ed. (Herald House, 1996), 22.
Hymn: "Lay Your Hands" CCS 545
OR “The Church of Christ Cannot Be Bound” CCS 347
Prayer of Confession and Repentance
Below are three scripture readings concerning the Passover and Lord’s Supper. After each one is a short statement concerning the history and significance of the scripture. Each reading could be shared by a different person.
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–9 NRSV
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Statement: These six verses may well be the most quoted portion in the entire Bible. Known as the Shema, they are recited every morning and every evening by orthodox Jews and have been for hundreds of years. They graphically emphasize the importance of God’s laws to the Israelites.1 The Shema is a recognition of a covenant of God’s intervention on Israel’s behalf against the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Shema starts with a confession that there is one true God and that this God must be loved with all your heart, soul and strength.2
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:20–22 NRSV
When your children ask you in time to come, "What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?" then you shall say to your children, "We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household."
Statement: This reading explains why the Shema is important. It is a reminder of the Passover when God passed over the houses of the Israelites, when the firstborn of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It is a remembrance for the children of Israel of their deliverance out of Egypt and slavery. The Passover meal follows a fairly standard pattern in the Jewish household. In response to a question from the youngest member of the family, the story of the first Passover is recounted.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:20 and 26–29, adapted
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take, and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and offered 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.
I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom."
Statement: Jesus and his disciples met as a family to eat the Passover meal together. Jesus thought of himself as the Passover lamb, offered up for the deliverance of his people. The bread was his body which was to be given, and the wine was his blood that would be spilled. The Passover was transformed into the Lord’s Supper. At the Exodus, the nation of Israel was born. By Christ’s sacrifice, the church was born, which would become a people drawn from all nations. Until he comes again, we are to remember the significance of what he has done for us.
Hymn of Preparation: "O Holy Dove of God Descending" CCS 44
OR "Eat This Bread" CCS 528
While this hymn is being sung, the bread and wine should be prepared.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and brake it, and blessed it, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you. —Matthew 26:22 IV
Blessing and Serving of the Bread
And [Jesus] took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins. —Matthew 26:23–24
Blessing and Serving of the Wine
Offertory Statement and Prayer: John 3:16–17
Now it is our time to respond to the gift of God’s son. Jesus brought a view of God that humanity had not seen before. We are called to respond to the love of Jesus Christ with our abundance. We are the richest people in the whole world, rich in material things and rich in the love Jesus Christ has shared with us.
*Closing Hymn: "Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” CCS 648
OR "Christ Has Called Us to New Visions” CCS 566
We go forth, remembering what we have heard and said and done here in worship.
We go recalling that we are loved, forgiven, and renewed.
With faith we go out to be the Community of Christ.
—Adapted from Prayers and Readings for Worship, vol. 1, Judy Judd, ed. (Herald House, 1987), 128.
1 Quoted from the Student Bible New International Version, 180.
2 Information taken from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 254.
Communion of the Disciples
Worship setting: This service is best celebrated in a fellowship hall or basement where tables can be set up for the entire congregation. There should be a head table with an empty space for Jesus, a loaf of bread, a pitcher of grape juice, and cups. Tables for all other worshipers should be set with pitchers of grape juice, small cups, and plates of bread. Candles would enhance the setting. The head table should also have basins, pitchers of water, and towels for the hand-washing activity.
Invitation to the Table
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:17–20; John 13:1, 3–9, 12–17
Hymn: "Make Me a Servant" CCS 597
OR "Come Away from Rush and Hurry” CCS 83
Prayer of Invitation
We have come as disciples and are called to be servants. Lord, prepare our hearts and our hands for your service. Help us to take your example into our hearts, humble ourselves, and love one another. Forgive us and wash us clean. Amen.
Invite the congregation to come forward to the head table when ready and those designated will wash their hands. A pair of appointed ministers stands behind each pitcher and basin. The first one pours a small amount of water on the worshiper’s hands. The second minister wipes the hands dry, making eye contact with each person.
Hymns: to be sung during the washing of hands.
"Jesus, Remember Me" CCS 459
"In the Singing” CCS 519
Sharing the Passover; Remembering the Lord’s Supper
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:26–30
Preparation of the Emblems
Ministers break the bread at each table and pour the grape juice into small cups.
Hymn of Invitation: "Eat This Bread" CCS 529
OR “ God Extends an Invitation” CCS 520
Blessing of the Bread and Wine
Serving of the Bread and Wine
Ministers are available at each table, handing the bread and wine simultaneously.
Ministry of Music (soloist or small group sings during the serving of the bread and wine)
"You Satisfy the Hungry Heart" CCS 531
“Is There One Who Feels Unworthy?” CCS 526
OR "Remember Him" —Don Besig and Nancy Price (Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania: Harold Flammer, A7353); SATB with flute
We Leave the Table
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:36–40
*Hymn:”Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing” CCS 534
OR "Peace Be with You” CCS 662
Servant of All
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 You may choose to do this service in the fellowship hall if the sanctuary does not have moveable chairs. obstructed 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 and John 13:3–11
Monologue: "First It Was My Donkey"
(copyright 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.
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 and 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: “As We Gather at Your Table” CCS 523
OR “For Bread Before Us Broken” CCS 524
During the singing of this hymn, the priesthood return to their tables and prepare the emblems.
Blessing of the Bread and Wine
Serving of the Bread and Wine
*Closing Hymn: "Jesus Remember Me” CCS 459
OR “What Wondrous Love Is This” CCS 454
In the Shadows
Worship setting: The setting should contain bread and grape juice, but not in the traditional Communion settings. The bread can be placed on two simple plates; the grape juice could be in small paper cups (bathroom dispenser size). On the table, there should also be two basins and pitchers with hand towels, one at each end. The center of the setting should contain seven small white candles and one large white one, all lit before the service begins.
Welcome and call to worship (John 6:35)
Maundy Thursday is the day on which we remember the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. At that service, he reviewed his teachings, answered their questions, challenged them, washed their feet to remind them of their calling to be servants, gave them the promise of the Comforter...
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
Hymn: "Meet Me in a Holy Place” CCS 162
OR “Oh God We Call” CCS 195 (Sung Taize Style)
Statement of preparation: Mark 14:22-25, adapted
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and offered 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 sings."
We will be sharing tonight in a remembrance of that service--but in a slightly different format from Community of Christ's traditional Communion. While we will still be taking the elements of bread and juice, we will invite all who desire--including children--to take a piece of bread and a sip of juice, doing so in recognition that Jesus desires to share with each one.
The prayers we will use come from the Jewish tradition that Jesus was familiar with. they are the prayers he would have said over the bread and wine, statements of thanksgiving to God. As we bow in prayer--and we will simply bow, not kneel--we invite you to put yourself at the table with the Twelve and with Jesus--and to listen to what Jesus is wanting to share with you.
Blessed are You, our God, King of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.
Blessed are You, our God, King of the Universe,
who creates the fruit of the vine.
Serving of the Bread and Juice
Soft Taize music played during the serving.
Challenge and Invitation
Jesus knew that he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing.
But when he came to Simon Peter, that disciple asked, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered, "You don't really know what I am doing, but later you will understand."
"You will never wash my feet!" Peter replied.
"If I don't wash you," Jesus told him, "you don't really belong to me."
Peter said, "Lord, don't wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head."
After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said, "Do you understand what I have done? You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. you know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.
We have come tonight as disciples...and we are called to be servants. We come, asking God to prepare our hearts and our hands for service. We are challenged to take Christ's example into our hearts--to humble ourselves and to love one another. We come, asking for forgiveness, asking to be washed clean. When you are ready, we invite you to come forward to have your hands washed as a symbol of your willingness to be a servant.
Washing of Hands
Ministers stand behind each pitcher and basin. One pours a small amount of water on the individual's hands; the second wipes the hands dry.
There were shadows in the upper room that night...shadows that were sensed by the disciples but that could not be spoken. Jesus knew what the following days would hold for him...knew how much those experiences would test not only him but would also test his followers.
As they left the upper room this night, it seemed as though they were walking into a darkness with no ending. We know the ending--the ending that was the beginning. But as we prepare to leave, let us remember the dark time the followers experienced the next few days. Only in doing that can we truly understand what we will experience on Sunday.
After each of the scriptures is read, one small candle is blown out.
Matthew 26:20-25 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Luke 22:40-44 The Message
Matthew 26:40-45 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Matthew 26:47-50, 55-56 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Matthew 26:59-67 New Living Translation
Mark 15:12-20 The Message
Luke 23:33-36 The Message
Ministry of Music: "What Wondrous Love Is This” CCS 454
Sending Forth: John 1:1-5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
In the beginning was the one
who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
and was truly God.
From the very beginning
the Word was with God.
And with this Word,
God created all things.
Nothing was made without the Word.
Everything that was created
received its life from him,
and his life gave light
The light keeps shining
in the dark,
and darkness has never
put it out.
Go in peace. Amen.
A Blessed Meal (2020)
JOHN 13:1-17, 31b-35
Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Arrange the room with table groups for 4-6 people each. Set out small bowls of massage oil on each table. Be aware of those who may be sensitive to perfumes. Provide an unscented option. Place Communion emblems on the head table.
Tonight we gather to remember Jesus’ time with the disciples sharing the bread and wine, washing their feet and giving a new commandment.
“A Man of Ancient Time and Place” CCS 30
OR “Jesus, Promise of an Angel” stanzas 1-3 CCS 32
OR “O Lord, How Can It Be” CCS 529
This prayer recognizes God’s presence and invites the congregation to be open to it.
Use a breath prayer. Breathe in God’s Spirit, breathe out “I am here,” or “I receive you.”
Scripture Reading: John 13:1-17
Conclude the reading with this statement:
The original hearer or reader of this passage may have pictured Jesus getting up and taking off his robe, washing the disciples’ feet and then drying them with a towel. But, they might also have had the other images in their minds, if they understood the double meaning of the words describing how Jesus got up, laid his life down for the disciples, washed their feet and anointed them—consecrating them and bringing them into God’s presence.
—Sermon and Class Helps, Year A, B, or C, for Maundy Thursday, Herald Publishing House
Coming into God’s Presence
Have quiet music playing during this activity.
We are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Hands are a symbol of service. They also are an important element in our sacraments. They are ways we consecrate or anoint others for service.
Each table has a small bowl of massage oil. The first person at the table will take a small amount of oil and use it to massage the hand of the person on their left. Before ending their time, the person who has massaged the hand will say, “God is with you.” Then the second person will turn to their left and repeat this process. Continue until all at the table have an opportunity to participate.
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Communion Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Based on Communion and John 13:1-17, 31b-35
“For Bread before Us Broken” CCS 524
OR “I Come with Joy, a Child of God” Stanzas 1-3 CCS 533
Invitation to Communion
All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Read in unison.
Print these words in the bulletin or project them.
“Maundy” means commandment. As those who have received Communion and feasted on the Word, we end our service with the new commandment Jesus gives us: “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.”
“You Are Called to Tell the Story” CCS 625
OR “Help Us Express Your Love” CCS 621
Small-group Worship Suggestions (2020)
John 13:1–17, 31–35 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Maundy Thursday is the night on which the Lord’s Supper first was celebrated. The central theme of that first Lord’s Supper was one of humble service. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and commanded that they do the same for each other. Jesus taught that he came not to be served, but to serve; to share the hospitality of God and the intimacy of breaking bread together.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Loving and humble God,
Today we make ourselves vulnerable to your Spirit. You showed the disciples vulnerability as you stooped to wash their feet. How might we have the same courage to do the same with our friends and neighbors as we seek to create peace? You create spaces for each person at your table and feed us in a new way, allowing us to take peace into our hearts. Grace us with that peace so that we may share it. May the voices of servant-leaders focused on peace be uplifted over the voices of hatred and division so that all may find their place at the table. Amen.
—Caleb and Tiffany Brian
Say aloud: Today our spiritual practice will be a body prayer.
Show the group members three postures they will experience for this spiritual exercise:
- First posture—head bowed with hands folded
- Second posture—sitting or standing with arms stretched outward
- Third posture—both hands clasped over the heart.
Say: “A chime will signal when to move into the next posture. You will not offer any words of prayer. Instead focus on sensing what type of prayer wants to emerge from you as you hold each posture.”
Lead the group in three deep, cleansing breaths as preparation. Ring a chime.
First posture: Bow your head and fold your hands (one minute). Ring a chime.
Second posture: Sit or stand with your arms stretched outward (one minute). Ring a chime.
Third posture: Clasp your hands over your heart (one minute). Ring a chime.
Close with a spoken “Amen.”
Invite participants to share what they experienced as they engaged in the body prayer.
Sharing Around the Table
John 13:1-17, 31-35 NRSV
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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 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.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 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 clean.”
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. 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.
…When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘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.”
When Jesus washes the disciples’ feet it typifies how he lived in service to others. It is the gospel in action.
The passage tells us Jesus “took off his outer robe” before washing the feet of the disciples. In Greek, another meaning can be to “lay down one’s life.”
Once Jesus washed their feet, he wiped them with a towel. The word the author used for wiped also can mean to anoint. Anointing is a sacred act of using oil as a symbol of God’s presence.
The original hearers of this passage may have pictured Jesus getting up and taking off his robe, washing the disciples’ feet, and then drying them with a towel. But, they also might have understood that Jesus laid down his life for the disciples, washed and anointed their feet—consecrating them and bringing them into God’s presence. The dual meaning deepens this beautiful passage about servant ministry. This small part of the longer passage, expresses the ministry and message of Jesus.
This passage ends with Jesus challenging his disciples (then and now) to live this message. He gives a new commandment that requires disciples to “love one another. Just as I have loved you.” This is how everyone will know these are disciples of Jesus Christ—by their acts of servant ministry.
- How can you “wash the feet of another” in today’s world?
- Describe a time when you saw someone offer humble service.
- What do your actions tell others about you?
Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing, small-group ministries as part of your generous response. This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
God of rejoicing, We share with joy-filled hearts in response to the presence of your Son. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 597, “Make Me a Servant”