Maundy Thursday Agape Meal

The Agape Meal (Love Feast) is an ancient tradition, dating back to the early church. Before church was formalized, before the Eucharist became the ceremony we know today, early Christians would gather around their dining tables. They would read scripture, tell stories, and pray. This Maundy Thursday, you are invited into this tradition.

At 5pm on Maundy Thursday, we will post a reflection from the Rector, introducing the tradition and the story of Maundy Thursday.

At 7pm we will broadcast the stripping of the altar. This somber ceremony marks the end of the evening. We encourage you to watch when your meal is done.

Preparation

Choose and prepare together a “special” meal; perhaps a favorite recipe or a special dish you normally reserve only for holidays.

Set the table as you would when welcoming a special guest to dinner.

Have a Bible with you to read the story of Jesus’ last supper.

Candles are ceremonially lit at the beginning of the meal. Be prepared with unlit candles and lighter.

Be prepared to clear your table completely at the conclusion of the service.

Gathering

A brief silence is kept, perhaps standing around the table. The candles are lighted.

Blessed be our God.

For ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, gave freely of himself

to his beloved in the washing of feet and in instituting the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that as we gather in our households we may remember these great gifts of love by Jesus Christ our Lord, and follow his great command to love one another as he eternally loves us all; who has given himself for the whole world, and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

All are seated for the meal.

Holy God, draw us into worship with a spirit of humility. Let us gather with open hearts prepared to love, even to the point of breaking, as we seek to receive this story with our whole selves. In drawing closer to Christ and his crucified love, may we draw closer to you and your beloved world. Amen.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe.

You have blessed the earth to bring forth food to satisfy our hunger. Let this food strengthen

us in the fast that is before us, that following our Savior in the way of the cross, we may come to the joy of his resurrection. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, now and for ever. Amen.

You may be seated for the meal.

Read the Gospel of John Chapter 13.

As you eat: 

Take the opportunity to contemplate/share why this night is special. 

Some ideas: tell the story of the Exodus; tell the story of Jesus washing his friend’s feet. Remember the name of someone you wish were at the table with you tonight. If you feel comfortable, share why. 

Take the opportunity to contemplate/share what it looks like to serve others in a time when physical distancing is in place. Washing someone’s feet isn’t just service, it is about mutual vulnerability.  What does it look like to be vulnerable to someone else at this time? How could you choose to be vulnerable to show love?

Consider: Jesus invited his friends to experience bread and wine in a new way. 

How has Communion fed you? Do you remember any particular service of communion? Remembering Jesus’ last supper, we see bread and wine in a new way: is God inviting you to see or experience anything else life in a new way?

At the end of the meal 

Pray some (or all) of the following prayers:

United with Christians around the globe on this Maundy Thursday, let us pray for the church, the earth, our troubled world, and all in need, responding to each petition with the words Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, holy God, for the church. Gather all the baptized around your presence in the Word. Strengthen the body of your people even when we cannot assemble for worship. Give our bishops and all our clergy faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time, and accompany those preparing for baptism.

Hear us, holy God.
Your mercy is great

Blessed are you, bountiful God, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into care-givers of your plants and animals.

Hear us, bountiful God.
Your mercy is great

Blessed are you, faithful God, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization.

Hear us, faithful God.
Your mercy is great

Blessed are you, gracious God, for you care for the needy. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying. Especially we pray for those we name before you now, either silently or aloud…

Hear us, gracious God.
Your mercy is great

Blessed are you, eternal God, for all who have died in the faith, and those whom we name before you now…

At the end, bring us with them into your everlasting glory.
Your mercy is great

Receive, merciful God, our prayers, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the host of our meal of life, who died and rose that we might live with you, now and forever. Amen.

Following the Psalm, you might collect up the dishes in silence and take them to the kitchen. Wash the dishes (maybe even by hand). When the table is clear and all the dishes are washed and put away, extinguish the candles in silence.

Consider: At the end of the meal, Jesus washed the feet of his friends. 

If you live with other folks, consider washing one another’s feet after the meal.