Below is a resource for family worship today. Typically this service takes place in the evening as we remember the upper room and the last supper. We have designed it for you to share at a table with your family and we hope it is meaningful for you.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
Friends, we invite you to gather around your table; light a candle; and bring your juice, and crackers or bread to share in this symbolic final meal Jesus shared with his disciples. Take time to prepare for this service of worship and remembrance.
MUSIC FOR MEDITATION “Meditation on the Cross of Christ” arr., D. Phillips
Cindy Joy and Haven Parrott
WELCOME AND MEANING OF THE SERVICE Rev. Aho
We gather on Thursday night of Holy Week to remember the Upper Room. Jesus, on the night before the hardest day, shared the holy Passover meal with his disciples. They talked, they ate, they remembered, and they learned. Little did they know this meal was preparing them for a day they could not imagine.
Tonight, we gather even though we know what is coming. We gather BECAUSE we know what is coming.
And in our gathering, we look for the same things the disciples found. We look for support, for instruction, and care. May we, even though we gather from afar tonight, find a connection to support, understanding, and care on the eve of Good Friday and Easter weekend.
CALL TO WORSHIP (read together in unison)
In the dark of evening, guided by candlelight, we come to remember and give thanks.
In the solemnness of this hour, guided by prayer, we come to worship, to be fed by God’s
Spirit, to be filled with Christ’s amazing love.
HYMN “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” HAMBURG
When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God.
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
~Text by Isaac Watts (PD)
PRAYER OF CONFESSION Rev. Aho
Ever gracious God, we gather this evening hour as friends gathered with Jesus in an upper room long ago. We come bearing the marks of a bitter and broken world. We come from anonymous places, with dry and thirsty spirits. Remind us in the breaking of the bread of our need and your sufficiency. Refresh us and make us whole with the cup of forgiveness. Draw us nearer to each other in mutual service and closer to you in the covenant of faithfulness and thanksgiving. As the night advances, deepen in us a sense of your steadfast love for us in Jesus Christ, our friend and Redeemer.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE (to be read in unison)
God listens closely to our prayers.
God hears our requests for mercy.
The cup of salvation has been poured out for us.
In the name of Christ, who loves us fully we are forgiven. Amen.
MUSIC MEDITATION “In Love Christ Came Among Us” J. Martin
In love Christ came among us, coming not as king, but as a tiny baby
born in Bethlehem; and we knew Him not.
With grace, He walked among us and showed us how to love;
giving, teaching, healing, calling us to God; and we followed not.
Ah, Holy Jesus, who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied Thee.
I crucified Thee.
In love, Christ came among us and went to Calvary. The perfect Lamb of God died to set us free, and still we loved Him not, and we followed not, and we knew Him not.
Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.
~Words by B. Leach and incorporating portions of HERZLIEBSTER JESU, J. Cruger
© 1999, Harold Flammer Music
MEDITATION Rev. Aho
The disciples didn’t know what this night would hold. They knew it was the Passover. They expected a special meal with their beloved friends and their rabbi, Jesus. But beyond that, they had no idea what was coming.
Looking back, it makes sense. It had been a different kind of week. All of Jerusalem was in tumult because of the way Jesus entered the city on Palm Sunday. Jesus taught parables throughout the week. He had denounced religious leaders, overturned tables in the temple, cursed a fig tree, praised a widow, and, well, things that gospel writers do not record. What we do know is Luke devotes almost three chapters to Sunday through Thursday, which is unusual because the Gospels usually just hit the high points. As we look back, Jesus’s actions were clear, but during the Passover meal and in the moment, they were likely quite surprised.
Yet, on this night each year, we go back to that upper room. We return on Maundy Thursday to share the meal again. We remember the foot washing, the teaching, and the supper. With hindsight, we now look back to see how Jesus was preparing the disciples. He knew the circumstances would soon seem unbearable. Jesus knew the resurrection celebration was a long way away. So at that table, he gave them what they needed before they knew they needed it.
At the table with Jesus, they found fellowship and support. As they shared the Passover meal, and Jesus taught, they were blessed with time together. And as we gather on this night, we seek the blessing of support through fellowship.
The disciples needed strength for the journey. What we eat has an impact on how we feel. This Passover meal with the disciples prepared them from the difficult days that followed. They were strengthened through their fellowship and nourished by their meal. As we gather on this night, we look for the same.
And finally, Jesus gave them something to carry forward. When he gave them the bread and the cup, he assured them of his love. Each time they shared in the elements, they would rediscover God’s love through his ministry, and through the new covenant that was coming through his blood and resurrection. When we share the bread and cup, we do it because we too need to be assured of Jesus’ love, ministry, and covenant of forgiveness.
As we consider Holy Week this year, we see that, more than ever, we need the same things Jesus gave the disciples at that meal, right? While we walk through Holy Week, our lives hold a certain anxiety and uncertainty. We are isolated, which prohibits the community support we need. However, the promises that came through Jesus on that Passover night in the upper room remain the same for us today. Like the disciples, we walk through strange days. That is why we return to the upper room for the support, strength, and a promise to carry forward. Jesus gives us the simple bread and cup to remind us of this love, his assurance, his forgiveness, and His resurrection for all of us. So tonight, we spiritually gather in this upper room to remember that night with the disciples. We receive Jesus’s promises of his presence, his strength, his support, and his love, each step of the way, no matter where the path takes us. Amen.
WORDS OF PREPARATION – Luke 22:7-20
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
Tonight, we take the bread and the cup to remember the promises of God. Of course, tonight is very different. We have never shared communion this way before. But in sharing communion, we are sharing something special and something spiritual, but not something magical or prone to judgment. Instead, the elements for communion assure us of God’s love for us through Jesus’ ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.
Therefore, tonight, we encourage everyone to take a piece of bread and a sip from a cup when the time is right. These elements are simple, they are common, and that’s the point. That they are plentiful as a reminder of God’s abundant presence and love for each of us.
To share in the Lord’s Supper as a family, have each member take a piece of the bread you have with you. Then have one person speak aloud the words:
On the night before he was betrayed, with his disciples, Jesus took bread, he blessed it, he broke it, and he said, “this is my body which is broken for you and given to you. Take and eat in remembrance of me.”
Then, take the cup, or have each person take their own cup, while one person speaks these words:
“Jesus took the cup and shared it with his disciples saying, “This cup is my blood shed for you. It is the cup of the new covenant for salvation. Take and drink.”
Then share these final words:
“as often as we take bread and cup, we proclaim this Lord’s promise to be with us and provide for us until he returns.”
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that following the meal, “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” And that is how we will conclude our service tonight, with a hymn and benediction.
MUSIC MEDITATION “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” arr., G. Martin
Alas, and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?
But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give my self away, ‘tis all that I can do.
~Isaac Watts (PD)
BENEDICTION (read together in unison)
As gathered families, we remember this night.
We remember the broken bread, the shared cup, and the cleansing water.
We go into this night remembering and celebrating Christ’s presence among us.
We go in peace. Amen.