HOLY WEEK AT HOME
‘Maundy’ coming from the Latin word ‘mandatum,’ which means ‘commandment.’ In John’s Gospel, while Jesus was gathered with his disciples at the Last supper, he said, “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” (John 13:34). Perhaps the heart of Jesus’ revelation of God, through the example of his life, is the way Jesus makes God’s love ‘visible’ to us. This commandment to love – to love God and love our neighbor – is not new. It appears early in the Old Testament and is quoted in all the Gospels. But it may be that Jesus is trying to move us – from an intellectual understanding of love for each other to a more living and breathing understanding of love for each other. And so he ‘commands’ us to love.
The gift of love is present and the focus for today. The emphasis is found in Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist, the law of love symbolized in the washing of feet, and the beginning of the celebration of the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Normally, we end our service with the stripping of the altar and leaving in silence. In the sanctuary of the church, we strip the altar of all ornaments including the candles and cloths on the altar (the frontal and fair linen). In your home, if you have a space you keep for prayer or a prayer table, you may also practice the stripping of your altar and setting up a wooden cross in preparation for Good Friday. As the beginning of the sacred three days of the celebration of the Passion and Death (called the Triduum), tonight initiates a time of watching, waiting, and contemplating.
PREPARE THE SPACE
Being home this year provides you the opportunity to have an intimate Maundy Thursday. Experiencing both the last supper and the foot washing at home is a great way to fall naturally into deep and meaningful conversation with those in your family or others you can connect with via the telephone or a video call.
As you prepare for the meal, the setting and the foods should be simple. Appropriate foods include soup, cheese, olives, dried fruit, bread, and wine. For your sacred space at home, place a bowl of water and towel(s) near/on your altar. Have a small cross nearby to place on the altar after the stripping of the altar at the end of the evening. If you live as part of a household have one person bless the meal, and others share in the readings.
PREPARE YOUR HEART Take some time for silent prayer. The following hymn is appropriate for the occasion:
One: Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
THE AGAPÉ MEAL
The word agapē (ἀγάπη) comes from the Greek for love. It describes the selfless, sacrificial love, embodied by Christ, and what all Christians are called to share with one another. The Agapé Meal developed as an early Christian household practice of gathering for a meal to remind us of Jesus’ last meal that he shared with his disciples. This meal originally involved the partaking of communion, but over time, a separate weekly gathering practice developed that did not include a meal. In John 17, Jesus is speaking to his disciples on the night before his arrest and crucifixion. On this night, he speaks of agape love – the love present between Jesus and God the Father and the love that unites all of us with God and one another.
+ The Blessings +
At the time appointed, with the food placed in sight, all gather around the table, standing as able.
After a time of silence, the following blessings are offered.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe. You create the fruit of the vine; and you refresh us with the cup of salvation in the Blood of your Son Jesus Christ. May the time come quickly when we can share that cup again, even as you are with us now in our very thirst for you. Glory to you for ever and ever. Amen.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe. You bring forth bread from the earth; and you have fed us on our way with the bread of life in the Body of your Son Jesus Christ. Let us be fed again soon with that bread of life. And as grain scattered upon the earth is gathered into one loaf, so gather your Church in every place into the kingdom of your Son. To you be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Over the Other Foods
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.
+ The Meal +
The meal is now eaten. If several are gathered, they first serve one another, then dine. The last supper was an opportunity for Jesus to share a meal with his friends, the disciples. In this time of quarantining and self-isolation, we still live in community. Call, FaceTime, or Zoom with one or more friends, relatives, or friends from church. Just say hello, ask how they are doing, and tell them why you are calling (sharing an agape meal).
+ The Lessons and the Foot Washing+
After completing the Agapé meal that focuses on Jesus’ gift of love, we continue by washing each other’s feet, remembering Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and his self-giving servanthood. The following reading may be read before the foot washing.
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.
If you are single, it is appropriate to wash your own feet. Groups may wash each other’s feet. Afterwards the following is read.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples – John 17:20-26
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
How was the Agapé meal an experience of Jesus’ gift of love for you this evening?
What was the foot or face washing experience like for you this evening?
Why do you think water is an important symbol for this evening?
In Baptism, we say that with God’s help, we will “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.” What is one way you can serve Christ and love your neighbor in the coming week?
As the evening draws to a close, read and reflect on Jesus’ Prayer at the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Prayer at the Mount of Olives – Luke 22:39-46
Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”
Psalm 63:1-8 The following psalm is then said. If there is more than one voice, it is said in unison.
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.
Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place; that I might behold your power and your glory.
For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; my lips shall give you praise.
So will I bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your Name.
My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips.
When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches.
For you have been my helper, and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.
My soul clings to you, your right hand holds me fast.
The following prayer is said by all:
All: Lord of the Feast, we thank you for gathering us as your people. We call to remembrance the many times we have been fed at your table and we lament our distance now. Be present Lord Jesus as you were present with your disciples, be known to us in the breaking of the bread, and may your Holy Spirit sustain us and all your Church until we can gather together again. We ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
THE STRIPPING OF THE ALTAR AND THE PRAYERS
For your sacred space at home, remove the bowl of water and towel(s). Also remove cloths or other materials that you have placed on the altar. Dim the lights or have a single candle lit. Place a simple cross on the altar to be used on Good Friday.
One: The Lord be with you
All: And also with you
One: Let us pray.
O God of the crucified and risen One, from whom no trial or trouble can separate us: you feed us with your Word and soothe us with your Spirit, closer to us than breath itself. Make us glad this night for the life of your servant Jesus; Make us servants of all for the sake of Jesus; who for our sake gave his life for the salvation of all. In the Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord. Amen. 
 This liturgy was adapted from the Book of Occasional Services, 2018, by The Rev. Dr. James Farwell and Dr. Lisa Kimball, of the Virginia Theological Seminary and by Christ Church Parish, Pensacola, Florida, for home use when Maundy Eucharist is not possible. Appropriate additional adaptations for illness in the household may be made.