Maundy Thursday

Service for Maundy Thursday 9th April 2020


Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the three-day observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the first part of a continuous rite which encompasses the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday.

Here you have a copy of the full service planned for Christ Church this year before the restrictions and current arrangements regarding coronavirus were made.

Words for the hymns are included for those without hymnbooks at home.

Call to worship:       On this night our Lord Jesus Christ said:
A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another, as I have loved you”

Hymn 284 There is a green hill far away

There is a green hill far away,
Outside a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there

He died that we might be forgiven.
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin.
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n and let us in.

Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved! and we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood
And try his works to do

Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)


We cannot invite you to our worship,
Lord for you are always here before us.
We cannot take you into the world,
for you have gone there before us.
Wherever we are you are there.
Wherever we fail to go, you are there.
So in every place and at any time
We have a confidence to call out your name, and know that you are present.
Here and now in this chosen place, we make our prayers.
Come, Lord Jesus, come and be with us. Amen.

Psalm 116 (StF 828) verses 12-15

This is a Psalm which Jewish people recite at Passover time in their homes today. It recalls the importance of an individual’s life. It also finishes with the idea of being a servant of the Lord.

12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful ones.

16 O Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
    You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!


Jesus washes his disciples’ feet   John 13:1-15

Narrator     It was now the day before the Passover Festival.            

Jesus knew that  the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.
He had always loved those in the world who were his own, and he loved them to the very end.

Jesus and his disciples were at supper. The Devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, the thought of betraying Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him  complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God.

So he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel round his waist. Then he poured some water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel round his waist. He came to Simon Peter who said to him:

Peter                  Are you going to wash my feet, Lord?

Jesus                 You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will  understand later.

Peter                 Never at any time will you wash my feet!

Jesus                 If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be my disciple.

Peter                Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head too!

Jesus                 Anyone who has had a bath is completely clean and does not have to wash himself except for his feet. All of you are clean—all except one.

Narrator            Jesus already knew who was going to betray him ; that is why he said, ‘All of you except one, are clean.’ (PAUSE)

Washing of the feet.

After Jesus had washed their feet, he put his outer garment back on and returned to his place at the table:


Do you understand what I have just done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am. I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet.

You, then, should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.

Narrator This is the Word of the Lord.    All     Thanks be to God.

The words of Jesus as recorded in John’s gospel are for us everywhere and for all time. Now I want us to think of actually washing someone’s feet ourselves. Of taking on the role of servant. Who do we see when we stoop over?

Prayer before washing the feet

God of dirty hands and tired feet,
taking people as they come,
kneeling and healing,
touching where others turn away,
forgive us when we want to be too clean

Forgive us when we despise life
for the messy business it is.
If we are too proud
to own up to our brokenness
if we keep hidden
what needs refreshment,
how can you care for us?


You can care – and this is how:
when we are ready to move
from distance to involvement,
from intent to touch,
then you will wash the feet
that tire on rocky roads;
you will care and heal
beyond our expectation.
Thanks be to God.  AMEN

© David Coleman  in Eggs and Ashes  Edited by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill
Used with permission

Hymn 242 A new commandment

A new commandment I give unto you,
That you love one another as I have loved you,
That you love one another as I have loved you.

By this the world shall know that you are my disciples,
if you have love one for another.
By this the world shall know that you are my disciples,
if you have love one for another.
Repeat twice                                                                                  Anonymous


Hands and feet- two parts of the body we have become even more familiar with over the last few weeks during the current pandemic known as coronavirus. Washing our hands for 20 seconds to whatever tune theme fits has been government advice to help save lives. We have all had to take extra precautions not just with coughs, and sneezes but with the way we greet people and how close we get to them. Hugs and kisses have become no zones and when even the dying have not been able to be comfortable the human touch being denied we wonder what is the world coming to?

Well long before the pandemic reached the levels we are at now, a few of us were thinking about this service and what we might include in it. Washing the feet of the disciples is so important. In this simple act of hospitality and preparation Jesus pours out the secrets of his heart. Then he goes on to speak with passion and urgency aware of the separation which is about to happen.

Eddie Askew worked for The Leprosy Mission from1950 until retirement. He devoted half a century to the disease and its consequences. Initially he worked alongside the children of patients in India, then the patients themselves, seeing the devastating physical effects of the illness and its close relatives – poverty and isolation – at first hand. Although feared as much as coronavirus, leprosy is not highly infectious. It is caused by bacteria which damage the nerves in a sufferer’s extremities. Though it is not known exactly how the disease is transmitted and there is no vaccine, since 1982 it has been curable with multi-drug therapy. He retired in 1987 and died in 2007. But he wrote many books which many of you will be familiar with- Meditations and Prayers.

Here is one meditation on our theme

 ….and Jesus began to wash his disciples feet John 13:5

You can never predict how Jesus will act. That’s one of the joys and uncertainties of following him. We try to box him in with our own rules and dogmas, but again and again he takes us by surprise.

A few days earlier, Jesus had been at supper in Bethany. There, he’d reclined at the table while Mary washed is feet, perfumed them and dried them with her hair. An extravagant picture but one in which we see a disciple honouring the teacher, the lesser paying homage to the greater.

Now Jesus turns everything upside down. It’s he who lifts the jug and bowl. Jesus who kneels and takes their feet in his hands. It must have shattered them, these men who’d just been quarrelling about their own importance, to see him take on the role of servant.

I find what Jesus did easy to accept as long as I can keep it general.

His action in washing the disciples’ feet is a lovely image of service and humility, a parable of what the kingdom of God is all about.

The last first, the first last and all the other ideals of relationship. But when I start to particularise it all, when I start giving names to those whose feet Jesus was washing, then the difficulties begin.

I think of Jesus washing Matthew’s feet – that old dishonest, even if reformed, tax collector and outcast. A man unwelcome in synagogue and polite society. Then Thomas’ feet — the one who had his doubts and voiced them. And most of all I find it difficult to  picture Jesus kneeling in front of Judas, taking his feet in his hands with the same love he offered to them all.

I wonder how Judas felt, how his toes curled in embarrassment and guilt? Was it his body language then, his tension, that told Jesus of disloyalty and betrayal?

Sometimes I take my thoughts a little further and try to imagine my own feelings as I realise that Jesus is kneeling at my feet…

Lord, in the light
of haloed holiness
I sometimes make believe
I have a right to wear,
your truth burns hot,
blisters and scars my insincerity.

I see you kneeling there,
taking the feet of folk
who sometimes trampled on your love
without a thought.

Trod holiness into the ground and left it hurt
Half dead, with no Samaritan to help.

Your action leaves me questioning,
teaches me more than I am ready to accept.

It’s not that I protest, like Peter,
and refuse to let you wash my feet.

That’s not the point.

I’d let you do that willingly
and given half a chance
I’d just as willingly wash yours.

A privilege I’d jump at.

The bit that makes me hesitate,
rubs the raw edges of my pride
and leaves me sore,
is that you’re telling me to do the same.

I can accept the thought of kneeling
to the ones I love
and those who love me back.

But looking round
I’m not so sure about the others.

To go to those I find
unsympathetic, incompatible,
the ones I’d never think
of bringing home to dinner
and offering them the same consideration.

Lord, that’s rough,
but if you found it in your heart
to welcome Judas
I’ve no excuse.

I’d better make a start.

© Eddie Askew Cross Purposes published 1995 p 64 Used with kind permission from The Leprosy Mission.


Heavenly  Father,
  In order to wash the feet of his disciples Jesus had to bend his back, a Saviour for the world stooping so low and washing the dust from human feet.

Here in the clearest way possible presented for every generation is the picture of how you want the world to be: A community of footwashers, a people who never tire of serving, of stooping, of washing, of laying aside the garments of power and glory.

So this Thursday evening at 8pm we remember by our minute’s clapping all those who have served us during this current crisis.
We remember too all those who have been affected in any way by this pandemic.

We think of the world, your world.

Remind us that no cause can prosper unless it is rooted in your servant heart and that we looks for ways where glory will shine because it is based on your servant will.

We pray in the silence of our hearts.  Amen.

After they had eaten Jesus and his disciples sang together and they then went out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will run away and leave me’.

Hymn 287 When I survey the wondrous cross

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?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
spreads o’er his body on the tree,
then am I dead to all the globe, 
and all the globe is dead to me.

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.                         Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane.
He was arrested and they all forsook him and fled.


Jesus, Lord and Master who served your disciples in washing their feet; serve us often, serve us daily, in washing our motives, our ambitions, our actions; that we may share with you in your mission to the world and serve others gladly for your sake; to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Music All the room was hushed and still         Graham Kendrick (StF266)

All the room was hushed and still
And when the bowl was filled
He stooped to wash their feet
And when it was complete,

He said this is what I’m asking you to do
This is why I’m kneeling here beside you
This is what I want my church to be
This is what I want the world to see
Who it is you follow

Love each other
One another
Love each other
In the way that I have loved you
Walk together
And whatever comes
Love each other in the way I have loved you.

Let the room be hushed and still
Let us go to where he kneels
And join him as he serves
And learn his ways of love,

He said,this is what I’m asking you to do
This is why I’m kneeling here beside you
This is what I want my church to be
This is what I want the world to see
Who it is you follow

Love each other
One another
Love each other
In the way that I…


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