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Holy Week and Easter

Below are Liturgies for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the First Sunday of Easter.

Maundy Thursday

On this night Christians commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1 –17) and instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26 –29; Mark 14:22 –25; Luke 22:13 –20; 1 Corinthians 11:23 –25).

Six actions traditional on this night are included in the following service. They are (1) confession and pardon, (2) proclamation of the Word, (3) footwashing, (4) the Lord’s Supper, (5) stripping of the church, and (6) Tenebrae. Of these, (1), (2), and (4) are essential; (3), (5), and (6) are optional and are thus marked with brackets. They require careful preparation when introduced to a congregation.

Footwashing is a powerful symbolic response to the Word, dramatizing the servanthood of Jesus, both on the night before his death and in his continuing presence in our midst. The alternative title for this day, Maundy Thursday, recalls the new commandment (mandatum novum in Latin) in John 13:34 . The service may appropriately be called Maundy Thursday when footwashing occurs in imitation of Jesus’ actions and as a response to his new commandment to love one another. Careful advance planning and advance notice to the people are essential. It may be suggested that participants come without socks or hose and that persons are welcome to observe rather than participate. Representatives of the people or those volunteering to participate may come forward to the place(s) where chairs, a basin and pitcher of water, and towels have been placed. Mutual footwashing among pastor(s) and laypersons should be clearly visible, yet not overly dramatic. Love and care for one another may be expressed in the gestures. During the footwashing the congregation or choir may sing, or the footwashing may be done in silence.

The ancient practice of stripping the Lord’s table and sanctuary following communion is a vivid and dramatic way of showing the desolation and abandonment of the long night in Gethsemane and what followed. Designated persons pick up the cloths on the Lord’s table and the pulpit and other hangings, banners, candlesticks, and decorations and quietly carry them from the sanctuary. This may be done in silence, or Psalm 22 may be used. The church then remains bare until the Easter Vigil, when the process is reversed.

Call to Worship 

One: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Many: And also with you. One: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Many: Christ has prepared a feast of love.

Hymn – Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Confession and Pardon

One – My sisters and brothers, Christ shows us his love by becoming a humble servant. Let us draw near to God and confess our sin in the truth of God’s Spirit.

Many: Most merciful God, we your Church confess that often our spirit has not been that of Christ. Where we have failed to love one another as he loves us, where we have pledged loyalty to him with our lips and then betrayed, deserted, or denied him, forgive us, we pray; and by your Spirit make us faithful in every time of trial; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

One: Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ. But Christ suffered and died for us, was raised from the dead and ascended on high for us, and continues to intercede for us. Believe the good news: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

Many: In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Glory to God. Amen.

Prayer of Illumination Living God, help us so to hear your Word that we may truly understand; that, understanding, we may believe; and believing, we may follow your way in all faithfulness, seeking your honor and glory in all that we do. Amen.

Scripture Lessons Exodus 12:1 –14 Psalm 116:1–2, 12–19 1 Corinthians 11:23 –26 John 13:1 –17, 31b –35

Sermon or Homily

Response to the Word

Footwashing (See introduction)

Passing of the Peace

The Lord’s Prayer

The Eucharist

Stripping of the Altar and Church (See introduction) Liturgy (with minor changes) from “A Service of Worship for Holy Thursday Evening” with Dismissal with Blessing by Don Saliers

Good Friday

Tenebrae Gathering

Preparation As you enter the sanctuary, please observe silence as preparation for worship. “Tenebrae” (ten-eh-bray) means “darkness” or “shadows” and is a gathering of scripture readings that tells the story of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and burial. This gathering is a prolonged meditation on the suffering of Christ, the Light of the World.


Lighting of the candles

One: Christ took on our sins on the cross. Many: That we might die to sin and live in righteousness.

Psalm 22:1-18

Responsive Reading

One: God is light, in whom there is no darkness. Many: Jesus Christ is the light of the world. One: And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, Many: and we loved the darkness rather than the Light.

Prayer God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross so that He might draw the whole world to himself. Make it so that we, who are made whole through his death, may continue to be made whole– as we answer His daily call to take up our cross and follow Him. Amen.

Hymn – Lord I Need You 

Scripture Reading Isaiah 52:13–53:12 Hebrews 4:14-15, 5:7-9

Hymn – Amazing Grace


(Silence is observed between each Reading)

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives Luke 22:39-46

Jesus is Arrested Luke 22:47-53

Peter Disowns Jesus Luke 22:54-62

Hymn – He Loves Me

Jesus Before Pilate and Heord Luke 22:63–23:12

Jesus is Sentenced Luke 23:13-25

Jesus is Crucified Luke 23:26-43

Hymn – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Jesus Dies Luke 23:44-46

Hymn –The Wonderful Cross

Jesus is Buried Luke 23:47-56a

Hymn – Amazing Love

Christ Candle is removed. Please Depart in Silence

Liturgy provided by Rev. Mark A. Hendrickson


Call to Worship

The Easter Homily of Saint John Chrysostom: If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense. If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness. For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention. Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into Hades and took Hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains! It took a body and came upon God! It took earth and encountered Ηeaven! It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen! O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb! For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept. To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages. Amen.


O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or this

O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or this

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Liturgy of the Table

(From Lift Up Your Hearts: Year B, OSL Publications) One: The Lord be with you. Many: And also with you. One: Lift up your hearts. Many: We lift them up to the Lord One: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. Many: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

One: It is right, and a good and joyful thing Always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth. Your love shows no partiality. You call us all into your resurrected glory. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join in their unending hymn:

Many: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

One: Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.

You anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power He went about doing your will and healing all those who were oppressed, Those in power put him to death, But you O God raised him to life Your Spirit anointed him to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection, you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery of sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. And he said “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to his disciples, and said “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” And so, in remembrance of these mighty acts in Jesus Christ, We offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,