A Simple Maundy Thursday Service

Washing of Feet by Leszek Forczek

As people arrive, they’re encouraged to wash each other’s hands. We choose to do this in our courtyard, outside the entrance to the sanctuary.

Needed: Pitchers with water, soaps, bowls, towels, tables, facilitators

Facilitator Script for Washing One Another’s Hands
The facilitator welcomes people to the handwashing station, explains the meaning of the practice, and what to do. People are encouraged to come to the washing stations in groups of two or more.

Jesus washed feet. We wash hands.The body part is not the essential point. We follow Christ in serving one another, in being vulnerable to one another. It is a sign of Christ’s love at work in us.

One person places their hands over the bowl. Another person pours water over the first person’s hands and uses soap to wash them. Take your time and express your care. The second person rinses and dries the first person’s hands. Now switch roles.

After the hand washing, as persons enter the sanctuary, they receive a handout with John 13:1-17, 34-35 NRSV plus reflection questions. They’re encouraged to read and reflect on the scripture as they wait for everyone to have their hands washed.

Reflection Questions:

  • What word or phrase in this passage captures your attention?
  • What connections do you see to your own experience or current situation? To other scriptures? Or to the character and promises of God?
  • What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do?
  • How will your life be different because you encountered this scripture today?
  • Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

Optional: As people wait, play some soft background music. You could also show THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO that combines instrumental piano music and scriptures about forgiveness by Dan Musselman.

Once everyone has gathered, begin the service. 

This can be any song of your choosing.
We used Servant Song, CCLI Song # 72673
Richard Gillard © Words: 1977 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Music: 1977 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

OPENING PRAYER: Make Me Your Love, by Lisa Degrenia
Rabbi Jesus, Promised Messiah
Son of the One, True, Living God

Fill me with your Spirit
Make me your love

It is your command
It is your way
It is your gift
It is You and your work

Yes, make me your witness
And yes, make me your will
But first and always, make me your love

Three Readers: Narrator, Jesus, Peter

Jesus was troubled in spirit

Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.

One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter, therefore, motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.

So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.
After Judas received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.

Do quickly what you are going to do.

Now no one at the table knew why Jesus said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor.

So, after receiving the piece of bread, Judas immediately went out. And it was night.
Later Simon Peter said to Jesus,

Lord, where are you going?

Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.

Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.

Will you lay down your life for me?
Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION: Denial, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
I deny you, Christ when I deny my own divinity.
I deny you when I deny the divinity of those I condemn.
I deny you when I do not hear you in the oppressed and rejected.
I deny you when I turn from my glorious giftedness.
I deny you when I am afraid to stand with those at risk.
I deny you when in my guilt I doubt your love.
And still, you love.

Let remembering’s bitterness awaken me.
Let my weeping be my wisdom.

To the frightening, to the infinite,
to the compassionate, to the holy,
help me say yes.

Let me die with yes on my lips.

Moment of silence


Excerpts of John 17, NRSV

ONE: Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

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.

This can be any song of your choosing.
We used Cornerstone followed by the Chorus of How Great Thou Art

Cornerstone, CCLI Song # 6158927
Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury
© 2011 Hillsong MP Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

How Great Thou Art, CCLI Song # 14181
Stuart Wesley Keene Hine
© Copyright 1949 and 1953 Stuart Hine Trust CIO Stuart K. Hine Trust (Administration: USA All rights by Capitol CMG Publishing


Service conceived and compiled by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Macon Armistead © 2023

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting without asking permission. It’s always a treat to hear from you if you’re using it. Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in a book, blog, etc.

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