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 A SERVICE FOR HOLY THURSDAY

Holy Thursday, Year A
South Sydney Uniting Church
April 21, 2011

Including Readings from Dialogues with Silence by Thomas Merton
Trappist monk, writer, peace and civil rights activist (1915-1968) 

The Gathering of the People of God

CALL TO WORSHIP

Jesus said:
If I then your Teacher and Sovereign have washed your feet,
you should wash each other’s feet.
I have given you an example,
that you should do as I have done to you.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

The grace of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the friendship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all!
And also with you.

Today we begin the Great Three Days of Jesus’ suffering,
his death and resurrection;
the journey from the supper table to the cross,
from the cross to Easter dawn.
We are followers in his way,
receiving his truth,
encountering his life.

We give ourselves freely to the demands of these Three Days,
confident that those who die with Christ
will surely live with him.

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“You know my soul. You know all that needs to be done there. Do it in Your own way. Draw me to You, O my God. Fill me with Pure Love of You alone. Make me never go aside from the way of Your Love. Show me clearly that way and never let me depart from it: that will be enough. I leave everything in Your hands. You will guide me without error and without danger and I will love You all the way. I will belong to You. I will not be afraid of anything for I shall remain in Your hands and never leave You.”

CONFESSION

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“What can I say about the emptiness and freedom into whose door I entered for that half-minute, which was enough for a lifetime, because it was a new life altogether? There is nothing with which to compare it. I could call it nothingness, but it is an infinitely fruitful freedom, to lack all things and to lack my self in the fresh air of that happiness that seems to be above all modes of being. Don’t let me build any more walls around it, or I will shut myself out.”

The Liturgy of the Word

Prepare our hearts, O God, to receive your word.
Silence in us any voice but your own,
that hearing, we may also obey your will;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“The way You have laid open before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my own will which leads back to Egypt and to bricks without straw.
 If You allow people to praise me, I shall not worry. If You let them blame me, I shall worry even less. If You send me work, I shall embrace it with joy. It will be rest to me because it is Your will. If You send me rest, I will rest in You. Only save me from myself. Save me from my own, private, poisonous urge to change everything, to act without reason, to move for movement’s sake, to unsettle everything that You have ordained.
 Let me rest in Your will and be silent. Then the light of Your joy will warm my life. Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for Your glory. This is what I live for. Amen, amen.”

SILENCE

GOSPEL John 13:1-15

The Wisdom of God;
God’s word made new.

SILENCE

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“My God, I pray better to You by breathing.
 I pray better to You by walking than by talking.”

SILENCE

“I will not fear the darkness where, desiring to find You, my desire does not seem to find You. But if I desire You, I have already found You. If I love You, You are with me. If I cry out to You, You have already heard my voice.”

SILENCE

“Our Eden is the heart of Christ.
 
Let grace come, Jesus.
Your name is on my heart.
Your Holy Name is on the tower of my heart.
Let grace come and let this world pass away,
Jesus, You Who are living in my exhausted heart.”

THE WASHING OF FEET

Participation is voluntary.

Friends in Christ, I invite you to come forward,
that we may recall whose servants we are
and remember Christ’s teaching,
that what is done for us is also to be done for others.

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“Tribulation detaches us from the things of nothingness in which we spend ourselves and die. Therefore, tribulation gives us life and we love it, not out of love for death, but out of love for life.
 Let me then withdraw all my love from scattered, vain things the desire to be read and praised as a writer, to be a successful teacher praised by my students, or to live at ease in some beautiful place and let me place everything in Thee, where it will take root and live, instead of being spent in barrenness.”

SILENCE

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

God of grace,
hear our prayer.
...

Faithful God,
these are the prayers of your Church.
We offer them, trusting and hoping in you.
Hear and help us, challenge and change us,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“The things of Time are in connivance with eternity. The shadows serve You. The beasts sing to You before they pass away. The solid hills shall vanish like a worn out garment. All things change and die and disappear. Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and disappear. In this hour I shall cease to ask them and silence shall be my answer. The world that Your love created, that the heat has distorted, that my mind is always misinterpreting, shall cease to interfere with our voices.”

THE PEACE

INVITATION

It was at this time
when everything came to a head.
One whole life, offered for others,
amid fractious disciples,
power struggles,
jockeying for position.

On this day
we too take bread and wine,
and receive the gift of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Come then,
whether you are strong or weak.
Come, because you love God a little
and would like to love God more.
Come, because God loved you
and gave the Christ for you.

This part of the liturgy will be celebrated (mostly) in silence.

WE GIVE THANKS FOR THE GOODNESS OF GOD

WE REMEMBER THE LAST SUPPER OF JESUS

WE PRAY AS JESUS TAUGHT US

WE BREAK THE BREAD, POUR THE WINE

Jesus said:
This, too, is my body;
This, too, is my blood.

WE SHARE COMMUNION

Passing the Sacrament from one to another.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

It was on this day, when everything came to a head;
a life offered for others;
a ministry of healing and teaching,
of witness to the kingdom of God.

It was on this day that Christ gave us these gifts:
the breaking of bread his body;
the pouring of wine his blood;
the washing of feet our feet,
and the feet of others.

In this is the call to love one another,
as Christ has loved us.
In this holy meal is the Good News
that there will always be a new dawn, a Third Day,
no matter how many Good Fridays there are.

READING (Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence)

“In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we were going.
 In another sense we have already arrived.
 We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and in darkness. But we already possess God by grace, and therefore, in that sense, we have arrived and are dwelling in the light.
 But oh! How far have I to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!”

The Sending Forth of the People of God

We move to the community garden.

SILENCE

GOSPEL John 18:1-12

SILENCE

DISMISSAL

No Blessing is given here; it waits until the end of the Easter Vigil
(dawn on Easter Day).

Christ was obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Go in peace. Amen.

We depart in silence.

 

Acknowledgements:

‘A service for Holy Thursday’ in Uniting in Worship 2, Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005.
Icon by Monsignor Anthony LaFemina, a canonist,
theologian and iconographer, on the staff of the Diocese of Charleston.
Readings from Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence: Prayers & Drawings,
(ed. Jonathan Montaldo), HarperCollins, New York, 2001.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is widely regarded as one of the most influential spiritual
writers of modern times. He was a Trappist monk, writer, and peace and civil rightsactivist.
His bestselling books include The Seven-Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, and Mystics and Zen Masters.