Books, Liturgy, Maundy Thursday, Narrative Lectionary

Maundy Thursday litany

One: Picture him in the garden, in the fever of the moment, left with the soldiers while his friends ran away.
Many: We can picture him, surrounded but alone.
One: Did the stories cross his mind, the moments he spent with his friends, the conversations they had?
Many: Did his life flash before his eyes?

One: A woman came into the house, carrying her jar of ointment. Its rich aroma filled the room where it happened, a beautiful sign of love and care. (Remove the jar.)
Many: We remember her anointing as a gentle act of prophecy.
All: O God, make us prophets.

One: The disciples sat close, across from the Temple, and listened to all he said, the last teachings he would offer in words, a warning that all the things they counted on would come crashing down. (Remove the rock.)
Many: We remember how he told them, “Keep awake.”
All: O God, make us wakeful.

One: A widow brought her offering to the Temple, giving all she had, just as he prepared to give his all. (Remove the coins.)
Many: We remember we are to love God with all we have: heart, mind, soul and strength.
All: O God, may we be truly giving.

One: The scribes and Pharisees came to question him, and he taught them with parables, predicting his own death in the story of the vineyard workers. (Remove the grapes.)
Many: We remember the beloved son, seized and beaten.
All: O God, help us to see the truth in his stories.

One: The people shouted as he rode into Jerusalem; they laid palm branches on the road, crying “Hosanna!” (Remove palms.)
Many: We remember, yet tomorrow they will shout, “Crucify him!”
All: O God, forgive them. Forgive us.

One: James and John asked to sit by his side, one on the left and one on the right, but he reminded them of the cup they would have to drink. (Remove chalice.)
Many: We remember. How blind they were to the truth!
All: O God, give us eyes to see.

One: The young man asked his question sincerely, and he stated his faith practices with confidence, but it was not enough. (Remove paten.)
Many: We remember the camel and the eye of the needle, the fields with persecutions.
All: O God! we may not starve, but it will not be easy.

IMG_7440One: Peter rebuked him when he spoke the truth about the kind of death he would die. He struck back with words. No one can keep this from happening! Get behind me!
Many: Get behind me!
All: Get behind me, Satan! (Remove ashes.)

One: If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

All: All of them deserted him and fled.

This litany is based on the texts in the Narrative Lectionary for Year 2, moving backwards through the narrative from Holy Week to Ash Wednesday. We’ll be removing the items mentioned from the worship center during the litany, which will come after reading Mark 14:43-50. I am happy to share this litany; just leave a comment saying where you will be using it.

27 thoughts on “Maundy Thursday litany”

  1. Martha, I love this! I think I’ll use this her in Apopka, FL as well! What are you using as the jar for the anointing? I can put hands on the other pieces easily, but will need to find something…

  2. This is perfect! Just wondering when (as in worship time, Palm Sunday?) did you bring the elements/items that are being removed, and where do you suggest to place communion? Gracias!

      1. Will you have someone walk the elements away from the table at each segment of the litany? Or put them away somehow? Just needing a bit of a visual…

        1. They will be carried all the way out of the sanctuary. We do Communion by intinction anyway, so the chalice and paten can stay. We usually have a small tray for those who prefer/need to be served in the pews. I’ll have that cleared away after Communion and before the litany.

        2. My thought was I would lead the litany from the table and pass each item to the person taking it, so they know exactly when to take it and which thing to take. Eliminate obfuscation. 🙂

          1. We’re meeting in the fellowship hall for family style meal, transitioning into hand (rather than foot) washing, followed by communion – all at tables of 6-8. I’m thinking this will close us and lead into a benediction. So… the table I use to preside over the water, bread and juice before I distribute them to the tables will host all the pieces and maybe we’ll place them on a tray to carry back to the kitchen during a moment of silence before the benediction. hmmm… I just love having this to noodle on!

  3. I really like this. I plan to use it in Taylorsville, NC. Thanks for your creativity and sharing!

  4. Love it, Martha. I am going to adapt (as we do not use the Narrative Lectionary). And use at St. James Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.

  5. Thank you for the beautiful litany. We will use it at the Sidney Nebraska First United Methodist Church.

  6. We will be using your litany at St. Paul Lutheran in Lime Springs, IA. It follows perfectly with the Narrative Lectionary.. Thank you!

  7. We’ll be using it in Geelong, Australia with a few tweaks. Rather than taking the symbols away, we’ll be adding them to have them before people as they remember what led to Jesus’ arrest.

  8. We will be using this in a Community Holy Thursday worship service – to close after Communion – hosted at Mount Pleasant UMC in Roanoke, VA – and involving United Methodist, Baptist, Nazarene, Brethren churches. Four pastors will help lead.

    I added the extinguishing of the candles and removal of the candlesticks.

    Will give acknowledgement in the worship folder.

    We have tables set against the back wall so people will be able to see all of the “removed items” as they exit. THANKS so much for sharing – we also used the Advent wreath liturgies a few months ago!

    (One slight tweak to which I will confess – I was a tad uncomfortable with the response “make us all prophets” – only in the sense that I see this more as a spiritual gift that may not be endowed upon all – and so my response is “O God, keep us open to the signs that point to you.”)

    1. Adaptations are fine! I love your plan. I actually described all the items as part of my sermon on the Anointing Woman this past Sunday, so they have been on the table for people to see. (Well, we will refresh the grapes. But otherwise.)

  9. I’d like to use this at the church I serve in Hampton, VA. Small, neighborhood PC(USA) congregation. For Maundy Thursday. April 2019

  10. This is great. More than likely I will use it on Maundy Thursday for the Clifton Presbyterian Church virtual service in Clifton VA.

  11. Agreed – nice job. Planning to use it this Maundy Thursday in Cincinnati on a Mt. Washington Presbyterian virtual Power of Prayer gathering

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