April 9, 2020
ST. PAUL’S LUTHERAN CHURCH, FALLS CHURCH, VA
✠ ✠ ✠
In this year of “sheltering in place,” when we are all trying to stop the spread of a virus and can’t meet at the church, our services are presented in both written and video form. While some services may be more effectively read than watched, tonight’s service will speak most powerfully when watched.
Holy Thursday, occurring on the eve of our Lord’s crucifixion, begins the celebration of the holy three days of Christ’s Passover commonly known as the Triduum. Worship on these days highlights the final acts of our Lord and the central acts of Christianity. Through our observance, we walk the steps of those first disciples—seeking to understand and marveling at His love for us. Holy Week is a time rich in grace, in which we participate in the mystery of God bringing salvation through Jesus.
An extended time of Confession connects us back with Ash Wednesday as we again examine our mortality and need of a Savior. The Absolution which follows closes the Lenten season with a powerful statement of God’s forgiveness, given through the pastor as from God himself. God’s forgiven people then share their Peace with one another.
This year’s Service of the Word will continue our Lenten focus: Lent for All Nations. The Sermon is based on the Gospel reading – from John 12 – where we read of “some Greeks” wishing to see Jesus.
The Hymn of the Day tells the story of another great event of Holy Thursday—Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-17). After Jesus explained the washing, he gave them a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (13:34). It is for this reason that today is often called “Maundy” (from the Latin for “commandment”).
Upon hearing the Word of God read, proclaimed and sung, we will begin the Passion reading from St. Matthew, to be concluded on Good Friday. The service ends with the Stripping of the Altar—an action meant to demonstrate the depth of Christ’s servanthood as He journeys toward the cross.
Conspicuously absent from our service this evening is the celebration of Holy Communion. On this the night when the Supper was instituted, the omission is particularly painful. In this time of needed caution, when we have given up the Sacrament for our safety and for that of others, we give thanks that God speaks so powerfully to us in His Word. And we look forward, with even greater longing, to that day when we will commune together again.
PRELUDE “When You Woke that Thursday Morning” by Bernard Wayne Sanders
CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION
In the name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God our Father, beseeching Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord,
and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
O almighty God, merciful Father,
I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.
Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SHARING THE PEACE
The peace of the Lord be with you always.
HYMN #445 When You Woke That Thursday Morning
- When You woke that Thursday morning, Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thoughts of self and safety scorning, Knowing how the day would end;
Lamb of God, foretold for ages, Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin’s wages: You assumed their dreadful sum.
- Never so alone and lonely, Longing with tormented heart
To be with Your dear ones only For a quiet hour apart:
Sinless Lamb and fallen creature, One last paschal meal to eat,
One last lesson as their teacher, Washing Your disciples’ feet.
- What was there that You could give them That would never be outspent,
What great gift that would outlive them, What last will and testament?
“Show Me and the world you love Me, Know Me as the Lamb of God: Do this in remembrance of Me, Eat this body, drink this blood.”
- One in faith, in love united, All one body, You the head,
When we meet, by You invited, You are with us, as You said.
One with You and one another In a unity sublime,
See in us Your sister, brother, One in ev’ry place and time.
- One day all the Church will capture That bright vision glorious,
And Your saints will know the rapture That Your heart desired for us,
When the longed-for peace and union Of the Greatest and the least
Meet in joyous, blest communion In Your never-ending feast.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us prayer. Almighty and everlasting God,
grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may receive the pardon of our sins; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Exodus 12:1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. (ESV)
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
PSALMODY Psalm 116:12-19
What shall I render `to the Lord
for all his bene`fits to me
I will lift up the cup of sal`vation
and call on the name `of the Lord,
I will pay my vows `to the Lord
in the presence of all his `people.
Precious in the sight `of the Lord
is the death `of his saints.
O Lord, I am your `servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have `loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanks`giving
and call on the name `of the Lord.
I will pay my vows `to the Lord
in the presence of all his `people,
in the courts of the house `of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem. `Praise the Lord!
Glory be to the Father and `to the Son
and to the Holy `Spirit;
as it was in the be`ginning,
is now, and will be forever. `Amen.
SECOND LESSON 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (ESV)
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
On my heart imprint your image, Blessed Jesus, King of grace,
That life’s riches, cares, and pleasures Never may Your work erase;
Let the clear inscription be: Jesus, crucified for me,
Is my life, my hope’s foundation, And my glory and salvation!
Text (st. 1) and Music: Public domain
GOSPEL John 12:20-26
The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the 12th chapter:
Glory to you, O Lord.
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (ESV)
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
This is a commanded night. “Throughout all generations, forever!” God said at the time of the Exodus. We remember God’s saving action by which Israel was born as His people and rescued from slavery. And it is, for us who follow Jesus, a doubly commanded night because within His commemoration of Passover Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: “To love each other as I have loved you.” Our whole Lenten series has been about how broadly Jesus meant our circle of love to be. But in this new commandment He makes His own self offering the standard of love in the Kingdom: “Love the way I loved you!” We cannot hear that command of Jesus without the cross in view. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (I Jn 4.9-10).”
But tonight, still following our Lenten series, “Lent for the Nations,” we examine our circle of love by imagining who Jesus invites to His banquet feast. We do so against the backdrop of virus fears and separation. We do so acknowledging that our Synod has a very narrow definition of who can come to our feast. We come, trusting our Gracious Lord to lead us and guide us in the right path. So, we ask, “Who does Jesus invite to feast with Him?”
The feast in this Gospel began as Passover, and in the crowds of people who had come to Jerusalem for the feast were “some Greeks.” The Jewish historian Josephus, who was born just a few years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, said that Greeks and other foreigners were present in Jerusalem at the time of Passover, but they were not allowed to participate in the actual feast. The Jews understood Passover as their commanded meal; Passover celebrated the rescue of Israel, not the rescue of the nations.
Near the end of the last century, a young man named Paul grew up in the SF Bay area. His parents had immigrated from Tonga, near American Samoa and Fiji. Paul grew up in the Pentecostal Church of Tonga, worshiping a God – he believed – Who would love him if he were obedient enough. Paul worked very hard to please God. He did everything his pastor asked him to do and a lot more. But Paul never felt it was enough. Though he filled his life with what his church assembly regarded as good things, he did not experience assurance of God’s love. Eventually he burned out on the church and also on this God he couldn’t please. Paul had never tasted the rich love and forgiveness of the God Who invites all nations to His feast, because he only heard the Church calling him to be perfect. And he wasn’t.
Even though the Greeks were barred from the Passover rituals, some of them persisted near the doors of Jesus’ feast. “Sir,” these Greeks told Philip, “we wish to see Jesus.” Even their request says a lot about Jesus’ fame. Wider, it would seem, than Galilee and Judah. And though their ethnicity barred them from the Jewish Passover, they heard something in the stories about Jesus that gave them hope. Maybe they had heard that He turned water into wine. Maybe they heard about the raising of Lazarus. Maybe they heard about His compassion for a Roman Centurion. But they had noticed!!
They came to Philip, a disciple from Bethsaida in Galilee, probably the most Gentile-rich region in all of Israel. Philip was a bridge builder; he came from a very Gentile place and had a Greek name. Him they could approach. And rightly so, because Philip acted!! Philip took these Greeks to Andrew, who also had a Greek name, and together they took them to Jesus. Jesus spoke to them of His coming suffering and death. A lot of folks had put up roadblocks for Greeks, but Jesus wasn’t one of them. He shared with them the most important thing, that He was about to become the Passover Lamb for all the nations.
One of the Chaplains under my supervision during Desert Storm understood his Baptist Church rules allowing him only able to offer communion to the members of the congregation which sent him into the Army. That’s even more narrow than the most stringent rules in our Synod, and not very helpful to soldiers who yearn for the bread of life. When Paul from Tonga, and his dear friend “V” discovered a group of Missouri Synod Lutherans who welcomed them as they were, as sinners, and shared with them the feast of salvation, they finally met God. That welcome changed these 2 young men. In the welcome of others, they met God! That welcome moved them to build a group whose chief purpose was to welcome and teach other immigrants about those wide-open arms of Jesus. Paul and V aren’t perfect. But they have finally basked in the arms of the One Who is, Jesus the Lamb of God, the Savior of the nations.
On this commanded night we do well to remember that this is the LORD’S Passover, and this is the LORD’S Supper, not the church’s supper. Jesus is priest and host here, inviting all who are weary and burdened to come and find rest. Especially in these hard days we need to multiply the ways we can still be a welcoming community, so that folks like Paul and “V” will know the Savior’s love. On this commanded night let us see in the bridge work that Philip and Andrew did, tasks for us to undertake for the sake of the world. I’m sure that’s what we’ve always intended our greeters to be: welcomers of the nations! However, we more easily welcome fellow members than folks from Tonga or Delhi. But imagine our welcomers outside the narthex, beyond the boundaries of our campus, being bridge builders like Philip and Andrew. So open that strangers in the marketplace sought them out. What a marvelous image for us as Church. But that’s Who Jesus is – Savior of all. May the Lord show you anew how wide are His open arms!
HYMN OF THE DAY #446 Jesus, Greatest at the Table
- Jesus, greatest at the table, The almighty Son of Man,
Laid aside His outer clothing, Poured some water in a pan;
As the Twelve lay, hushed in silence, He the servant’s task began.
- Marvel how their Lord and teacher Gently taught them not to vie
As He humbly knelt before them, Dusty feet to wash and dry,
By His tender touch expressing True compassion from on high.
- Jesus took the role of servant When upon that gruesome span,
For all human sin He suffered As a vile and loathsome man;
On the cross poured out like water To fulfill the Father’s plan.
- Can we fathom such deep mercy? Do we see what God has done?
Who can grasp this great reversal: Love that gives His only Son?
Christ, the sinless for the sinners, For the many dies the One.
- Jesus gave to His disciples A commandment that was new:
“Show My love to one another, Do as I have done for you;
All the world will know you love Me As you love each other too.”
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen
OFFERING “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele by Johannes Brahms
PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH
On this holy night in which our Lord gathered His disciples in the Upper Room, we come to You, O Lord, in His name with the concerns of our hearts for ourselves and all people.
Grant to us zeal for Your house, O Lord, and love for the things of Your Kingdom, that Your Church may enjoy harmony and peace and confess Your Word with one voice before the world. Cover us with the blood of Christ, and grant us Your Spirit, that we may walk in Your ways and do the good You desire. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Deliver us, O Lord, from temptation, and lead us to know and do what is holy and right according to Your Word and commands. Bless those preparing for Baptism and those being catechized into the faith, that they would be steadfast in faith in Christ, our Lord. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
In the midst of enemies that threaten and a world filled with conflict, give to us wise leaders, O Lord, that we may be preserved from harm. Guide those who make and administer our laws, and give to all judges and magistrates knowledge to render justice with mercy. Bless the members of the armed forces who defend us here and abroad. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Preserve the sick, relieve the suffering and grant to the dying Your peace, O Lord. Hear us on behalf of all those who have asked us to pray [especially _____________]. Give them healing in accordance with Your will, strength to bear up under the burdens of this mortal life, and comfort and hope in trial. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Give us Your Word and Spirit, O Lord, that we may discern Your Son’s presence in this bread and cup and leave the table with the good conscience of sins forgiven. Keep us in repentance, that we may not be overcome by sin, but pursue goodness and righteousness all our days. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
As generously as You have given to us, O Lord, teach us to be generous in giving, that the poor may not suffer want nor Your Church be deprived of the resources to serve Your purpose both here and across the world. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
Bless us, O Lord, as again we walk in the footsteps of Jesus to the cross. Help us to ponder well the love He has shown us by His suffering and death, and make us so confident of the resurrection to everlasting life that these days of trial will not overwhelm us, but only make us hunger even more for the eternal feast to come. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
You know, O Lord, what we need, and You have promised never to abandon us. Help us to endure in faith and, with a joyful countenance, receive the blessings of Your grace and the answers to our prayers; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth
as it is in heaven;
give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
PASSION READING FROM ST. MATTHEW (Matthew 26:1-30)
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (ESV)
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
THE STRIPPING OF THE ALTAR “Choral Dorien” by Jehan Alain