Tonight, after our worship at 6:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall during our soup supper (please know you are invited to join us!), we will be moving upstairs to the sanctuary for a time of self directed prayer. Here are the prayer stations we are using.
As Jesus journeys to the Cross, we too are on a journey. The labyrinth is a path to walk (or in this case, to trace with your finger) that is about a journey too. You are invited to trace the path of the labyrinth and pray about your journey.
As you move toward the center, confess and let go of things that hinder your relationship with God.
Shed images or projections of yourself so that you can be real with God. Let go of what you don’t need to take with you on the journey.
Often we journey on the open road. Sometimes we have to navigate crossroads and difficult paths. Sometimes we have companions on the journey. Sometimes we seem to be alone. Who are your traveling companions? Who stops to help you when the road gets tough? Who do you help when you see them in distress on the side of the road?
And here is the paradox of our faith. We seek God. We travel toward God as pilgrims. But God is with us, to guide us, to be our companion.
So, as you journey toward the Cross, remember that you are not alone. God is your companion on the journey.
2. The Last Supper
Maundy Thursday is the night we remember Jesus’ last meal with his friends and disciples.
What is a meal you remember?
What made it special?
This plate will become a communion plate. (There will be a ceramic plate and some ceramic markers on the table).
You are invited to write a word or draw a picture that signifies that meal you remember. You can write a longer story or a bigger picture on the table cloth. Offer a prayer that you will have eyes open to remember those special moments as they happen. While Jesus may have known what was to come, it seems unlikely that the disciples fully grasped that it would be their last meal together with Jesus. Give thanks for the gifts of those meals to remember.
At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. He instructed them to love one another as he had loved them—sacrificially and with a servant’s heart.
You are invited to wash someone’s hands or feet. If nobody else is near this station, feel free to go and ask someone if you can wash their feet or hands.
Is it uncomfortable to put yourself in that position? Possibly so.
Live with that discomfort for a few minutes. And then go wash someone’s feet. Jesus showed us how to do it.
(Note—realize that someone might ask you if they can wash your hands or feet too. Think of what it would mean to them for you to accept that gift.)
4. Healing Prayer
Members of the prayer team are available to pray with you at this station.
What is the pain in your life that needs relief?
What is the hurt in your life that needs healing?
One of the gifts of prayer is that you don’t have to do it alone (although you can!). Others can pray with and for you, helping to bear your burdens.
Before Jesus headed to Jerusalem, a woman washed his feet with her hair and then anointed him with costly perfume. After his burial, the women head to the tomb to anoint his body as well.
I am fresh out of nard, but you are invited to anoint your own hands or feet, or the feet or hands of someone else, with the lotion on the table.
How often do you allow others to do something generous for you?
How often do you allow yourself to be generous for you?
While there are many good reasons to be generous to others, it is equally important to allow people to be generous to you and to care for yourself.
Is that hard for you to do? Why?
Offer a prayer that you will live generously and allow others to be generous to you as well.
Judas betrayed Jesus. According to some traditions, it was for a bag of 30 pieces of silver. According to some traditions, it was with a kiss.
To redeem those 30 pieces of silver, you are invited to offer your own pieces of silver (or other coins, cash, or checks) to be offered to victims of betrayal in our community.
Unless marked as “pledge”, this offering will be given to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. If you do not have coins to offer tonight, there are also slips of paper on the table. You are invited to write down how you will share your gifts and talents to help people who have been broken by betrayal.
You could also write a prayer for a victim of betrayal, and place that in the offering plate.
The Holy Week scriptures are printed out and are on the pulpit. You are invited to read one or more of those scriptures. You can read them silently to yourself. Or you can speak into the microphone, and offer a phrase or section of scripture to the rest of the people gathered.
The pulpit bible is also on the pulpit. You can also read and share your favorite scripture passage, even if it isn’t a Holy Week text. As you read, trust that God has something to say to you in this text.
Be listening for what God has to offer you this night in these texts.
8. Communion Table
It is a tradition in many Christian communities to strip the table on Maundy Thursday. The practice dates from the seventh century and originally served the practical purpose of cleaning the sanctuary in preparation for Easter. In time, however, the practice became ceremonial in its own right. In silence and in shadows, communion vessels, table cloths, pulpit and lectern hangings, banners, candles, and all other decorative and liturgical objects are sensitively removed, thus dramatizing the desolation, abandonment and darkness of the passion and death of our Lord. The sanctuary remains bare until the beginnings of the Easter celebration.
Symbolically, Christ, stripped of his power and glory, is now in the hands of his captors.
You are invited to remove something from the Communion Table and to carry it out to the table in the narthex.
It is the work of the people to prepare for Easter. By carrying out something, you join with others, making big tasks manageable.
When else have you experienced the relief that comes from having other people working with you, instead of having to work alone?
9. Hurts and Betrayals
The world is broken in so many ways—our relationships with others, God, the planet, and ourselves. As Paul said in Romans 7, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Peter denied Jesus, even though he tried not to. Judas betrayed Jesus.
How have you been betrayed?
What hurtful things have been said to you?
How have you betrayed someone?
What hurtful things have you done?
Write some words or a symbol to describe some of those hurts and betrayals.
Look at your symbols.
Do you want to take them with you?
Or do you want to let them go?
Jesus said if you let go of the hurtful things people do to you, so God will also let go of the hurtful things you do.
This is forgiveness.
Are you willing to “let go”?
If so, throw them into the trashcan.
Let go of them as God lets go of your betrayals and hurts.
You are loved.
You are free.
You are forgiven.
On the butcher paper, you are invited to add the names of people who have died in the past year. It’s okay if a name is written more than once.
As we pause to mourn their deaths, we also celebrate the sure and certain hope of their resurrection.
11. New Life
You are invited to take a seed and hold it in your hand. This little seed contains all of the information needed to reproduce.
Plant the seed in the soil. As you do, feel the moist earthiness of the soil.
Think of the darkness the seed experiences before it can spring to life—on the brink of creation, there is darkness. The seed has to die for the plant to be born.
The Cross event is darkness and death as well.
But new life emerges from the darkness of the tomb on Easter.
As you prepare for Easter, consider new life.
What part of your life could use some new life now?
How could you be a part of bringing new life to your community?
What might need to “die” in you in order for something new to spring forth?
So, those are the stations we’ll be using tonight. Hope you will join us. Worship at 6:30 in the fellowship hall with dinner and communion served around tables. Prayer Center in the Sanctuary afterwards.
And Easter services will be at 9 and 11 on Sunday, April 8. Please join us!