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Theme: “Do this in Memory of Me.” 1 Cor. 11:24
Peg: Welcome to our liturgical gathering on this Thursday afternoon. We thank our readers and IT team for being part of our liturgy team today. When speaking, please unmute, contribute your thoughts, and when you are finished remember to re-mute yourself. Have bread and wine/juice in front of you for communion. On Holy Thursday as we bless bread, share wine, and serve one another, let us welcome everyone to the feast.
Opening Hymn: We Come to Your Feast by Michael Joncas
Bridget Mary: We gather together in memory of Jesus who shared meals at an open table with tax collectors, prostitutes and all who followed him. On the night before he died, Jesus gathered with his friends at a Passover Meal. In an extravagant offering of love, he knelt down and washed their feet, and told them to do likewise. He, then, returned to the table, blessed the bread and cup, shared it with them, and told them to do this in memory of him. Today, we warmly welcome you to a table of abundant love and gracious care in memory of Jesus.
Peg: We pause now to remember the times we have not served others with kind hearts. Take a few moments to recall one missed opportunity, one broken or damaged relationship.
Now imagine this person or situation in the light of healing love, as we ask for forgiveness. Hold your hands over your heart and remember the power of love within you to forgive and heal self and others.
Then extend your hands in a gesture of healing love over our community and pray with me:
Peg & ALL: Please forgive me, I am sorry, I love you, I thank you.
Gloria: A Joyful Gloria by Linda Lee and Rick Miller
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Michael: First Reading: An excerpt from The Last Week
As a Passover meal, the Last Supper resonates with the story of the exodus from Egypt, a story of bondage deliverance and liberation. The first Passover occurred on the evening just before the tenth plague of death to the firstborn in every Egyptian household. In this context, the Passover meal of lamb had two meanings: the blood was put on doorposts so that they would be literally passed over and delivered from the threat of death and secondly, the lamb was food for the journey.
We realize now that the Passover lamb is a sacrifice in the broad sense of the word but not in the narrow sense of substitutionary sacrifice. There is no mention of sin or guilt, substitution or atonement. Rather, the point is participation with God through gift or meal. Meals were always one of the most distinctive features of Jesus’s public activity. He often taught at meals, banquets were topics of his parables and his eating with outcasts was a controversial topic among the Pharisees. Jesus’s meals were about inclusion in a society with sharp social boundaries.
It is important to note that within this more private meal setting, Jesus must have known that the noose was tightening, that the cross was approaching. He could not have been oblivious to the hostility of the authorities, and he may have regarded his arrest and execution as inevitable — not because of divine necessity, but because of what he could sense happening around him.
These are the inspired words of Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan and the community affirms them by saying,
Michael & ALL: So be it.
Responsorial Song: Place at the Table Music by Lori True, Video by Michelle Sherliza
Kathryn: Second Reading: On Being a Eucharistic Community
Meals are the most frequent settings for Gospel stories. They range from informal picnics on hillsides to banquets given by dignitaries. They introduce us to some of the most diverse and colorful of Gospel characters: a woman with long hair who washes Jesus’ feet, a little boy who has loaves and fishes hidden in the folds of his robe, and a short man, named Zacchaeus, who is about to have an unexpected dinner guest. Meals transport us from the wedding in Cana to a quiet dinner at a little house in Emmaus. They invited us to a party for a prodigal and let us share a Passover supper with a carpenter’s son. This theme of inclusivity is one of the benchmarks of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone ought to have a place at the table, especially those who have been marginalized. Obviously, this includes many who do not qualify for the guest list–people who have been relegated to the back roads and slums of the towns. When we give a luncheon, we need to make sure that no one who wants to be there is left out. Inclusivity is a Gospel mandate. It is not separate from Sabbath observance, but an essential part of it.
These are the inspired words of Fran Ferder & John Heagle and we respond by saying,
Kathryn & ALL: So be it.
Gospel Acclamation: Spirit of the Living God
We begin with a reading from the perspective of the women preparing for the Passover Seder -- A Reading for Holy Week - the Women, by Bryony Taylor
Passover is my favorite time of the year, it’s busy, yes and sometimes I dread it, what with all the relatives visiting and trying to make sure everything cooks on time. Cleaning the house of all the yeast is a big job, thank goodness I have my daughters Leah and Dinah to help me now with that job! This year has been very different. We have been in Jerusalem with my sons James and John who have come into the city with Jesus, the great rabbi. Being in the big city we knew that we would be in a different place for our Passover Seder this year. I was nervous because I always find it difficult using someone else’s oven for baking and someone else’s pots and pans. The boys came to me and Mary and took us to a room that had been made ready for Jesus to share the Passover with his disciples. We had to go there in secret. The atmosphere in Jerusalem is tense, the Romans always get a bit heavy handed at festival time – more people are out drinking than usual and causing trouble – and of course, the city is full of people, every house is full of guests. When we came into Jerusalem on Sunday, Jesus was riding on a donkey’s colt, his feet were almost scraping the ground, it did look quite funny! But it was supposed to, Jesus was making fun of the way the Roman rulers ride so triumphantly into the city at this time of year – Jesus was showing how false that way of leading is. So we laughed and cheered and threw palm branches in his way and sang the old song of praise “hosanna to the Son of David.” You can imagine what the Roman guards made of that! So we are having to be very careful not to draw too much attention to ourselves. It would be such a disaster if we could not celebrate the Passover together. So I’ve managed to slow cook the lamb, we have the bitter herbs and my very special recipe of charoset – the honey mix that looks like the cement the Hebrew slaves had to use to build the pyramids – it has a secret ingredient! Now I’m toasting the matzoh bread, the unleavened bread ready for Jesus to bless and we’ve filled the cups with wine. As the oldest woman here, I will have the honor of kindling the Passover lights at the beginning of our meal this evening and saying the prayers. Something tells me that this night is going to be extra special as we remember the Holy One’s presence with us in our journey out of Egypt into the Promised land.
And we continue with: A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke and John:
After washing their feet, Jesus put his clothes back on and returned to the table. He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and Sovereign’ – and rightly, for so I am. If I, 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.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.” He then raised high the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered them the wine saying: “Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life, for you. Whenever you do this, remember me!”
These are the inspired words from the Gospels of Luke and John, and we respond by saying,
Peg & ALL: So be it.
Bridget Mary: Homily Starter:
Homily: The Historical Evolution of the Sacred Meal in Memory of Jesus
by Bridget Mary Meehan
The earliest written record of the last supper of Jesus is found in Paul’s letter to Corinth around the year 57.
The only things Paul mentions about the last supper are Jesus’ words over the bread and wine and the instruction that they were to be taken in memory of him.
Biblical scholars point out Paul’s use of the word “body” sometimes refers to the bread and sometimes to the community.
There is no agreement among theologians whether Paul believed that Christ was present in the bread in the same way he clearly believed that he was present in the community.
The same ambiguity and brevity are found in the synoptic gospel narratives of the last supper. (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20)
In Matthew, Jesus’ words over the bread are almost identical to Mark’s “Take and eat, this is my body.” (26:26) The words over the cup are applied to forgiveness: “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the “forgiveness of sin” (26:27-28).
Luke’s version of what is said over the bread differs more. He adds “given for you” and the theme of “remembrance”: This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (22:19). Over the cup, Luke has, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (22:20).
Paul’s account has the remembrance theme in both parts, and is closest to Luke: “This (bread) is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1Cor. 11:24-25).
Paul does not clearly identify the wine with the blood of Christ. On the other hand, Matthew and Mark do seem to identify the bread and wine with these words.
But, Jesus never actually said these words!
The Gospels were written in Greek, but Jesus spoke Aramaic, and in that language, he would have said, This my body…This my blood.
It is historically repulsive and forbidden by Jewish law to drink blood. (Leviticus 3:17).
Jews ate ritual foods that had symbolic meaning at the Passover Meal such as bitter herbs as a symbol of their cruel enslavement in Egypt. Therefore, it is more likely that Jesus was assuring his disciples that when they gathered to share this sacred meal in his memory, he would be present with them.
Years later when the Fourth Gospel was written, there is no mention of bread and wine or Jesus’ words about them. Jesus, like a servant, pours water in a basin, and washes the feet of each of his disciples.
In the second century as the Jesus movement grew, the prayers of praise and thanksgiving and the sharing of bread and wine within a real agape meal were replaced by a thanksgiving service which consisted of an opening greeting by the leader, the bringing of bread and wine and other offerings by the congregation, prayers of praise and thanks to God over the gifts, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the bread and wine, and a dismissal.
Usually, a reference to Christ’s words at the last supper were inserted into the prayers of praise and thanks, but since the whole action was done in memory of Christ, this was not always included.
Some early forms of eucharistic worship did not contain what were to become known as the words of institution: “This is my body…This is my blood…Do this in memory of me.” For example, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, a Syrian work written before 150, contains a eucharistic prayer without the words of institution and refers to the weekly meal as a sacrifice.
During the first three centuries the form of Christian Eucharistic Celebrations evolved from a friendship meal to a ritual meal with prayers in the general style of the earlier Jewish thanksgiving prayers, but with no set words except the words of institution.
The ritual evolved differently in different part of the Roman empire and in different cities within these regions.
The basic pattern was the same in all places: an offering of gifts of bread and wine, a thanksgiving prayer over these gifts, a breaking of the bread, and a reception of the bread and wine by all present. A leader of the community presided. He or she prayed with them, rather than for them in home churches.
Catholic theologian and seminary professor, Joseph Martos describes the historical development of Eucharistic liturgies in these words:
It was a sacramental experience of communal worship offered in the presence of Christ who became present as the community prayed and worshipped together together. And what made the bread and wine sacred was the entire ritual action which repeated and commemorated what Christ had done at the last supper.”
When we bless and share bread and wine in our communal Eucharistic liturgies, we celebrate the all-embracing Christ presence among us in the bread and wine, in the community and in our loving service to each other and to the world.
(Source: The historical development of the Eucharist that I shared in this homily comes from Doors to the Sacred by Joseph Martos, pp. 214-220)
Let us reflect on what it means to "do this" in memory of Jesus today.
Statement of Faith
Jerry: Please join in praying our Statement of Faith:
Jerry & ALL: We believe in one God, a divine mystery beyond all definition and rational understanding, the heart of all that has ever existed, that exists now, or that ever will exist.
We believe in Jesus, messenger of God's Word, bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion, bright star in the firmament of God's prophets, mystics, and saints.
We believe that we are called to follow Jesus as a vehicle of God's love, a source of God's wisdom and truth, and an instrument of God's peace in the world.
We believe that God's kin-dom is here and now, stretched out all around us for those with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it, and hands to make it happen.
Prayers of the Community:
Suzanne: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns. Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…”
(At the end)
Suzanne: We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Preparation of the Gifts:
Bridget Mary: Blessed are You, Holy One, through Your divine providence we have this bread to share, the Bread of Life.
Bridget Mary and ALL: Blessed are You, Holy One, forever.
Peg: Blessed are You, O Loving One, through Your divine providence we have this wine to share, our spiritual drink.
Peg and ALL: Blessed are You, Holy One, forever.
Our table has been prepared, and all are invited to the Banquet of love. We offer these gifts and the gifts of our own lives to our loving God.
Jerry: God’s presence is within you
Suzanne and ALL: And all around you.
Jerry: Lift up your hearts.
Suzanne and ALL: We lift them up.
Jerry: Let us give thanks for an open table.
Suzanne and ALL: We give thanks for this joyous feast.
Suzanne: With the flowers of the field and the birds of the air,
With every creature, we behold the beauty of God on earth,
With sisters and brothers around the globe,
With the angels and saints,
And with our loved ones,
Holy, Holy, Holy – ( Karen Drucker, Linda Lee)
Bridget Mary: O Beloved, you who breathe new life into us in the midst of pain and darkness; may we love all people in all places, especially the poor, the refugee, the immigrant, the oppressed and marginalized. May we support them in their needs and empower them to speak with their own voices.
We open ourselves to your Spirit present in Jesus and within us who transforms the bread and cup and all of us gathered here into the Body and Blood of Christ.
We remember that the night before Jesus died, he washed his disciples’ feet to show the depths of a love that serves others.
When he returned to his place at the table, Jesus lifted the bread, spoke the grace and said: Take and eat. This is my body given for you. Do this in memory of me.
All lift the cup and pray:
Peg: Then he took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying: Take and drink. Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.
Peg: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Peg & ALL: Christ has died in all those who have passed away. Christ is rising in all who serve their sisters and brothers. Christ will come again and again through the self-emptying love of your people.
Bridget Mary: Holy One we remember all the companions who have gone before us: Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala, Peter and all holy women and men whose loving service has blessed our lives and world. We pause now to remember our personal communion of saints.
(Presiders hold bread and wine)
Bridget Mary: For it is through living as Jesus lived, and loving as he loved, that we awaken to your Spirit drawing us into the fullness of life and loving service.
Great Amen: (Linda Lee)
The Prayer of Jesus
Jerry: Let us pray as Jesus taught — in the Aramaic translation — the language of Jesus:
Jerry & ALL: Abwoon, Mother/Father God of the Cosmos,
Breathe life into our hearts.
May your power and counsel rule our lives
And the whole creation.
May your will to love find its home in each human heart
As it is at home throughout the Cosmos.
Grant us today both bread and wisdom
that we may in turn become bread for others.
Loose the cars of the secret debts that bind us
and In the strength this freedom gives us,
help us to loose the cords we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from unripeness,
from all that holds us back from loving.
For from you is born the astonishing fire,
the ruling will, the power and son that gives life to all,
here and now and forever. Amen.
Suzanne: Jesus said to his disciples, “My peace I leave You. My peace I give You.”
(Let us place our hands in front of us, palms up, as we sing, “Peace is flowing like a river…” you may change “captives” to “peoples”)
Sign of Peace: Peace is flowing like a River by Carey Laundry, sung by Linda Lee Miller
Bridget Mary: Please join in praying the Litany for the Breaking of the Bread
Bridget Mary and ALL:
Holy One, You call us to speak truth to power; we will do so.
Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of healing and justice; we will do so.
Holy One, You call us to be Your presence in the world; we will do so.
Peg: Filled with the peace we have shared and in communion with all people and all creation, come and share at this table. The bread of life, the cup of blessing.
Communion Song: Bread of Life
Bridget Mary: Thanksgiving: Please unmute yourself if you have a thanksgiving to share
(Introductions and Announcements)
Bridget Mary: We give thanks for this banquet of love, this feast of joy, this miracle of our oneness with all in Christ. May we rejoice that you are with us in the breaking of the bread. May this happy communion with you and with one another deepen our faith and love as we go forth to serve your people every day.
Peg: We go forth
In the name of the Creator,
In the name of Jesus, our brother and friend,
In the name of the loving and transforming Holy Spirit always with us.
Peg and ALL: Amen
Bridget Mary: Please extend Your hands in blessing and sing the Blessing Song as our closing song.
Closing Song: Blessing Song by Jan Phillips
May the blessing of peace be upon you, may peace be all you know
may the blessing of peace be upon you, may it follow wherever you go.
Shalom, salaam, shaanti, pacem, May peace prevail on earth
Shalom, salaam, shaanti, pacem, May peace prevail on earth.
(continue with joy, love, light)
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