When in Doubt: Prayer Resource #MaundyThursday, #Communion #Liturgy, #LastSupper

John 19:23-30 and Psalm 26:3

Note: The Narrative Lectionary takes up this account of the cross, rather than Footwashing, for Maundy Thursday. Therefore, I have taken these images to describe the Supper in the litany that follows.

John 19:23-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And because of* that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

* Most translations render the phrase, ap’ ekeinës tes öras, as “from that hour” or “after that hour,” but, besides the temporal meaning, the phrase can also mean “because of that hour.” Sophia Park, The Galilean Jesus: Creating A Borderland at the Foot of the Cross (Jn 19:23-30), Theological Studies 70 (2009).

Litany to be used after the Scripture reading/sermon on John


One: one piece of Christ’s body is given,

MANY: and Christ’s whole body is given.


One: We are each individual parts of Christ Jesus’ body

MANY: and together we are the complete body of Christ Jesus.


One: Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.”

MANY: and to the beloved disciple, “Here is your mother.”


One: We are each a part of God’s family

MANY: and together we are the abundant family of God.


One: it was finished

MANY: and it had just begun.


One: Jesus’ thirst was answered with sour wine, and he gave up his spirit;

MANY: our thirst is answered with the cup, and we partake of the Spirit.


From that moment of crucifixion on, because of that hour,

we gather at the Lord’s table to eat this bread and drink this cup.

The one who fed great crowds with just five loaves offers himself as the bread of life. The one who offers the cup is himself living water. He is the bread of life.

Whoever comes to him will never be hungry,

and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty.

*In John 19:27b, “most translations render the phrase, ap’ ekeinës tes öras, [regarding the beloved disciple taking Mary to his home] ‘from that hour’ or ‘after that hour,’ but, besides the temporal meaning, the phrase can also mean ‘because of that hour.’ Sophia Park, The Galilean Jesus: Creating A Borderland at the Foot of the Cross (Jn 19:23-30), Theological Studies 70 (2009).

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord is with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

You alone give the true bread from heaven that gives life to the world.

Empower us to work for the food that endures for eternal life.

Give us this bread always, that we may live forever.

We come to you and will never be hungry.

We believe in you and will never be thirsty.

We eat this bread, your flesh, given for the life of the world.

We partake of this true food and this true drink.

We abide in you, and you abide in us. We live because of you.

We thank you and praise you for the great mystery of faith:

Christ has died,

Christ is risen,

Christ will come again.

Thanks be to God.

Words of Institution

Jesus taught about the bread of his flesh, saying:
ery truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life. 

Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven.

Whoever eats of this bread will live forever;

and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”


And Jesus turned water into the very best wine,

providing abundantly for a celebration of love and family,

the first of the signs revealing his glory, so that his disciples believed in him.


O God, send your Holy Spirit upon this bread and cup,

that they may be for us Christ Jesus’ body and blood,

Give us your eternal food and your abundant cup,

so that we may abide in you and you in us.

*This liturgy uses images from the Gospel of John;  traditional words of institution may of course be used instead.

More Lent Prayer Resources

Rev. Dr. Barbara Hedges-Goettl has her doctorate in liturgy and has worked on the new Book of Common Worship for the PCUSA, she is particularly interested in Communion, and uses her writing skills for bulletins, sermons and IEPs for children with special needs.



Tasting #God

I look over as I raise my glass, the bread has been swallowed individually, because we are all individuals in Christ, and there is Westley, 7 years old and dead serious.

“This is the blood of the New Covenant, Friends, drink ye all of it” I pronounce. Westley holds his cup as steady as he can…and then he drinks it and we drink it.

And Westley tastes God.

Watching my autistic son take communion, being soothed by its ritual, experiencing the taste of the liturgy in community in a way the wordy-words of the sermon and even the half-warbled hymns from his throat doesn’t.

Westley loves church, because he knows he is loved. He knows he is accepted. Working on body language, empathy & instinct, Westley will run from the room if he feels unwanted. He knows. This little boy who doesn’t sit, not even in front of his beloved electronics without fiddling or bouncing or squishing. Sits solemnly throughout service. participating not just with the community, but as a part of it.

But this is his church, this is his space, he is growing up here. And for a little boy who has a lot of trouble speaking and understanding words, the bread and the cup (grape juice) speak to him.

For Westley, Communion is community, its love, its ritual, its sensational in all the right ways. Communion is the taste of God, the one-ness with humanity. Seeing Westley take Communion is holy ground, because we ask God to be present, and miraculously, God is there. God is in the little boy who carefully picks his bread from the platter, and eats it, waiting for the cup to be raised, so we can drink it, as communion.