(Worship Space – the altar or communion table can be laid with red cloth, its only adornment being a dimly lit lantern and three unlit candles. If the walls of the worship center can accommodate candles, unlit candles could also be placed along the walls.)
(Entrance – The scriptures shown below will be read antiphonally by two readers from the front of the sanctuary. As they are being read, a server will slowly proceed to the altar, carrying a Christ candle, from which the other candles will be lit. Depending upon the number of candles available, the lights in the church can also be turned up as the candles are lit.
Call to Worship
Reader 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Reader 2: 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made;
Reader 1: 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good,
Reader 2: without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Reader 1: he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Reader 2: 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
* Songs of Invocation: Shine, Jesus, Shine
Here I Am to Worship
* Opening Prayer
All: Blessed Father, gracious Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity, eternal light, we pray you would grace us with your presence during this hour. We pray that during our worship, your light would further penetrate our darkness, into spaces and thoughts that have heretofore remained shrouded. We pray for this for the sake of your kingdom, your glory, and our salvation. Amen.
Leader: One of the liberating joys of worship is that worship brings us together with two millennia of believers who came, week after week, as we do, expressing their gratitude for God’s salvation as well as their need of God’s extension of mercy, love, and forgiveness. As a confession of both our contribution and our desire, let us join our spirits with the saints of ages past .
Song of Confession: #51 – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Leader’s Response: Romans 8:33-35a, 38-39
33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Congregation’s Response: #86 The Love of God
Service of the Word
Old Testament: Isaiah 42:1-9
1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”
Leader: The Lord calls us in righteousness.
People: Lord, teach us the way.
Psalm: Psalm 143
1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
Leader: Lord, our spirit grows weak and faint
People: Revive us that we may serve you.
Gospel: John 3:17-21
17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Leader: Lord, teach us the deeds of light
People: Revive us that we may serve you.
Prayer for Anointing
Scripture: Matthew 26:6-13
6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
(As the Gospel is being read, a woman will slowly proceed to the altar/Communion table. In the open palms of her outstretched hands, she will carry a bottle of scented anointing oil, which she will place on the altar/table)
Prayer: God’s first act after creating the heavens and the earth was to bring light. The prophets prophesied that God was going to send a light to the gentiles, and Jesus came as a light to the world. When the woman of Bethany anointed Jesus’ head, she offered a humble service to the light that was soon to be extinguished. We are called to perform the deeds of light. During worship, one such service is to offer prayers for those whose light in life is precarious. With the oil of God’s Holy Spirit, let us jointly anoint these ones.
(Take time to anoint those who so desire – including those who would like to be anointed on behalf of another.)
Leader: Let us seal our prayer with a hymn of faith.
Hymn: #20 – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Celebration of the Table
Scripture: John 13:1-17
(As the Gospel is being read, a server will slowly proceed to the front of the sanctuary, carrying a laver and, draped over the arm, a white towel. The server will place these on the altar/Communion table.)
1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.[a]
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Leader: One of Jesus‘ last messages, taught by this powerful example, was that those of us who choose to follow him must become servants of one another. We are called to follow Jesus by serving those whom he came to save. But when the call comes, we realize that few of us can do this.
The daily calling of servanthood is one of the avenues God has provided to help draw us out of our darkness and into God’s light. But in order to persevere along the tunnel of our darkness, we need God’s constant nurture and forgiveness, and the hope of light.
On the night on which he was betrayed, Jesus provided the nurture, on the cross he provided the forgiveness, and through the Resurrection, he provided the light.
Hymn: #748 Let Us Break Bread Together
Scripture: Matthew 26:26-29
26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Prayer (in unison)
Our loving God and Father,
We bless you that from the beginning of time, you have been calling your people out of the darkness of our human condition and into the light of your saving life.
We bless you that Jesus entered our darkness and wore it as his garment, that he exchanged the raiment of the starry heavens for the raiment of darkest death.
We bless you in this bread and this wine you are both calling us and enabling us to walk the path of your Son.
We pray that you would consecrate this bread and wine that in our partaking
We would be filled with the life of Christ that Christ‘s life would lighten our darkness, that Christ‘s blood would purify and invigorate us to follow his example of loving service in this our world.
Hymn: #150 Christ is the World’s Light
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-56
(As the final portion of text is being read, the candles should be extinguished one at a time, each snuff corresponding to an action in the text, e.g., the arrival of Judas, the kiss, the arrest, etc. If lights were also used during the service, they should likewise be slowly and completely dimmed so that one only remaining light is that of the Christ Candle on the altar/Communion table, which will be extinguished immediately after the reading of John 9:4-5)
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
42He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!””
47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51With that, one of Jesus‘ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Scripture: John 9:4-5
4 “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”