Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for Maundy Thursday 9th April 2020

May grace, mercy and peace be with us all

Today is Maundy Thursday.

We are in Holy Week and three days away from Easter.

In Bible times the roads were very dirty and dusty. The people didn’t wear shoes or trainers that covered their feet, they wore sandals. This meant that as they walked along their feet would get really, really dirty. When you got to the house that you were going to, the servants would wash your feet, which meant you didn’t get the houses all dirty too.

On Maundy Thursday we remember Jesus’ command to love one another. Jesus showed his disciples how to love one another, by helping them, by being a servant. Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and got a bowl of water and he washed all the disciples’ dirty feet. Even though Jesus knew that something bad was going to happen to him, he wanted to do something for his friends. Instead of being worried by his own problems, he just wanted to show his love for everyone else.

A Song of Praise by Graham Kendrick

From heav’n You came, helpless Babe
Entered our world, Your glory veiled;
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving

Psalm 116 verses 1 & 10-end
Someone Saved from Death Praises God

116 I love the Lord, because he hears me;

he listens to my prayers.

10 I kept on believing, even when I said,

“I am completely crushed,”

11 even when I was afraid and said,

“No one can be trusted.”

12 What can I offer the Lord

for all his goodness to me?

13 I will bring a wine offering to the Lord,

to thank him for saving me.

14 In the assembly of all his people

I will give him what I have promised.

15 How painful it is to the Lord

when one of his people dies!

16 I am your servant, Lord;

I serve you just as my mother did.

You have saved me from death.

17 I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and offer my prayer to you.

18-19 In the assembly of all your people,

in the sanctuary of your Temple in Jerusalem,

I will give you what I have promised.

Praise the Lord!

Our bible reading is John 13 verse 1-17 & 31-35

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

13 It was now the day before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. He had always loved those in the world who were his own, and he loved them to the very end.

2 Jesus and his disciples were at supper. The Devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, the thought of betraying Jesus.[a] 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God. 4 So he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel around his waist. 5 Then he poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Are you going to wash my feet, Lord?”

7 Jesus answered him, “You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later.”

8 Peter declared, “Never at any time will you wash my feet!”

“If I do not wash your feet,” Jesus answered, “you will no longer be my disciple.”

9 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head, too!”

10 Jesus said, “Those who have taken a bath are completely clean and do not have to wash themselves, except for their feet.[b] All of you are clean—all except one.” (11 Jesus already knew who was going to betray him; that is why he said, “All of you, except one, are clean.”)

12 After Jesus had washed their feet, he put his outer garment back on and returned to his place at the table. “Do you understand what I have just done to you?” he asked. 13 “You call me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am. 14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. 16 I am telling you the truth: no slaves are greater than their master, and no messengers are greater than the one who sent them. 17 Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!

The New Commandment

31 After Judas had left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man's glory is revealed; now God's glory is revealed through him. 32 And if God's glory is revealed through him, then God will reveal the glory of the Son of Man in himself, and he will do so at once. 33 My children, I shall not be with you very much longer. You will look for me; but I tell you now what I told the Jewish authorities, ‘You cannot go where I am going.’ 34 And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

A Maundy Thursday Thought for the Day by Revd. Mike Sermon

For the first time St Paul’s has switched on Christmas lights outside the traditional period.

In the face of a world pandemic, the reminder that Christ the light of the world still shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome him, is a huge comfort.

The switch on was also simply to cheer people up, as we recalled how effective the lights were in lifting our spirits during the long dark nights of winter.

Today is Maundy Thursday.

A day which commemorates the moment Jesus celebrated a Passover Meal with his disciples.

Our bible reading gives an account of what happened.

I am going to focus on just two verses, but later reflect upon the passage once again if you can.

To provide some context.

This is the moment when Judas acts to betray Jesus.

The darkness is building and the violence of the cross is just a day away.

Into this context Jesus shines two beams of light.

Two instructions that he leaves with his disciples, which will become hallmarks of his teaching and ministry.

These instructions are lights that still shine even on the darkest of nights.

The first beam of light comes as Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.

From verse 5 we read,

“Then Jesus poured some water into a basin and began to wash his disciple’s feet and dry them with a towel around his waist”.

This is a hard lesson for the disciples to absorb.

At first they try to resist the idea of their Teacher and Lord washing their feet, but Jesus would have none of it.

There is a song by Graham Kendrick, “The Servant King”, which wonderfully captures the radical significance of this act by Jesus.

From heav’n You came, helpless Babe

Entered our world, Your glory veiled;

Not to be served but to serve

And give Your life that we might live


This is our God, the Servant King

He calls us now to follow Him

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to the Servant King

Here our understanding of Jesus is refined.

Jesus declares that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life that we might live.

The second beam of light comes as Jesus gives his disciple’s a new commandment that they love one another.

From verse 34 we read,

“And now I give you a new commandment; love one another…. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.

This love is sacrificial and selfless, with length and breadth and height and depth.

This too is a hard lesson for the disciples to absorb, because this is a costly love.

These two beams of light that speak of service and love, shine into the darkness of our present experience and they reveal how we are to respond in a crisis.

We are to serve.

We are to love.

As indeed we have been doing, in new creative and innovative ways many times over.

The first time we serve and love a vulnerable neighbor in a new way, a light is switched on.

If we all love and serve in this way, what an array of stars there will be shining in the darkness.

This is the way forward Jesus says, so let us walk in it.


Revd. Mike Sermon Vicar St Paul’s Blackheath, Priest in Charge St James’ Rounds Green

Our prayers.

For all those who today are anxious and fearful

for those without work or income

for those who rely on food banks and the generosity of others.

Gracious God, mercifully hear us.

For all those who today have family members and friends that are ill

for those whose mental health and well-being is poor

for those who care for the sick and the dying.

Gracious God, mercifully hear us.

For Christians throughout the world as we journey through Holy Week

for those facing persecution and oppression

for those whose religious freedoms are denied.

Gracious God, mercifully hear us.

For all those in positions of responsibility seeking to protect public health

for those engaged in medical research

for those involved in social work and safeguarding.

Gracious God, mercifully hear us.

In the stillness, we take a moment to commend to God those special people and places that we carry in our hearts today.

Gracious God, mercifully hear us.


God of hope

heal us and restore us,

that we may know the power of your love at work in our lives,

today and every day.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.

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