In those seasons of the church year that we often think of as high and holy times, I enjoy digging back through the ages and seek how the church has prayed. Sometimes you find words from another century or another culture that become your own and give you what to say when you heart feels like it is fumbling around. Here is a prayer that I wrote today for Maundy Thursday: some of its phrases have been inspired by earlier words from Bede, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, 1 John, and The Gelasian Sacramentary. Make it your own!
A prayer of Thanksgiving for Maundy Thursday
Our Good and Gracious Father,
You have brought us in safety again to this precious week and this new day. This truly is a day that you have created and we are glad and rejoice in it. For on this day not only do we have the chance to live, to love, and to lift our voices to you in prayer and praise – but we also come face to face with the astounding love of your son – our Lord, our Redeemer – Jesus Christ.
Tonight we remember his shocking and saving love for us: that while we were sinners, Jesus loved us, Jesus came for us, embraced us, and died for us. That when we were about to despair because we were faced with our sin-sickness, Jesus appeared … as the almighty doctor who can deliver us. And he did so by taking our sickness upon himself, sharing our death that he might administer life to us!
Lord, tonight we gather as a people who depend on your compassion and mercy. We stand on this side of the cross and praise you for freeing us from sin and for life with you. Let us remember our need for your mercy to cover our sin. Let us find grace in the gift of your body and your blood. Let us hear in a fresh way your word to love one another even as you have loved us – a humble, sacrificial love.
So come Holy Spirit: fill the hearts of your faithful people with your grace. Kindle in us the fire of your love. Make the flame of that love first take hold among each other – our brothers and sisters here – and then spread to all those who are far off. Give us the grace that might seek order all our thoughts and actions after your commandment to love. And may we be found fit to enter into Your everlasting joy. Amen.