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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Home Worship for Maundy Thursday

Home Worship for Maundy Thursday

April 9, 2020

Watch the Livestream at

Thursday at 5:00 p.m. (or anytime afterward)


I am posting this worship service online because we at St. Matthew's Church in Savannah are unable to gather together in person this week. The Governor of Georgia and President of the U.S.A. have declared states of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. Public health officials recommend avoiding large gatherings of people to avoid spreading the illness to more vulnerable people. Therefore, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia has ordered all parishes in our diocese to suspend in-person worship.

At 5:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, I will broadcast the following worship service using Facebook Live at After the service concludes, you can re-watch it at any time.

Today’s service is a “Liturgy of the Word,” also known as the first part of the Holy Eucharist from The Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer. Holy Communion is an incarnational sacrament, meaning it requires us to be together “in the flesh” as Jesus the Word of God became flesh among us. Because we are physically separated from one another, we will not celebrate communion today, but we will praise and worship God together.

You may read these prayers together in church or at home, as individuals or in small groups, while watching the live stream video or at another time. You do not need a clergy person present to say these prayers. Page numbers from The Book of Common Prayer are listed in parentheses after each section heading using the abbreviation “BCP." The written text of my sermon is included below.

May God protect you from this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. May we be God’s hands and feet of compassion and service to all in need during this time. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

The Penitential Order of the Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Opening Sentence (BCP, p. 351)

Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.

His mercy endures forever.

The Decalogue / Ten Commandments (BCP, p. 350)

Hear the commandments of God to his people:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other gods but me. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not make for yourself any idol. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not invoke with malice the Name of the Lord your God.  Amen. Lord have mercy.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Amen. Lord have mercy.

Honor your father and your mother. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not commit murder. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not commit adultery. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not steal. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not be a false witness. Amen. Lord have mercy.

You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Amen. Lord have mercy.

The Confession of Sin (BCP, p. 351)

Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14, 16).

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

[Silence may be kept.]

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Lord, Have Mercy: LEV #236

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy,

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy, Christ, have mercy,

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy,

Lord, have mercy on us.

The Collect of the Day (BCP, pp. 357, 221)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray.

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of Exodus (12:1-14)

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. [Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.] This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Psalm 116:1, 10-17

Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, * because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.

10 How shall I repay the Lord * for all the good things he has done for me?

11 I will lift up the cup of salvation * and call upon the Name of the Lord.

12 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord * in the presence of all his people.

13 Precious in the sight of the Lord * is the death of his servants.

14 O Lord, I am your servant; * I am your servant and the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.

15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving * and call upon the Name of the Lord.

16 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord * in the presence of all his people,

17 In the courts of the Lord’s house, * in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

A Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians (11:23-26)

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God

“Ubi Caritas” by Jacques Berthier (Taizé)


Ubi caritas et amor,

Ubi caritas, Deus ibi est


Live in charity and steadfast love,

Live in charity; God will dwell with you

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. John (13:1-17, 31b-35)

Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

"Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

The Sermon

"Kneels at the Feet of His Friends" by Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Today’s Gospel reading is supposed to be strange. It’s supposed to be surprising and even scandalous in the way it subverts our expectations. But it’s probably not strange in the way we think it is.

Remember that the Gospels were written nearly 2000 years ago in a different part of the world. There are many biblical stories that are difficult to understand without recognizing the cultural differences between us as 21st century Americans (of any race or class) and them as 1st century Galileans and Judeans. This is one of those examples.

In ancient Galilee and Judea, foot washing was a normal part of giving and receiving hospitality. Most everybody wore sandals all the time and there weren’t paved roads everywhere, so everyone’s feet got dirty every time they left the house. And in a time before underground pipe systems and indoor plumbing, the streets could be really dirty. When you walked into someone’s home, it was polite to remove your shoes and wash your feet so you didn’t track in all the dirt, garbage, and sewage from the streets into their home.

And meals in ancient Judea were often eaten on very low tables that were just a few inches off the ground or on a mat. They didn’t sit in chairs around 3-foot-high tables like most of us do for most meals. They ate around this low table lying on the floor, resting on their left arm and reaching into the table with their right hands to pick up and eat food. Everyone’s feet were pretty close to the food and everyone had to walk around the dining room without stepping on anyone else’s eating spot or food with their feet.

So, when someone entered your home in 1st century Judea, it was appropriate and expected for the host to offer for guests to wash their feet. It was part of the greeting ritual, kind of like shaking hands, giving a hug, or offering a drink to guests when they arrive. In its original culture, washing feet in someone else’s home was not the strange part about this story. That part was normal.

The issue was about who washed their feet. There were some normal and abnormal ways of going about foot washing. Usually, a child or a servant/slave performed the foot washing for adult guests. Or, if the host couldn’t afford servants or didn’t have children, there might have been a foot washing station where guests could clean themselves off before gathering around the table. It would be sort of like going to the restroom to wash your hands before dinner.

But in this case, Jesus and the disciples are guests in an unnamed host’s home. And for whatever reason, this host provided a space and the Passover meal but did not provide for a way to wash the guests’ feet. Jesus was not the host, but Jesus was the guest of honor. He was the most esteemed and respected of all the guests so he was just about the last person anyone would expect to be the foot washer at this meal. He was their teacher acting in a servant’s role.

In just a few moments, we are going to begin a section of the service where we would normally gather together in the parish hall of the church and wash one another’s feet. Obviously, that isn’t possible for us this evening. Most of us are stuck in our homes, self-quarantining to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus. Some of us at St. Matthew’s perform jobs that are essential to our community and we all thank you for standing on the frontlines of our collective fight against this pandemic.

So, whether you are alone in your home, out at work, or at home surrounded by a large family, tonight might not be a great time to wash each other’s feet with water. And that’s okay. This act of foot washing is meant to inspire us to other acts of service, kindness, and mercy. Jesus doesn’t just want us to imitate this culturally foreign act once per year and call it a day. Jesus wants us to embody the Spirit of a foot washer, a servant who is willing to be a fool for mercy, a radical for hospitality, an activist for compassion.

Our society is getting more and more anxious the longer this pandemic disrupts our normal lives. As fear and anxiety increase, people become more destructive in their words and behaviors toward others. We want to be impatient and rush this biological process. Certain public officials are calling on older, sicker people to sacrifice their lives for the sake of “rebuilding the economy.” It sounds absurd to even speak that way, but the more that loud voices shout about doing evil things, the more normal those evil things appear.

In the next few minutes, while we mediate on Jesus’ act of mercy and service, let us consider the ways we can be of greater service to those around us. If you cannot wash one another’s feet where you are right now, take this time to write down at least 3 acts of service you can do this week to show hospitality and kindness to others during the pandemic. You can maintain social distance without being isolated. You can care for others and remind them of God’s love and yours.

At the Last Supper, Jesus didn’t do anything supernatural or superhuman. He didn’t perform a miracle. He showed us what humanity is truly capable of. Like Jesus, we can all do ordinary acts of hospitality, mercy, and service with extraordinary love.

The Washing of Feet

(The Book of Occasional Services 2018, p. 82)

Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ: On the night before his death, Jesus set an example for his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the Kingdom of God come not by power, authority, or even miracle, but by such lowly service. We all need to remember his example, but none stand more in need of this reminder than those whom the Lord has called to the ordained ministry.

Therefore, I invite you who share in the royal priesthood of Christ, to come forward, that I may recall whose servant I am by following the example of my Master. But come remembering his admonition that what will be done for you is also to be done by you to others, for “a servant is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Here you may wash your hands, using the water in the bowl, or you may decide to wash one another’s feet (or your own feet) in your home. In either case, recall Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.

During the foot washing, the Celebrant will lead the anthems below, and the congregation will sing the following hymn.

The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them, "Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done."

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.

LEV #74: “Jesu, Jesu” (verses 1-3, 5)


Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,

show us how to serve the neighbors

we have from you.

1 Kneels at the feet of his friends,

silently washes their feet,

Master who acts as a slave to them.

2 Neighbors are rich and poor,

neighbors are black and white,

neighbors are near and far away.

3 These are the ones we should serve,

these are the ones we should love;

all these are neighbors to us and you.

5 Kneel at the feet of our friends,

silently washing their feet,

this is the way we should live with you.

The Prayers of the People

(Adapted from Prayers provided by the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia)

United with Christians around the globe on this Maundy Thursday, let us pray for the church, the earth, our troubled world, and all in need, responding to each petition with the words

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, holy God, for the church. Gather all the baptized around your presence in the Word. Strengthen the body of your people even when we cannot assemble for worship. Grant Bishop Benhase, Bishop-elect Logue and all our deacons and priests faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time, and accompany those preparing for baptism.

Hear us, holy God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, bountiful God, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into care-givers of your plants and animals.

Hear us, bountiful God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, sovereign God, for our nation. Inspire all people to live in peace and concord. Grant wisdom and courage to heads of state and to legislators as they face the coronavirus. Lead our elected officials to champion the cause of the needy.

Hear us, sovereign God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, faithful God, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization.

Hear us, faithful God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, gracious God, for you care for the needy. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying.

Hear us, gracious God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, loving God, that your Son knelt before us, your unworthy servants. Preserve our lives, comfort our anxiety, and receive now the petitions of our hearts.

Hear us, loving God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, eternal God, for all who have died in the faith, and those whom we name before you here.

At the end, bring us with them into your everlasting glory.

Hear us, eternal God. Your mercy is great.

Receive, merciful God, our prayers, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the host of our meal of life, who died and rose that we might live with you, now and forever. Amen.


  • I invite you to hold an Agapé Meal in your homes using the order in the link below:é-meal-at-home

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bishop of Georgia has determined that our parishes should remain closed until at least Easter Day (April 12, 2020). Below is the worship schedule for Holy Week (via Facebook Live):

  1. Good Friday (4/10): Stations of the Cross @ 12:00 noon; Fr. Arboleda available for Private Confession (live or over video call) from 12:30-4:00; Evening Prayer @ 4:00 p.m.; Good Friday Liturgy and Emptying of the Tabernacle @ 5:00 p.m.

  2. Holy Saturday (4/11): Morning Prayer & Holy Saturday Liturgy @ 9:30 a.m.

  3. Easter Day (4/12): Sunrise Easter Vigil with Holy Communion @ 6:00 a.m.; And/or watch Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry preach an Easter sermon from the Washington National Cathedral at 11:15 a.m. at

  • Many people are already feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, including the church. We still need your support to pay our staff, pay our bills, and provide for these online live streams. If you pledged a donation in 2020, please continue making those contributions. If you have not pledged, please consider donating to St. Matthew’s now and in the future. There are several ways to give, but the simplest are these: (1) Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR (2) Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at:; OR (3) Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.

The Offertory (BCP, p. 376)

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s at:

Offertory: LEVAS #31: “Lead Me To Calvary”

1 King of my life I crown thee now,

Thine shall the glory be;

Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,

Lead me to Calvary.


Lest I forget Gethsemane,

Lest I forget thine agony,

Lest I forget thy love for me,

Lead me to Calvary.

2 Show me the tomb where thou wast laid,

Tenderly mourned and wept;

Angels in robes of light arrayed

Guarded thee whilst Thou slept.

3 Let me, like Mary, through the gloom,

Come with a gift to thee;

Show to me now the empty tomb,

Lead me to Calvary.

4 May I be willing, Lord, to bear

Daily my cross for thee;

Even thy cup of grief to share

Thou hast borne all for me.

The Lord’s Prayer (BCP, p. 364)

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name,

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those

who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.

The Dismissal (BCP, p. 366)

Let us bow down before the Lord.

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all evermore. (2 Corinthians 3:14).

Note: This service is reproduced from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), The Book of Occasional Services 2018, and Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (1993). The Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

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