We are having a Seder meal & communion first, in the church room, around tables, then I'll invite people into the church for this liturgy. Those who want to stay in vigil afterwards will be given Psalm 22 to reflect on if they want it.
Stripping of the altar (removing all ornaments, linens, and paraments) is an ancient custom of the Church done on Maundy Thursday. It is symbolic of the humiliation of Jesus at the hands of the soldiers.
After the Last Supper, less that 24 hours remained in the earthly life of our Lord. Events moved rapidly: prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, arrest, mock trial, painful beating, the trudge to Golgotha and execution.
As His life was stripped from Him, so we strip our altar of the signs of life to symbolize His purposeful, redemptive suffering and death for us. Plants are new life springing forth. In the passion and suffering of Christ, human life ebbs from Him. In recognition of this we remove the palms from our altar.
PALMS ARE REMOVED.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” The events of Golgotha snuffed out the human life of Jesus, the Light of the world. As even creation was dark when He suffered, so we extinguish our candles and remove them.
CANDLES ARE EXTINGUISHED AND REMOVED.
Our offerings represent one way of serving God and others. They reflect God’s greatest offering to the world and to us in sending His Son, Jesus, in human form. As the offered body of Jesus was removed from sight in burial, so we remove our offerings.
OFFERINGS ARE REMOVED.
The missal stand holds our worship books that guide our worship life together as we sing praises to God. As Jesus suffers, joyous songs are not heard. As these sounds of joy are removed from our lips, we remove the missal stand.
MISSAL STAND AND SERVICE BOOK ARE REMOVED.
Jesus’ offered Body and His shed Blood have been give to us in the bread and wine of communion. As He was removed from us in the grave, so we remove the elements and vessels of this Sacrament.
COMMUNION VESSELS ARE REMOVED.
Our altar is in the form of a table. It is here where our Lord Jesus serves us as both host and meal at His banquet feast. The coverings are made of material appropriate for feasting with our King. As our King’s body was stripped in crucifixion, so our altar is stripped of its coverings.
ALTAR COVERINGS ARE REMOVED.
There is no benediction or postlude at the end of this service, which indicates that the service has not concluded. [Our worship continues on Good Friday.]