8th assembly/50th anniversary

Worship at the Eighth Assembly
Vigil Service
Sunday, 6 December 1998

Confession and repentance for our inability as Christian churches to receive Christ's blood and body at one and the same table is the main theme of this night vigil.

To move us further on our way to a fuller communion in faith and witness to the one triune God, we will follow Jesus on his way through the Passion- and Resurrection-event according to Mark 14-16. At the end of the procession, we will share together blessed bread as a sign of the already existing unity for which Jesus prayed the night before his death (John 17). The vigil will end with resurrection matins in the morning.




Hymn -- Die Nacht is vorgedrungen -- Jochen Klepper: Germany


Before the cross we gather, God of mercy.
Before the cross we your children gather,
as the broken body of Christ.

We turn to you again, seeking healing for division,
looking to Jesus who leads us in faith, in love, in unity.
Bring us back, God of grace, smile on us; forgive us when we shatter our inheritance and go our separate ways.

As we look to him who endured the cross,
as we follow him this night in repentance and waiting,
we ask you, self-giving God:
turn us to you and towards each other,
until we are one as you are One, blessed Trinity, now and forever.


Procession of the word -- Alleluia -- Tone 8: Kiev

Gospel reading Mark 14:12-25

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

Song -- Hwayana ya-Mwari! -- Emmanuel F. Kumbirai Ribeiro: Zimbabwe


Everything is ready, Jesus Christ.
We sit around your table in hope,
and wait for the moment
of eating and drinking with you.
Response -- Chú ah Kiû Lí lînbín goán -- Saisiat melody: Taiwan
Your hands break the bread;
you hold it out for us to eat,
even those of us who betray you.
Response -- Chú ah Kiû Lí lînbín goán -- Saisiat melody: Taiwan
You take the cup and give thanks,
the cup of our salvation,
the cup of the costly shedding of your blood.
Response -- Chú ah Kiû Lí lînbín goán -- Saisiat melody: Taiwan
But we wait for the meal at our different tables.
We each claim you as
our host, but not together.
We are not willing to share the one loaf.
We are not willing to drink from a common cup,
even your loaf, even your cup.
Response -- Chú ah Kiû Lí lînbín goán -- Saisiat melody: Taiwan
What will we do as we grieve?
What will we do as we await the day
of gathering as one around your table?
What will we do to prepare for your meal?
Response -- Chú ah Kiû Lí lînbín goán -- Saisiat melody: Taiwan
We will share the loaf and the cup with those who have none.
We will gather together from the North, the South, the East and the West,
poor and rich together in community,
each one taking care of the other,
giving and receiving as a sign of your grace.
Be present as we eat together, Jesus Christ.
Silence ISSAND HALASTA (Lord, have mercy) by Ulmas Sisask, Estonia, sung by the choir

Gospel reading Mark 14:27-31,26

And Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter said to him, "Even though all become deserters, I will not." Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." But he said vehemently, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And all of them said the same. When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Call to prayer
Patient God, when our claim of faithfulness to you
    becomes the excuse to desert one another, forgive us.
Draw us to one another
    so that we are strengthened in our hour of trial.
Draw us closer to you so that when the cost becomes high,
    we may encourage one another through your mercy and love,
in Jesus Christ.

Song -- Hwayana ya-Mwari! -- Emmanuel F. Kumbirai Ribeiro: Zimbabwe

Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 14:32-42

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake." And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want." He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand."
Call to prayer
Abba, for you all things are possible,
teach us to stay awake with you,
teach us to pray,
teach us to pray together.

In the next moments you are invited to form small groups and pray together. You may pray in your own language or silently. Pray for each other. Pray for the unity of all Christians.

Song -- Bliebet hier und wachet mit mir! -- Jacques Berthier: France


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 14:43-52

Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled." All of them deserted him and fled.

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

Call to prayer
Merciful God,
     merciful even when betrayed,
     merciful even when betrayed with a kiss:
turn us, so that we no longer betray one another,
turn us to you, so that we forgive when we are betrayed.

In the silence, bring before God those unhealed moments of betrayal which continue to keep us apart, and pray for the repentance and forgiveness which lead to reconciliation.


Song -- Senzenina -- traditional Xhosa and Zulu: South Africa


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 14:53-65

They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'" But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power', and 'coming with the clouds of heaven.'" Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards also took him over and beat him.
Call to prayer
When we do not listen to any position other than our own,
when we raise our voices and accuse unjustly,
when we "tear our clothes" to avoid all contrary arguments,
turn us, God, so that we do not bear false witness.
Turn us, God, so that we rend our hearts and not our garments.

Listen for a moment to the sound of tearing cloth. Let this sound call us to remember those moments when the volume of our speech was louder than the strength of our argument.

Hymn -- Moran ethra hama' lain -- as taught by Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim: Syria


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 15: 1-15

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered him, "You say so." Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you." But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, "Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" They shouted back, "Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him!" So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Call to prayer
Jesus, you were unjustly condemned by Pontius Pilate:
strengthen our brothers and sisters
     who are suffering injustice and persecution. (Central Africa)
Turn us, God, so that no one stands alone before the powers of this world.

As we walk to the next station, two or three of you may walk together sharing quietly with each other an experience of injustice or suffering. After the stories are told, pray for those persons, countries and situations while you sing or walk silently.

Hymn -- Senzenina -- traditional Xhosa and Zulu: South Africa


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 15:21-27

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.

Call to prayer
Turn us to you, Jesus, so that we no longer divide your clothes among us,
     deciding what we will take as ours.
Turn us to you, Jesus, so that we no longer crucify your body,
     sundering it for our own purposes.
Refuse the wine and myrrh of our self-justifications
     until we regard everything as loss
because of the surpassing value of knowing you, our Christ. (Phil. 3:8)
On the way to the next station you are invited to honour the cross according to your custom.
Hymn -- Before your cross, we bow down in worship -- Orthodox


Hymn -- When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died -- Issac Watts 1707: England

Hymn -- O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden -- Paul Gerhardt 1656: Germany

Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 15:28-32

Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
Call to prayer
Turn us, God,
     when we are tempted to mock one another,
     when we laugh at another's hopes and dreams,
     when we break the bruised reed or quench the dimly burning wick. (Isa. 42:3)

Turn us, God,
     until we know the joy of the last becoming first, and the first last,
     until we live the truth
that those who lose their life for the sake of the gospel will find it. (Matt. 19:30, 10:39)

Some of us have been mocked. Some of us have taunted others. As we walk silently let us pray that God will give us the words and ways which heal and unite during this assembly and beyond.


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 15:33-39

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"
Call to prayer
God, tear the dividing curtains in two,
tear them from top to bottom.
Turn us until we see the forsaken one as your beloved child.
Turn us until no one is forsaken.

You are invited to place your candles around one of the crosses.

Song -- Hwayana ya-Mwari! -- Emmanuel F. Kumbirai Ribeiro: Zimbabwe


Drum signal

Gospel reading Mark 15:40-47

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Call to prayer
When our efforts to be together are shrouded by suspicion and fear,
when the paths forward seem blocked by immovable stones,
turn us, God, so like the women we are still able to follow you.
We grieve for the unity which is not yet.
Turn us until we see the power which can roll away the stone.
Hymn -- Agios o Theos -- Orthodox: Russia



The cross is the way of the lost.
The cross is the staff of the lame.

The cross is the guide of the blind.
The cross is the strength of the weak.

The cross is the hope of the hopeless.
The cross is the freedom of the slaves.

The cross is the water of the seeds.
The cross is the consolation of the bonded labourers.

The cross is the source of those who seek water.
The cross is the cloth of the naked.

The cross is the healing of the broken.
The cross is the peace of the church. (Tenth-century African hymn)

from Prayer Handbook 1989/98, Methodist Church in Great Britain and the General Committee of the Methodist Church in Ireland (General Purposes Commitee), Methodist Publishing House, 20 Ivatt Way, Peterburough PE3 7PG, England.
Hymn -- Noen maa vaake i verdens natt -- Svein Ellingsen: Norway

Gospel reading John 17

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

Hymn -- Thank our God for sisters, brothers -- Roger Powell: USA

Blessing of the bread

Prayer of blessing

Let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, Jesus Christ our God! As you blessed the five loaves and satisfied the five thousand hungry people in the wilderness, so now, bless this bread and all the fruits of the earth; sanctify the faithful who partake of them, and let there always be plenty not only for us, here, but for all your people everywhere. For you are the one who blesses and sanctifies all things, Christ, our God, and we give glory to you, your eternal Father, and all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages.
The peace
The peace of the Lord be with you always.
And also with you.
Sharing of bread and fruit

Hymn during the sharing

Prayers through the night

Return to Worship at the Eighth Assembly
Return to Assembly Archive index

© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor