Maundy Thursday, April 2, 2015

Title:Maundy Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday , April 2, 2015  (full size gallery)

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the Triduum, the last three days of Holy Week, in which our worship flows in one continuous liturgy, beginning with the Maundy Thursday service. “Time is suspended as we ponder and celebrate the great mysteries of our redemption.” The word “Maundy” is derived from Middle English, Old French and from the Latin word mandatum, meaning “commandment,” the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you”), the statement we hear from Jesus to his disciples in tonight’s gospel reading.

The bulletin is here.   The description of Holy Thursday with the Bible readings and commentaries is here.  Maundy Thursday was warm, sunny with temperatures approaching the lower 70’s, possibly the warmest afternoon of the year.

Our service was handled differently this year.  The crowd was small at 15 so that we could hold the first part of the service outside on a beautiful spring evening. Footwashing, homily, Liturgy of the Word, Communion were outside.   After this we went inside for hymns – "What wonderous love is this", "As in that upper room", " Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love" and "In remembrance of me"  

Maundy Thursday was both a celebration of those times with friends but also acknowledgment that things would end quickly.  The disciples did not always understand. At the Last Supper Jesus would be a server and servant – of the bread and wine and also washing feet   and encourage the others to do the same.  This was the worst – washing feet caked with dirt and grime made worse by the sandles they word. He was acting as a lowly servant so that they would understand the necessity to serve.

By this action Jesus would show God’s love and they would show it others  also.  He provided them a new expanded commandment of love one another – "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." This would be through prayer, care and action. This love is the Agape love where we provide for the wellbeing of others. Love is transformed into giving and receiving for all including the sinner and tax collector. It is not just between friends but includes enemies.


The Brothers of St. John the Evangelist in Massachusetts provided an interesting thought on food washing  "When we bare our feet, we are quite exposed, literally and symbolically. What is it about you – your body, your fears, your needs, your memory, your future – that you otherwise keep covered, where Jesus is inviting you to uncover, to be seen and known, held and washed?"  The sermon continued this idea with the need not to mask out vulnerabilities.

Maundy Thursday is known for the stripping of the altar which is part of the preparation for Good Friday. After the Last Supper, less than 24 hours remained for Jesus. Indeed the plotters had to execute him before Jewish passover began on Friday evening at sundown. Our altar was stripped with the repeated singing of "Stay with Me" representing Jesus praying in Gethsemane before he was arreseted.  

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.  

The candles are extinguished and removed. Candles represent the "Light of the World" Jesus said; "I Am the light of the World" in recognition of the darkness following the death of Jesus on the cross, the candles are removed from our presence.  

As we left, a full moon was streaming through our windows.

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