Every Holy Week one of the services on a church’s schedule is Maundy Thursday service. Most people know that is where we remember when Jesus ate the last meal with his disciples before his betrayal, trial, and execution. It is the title of the day that people either don’t know or have forgotten.
“Maundy” comes from a Latin word “mandatum” which in turn means order, command, or commission. In the Gospel of John, the story of Jesus eating the Passover meal with his disciples does not include the familiar institution of what we call “Communion”. Rather, the writer of John tells about Jesus getting up from the table, taking a towel and a bowl of water, and kneeling before each disciple to wash their feet. Remember in those days no one wore socks and protective shoes. They wore open sandals and the roads upon which they walked were dusty and dirty from all kinds of waste. Take away 21st century sanitation practices and you realize this was truly an extraordinary act of servanthood. Which was the point. Jesus will tell his disciples that he has just set the example of how they are to be in the world – servant people, cleaning up the messes of life. Then he says, “this I command you”. There is the word attached to Thursday of Holy Week. You are to love others as I have loved you.
Tomorrow night we will have a service of worship. It will not include foot washing. It will include the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It is a somber service. It is a reflective service. Through words of scripture and the sounds of Lenten hymns we will take the time to be present to Jesus the Christ as we remember the cross. At the end, Keith will sing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” The lights in the sanctuary will be dimmed as we listen. There will be no benediction, no organ music, only silence. In silence, each person will get up and leave and go home. The church will be closed. Yes, we feel the emptiness and loss.
Then, on Easter morning we come back joyously singing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”.
There will be a Sunrise Service at the Lake at 7:00 AM. If it happens to be raining, that service will be in our sanctuary. Our morning worship service will be at 10:15 AM as usual.
May Holy Week 2023 be a blessing in your lives.