Holy Week is fast approaching—less than two weeks away! As you may already know, I am a real ‘nerd’ when it comes to church traditions, especially concerning worship and liturgy. Not surprising, then, that I look forward to planning Holy Week worship services! I am currently working on the worship service for Maundy Thursday. In case you aren’t familiar with this Holy Week service, allow me, in nerd-like fashion, to give you a summary of its meaning and components:
The ‘Maundy’ in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin word, mandatum novum (English for ‘new commandment’). This title comes from John 13:34, where Jesus gives his disciples the mandatum novum: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
The ritual of foot washing is part of the Maundy Thursday tradition. Note the photo (above) of Pope Francis washing the feet of Muslim, Christian, and Hindu refugees in 2016. And alternate ritual that tends to be more appealing to worshippers (especially those with ticklish toes!) is that of hand washing. Although this ritual, which mimics the servant love of Jesus, may be absent at this year’s Maundy Thursday service, it will be included next year!
Another ritual of Maundy Thursday is Communion. According to scripture (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:13-20; I Corinthians 11:23-25), Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper during his final earthly meal with his disciples. Whenever we partake in Communion, we recall Jesus’ institution of this Sacrament through the words that are spoken/heard and the act of sharing of the bread and juice.
Stripping the Communion table and worship space of any adornments is an ancient practice that symbolizes the abandonment Jesus experienced that fateful night in Gethsemane and that which followed. The practical side of me appreciates this part of the service, in that it prepares the worship space for Good Friday worship!
So there you have it, in case you have never attended a Maundy Thursday worship service.
Hope to see you at this year’s Maundy Thursday service, April 1, at 6:30pm!