Maundy Thursday: Communion

April 17, 2014 Comments Off on Maundy Thursday: Communion

by Elisabeth Watson

It was bread that survived.
Motives undisclosed and
Holy insofar as it was silent.

All other furniture was lost to the war:
Ligament and password, loves
uncataloged and cataloged, the universe
as it was before Copernicus–
innocent as we left it, sleeping on the hearth.

Homeless with a stove but not a language,
Salt the flour, salt the water, salt the blue flame and the yeast
Salt the ghosts of your table your chairs your pulpit
Salt the fields and the wells and never look back.

This is the bread your father gave you
When you asked him for a stone.
It is the bread that did not rise when you fled slavery in the night.
The bread that grew while you were sleeping, faithless even to yourself.

Who will come hungry to my table?
The heart’s oldest question
sits down, unanswered, to a feast.
What it tastes there, strangely, is God
making for safe harbor.

What you remember at the altar
is your body, not your name.

Maundy Thursday

April 5, 2012 Comments Off on Maundy Thursday

For those of you wondering what it is, and for those of you who know what it is and are just amused by how Wikipedia describes it:

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels.[1] It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Spy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.[2]

The date is always between 19 March and 22 April inclusive, but these dates fall on different days depending on whether the Gregorian or Julian calendar is used liturgically. Eastern churches generally use the Julian calendar, and so celebrate this feast throughout the 21st century between 1 April and 5 May in the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. The liturgy held on the evening of Maundy Thursday initiates the Easter Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ; this period includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter.[3][1] The mass or service of worship is normally celebrated in the evening, when Friday begins according to Jewish tradition, as the Last Supper was held on feast of Passover.[4]

Derivation of the name “Maundy”

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, 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 by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung during the “Mandatum” ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community.

Others theorize that the English name “Maundy Thursday” arose from “maundsor baskets” or “maundy purses” of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, “maund” is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg.[37][38] A source from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod likewise states that, if the name was derived from the Latin mandatum, we would call the day Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday; and that the term “Maundy” comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded.[39]

The Eighth Station: What Are We Supposed To Learn From The Tomb?

April 22, 2011 Comments Off on The Eighth Station: What Are We Supposed To Learn From The Tomb?

The scenes we have encountered in the stations up until now are violent, bloody, shocking, disturbing – but they are all, at their heart, active. They offer us opportunities to put ourselves in our Lord’s shoes, to attempt to bend our minds and hearts around the unimaginable suffering he willingly underwent out of love for us. On his way to Calvary, Jesus models the ways God wants us to respond to the horror and evil of our world; every station thus far has given us an example of how to remain in relationship with God and others even as we plumb the depths of pain and grief.

Approached this way, the eighth station comes as a particular challenge: what are we supposed to learn from the tomb? What does death – without the assurance or even the possibility of Resurrection – model for us? For me, the eighth station is by far the most uncomfortable to contemplate because it demands that I stop. It demands that I suspend my knowledge that Easter is close at hand and face the finality of death. It demands that I wait. And it inevitably puts me in touch with all the places in my own life that feel like dead ends, the relationships that feel seem beyond repair, the dreams I have given up on.

In order to even begin to fathom what the Resurrection is, we have to go all the way with Christ. It is not enough that we stand witness to the bloody horror of the crucifixion, with all its dramatic shape. We must also dare to enter the tomb – that place between hopelessness and hope where all motion is suspended and all we can do is wait, without even knowing what we’re waiting for.

It is only when we willingly enter the tomb, when we come to terms with finality, that our conceptions of the possible and the impossible are turned upside down. There are no shortcuts to Resurrection.

– Kristin Saylor

8th Station, painting by James Middleton

A Good Friday Reflection

April 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

The cross is a good topic for a Good Friday reflection.

I always look forward to the Good Friday service at St. Luke’s. I love hearing the Passion from John chanted, the Solemn Collects prayed, and that strange part of the liturgy we usually call the adoration of the cross. (It’s the part where the cross is held up and we are all invited to come forward and reverence it.) I can remember hearing many of my fellow parishioners discussing this part of the service:  how it was strange, how they felt self-conscious about doing something so publicly, how it seems so Roman. I had never really though about it much since it was not so far from my experience growing up where the priest would push a crucifix (a cross with the corpus on it) up to your lips on Good Friday to be kissed. I can also remember going with my grandmother to the Orthodox church for Good Friday and the genuflections there have you on your knees with your forehead touching the ground. Well, it got me to thinking and I researched this whole adoration of the cross liturgy. I discovered that this part of the Good Friday liturgy is one of the most ancient parts of this service. It dates back to at least the 4th century with the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine, we know this since the adoration is memorialized in the work of Egeria that wonderfully juicy 4th century pilgrim. It seems that Saint Helen had found the actual cross of Jesus in Jerusalem and so now it was possible to actually be near the cross. When you read what happened in Jerusalem so long ago it could almost be a description of what happens at St. Luke’s now: “They stop down over it, kiss the wood and move on…Thus all the people go past one by one.” Now as a good Anglo-Catholic, anything good enough for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is good enough for me!

The cross is everywhere in the day to day life of the church. Its image appears on almost everything; books, linens, letterhead, buildings, and even around our necks. But what do we mean by adoring the cross? For me it’s a realization of the reliance on the one who hung upon the cross; it’s the humbling of myself before the mighty acts of God; it’s the taking of my place with all the other Christian faithful at the foot of the cross. It’s not so much thinking this in my mind and feeling it in my heart, but actually doing it with my body every Good Friday.

– Sean Scheller

Today is Good Friday. St. Luke in the Fields liturgy will be held at 1 p.m. Stations of the Cross will be held at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. For the complete holy week schedule, please visit our website.
Image: Cross outside the Church of the Sepulchre, John Spier via Creative Commons

The Altar of Repose at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields

April 2, 2010 Comments Off on The Altar of Repose at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields

Here is a quick cell phone picture I snapped at the Altar of Repose at St. Luke’s. (I hope I didn’t distract anyone. There were five or so of us there at 6 a.m.)

According to Manna for Episcopalians: “The custom of spending an hour before an Altar of Repose with the Blessed Sacrament present arose from the desire of devoted Christians, the faithful, to give an affirmative answer to the sorrowful question of our Lord in Gethsemane, “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?”

Downtown at Trinity Wall Street, they are keeping vigil online and through Twitter.

– Chris Phillips

What Is Maundy Thursday?

April 1, 2010 Comments Off on What Is Maundy Thursday?

Today is Maundy Thursday and there is a lot of bareness going on- bare feet, bare altar, bare souls.  This is heavy-duty church.   Within this one service, we walk with Christ through the Last Supper, washing of feet, and on the path to death.  We come face to face with the greatest gifts of life and also with the profound experience of loss.

On this Holy Thursday, we are given a new commandment- to love one another.  This is Jesus’ greatest message, his last teaching.  He demonstrates how he has loved us- through the breaking of bread, the sharing of his body and blood, and teaches his disciples to remember this message when they break bread with one another.  The Last Supper provides us with the life-giving sustainers which carry us through our days and connect us with the larger body of Christ.

In the Maundy Thursday service, we are also given the gift of learning humility and service.  With a mild amount of discomfort we offer each other this humility through taking turns washing feet, remembering how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as he taught that he came to serve, rather than to be served.  These gifts give us the roadmap for our calling in the world- to serve others, to break bread with peace, and to love one another.

Maundy Thursday also allows us to confront our deepest sense of loss, loneliness, abandonment, betrayal and pain.  Through the stripping of the altar, we remember Jesus is denied by a friend, betrayed by another, lost to the world, and left alone in the hands of those who would strip, persecute and crucify him.  This is when Jesus is fully human, and therefore, when we can connect with him in our humanity.  The church and altar are left bare, as is Jesus, without friend or hope as he wonders, “My God, Why have you forsaken me?” In this one Holy Thursday we walk with Jesus as we are given all of life, and then left without.

Our tradition is to not leave Jesus alone during his time of loss, but to wait by his side, hour-by-hour, as the Eucharist is placed in the altar of repose.  This signifies a seed of hope stored deep in our hearts when in this place of sorrow.  Much more will come as we walk with Christ through Good Friday and Easter.  In just two days we hear “Alleluia” for the first time in 40 days, and we feel secure in the good news when we hear the bells ring at the Easter Vigil. But for now we face what is in us that is lost, broken, and abandoned, and we wait hour-by-hour with Christ on hope of the resurrection.

– Caroline Peacock

Tonight’s service begins at 6:30pm at 487 Hudson Street, New York, NY. It will be a Choral Eucharist with Footwashing, Agape Supper and Stripping of the Altars. We welcome newcomers. If you have questions about this service or Holy Week at St. Luke’s, please contact us.

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