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]

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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