Maundy or Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. In contrast to the joy of Easter morning when we worship our risen Savior, the Maundy Thursday service is solemn, marked by the shadow of Jesus’ betrayal. Two events are the focus of Maundy Thursday:
- Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another through humble service.
- During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked God to bless it. He broke the bread into pieces, gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (RSV Luke 22:19-20)
On Maundy Thursday evening at 7:00 pm we offer a traditional service of Holy Communion including “the stripping of the church” in preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
What Does “Maundy” Mean? – Derived from the Latin word mandatum (i.e. mandate), meaning “commandment,” Maundy refers to the commands Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: to love with humility by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice.
The practice of “stripping the church” dates back to the seventh century and began for the utilitarian purpose of cleaning and washing the church in preparation for Easter. But the stark, bare church reflected so clearly the fitting tone of the occasion that the stripping became an evocative ceremony in its own right depicting the desolation and abandonment of the long night in Gethsemene Christ endured.
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