Hello and welcome back to my explorations into a part of traditions of faith I’ve not looked into before, coming from a non-liturgical background. (Please see part 1)
So, here’s my next confession, following those in the first part of this little series. I never looked into these traditional observation days sooner in good part (and yes, it IS ridiculous) because the word “Maundy” put me off. It seemed too akin to moldy or maundering and it just didn’t inspire me with any interest to check into what the word really meant. From time to time I would have kind of naggy nudges from the Holy Spirit, with the sense that “You shouldn’t be so dismissive about this.” but as with so many other things that have come with that still, small voice, I brushed it off or blew right past it with zero consideration!
So what is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday, I have learned (and general research is So Easy on the internet, I’m truly without excuse for not looking into this sooner!) commemorates the Lord’s final meal with the apostles in Jerusalem before being crucified and resurrected. AKA the Last Supper and this is, of course, where we get our communion ceremony and remembrance:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
And that uninspiring, “off-putting” word “Maundy”? The word derives from the Latin “mandatum”, which means “command”. Ohhhhhh… That word gathered my attention even more as the commands of the Lord, of course, are not something to brush off or blow past with zero consideration! In the gospel of John, at the meal Jesus had with His followers before going out to Gethsemane (again, aka the Last Supper) He said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~ John 13:34-35
So then Maundy Thursday becomes an occasion for some focused thought, meditation, and consideration of this command to we who follow Jesus. I realize this, perhaps, is not the general focus for traditional Maundy Thursday services, which often include foot-washing ceremonies. Yet as I consider how I will overhaul my approach next year to Lent, Holy Week, and Resurrection Sunday, giving thought to this command of the Lord ~ part of a night of special focus, significance, and importance to Jesus ~ will be a key element.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” ~ John 15:11-17
Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ~ 1 John 4:7-8
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness… ~ Philippians 2:1-11
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
~ Matthew 26:26-30
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. ~ Mark 14:22-26
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” ~ Luke 22:14-20