Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is observed as the fifth day of Holy Week, the day before Good Friday. The English word “maundy” derives from the Latin word mandatum, a command. Down through the centuries of church history, this “mandate” or command from the Lord is associated with two commands Jesus gives during his observance of the Jewish Passover in the Upper Room with his disciples.
The first of these two commands is found in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This mandate to love is given after Jesus has set the example of washing the feet of his disciples. He, the master, took the place of a servant to wash the dirt and grime of the streets off the feet of his followers. In some Christian traditions a service of foot washing is practiced to follow Jesus’ example as part of their Maundy Thursday observance. Loving one another is still at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. “Who can I show love to?” and “how is the best way to do that?” are good questions to ask ourselves every day. Maundy Thursday reminds us of that.
Jesus instructs us to love one another as he has loved us. This points to the second mandate given at the Passover meal he celebrated with his disciples before proceeding to Gethsemane and then to the cross. Jesus took two of the elements of the Passover meal –the bread and the wine—and instituted an observance of the New Covenant that would be ratified by his death on the cross. We, of course, don’t refer to the meal in the Upper Room as a Passover seder; but as the Last Supper or the Lord’s Supper. In declaring the New Covenant and instituting a new ritual meal that derives from the old to celebrate that covenant, Jesus mandates his followers “to do this in remembrance of (him).”
At our observance of Maundy Thursday we will worship the Lord through reflection, song and communion. You are encouraged to join us on Thursday, April 1st at 7:00 PM as we do these things in remembrance of Him.