Friday, April 2, 2010

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday -- the Catholics refer to it as Holy Thursday, but we Episcopalians use the word, "maundy" (coming from a Latin word meaning mandate or command) to emphasize the commandment given by Jesus to his disciples: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

This service has a reenactment of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. At a certain point in the service, the priests removed their stoles and washed the feet of any person who came up to them. My church has a nice twist to that -- at the end, the Lay Eucharistic Ministers (lay assistants at the altar) then exchanged places with the priests and washed their feet -- showing that we are all to love and serve one another as Christ. This was the first year I didn't go up for the foot washing. Instead, I felt I needed to serve by remaining in the loft and singing.

This summary doesn't do the night justice. It was all so moving. After the Eucharist (communion), we prayed and the choir sang "Stay with Me," a Taize chant-like song. As the song faded, the priests and LEMs stripped the altar as I read Psalm 22, which foreshadows Jesus' physical, mental and emotional suffering and death. I know this psalm well, for it so vividly describes the feelings of despair. I believe anyone who has experienced clinical depression has probably been in the psalmist's space, and believed, "But as for me, I am a worm and no man, scorned by all and despised by the people."
The service ended in silence. There was no concluding prayer, for we were to continue our vigil and prayers until Good Friday, which we know seemed anything but good at the time. We're so blessed now to know how the story ends...and continues.
"Once Again" by Switchfoot

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