Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday!

Maundy Thursday is one of my favorite days of the church year. I say that a lot, don't I?! The name is derived from the Latin novum mandatum, the new commandment that Christ gives us : "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" (John 13:34).

And what a radical new way Christ brings. Those who seek tradition on this day by only celebrating a Passover Seder miss out on the powerful way Christ takes this rite and institutes a new way in the foot washing and the Lord's Supper. It is a powerful service to partake of the bread and wine.

Foot Washing has been a very moving observance for me both when we celebrated in the church and at home. There are two traditional ways for a foot washing service to take place. The first is for the congregation to take turns having their feet washed and then washing the foot of the next. I found it was just as humbling to have my feet washed as to wash another!

The second way traditionally was for the King or other high ranking leader to wash 12 representatives to symbolize Christ and to remind the people that to lead is to serve. When we celebrated at at home we followed the second--my husband washing all of our feet. I was always surprised that though they were babies when we started they always participated in silence and awe. To see Daddy on his knees with the basin and towel gently washing them clean.

Here is a few sample liturgies or you could use the one below:
Anglican Liturgy
New Zealand Prayer Book

In your great love you delivered your people of old from slavery and you have delivered us from the power of evil and death through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. We praise and honour you, holy God Heaven and earth are surely full of your glory. Blessed is He whose supper we share this night, and blessed are we - renewed by his life. Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come... and ... having loved his own who were in the world he loved them to the end; at supper with them, he washed the disciples' feet and gave them the new commandment: "... love one another as I have loved you."

Lift the basin and towel and hold in silence for a moment.

Fellow servants of Christ,on this night Jesus set an example for the disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service.Therefore, I invite you to come forward. As your feet are washed remember that strength and growth in God's reign come by lowly service such as this.

During the washing of feet suitable anthems, songs, or a psalm (for example Psalm 40) may be sung.

The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them, “Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I done.”

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.
I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.
Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.
By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.

Ubi Caritas Traditional hymn for this service.
Where charity and love abide, there is God.
The love of Christ has gathered us together;
let us be gay in Him, and cheerful;
let us love and be in awe of the living God,
and love each other with honest hearts.
Where charity and love abide, there is God.
So now that we are gathered together
let us take care not to be isolated in ourselves.
Let ill will, quarrels, and disagreements stop,
and Christ our God be among us.

Where charity and love abide, there is God.
And together, with the saints,
may we see Your face in glory, Christ our God.
That is straight, unmeasured joy,
for ages on unending ages. Amen

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