Maunday Thursday Traditions

Down the hall in our church hall, there are people preparing for our annual Seder meal.  It’s a tradition that my wife and I brought to this congregation, and this is the third one we’ve had here.  We did it at our previous congregation as well, and I have participated in this tradition more years than not over the last 25 years.  It will forever be how I think of Maunday Thursday – participating in a meal with family and friends, hearing and seeing and tasting how the Last Supper might have gone with Jesus and his disciples 2000 years or so ago.

But it’s certainly not the only Maunday Thursday tradition out there.  Other congregations offer services that culminate in the stripping of the altar, a solemn ceremony where the altar in the church is cleared of all the items that normally appear there – candles, linens – everything removed in preparation for Good Friday service.
And one of the other traditional ways of observing Maunday Thursday is through a foot washing service.  Jesus washed his disciples feet as they arrived for that Last Supper together, an action that evoked strong responses and allowed Jesus to teach some pretty heavy things.  The Church has long remembered these teachings by having people wash one another’s feet.  The term Maunday itself derives from the Latin word for command used in John 13:34, shortly after the foot washing.
  For me, Maunday Thursday observed in one of these traditional ways extends the power of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.  It adds another element to the week to anticipate and to meditate on both in spirit as well as action.  However you observe it, I pray that Maunday Thursday is a vital and powerful part of your Holy Week observance.  And next year, if you’re in the area, come join us for Maunday Thursday Seder dinner!

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