Thursday, April 9, 2009
Maundy Thursday for Beginners
A couple of weeks ago some dear friends asked me a simple question: "What is this Monday Thursday deal just before Good Friday?". If you have any calendrical awareness at all you have probably seen the day in small print on your day-planner and figured it must be a holiday in a foreign country or you'll look it up someday on the internet. Well, if you've ever wondered today is your day. "Maundy" is an English word which is a derivative of the Latin word "Mandatum" (meaning mandate or command). Mandatum Thursday commemorates the events that take place in the New Testament Gospel of John chapter 13. On the night before the passover, Jesus Christ stripped down to His scivies and like a common servant in those days washed each of the disciples feet before dinner. This was an act of love and servanthood that he wanted to model for them because He was soon going to be leaving them. The culmination of His teaching was "A new commandment (mandatum) I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you should also love one another (verse 35)." Thus in addition to remembering the Last Supper, there is also the reminder to the great and small that the real mark of all faith and charity is service and love to one another. This to me is the "action item" for Easter week. We can receive the forgiveness of the Cross for our sins, and we can rejoice at the reality of the resurrection. But ultimately these were the tasks only Jesus could do. All we can do is believe and receive. But the command to love even has Jesus loved His own, is really the acid test of whether there is any reality to your faith and whether we really have learned anything from our Master.