by Dan Davis – Director of Maintenance / Valpo FUMC
According to the United Methodist Church website, Maundy Thursday is an alternate name for Holy Thursday, the first of the three days of solemn remembrance of the events leading up to, and immediately following, the crucifixion of Jesus.
The English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.” As recorded in John’s gospel, on His last night before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34). This is why services on this night generally include the washing of feet or other acts of physical care as an integral part of the celebration.
While John’s gospel does not record the institution of the Lord’s Supper among the events of this night, the other gospels do. Luke 22:7-38 outlines this in great detail. Christians therefore keep this night with celebrations both at the basin (foot washing) and at the Lord’s Table (Holy Communion).
What’s interesting is that I’ve been told that many past Maundy Thursday services here at FUMC, haven’t included the ritual celebration of John 13:1-17. Considering how much precise ritual emphasis is placed on Ash Wednesday services, Palm Sunday services, Good Friday services, and of course Easter Sunday services, my wish this Lenten season is that a return can be made to Maundy Thursday services that are celebrated with equal precision.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
It was our family’s custom, over many years, to meet on Sunday morning at my sister’s house. My father always brought a danish. We would discuss the news of the previous week and our plans for the coming week. When Shelly and I started attending church, things began to change. The more seriously we took our commitment to the church, the harder it was for us to set time aside for our family get-together. We had to make a decision. We chose the church.
We didn’t consider our decision “hating our family”, but my parents considered it a slap in the face and didn’t understand how we could do it. We were changing our life priorities and our extended family was taking second place, behind Jesus. It strained our relationship with my Mom and Dad for quite a while. My parents continued to spend Sunday morning at my sister’s, but we rarely again did.
Now, I don’t claim that we were carrying our crosses for Jesus. I don’t claim that we are great, or even good disciples of Christ, but that decision was our first step. It was our first step in turning our back on the values of the world and accepting our servanthood in the name of Jesus.