Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, or "Holy Thursday" or "Holy and Great Thursday" to some. This is the day the historic Church has chosen to recognize Chr-st's final celebration of Passover with His disciples. The word Maundy is derived from the French word mandé and the Latin mandatum, which is the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by J---- in John 13:34 is how Jesus explained to the apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

On this day we remember the establishment of Eucharist and the urging to serve fellow Brothers and Sisters through the ordinance of foot washing. Both of these have been interesting topics in my Christian Worship class as well as in Sunday morning church the last few weeks.

Foot washing is not an ordinance to literally wash another's feet. It is an ordinance of service in humility. In our day, foot washing has lost this meaning. Many times, it becomes almost a flashy way of showing how humble we really are. My pastor several Sundays ago spoke of the shock with which the disciples would have witnessed J----'s actions during the Last Supper. In that time, Jewish masters could not require their Jewish servants to wash their feet because it was such a low and shameful act. Yet this is what Chr-st did for His disciples. The point is to do serve each others in shocking, scandalous ways.

Interesting, up until the 18th century, the English monarch would choose 12 of his or her subjects to wash their feet on this day. This is a little bit closer to what J---- was trying to communicate, but it still misses it because it became expected and ritualistic. So what is the modern way in which this should be done? I have to confess, I don't know. But the point is that the actions are not the point. The attitude is. G-d, give me attitude of love and service for my Brothers and Sisters!

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