(This is another ‘Thought for the week’ that is being shared with EBA Ministers today)
You may have heard or read Tony Campolo talking about how he was preached off the platform by an old Minister whose theme was “It’s Friday…. but Sunday’s coming!” Tomorrow that theme comes to life (and death). But today it’s Maundy Thursday… but Friday’s coming.
“Maundy” might be derived from Latin ‘Mandatum’ via Old English to mean ‘commandment’ as in ‘A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another as I have loved you.’ Or it might come from Latin ‘Mendicare’ meaning ‘to beg’ – relating to the alms given out by the King before Mass on the Thursday before Easter. The origins of the word are shrouded in mystery. Whatever the origins of the name, Maundy Thursday can seem like a poor relation to the brutal love shown on Good Friday and the resurrection joy of Easter Sunday. It’s can be seen as a prelude to the main event.
It was the night when Jesus washed the feet of his friends – feet that had trodden on the palm branches and cloaks on the rode as the accompanied the King on a Donkey, but which were attached to people who were too proud to take the role of a servant (or just thought someone else ought to do it). A night of humility.
It was the night of the Last Supper when Jesus fulfilled and gave new meaning to the Passover – when unleavened bread and wine became a costly feast. A night of remembrance.
It was the night when he ate alongside those who would run away from him, deny knowing him and even betray him with a kiss. A night of fickleness.
It was the night when Jesus sang a hymn with his friends – maybe a setting of Psalm 22? A night of haunting melody.
It was the night when Jesus and his friends went to the Garden of Gethsemane – where he asked them to ‘watch and pray’ and they slept as he agonised. A night of blood, sweat and fears.
It was the night when Jesus prayed in the way that he had taught his friends – honestly, humbly, heroically: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” A night when the cost was counted.
It was the night when Jesus carried out another healing – repairing the damage Peter had caused with his sword in a valiant but misguided attempt to defend Jesus. A night of grace in the face of hate.
It was the night when he was arrested in secret for fear of the crowds, when the mockery of a trial process began and the trials of a mockery process began. A night of humiliation.
Today, whatever activities you and your churches have planned, don’t discount Maundy Thursday as the warm up act to the main event. It’s when Jesus began to show us how much he loves us and how much we are to love one another. It’s when the King of kings begins to extend his arms for us and to us and offers us his body and blood.
Be blessed, be a blessing