Maundy Thursday

In order to redeem myself for the previous post concerning the possible 666 tattoo on my head, I’d like to talk about Maundy Thursday.

 Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. As far as holidays go, it’s right up there with Arbor Day–you’ve probably heard of it, but you’re not really sure what it’s all about. Growing up, I certainly never paid any attention to Maundy Thursday–after all, what good is a holiday if it’s not important enough to close schools?

But as I get older, I have more appreciation for this day. Historically, Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus and the disciples celebrated Passover with a seder meal–what we now call the Last Supper. It was the first Eucharist (communion) celebration. The day takes its name from the word meaning “mandate” or “command” which refers to the two commandments Jesus gave us on Maundy Thursday: “Do this in remembrance of me” and “love one another as I have loved you.” It is also the night that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, much to their discomfort.

I went to church last night for our Maundy Thursday service. My friend preached a great sermon about how Jesus holds our soles and our souls. She talked about touching–how Princess Diana was famous for holding babies with AIDs when no one else would. She talked about us leaving our comfort zone as we washed each other’s feet.

And she almost had me convinced that I could let someone wash my feet. But I just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t walk barefoot up to the front of our tiny little Episcopal church and let someone wash my feet. After which, I would wash the next person’s feet. I wasn’t the only one. Only a handful of people went. It was funny–people I expected to do it didn’t. People I would’ve sworn shared my feelings did.

At the end of the service, the altar is stripped bare, representative of Christ being stripped of his own garments. All the linens, flowers, candles and things I don’t know the right name for are taken away. It’s quite a transition to see only wood where flickery, shininess was before.

This little “holiday” really has very special meaning. The word holiday, after all, comes from “holy” and “day”.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get up the nerve to participate in the foot washing, though. That’s why I sat in the very back row.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Maundy Thursday

  1. I didn’t get to participate because I was singing a solo, but I nearly cried watching big Joe get his feet washed by my choirmate’s skinny little son and then seeing them reverse. Same thing seeing a man wash his blind wife’s feet and then guide her down to wash his.

  2. See, you say “Maundy Thursday” and instead of all this important business, I think of the Godfather.

    Maunday, Toozday, Tharsday, Wendsday.

    And I’ve washed feet before, in a service like that. Washing someone’s feet is easy, and peaceful, almost. It’s a task. Having my feet washed was like this emotional free-for-all, and I freaked out, nearly cried. My feet aren’t even gross. I just felt sorry. Embarrassed. Please stop, please stop, you don’t have to do this, don’t worry, I get it…

    I’ve never liked being pampered.

  3. I’m fascinated by religious rituals. Jehovah’s Witness don’t have any cool rituals or interesting worship services like that. It’s a big snoozefest at the ole Kingdom Hall. If we had footwashing during our services, that would have been a major improvement. Oh well. I think it’s great you get so much from your religion. I’m a little jealous actually. I wish I could just believe in something. Maybe I need to just pick a religion and go with it (Much like I did when I lost my virginity – just picked somebody and went for it). Sounds good to me. Happy Easter!

  4. Oh and Rassles – I hate getting my feet washed too. Like when I get a pedicure I feel weird. But I only get a pedicure when I’m getting married so it doesn’t happen that often. (And I love Appolonia’s does the Days of the Week in The Godfather. Priceless with that accent). Yeah, novel-sized comments. I can’t help it. I’m sorry.

  5. Cindy the good thing with Maundy Thursday is that it will happen again next year. and the year after that. and the year after that. so you got plenty of chance to take the plunge from the back row 🙂

  6. I´ve never had my feet washed ceremoniously before. Oh, I´ve had my share of pedicures and love every minute of it. For some reason, shoe-shining though gives me the creeps and I feel like it´s so demeaning. I don´t know why I don´t feel the same way about pedicures.

  7. Niece Lash

    Our Maundy Thursday service was really great too. I had never been to one before and we took communion standing down the center aisle of the church, breaking off bread for the person next to us and then dipping it in the wine (grape juice). It was quiet and spiritual and wonderful. I love rituals like this one. Gwen, feel free to join us Presbyterians or Episcopals. We are very easy to get along with!

  8. Kira–that image is strong…I can just see it, amazing.
    Rass-to wash or to be washed…which freaks us out more?
    Gwen–see what wise niece Lash has to say.
    Blues–I have pedis every few weeks, but have never had my shoes shined. But then, I’m not sure Birkenstocks are meant to be shined. 🙂
    Lash–so glad Lent is over and you’re back! We missed you today!

  9. Older Sister

    Haven’t been on in awhile, so am catching up. Our neighborhood Bible Study Group had a foot washing the week before Easter. Eight of us took turns washing each others feet………very moving and spiritual experience. I will have to add that there is a wide range of ages in our group and that there was also a discussion of “how far up we shaved our legs”…………a variety of answers as you might imagine.

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