It is Maundy Thursday. The period of preparation is over, it is time for the momentous events to start.
The Disciples and Jesus gather in the Upper Room for their Passover meal. It is their last evening together, though the Disciples probably did not believe that. Jesus starts as he means to go on, taking on the role of the servant. He washes their feet – the task of the lowest of the low. They protest and he tells them that this must take place. Peter, as usual, is then the most enthusiastic. Jesus connects once again with humanity as the servant of all.
And then the meal. The most sacred service of the Christian faith is instituted on this night. This is my body; this is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me – an instruction we continue to observe to this day and which, no doubt, Christians will continue to do for the rest of time, until He comes again.
Then the walk to Gethsemane, the agony of Jesus as he contemplates what lies ahead, the betrayal, the arrest, the trial, the denial by Peter, the mocking. It is all so horrific, but it had to happen so that the atonement for sin could be made, and then the Resurrection on Sunday.
Usually on Maundy Thursday we will have an evening Eucharist and then all the congregation will join with Father Peter to strip the Sanctuary of all decoration, all frontals, linens and candlesticks. It involves us all. We leave it as bare as possible and then we kneel briefly and go home quietly. The stripping of the Altar represents the stripping of Jesus life from him. The bare altar represents the naked Christ humiliated and abused for us. Next to Good Friday, Maundy Thursday is the most traumatic day in Christ’s earthly life. It is a time for us to remember the events of that night and the humiliation our Lord went through for us. It is our time to stand with him.
As we cannot go to church this evening, many people will spend the evening in quiet prayer and contemplation at home, giving God thanks for his Son and pondering again on the sacred mysteries that we celebrate every Sunday.
O God your love was embodied in Jesus Christ,
Who washed the Disciples’ feet
On the night of his betrayal.
Wash from us the stain of sin,
So that, in hours of danger, we may not fall away,
But follow your Son through every trial,
And praise him always as Lord and Christ,
To whom be glory now and for ever.