Thursday, April 1, 2010

Worship 6: What is Maundy Thursday?

Today, as many of you (hopefully all who attend Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church!) is "Maundy Thursday"-- about which, some might ask, "What is that?"

"Maundy" Thursday gets its name from the latin phrase
mandatum novum, which means "new command." On Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the day of Holy Week when Jesus gave his disciples "a new command"-- that we love one another (John 13:34). On that day, a number of significant events took place:
  • The disciples gathered with Jesus in the upper room for the "last supper" (which would become the first "Lord's Supper)
  • Jesus washed the disciples' feet, giving them a model of serving one another
  • Christ told them that one of them would betray Him (and Judas left them)
  • The remaining 11 disciples left the upper room with Jesus, during which time He taught them in what is called the "farewell discourse"
  • Jesus and the disciples went to the garden at Gethsemane, where He prayed for the events to come in the next day, and for the church
  • Judas led the Jewish leaders to Jesus and betrayed Him into their hands
  • After a brief scuffle and discussion, all of the disciples fled while Jesus was taken to his mock-trial
All of these events are vital in both the events of Holy Week and the work of the cross, and in the formation of our understanding of our own discipleship. Because of this, Christians have historically gathered on Maundy Thursday for worship and fellowship.

Maunday Thursday services vary from congregation to congregation; some have long-standing traditions about how this commemorative service may be celebrated. Some congregations include a foot-washing service to serve one another in a humble way. Some will have an extended service of prayer for the church, incorporating elements of Christ's prayer for the church (in John 17) as a model. Some will have a simple worship service. Many will include a celebration of the Lord's Supper into one of the above observations.

Maundy Thursday is a great time for the church to worship and celebrate together. Is your congregation having a Maundy Thursday service? If not, is there a nearby congregation that you could visit for this event?

Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church will gather with two sister congregations-- Christ Presbyterian Church of Oakland, and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of Cordova-- to celebrate and worship together for Maundy Thursday. Our service is tonight at 7pm, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Cordova.

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