Friday, April 11, 2014
What Does Maundy Mean?
I never know exactly how to deal with Holy Week, which is also one of the most “unholy” weeks in all the year. It begins out fine enough on Palm Sunday with a parade into Jerusalem as children line the streets with their parents and wave palm branches. Things, however, quickly go downhill and will eventually end with a cross atop a hill called Calvary.
Holy Week is pretty scary. Every time I read John’s gospel, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. It is clear that the plots against Jesus are strong. The Jewish people at the Passover festival in Jerusalem even said of Jesus, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” I want to join them and shout out a warning to Jesus, “Don’t go. They are going to kill you. Don’t you see?” The problem is, He does see and He goes anyway. How do we respond to that?
Lots will happen between Palm Sunday and Easter. Jesus will show his anger and righteous indignation over those who have turned the temple into a money making enterprise instead of a house of prayer. He will have heated verbal exchanges with those who stand in his way. He will speak directly and tenderly to his disciples in the upper room on Maundy Thursday, where he institutes the Lord’s Supper by asking his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.” The word Maundy takes its name from the new “mandate” or “commandment” Jesus gave them in the upper room to “love one another. Just as I have loved you.”
We have a Maundy Thursday evening communion service at Sardis. I often hear that it is the most meaningful of all the services we have throughout the year, even more meaningful than Christmas Eve. I wonder why that is the case?
I’d love to hear from those of you who are so touched and inspired by that service. What makes it so meaningful for you? How do you sense the presence of the Holy Spirit?
We have come a long way from that first Maundy Thursday, but the invitation remains the same, “do this in remembrance of me,” and so does the mandate to “love one another”. If you have never attended our Maundy Thursday service, the invitation is open to everyone. I hope to see you on this most sacred of nights.