What is a Maundy Thursday Service?
We will be doing something during Easter week that is probably different for many of you. Instead of having a Good Friday morning service, we will have a Maundy Thursday service at 6:30 pm. This is something that may seem new, but it is not new to the church at all.
What is ‘Maundy Thursday’ anyway? Maundy Thursday is a traditional communion service that is celebrated on the Thursday before Good Friday as a commemoration of the Passover feast Jesus celebrated with his disciples in the upper room, where he instituted the Lord’s supper. It’s history, as part of Holy Week celebrations in the Christian church, dates back to at least the 400's, and was probably practiced by the church well before that. In contrast to joyful Easter observances which take place on Easter Sunday, when we celebrate our risen Lord and Saviour, our Maundy Thursday service will be a much more solemn and reflective service, given that this service occurs with the knowledge that Jesus’ betrayal, suffering and death are just a few short hours away.
Why call it Maundy Thursday? The word ‘Maundy’ is derived from the Latin word mandatum, meaning “commandment” or “command.” Maundy refers to the commands Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper, the Thursday before his resurrection, which are found in John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
What will the service look like? The sanctuary will be set with low lighting and candles will be set throughout the sanctuary to create a mood of contemplation and solemnity. The service itself will involve singing, biblical reflection on the work of Christ in the past and its continued benefit for believers in the present and, of course, participation in the ordinance of communion.
How can I prepare for this service? Two suggestions – prayerful meditate on Scripture, and obey it as a response of worship. The Book of Common Prayer suggests reflections on the following passages: Exodus 12:1-14a Psalm 78:14-20, 23-25 John 13:1-15 Luke 22:14-30 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
As you prayerfully reflect on these passages, take them to heart and obey the Word of God as he leads you into and out of them. Obey what God says in and through those passages and come to the service with hearts worshipfully focused on the sacrifice of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria