Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Do Celebrate Maundy Thursday

In Baptist life, Maundy Thursday is often ignored. I don't know why. This is a day that I like to celebrate, even if I can't find many others who pay attention to it.

Maundy Thursday (not Monday-Thursday; that used to confuse me) is a day to remember Jesus' institution of the ordinance/sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It also is a time to look ahead to his suffering in Gethsemane and, of course, on the cross.

The word "Maundy" is not one we use too often. This word stems from the Latin word "mandatum." This refers to the mandate or command given by Jesus in John 13:34. In that verse, Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

What was the context of this verse? Jesus says this during the time of the Passover meal, which He was about to transform into the Lord's Supper. He also says this just after he has washed the (stinking, dirty) feet of his disciples. Themes we see are servanthood, unity, and love.

As we think about the gift of the Lord's Supper, we have much to be thankful for. Christ has given his church a way to visibly celebrate his death for our sins. As the proclamation of the scriptures is an auditory celebration, the Lord's Supper is a visible and tactile (kinesthetic) celebration.

Today, even if you don't have a church body with which to gather, let me encourage you to celebrate Maundy Thursday. We have been given a command to love one another. We have seen this acted out, as Christ washed feet. We have been given a practice by which we may celebrate, remember, and experience Jesus' sacrifice for us. On this day, we ought to also focus on the sufferings of Christ, by which we were healed.

We indeed have much to celebrate.

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