Tonight was my first time going to a Maundy Thursday service. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, and it commemorates the Last Supper, and Jesus giving the new commandment to his disciples to love one another. We went to the Redmond United Methodist Church, where they do beautiful services for all the Christian holidays. We entered the room where the service was to be held, and there were several tables set together in the shape of a cross. Each table was covered with a white table cloth, and had a few beautiful flowers as well. The lights were down fairly low. It was a very intimate setting of maybe 20 people total. The atmosphere and what we heard and did made it feel as if we were at the last supper. We sang some beautiful hymns, there was scripture reading about the last supper, and we prayed. We anointed each other with oil and washed each others’ hands, while saying “I see you. I bless you.” People could optionally choose to have their feet washed by Laura the pastor, or a helper from the congregation. We also served each other communion, as there was bread and grape juice on the table waiting to be shared at our own last supper. At the end of the service, all of the religious symbols were removed from the room, and we left in silence. A couple told us it’s not the same program every year, but what we experienced was very moving, and gave me a lot to think about.
Had a few thoughts from the service that I wanted to jot down so I don’t forget:
- Two days before Passover, a woman came and anointed Jesus with perfume. Others who were present were indignant that she didn’t take her perfume and sell it to give money to the poor. Jesus rebuked them and said “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.” In my mind I could see the woman getting mansplained, and being told how she should give her gifts and to whom. It was her gift to give, and I love how Jesus stood up for her. 2000 years later and things haven’t changed much. (Mark 14:1-8)
- God’s grace has no limits. Jesus had grace for Judas and freely included him in the Last Supper and the first Communion, even though he knew Judas was going to betray him to be murdered. I can try to remember to have that same kind of grace for others, but it’s something I have to be more conscious of.
- In John, Jesus goes to wash Peter’s feet, but at first Peter refuses. Jesus tells him, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Peter then wants Jesus to wash his whole body. If Jesus washing your feet is good, then Jesus washing your whole body must be better, right Peter? Jesus tells him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet.” I interpret this to mean that Jesus was saying Peter had misunderstood what was going on. Jesus was teaching them to serve each other. It wasn’t the literal washing that was needed, but Jesus’ example to serve each other. (John 13:1-13)
Happy holy week! I’m looking forward to Good Friday tomorrow and Easter on Sunday. Maybe I should watch “The Passion” again to celebrate the seasons. (No, not Mel Gibson’s version. A few years ago the BBC made a dramatic miniseries of Jesus’ last week, and it’s really beautifully done.)