Today is Maundy Thursday — also known as Holy Thursday. This is a very significant day for several reasons. What makes it special for you--or what could make it special for you?
Many churches hold special services on this evening. Some include foot washing as a remembrance of Jesus’ washing of the disciple’s feet at the Last Supper. Some observe Holy Communion, since Jesus instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper with the sharing of the bread and wine and his instructions to the disciples. Some feature a very moving service that includes removing items from the sanctuary — called “stripping the altar.”
For me, Maundy Thursday is a day for somber reflection. I often think of the ways I have failed to honor the sacrifice of Jesus. How have I failed to love myself? How have I failed to love others? When have I missed an opportunity to serve those less fortunate? How have I squandered the earth’s resources?
It sounds gloomy, doesn’t it? But it’s not, really. I don’t beat myself up, but I do offer up an honest apology to God for those times I have failed to be the person God created me to be. I do think about the fact that God became a human being in Jesus and lived on this earth to teach us more about God’s own nature. In Jesus, God gave us lessons on how to live and yet we still don’t get it right.
Our struggles with radical love and service led to Jesus’ crucifixion. They still lead to Jesus’ suffering. I let my heart break for Jesus’ suffering, and for the ongoing suffering of the world, and hope that this will be the year that I get it right … or more right. Today I let myself feel grief — grief for the death of Jesus and grief for our human failures. I can’t get to Easter and the forgiveness and hope of the resurrection until I honor what has gotten us to that day. Christians often skip from Christmas and the birth of Jesus right to Easter and the promise of new life without stopping to think about all that happened in between. To me, it’s a “false spring.”
So, today, allow yourself to feel pain and loss and sadness as you remember what we did to Jesus, who came to us in total love. And remember that on Easter Sunday, we will gather to celebrate the fact that no matter how dark the day, God gives us the gift of forgiveness, love, life and hope.
What are some ways to observe Maundy Thursday? Check out these recommendations.
Teresa Angle-Young is providing articles about the Christian season of Lent and ways we all can join in the practice of Lent. She is a pastor who is simply seeking God, loving neighbors, and trying to follow Jesus.