One of the most interesting traditions that I enjoyed from the Episcopal Church is the Maundy Thursday service. This is the first service in the Holy Week where they have a foot washing, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and strip the altar. Traditions like these gives us hints at what was going on for the first disciples.
While we are more congenial with authority, the foot washing service still attacks our views of authority to have the priest kneeling down and rubbing your feet. Even knowing the symbolism, it is humbling to allow someone who has been leading you in your relationship with God to come and touch your dirty feet.
The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is very common within the liturgical tradition. Having it on this Thursday gives it more meaning in relation to the other events and the celebration of the Holy Week.
Finally, the stripping of the altar is final part of the Maundy Thursday service. For those who have not gone to high church traditions, it may be hard to understand the meaning. Every other day of the year, there is an abundance of the symbolism to the altar that point to many attributed of Jesus. While many get distracted by the actual things, each symbol is placed there to help the church focus on Christ. At the end of the Maundy Thursday service these items are removed. Silently and methodically each our removed out of site. All of our understanding of who is Jesus is hidden from our understanding as He prepares to go to the cross.
We must think of Peter in Matthew 16:13-28. Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is. After a few answers, Peter blurts out that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus affirms Peter, then starts to explain how he must die. This attacks everything Peter believes about Jesus, so he rebukes Jesus. Even now, the thought of the Son of God empty himself unto death should undo us. When we see him stripped of his glory, it should stop us and make us wonder what he is up to.
Take time today to dwell on what Jesus went through. As this sinks into your mind and heart, it will lead you to deeper levels of gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude and appreciation will lead you to a greater love and service. Love and service will lead you to fulfilling God’s calling on your life.
I wish you a happy Easter season.