Thursday evening, Christian communities worldwide will gather in various venues and in diverse ways to observe a most curious tradition.
We call it Maundy-Thursday.
The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for commandment. On Thursday night of Passover, Jesus shared one final meal with his disciples and issued a new commandment to govern their lives:
Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.”
Depending on their unique traditions and customs, congregations today vary greatly in the way they observe Maundy-Thursday. Most traditions include the reading of scripture, the rehearsing of the narrative of Christ’s Passion, congregational singing, and the celebration of communion. Some even include a ceremonial foot-washing ritual, reminiscent of our Lord’s own demonstration of humility and love shown to the disciples that very night.
Regardless of the particular details and unique elements in any given service, the tradition of gathering for worship on Maundy-Thursday, is long and rich.
The Maundy-Thursday service at JCBC will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.
There are 3 significant reasons you will NOT want to miss it.
1. Easter is too important to clumsily fumble into it.
Yet, that’s exactly what we will do if we are not careful. If we are not deliberate about creating a little sacred space ahead of time, we will plow through the days leading up to Easter without a single moment of reflection or serious consideration of the immense gravity of the weekend.
Sure. We can sing the songs, and reply to the Easter greeting: “The Lord is risen; He is risen indeed.” But will we have stopped long enough to acknowledge from what He has been raised? Will we have taken the time to weep with Him in the garden? To anguish with Him beneath the cross? Will we have found the humility to fall to our knees and release from our own hands the hammer that nailed Him there?
Maundy-Thursday attempts to prepare us; to ready the heart and steady the mind. Maundy-Thursday aims to tenderize our callous consciousness, and sensitize our beleaguered souls to the exquisite mystery of Resurrected Love.
Maundy-Thursday will be one of the four deliberate times this year, when our congregation breaks bread together as one unified body.
We celebrate communion in two ways at JCBC. One way is the traditional “pass the plate” method. Twice each year we pass the elements of bread and cups to one another. That’s a big deal. To us Baptists, we believe in the “priesthood of all believers.” That means anyone who is in Christ is her own priest, with no need of an intermediary to access God. But not only does this priesthood of all believers mean we have access to God directly, it also means that we embrace and live out our own priestly role with one another. We are priests, and conveyors of grace and love to one another. All ground is level at the foot of the cross. And passing the bread and cup to one another is a powerful reminder of that truth.
The other two times, JCBC celebrates communion by intinction (dipping the tip of the bread into a common cup). Typically, we observe communion in this method on Christmas Eve, as well as Maundy-Thursday. On each of these occasions worshippers move deliberately to designated communion stations in order to partake, symbolizing the choice we each make as individuals to eat of the bread of life and drink deeply of the cup Christ offers.
Few things can prepare the heart and muster solidarity among the body more than breaking bread and sharing the cup of Christ.
3. The Conclusion of the 7 Deadly Sins Series.
We began our study of the 7 Deadly Sins on the first Sunday of Lent. And since Lent has only 6 Sundays, the final installment will be given on Maundy-Thursday. So far we have studied the deadly sins of: Greed, Envy, Sloth, Wrath, Lust, and Pride.
There is yet one more of the deadly sins. Gluttony.
Quite fitting when you think of it. After all, it was on this night Jesus chose to break bread, pour wine, and teach about the only meal truly needed for the journey.
Johns Creek Baptist Church