Maundy Thursday - 8:05 p.m.



 
You will need: a bowl of warm water, a towel, a pair of feet (your own or someone else’s), a candle and something to light it with.

This Thursday is Maundy Thursday the day when we celebrate the last Supper at which Jesus washed his disciples feet.

This is one of the highlights of my priestly year (no, really it is).  It is beautiful and tender to hold the feet of the congregation (I genuinely don’t care what state they are in).

Sadly, no feet for me this year, or at least not all of your feet.  I will be washing the feet of a member of my household during our service and invite you to do the same if you can.  As an alternative please do have a bowl of warm water for your own feet and I will bless them instead of washing them.

At the end of the service where we would normally strip the Sanctuary we will each light a candle and then turn out the lights where we are worshipping.  At the end of the service when we depart in traditional silence you might like to place the candle in your window as a symbol of the watch.



Thursday 9th April 2020 - Maundy Thursday

 Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter Sunday, believed to be the day when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with His disciples. Most notably, that Passover meal was when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in an extraordinary display of humility. He then commanded them to do the same for each other in His new commandment.

John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

 

Readings

Exodus 12: 1-4, 11-14 The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

 

John 13: 1-17, 31b -35 Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

Sermon

 “On the night before he died he had supper with his friends…” 

I agree with Mother Ruth – this Maundy Thursday evening service is one of the highlights of my priestly year – the act of kneeling in front of someone and washing their feet as an expression of the humble love and care that Jesus showed to his disciples is a real privilege.  We will be enacting that in a different way this evening, in this strange present circumstance in which we are not able to gather together, or to touch anyone other than those with whom we share our homes.  For those of you who live alone, this is a particularly difficult time, but I hope that our ‘virtual’ connection online, or for some of you, the ability to share in reading the words of tonight’s service at home, will help you to feel part of our wider community.

Does this act of foot washing remind you of other times when you have washed others, or been washed yourself?  There are memories for me of carefully bathing my children when they were tiny babies, cradling them in my hands, holding their heads when they were too small to support that weight themselves, and just loving them.  Another memory is of a dear friend who couldn’t bend to wash her own feet after a hip replacement.  She asked me to come to do that for her.  It was a simple sharing of trusting love and friendship with gentle washing.   You may have similar thoughts and memories - expressing love in a practical, gentle and tactile way.

When I worked as chaplain at Trinity Hospice, I was aware of the importance of the gentle touch, washing, caressing, for the patients there.  In these present times we think of the carers, nurses and doctors who are doing even more than that for their patients – we see images on our televisions of people in heavy blue Personal Protective Equipment in Intensive Care Units, gently turning critically ill patients on their beds to help their breathing.  Loving and caring for each precious individual - and risking their own health and safety as they do that.  And the gentle washing of elderly patients in their own homes or care homes goes on every day, of course, but most of us are unaware of that constant, daily, loving care.

The love we find in Jesus is total, self-giving love, demonstrated this evening in this mundane, but scandalous, act of washing his disciples’ feet. This was the act of a servant, and he was their master.  No wonder Peter objected.  But we need to learn that we can only wash other people’s feet when we have allowed our own feet to be washed.  We cannot serve others if we do not allow others to serve us.  We cannot constantly give out  unless we are willing to receive.  Some of us in the current situation find we are restricted in how we can serve others - we have to accept help from other people day by day.  But we can all pray, on our own, or with others, and keep in touch, and encourage one another.

‘Maundy’ Thursday comes from the Latin word, Mandatum – Commandment.  Jesus gave us two at the Last Supper – one is to love one another as he has loved us, and the other is to remember him in the breaking of bread.  Jesus broke the bread, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me”.  Just as the Jewish people remember and retell year by year the story of Passover, as told in the book of Exodus, we remember Jesus breaking bread at his Last Supper week by week in our communion, ‘in remembrance’ of him.  We remember his body, broken on the cross, his blood shed for us, and we hold out our hands to receive that wonderful gift, taking the love of Jesus into ourselves so that we can share his love with others.  We may not be able to receive the physical bread and wine at the moment, but we can still open our hands, our hearts and our minds, to receive his love and know his presence with us, to strengthen us and give us hope.

We heard at the start of tonight’s Gospel reading that Jesus knew “his hour had come”.  What must that have felt like?  We are invited at the end of this service to spend time praying with Jesus tonight, before we return tomorrow to hear again the story of his arrest, trial and crucifixion.  Time to prepare ourselves, as Jesus prepared himself, for the darkness of Good Friday tomorrow and the waiting in hope until the joy of resurrection on Easter day. 

In all the darkness of this present time, with all the difficulties many of us face, the fear and anxiety, I pray we may have fresh inspiration to share the love of Christ in all that we do, loving one another as he has loved us.   Amen.

Prayers

 

In the power of the Spirit let us pray to the Father

through Christ the saviour of the world.

Father,

on this, the night he was betrayed,

your Son Jesus Christ washed his disciples’ feet.

We commit ourselves to follow his example of love and service.

Lord, hear us

 

On this night, he prayed for his disciples to be one.

We pray for the unity of your Church.

Lord, hear us

 

On this night, he prayed for those who were to believe through his disciples’ message.

We pray for the mission of your Church.

Lord, hear us

 

On this night, he commanded his disciples to love,

but suffered rejection himself.

We pray for the rejected and unloved.

Lord, hear us

 

On this night, he reminded his disciples

that if the world hated them it hated him first.

We pray for those who are persecuted for their faith.

Lord, hear us

 

On this night, he accepted the cup of death

and looked forward to the new wine of the kingdom.

We remember those who have died in the peace of Christ.

Lord, hear us