April 18, 2019
7:00 pm - Worship - English
Maundy Thursday derives its name from the words Jesus spoke to his disciples on this evening: “A new command I give you: Love one another" (John 13:34). The Latin word for command is mandatum, where we get Maundy. On Maundy Thursday, Christ gave a mandate to his followers — to love one another as he has loved us. He demonstrates the full extent of his love by humbly washing his disciple’s feet and by feeding them his very flesh for their salvation. Clearly, Christ loves us more than life. Reconciled to God through the flesh and blood of Christ, we are empowered to follow his command to love each other.
It was on this evening nearly two thousand years ago that Jesus and his disciples gathered together in a large upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This meal commemorated the deliverance of God's people from the clutches of slavery in Egypt. All the firstborn sons of Egypt died that night, but all Israel was saved. They were saved because the blood of the Passover Lamb they had sacrificed marked their doors. The angel of death saw the blood on their doorframes, and passed over their homes as he went throughout the land of Egypt killing the firstborn. This evening we celebrate the fact that Christ is our Passover Lamb. In sacrificing himself, Jesus ends the need for the Passover, and replaces it with a much greater meal when he institutes the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated tonight using freshly baked unleavened bread, identical to what was used at Passover.
The stripping of the altar. The post-communion portion of the service takes us from the upper room in Jerusalem where the disciples celebrated the Passover to the Garden of Gethsemane, in preparation for Good Friday. The altar, which is one of the most prominent symbols of Christ in the church, is solemnly stripped of its vestments in memory of the abandonment of Jesus in Gethsemane. The service ends in silence. The congregation hears no closing blessing…yet.