Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

I went to a Maundy Thursday service tonight.

Do you not know what that is, though you vaguely remember hearing of it?

Me too.

So, I went. Of course, I had wikipedied it, hoping to learn more.

What I gather is that many traditions celebrate it similarly to Good Friday. It commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus' experience at Gethsemane. Oftentimes, I read, foot washing is a part of the service, though it wasn't at ours tonight.

You know, I don't think I had even been to a Good Friday service until a few years ago. Maybe once growing up, I don't remember. I will say that I think celebrating Easter is so much more meaningful after recognizing Good Friday (or Maundy Thursday). Something about hailing a resurrection without reflecting on the solemness of his death just doesn't seem right... I think we sometimes brush over what actually happened between the joyous Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. One week we're singing Hosanna!, and the next, He's Alive!!... and, ohbytheway, he died a couple days ago...

One thing I have really appreciated about the chapel community is the ability to experience other traditions. The variety of ways of administering communion alone is amazing! Never before have I gone to a Maundy Thursday service, and I enjoy being exposed to such things.

Even elements like reciting The Lord's Prayer or The Apostle's Creed as a community seem so refreshing to me. I suppose that whatever is unlike what you grew up with seems fresh; I'm sure that it does become rote and dull. I would argue that the liturgy of any church can become rote- even if that liturgy is more "contemporary." Don't get me wrong, I love the contemporary service style (though, I have found, many claiming to be "contemporary" haven't changed a thing in the past 10 or 15 years since they first began...). At the same time, things such as communal recitations, the singing of the doxology, and the observance of the liturgical calendar are quite meaningful to me. I'll admit to even having a fondness for ministerial vestments.

Of course, general protestant services present their own set of challenges, but I'll address that another time... I will also add that I have had experiences that I have appreciated, but not particularly enjoyed. Or, I might enjoy it once, but wouldn't want it every week. It's still nice to expand my horizons a little.

Tonight I shall leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns- it was actually sung at our wedding. It is a Welsh song, from the revival that took place in Wales a century ago. Heaven's peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love...

Here is love vast as the ocean
Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of life, our ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heaven's eternal days

On the Mount of Crucifixion
Fountains opened, deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

Let us all Thy love accepting
Love Thee ever, all our days
Let us seek Thy Kingdom only
And our lives be to Thy praise
Thou alone shalt be our glory
Nothing in the world we see
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified us
Thou Thyself has set us free...


Anonymous said...

We used to do a Maundy Thursday service every year at Emmanuel Baptist in Mishawaka. It was a special thing, for sure. We all sat around a big table, and had the Lord's Supper. The elements would be passed around the table, and everyone would take part. Interestingly enough, Maundy Thursday services have become more associated with the liberal denominations, and Good Friday services with the more evangelical. Don't know why. I actually believe the crucifixion was on Thursday, but because of the way the Hebrew calendar started and ended days, an argument can be made for either one.


Pattie said...

Our chapel had a service last night, and is having one tonight, much more somber in tone. I was raised Baptist, but I am really loving learning the liturgical traditions.