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It's an order!

April 9, 2020

'And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."' Luke 22. 19

 

You may be aware that today is Maundy Thursday. Many associate this with Her Majesty giving alms to the poor at a church service, which moves location each year. But its name refers to a much earlier event. "Maundy" comes from an old English word meaning "mandate" or "order" and it refers to the Last Supper Jesus had with his followers, when he broke bread and shared wine with them, in the context of a traditional Jewish Passover Meal. This ceremonial meal reminded Jews how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. But Jesus was investing it with new meaning. From now on his followers were to break bread and share wine in memory of him: his sacrifice of his own perfect life on the cross, freeing us from slavery to sin and restoring our relationship with God.

 

Increasingly, Christians are augmenting their Maundy Thursday celebration by sharing what is called a Seder Supper, which is a Christian interpretation of the Jewish Passover Meal. (Seder means "order" but as in "order of arrangement" rather than "command".) Doing this provides the context from which Holy Communion comes and can thereby enhance our appreciation of that simple ceremony, which is so profound in what it conveys but, as the Seder reveals, has a rich history  behind it too.

 

Another aspect of Maundy Thursday is the recollection of how Jesus washed his disciples' feet. It scandalised them then and it remains an uncomfortable prospect now. But Jesus associated foot-washing with his new commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you." Would we wash one another's feet, let alone go to the cross? Jesus did it for our disciples, he did it for us, he did it for his enemies. What a Saviour, what a Lord!

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