Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

When I was a kid, I thought they were saying Monday Thursday and I couldn't figure it out. Why would Thursday be on Monday? Later I thought maybe Maundy was like laundry... since it was foot-washing day. It wasn't until I took Latin in high school that I learned the term novum mandātum new mandate... the new commandment Jesus gave his disciples when he'd finished washing their feet. The Medieval English word for mandate is maunde, leading to our derivation: Maundy.

"Love one another, just as I have loved you." In other words, I've been acting as your servant, not your Lord. I've been treating you as my Lord. Get it? Of course they didn't get it. We don't either.

This afternoon we'll reenact the foot washing among ourselves. We have no Mother anymore to wash the feet of her sisters (I don't know that she ever did); now everyone chips in. The one who just got washed washes the next in line. It works pretty well and seems to be moving for both participants. It's an odd time, and peculiar to each sister. Some splash you a couple of times and are done, others scrub... or caress gently, some even wash between the toes. (It's hard not to giggle if you're feet are ticklish.)

Then the solemn Eucharist begins: The last supper of our Lord, where some believe the institution of Holy Communion was launched. I've never quite bought the fact that the words "This is my body, broken for you... whenever you eat it, do it in remembrance of me." was meant to be an institution. It sounds more like... whenever you eat bread (or anything for that matter,) remember me... and by the way, remember that new commandment I just gave you.

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