Sign of Humility, Symbol of Service

Thursday, April 17 (Maundy Thursday)

4-17By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. …I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

—John 13:14–15, 34

Community of Christ publishes a great series of bulletin covers for Sunday services. Each cover has a picture and a scripture reflection that follows the Revised Common Lectionary. However, for Maundy Thursday, worship planners need to create their own bulletin, or go to a Christian bookstore, which is what I did one year.

I met the clerk’s blank stare when I asked for Maundy Thursday bulletin covers. “We have only Sunday bulletins.” I tried to explain, but again, “We don’t have Monday or Thursday bulletins, only Sundays!”

I thought I was in the twilight zone. Thinking the clerk must be new, I looked around on my own, in vain, while the clerk watched with unmasked amusement and pity. So I thanked her and left.

What is Maundy Thursday? The Thursday part is easy, but Maundy? It comes from the Latin “mandatum” or mandate. A mandate is something we must do, a commandment.

The observance and symbolic reenactment of washing feet at the Lord’s Supper helps us remember Christ’s “new commandment.” We do as he has done. He took on the role of servant to his disciples and washed their feet. He showed them a sign of humility and a symbol of his message of service—a way to show “love for one another.”

Good hosts in the Jewish world provide guests the opportunity to wash before a meal. After traveling dusty roads to celebrate the Passover meal, this was a welcome respite. Jesus goes one step further and does the washing himself. Jesus, Lord and Teacher of this gathering, has done the opposite of what we might expect from hosts in high positions. We would not expect a president, prime minister, or head of state to attend to the personal needs of guests at a formal dinner. However, that is exactly what Christ does. He gives us an example of how to express love. He gives us a mandate, a new commandment to love one another as he loves us.

If your congregation has not planned a Maundy Thursday service for tonight, you might attend the service of another congregation or church. Plan to have a service next year—or next week—or have a Maundy Monday. Why not? The message of service and love is for every day.

Prayer for Peace
Servant Lord, you have stooped to ask of us the love of our poor hearts. We respond.

Spiritual Practice: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer ask God to help you discern physical needs of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that “feeds” someone’s hunger today.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take on the role of servant to show my love for another.

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1 Comment

  1. Odessa does have a Maundy Thursday service tonight that I look forward to going to soon but I so appreciate today’s Daily Bread entry to help get me ready for the service. Normally one of the congregations from towns in fairly close proximinity hosts a Maundy Thursday service and we all share together. I pray that we may all feed someone’s hunger today and thank you for feeding mine.


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