The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them "Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done."
For many of us the three days before Easter- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday - are very moving. We mark the time with special worship services that include Foot Washing, Stripping the Altar, a Vigil through Thursday night to noon on Good Friday and Stations of the Cross.Several members of the Worship Commission which works behind the scenes to plan and prepare for these services offer these reflections:
Since I have been a member of Altar Guild I have found that one of the most moving experiences for me during Holy Week is the stripping of the altar following the Maundy Thursday service. The physical action of taking everything from the altar and sanctuary area leaves in me a deep feeling of sadness that Christ will be gone. The starkness of the altar makes me want to cry. Needless to say it is with joy that I help prepare the altar on Easter Saturday for the jubilant Easter morning services.
Kathy Leber, Head of Altar Guild
Jesus is gone ! This is the heart-wrenching realization whenever I see the altar stripping at the Maundy Thursday service. All visible signs of Jesus disappear: bread, wine, crosses, Bibles, paraments. It is an always powerful, moving, experience for me. I feel alone, empty . . . yearning for Christ’s return.
I think about how meaningless my life would be without him.
"Could you not stay awake with me one hour?" Jesus’ Gethsemane question to his disciples has pulled me up short and drawn me to St. Margaret’s Garden of Repose for the past nineteen years. It is one of my most enriching, treasured spiritual experiences.
Our garden is a special place where I pray, read scripture, sketch, jot down thoughts. Often I do absolutely nothing except absorb the peace and beauty. I highly recommend a visit. Good things await you !
For these Maundy Thursday experiences I give thanks, because it somehow helps me to more fully appreciate and celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Day.
The Rev. Elizabeth Diely +
For many years I avoided participating in the Maundy Thursday foot washing: for the usual reasons, I suspect, mostly like Peter's protest. My perception of the rite was changed at an icon workshop on the day we were to observe Maundy Thursday with foot washing. The priest who served as our Chaplain noted its importance to him. He said, in effect, that he felt his priesthood most keenly as he emulated Jesus by washing feet, and how the act strengthened him in his ministry.
Belatedly, I realized my reluctance to participate missed the point entirely. My role was to emulate the Disciples, who, whatever their feelings were, obeyed, and submitted to their Lord's desire to serve them. The observance has become for me a reminder that we are, as followers of Christ, to live into the role of disciples as well.
Marian Stewart, Vestry Member
Jesus said to Peter, "COULD YOU NOT WATCH WITH ME ONE HOUR?!! (Mark 14:37).
This is a haunting phrase to me, especially when I have put off bible reading and prayer.
The phrase brings to mind Maundy Thursdayservice's last hymn,
"STAY WITH ME, REMAIN HERE WITH ME, WATCH AND PRAY, WATCH AND PRAY"
Stripping of the altar then follows, bringing a feeling of somberness, awe and darkness. We watch, pray, and recall Jesus' words and his great agony.
Alice Luetzel. Organist
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.
Labels: Foot Washing, Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, Stripping the Altar, Vigil