Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples and his prayer and then capture in the garden of Gethsemane. The word Maundy is from the old Latin name for the day, Dies Mandatum, which means "the day of the new commandment."
As Jesus first shared bread and wine with his friends, in church service on Maundy Thursday, we also share the bread and wine of the Holy Communion service to demonstrate our love for Jesus Christ We celebrate that through bread and wine that he is present and active in our lives. And we remember that first Maundy Thursday especially recalling the simple meal of bread and wine that Jesus and his disciples shared.
After Jesus gathered and shared bread and wine with his disciples and friends, their lives were changed. And so it is for us: each and every time we eat the bread of life and drink the cup of salvation our lives are changed as once again we share in the body of Christ.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, this was a job given usually to the lowliest servant. And we recall that Jesus came as a true leader should, to serve:
to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many Matthew 20:28b
In many services, including the ones I lead, at the end of the service the communion table and surrounding are stripped of all decoration including any remaining bread and wine as well candles and cloths.
The candles are extinguished and removed. Candles represent Christ’s light: “I am the light of the world”. In recognition of the darkness following the death of Jesus on the cross, the candles are removed from our presence.The bread and the wine which represent Jesus's body and blood in the service, are removed just as He was removed from us in the grave.
The communion table has a cloth and a red covering to celebrate the presence of Jesus, the King of Kings. And just as Jesus’ body was stripped of its coverings when he went to his deat, so we too, strip the coverings from the table.
At the end of the service we leave in silence - in a way the service is no over but continues as we reflect and pray over the weekend It concludes in a joy-filled celebration on Easter day. We mourn of Jesus' death and then celebrate his victory over death remembering his resurrection to new life, life that lasts forever. The sort of life that he offers to those who follow him.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b
The lesson we learn from Maundy Thursday stays with us after Easter because it has taught us how to love each other: as Jesus loved us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34