Maundy Thursday is Thursday, March 29th 2018. The congregation at Billericay Methodist Church are marking the day by gathering together for a fish and chip supper. We will also be listening to readings about the week before Jesus was crucified. To take part, please order your fish and chips from house group leaders. Or ask a Steward within the church who will ensure that your food is ordered.
The Biblical Origin of Maundy Thursday
The celebration of Maundy Thursday comes from John chapter 13, where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. He then issues a commandment about caring for each other in the same way that he had demonstrated with foot washing:
Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’. Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand’. ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet’.
Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’. ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ … Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. … ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
The Meaning of ‘Maundy’
The word “Maundy” comes from the latin “mandatum”, from which the English word “mandate” is derived. This references the New Commandment that Jesus gave in the story from John. The practice of foot washing has continued in the church since the time of Jesus and references not only the care that Jesus commanded but also the subservient ‘servant’ role that Jesus took on when he washed the disciples’ feet and continued to assume. Jesus himself said (Matthew 20: 26-27):
Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Maundy Thursday in the UK
The Monarch marks Maundy Thursday by offering “alms” to deserving senior citizens, one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age. These coins, known as Maundy money, are distributed in red and white purses. It is a custom dating back to King Edward I. The service at which this takes place rotates around English and Welsh churches, though in 2008 it took place for the first time in Northern Ireland at Armagh Cathedral. Until the death of King James II, the Monarch would also wash the feet of the selected poor people.