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The name Maundy is taken from the first words sung at the ceremony of the washing of the feet, “I give you a new commandment” (John 13:34); also from the commandment of Christ that we should imitate his loving humility in the washing of the feet (John 13:14-17). The term mandatum (maundy), therefore, was applied to the rite of the footwashing on this day.
The service is not inherently mournful. The penitential acts of Maundy Thursday have celebratory aspects as well: restoration through the bold declaration of pardon; the act of footwashing connoting humility and intimacy; the celebration of the Lord’s Supper embodying the mystery of Christ’s enduring redemptive presence. Maundy Thursday’s acts provide the paradox of a celebratively somber and solemnly celebrative service.
This Thursday, we won’t practice the rite of foot washing, but we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. You will be prepared for worship if you have a piece of bread and some juice ready to partake of during the service.