WHAT IS IT?
Maundy Thursday is marked by a service in the evening, which itself initiates the great three-day long liturgy (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) known as the Easter Triduum.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
Maundy Thursday gets its name from the Latin “mandatum”, meaning “commandment”. We remember Jesus’ new commandment to love and serve one another, a posture necessary for communion at his table. Fittingly, Maundy Thursday also commemorates the institution of Holy Communion
THE WASHING OF FEET
Unlike Holy Communion, foot washing is not a sacrament since it is not an act commanded by Jesus. Rather, we wash each other’s feet in imitation of what Jesus did at the Last Supper, enacting humble servanthood as a response to the command to love one another.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We retell the Gospel accounts of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and instituting the sacrament of Holy Communion. There is no benediction, and the people depart in meditative silence, since the liturgy continues the next day.
Purple is used to signify repentance and royalty.
Foot washing is sometimes re-enacted.
We celebrate Holy Communion
THE STRIPPING OF THE SANCTUARY
At the end of the service, the altar cloth (on the communion table) and parament (hanging on the pulpit) is removed, along with the altar cross, altar Bible, and other decorations. The Sanctuary remains bare to symbolise the desolation and abandonment of Jesus in Gethsemane and in the suffering that follows.
Frank C. Senn, Introduction to Christian Liturgy (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012).
United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville, TN: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992).