Maundy Thursday: The Dinner Invitation that Turned the World Upside Down

For most Christians Maundy Thursday is a time to share communion with each other, a time to reflect. 

For many of the Maundy Thursdays in my life, the service started with one lone voice from the balcony, singing without accompaniment. Silence followed.

Then three people would drape the huge cross at the altar in black cloths and dim the lights to total darkness. 

Words of scripture were uttered from the balcony in great reverent voices. After this silence prevailed.

Then tiny candles were passed to each row and we were to light them from our neighbor’s candle, then share the light with the neighbor on our other side, spend a few moments in meditation, then find our way out in silence. 

The interesting thing was that no one broke that silence, even after they left the church. I remember waiting for the stop light to change after I left the church, in complete silence with dozens of people, crossing the street to the parking lot. People did not speak until they entered their own cars. I wonder if that would happen today.

It was my favorite service.

I loved the reverent silence and darkness and the tiny sparks of light spreading throughout the sanctuary. 

Love and Light passed along from the ultimate source of Light and Love. 

Always I teared up. Always I prayed fervently. Always I felt the enormity of the Cross. Always I felt gratitude that He would give up His life and light in the greatest act of love so that I could have abundant life. 

Maundy Thursday is about so many things, so many lessons.

The act of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, showing us the way to servant leadership; the act of breaking bread together so that we would remember throughout the ages that He gave His life for us; the identification of the one who betrayed him; and the forewarning He gave of what was to come… those are all lessons to learn. 

He never did a thing just for one purpose. 

He did it for many and for all purposes, just like He gave His life for not just some of us, but for all of us. 

I started out this devotion aiming to discuss all those things.  But as I was writing about those sacred Maundy Thursday services, I felt like I was there once again…and I knew, the fewer words I used, the better. 

When I think of all that, I feel these things.

I am grateful. 

I am humbled. 

I am loved. 

John 13: 34

“A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. 

 As I have loved you, you must love one another. 

 By this, all men will know you are my disciples.”

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