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Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

"The Last Supper" carving hangs above the Communion table in the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee.

WAYS: Remembering Maundy Thursday

 

March-April 2017

Interpreter recently asked its readers, “What is the most meaningful or most moving part of your Holy Week observance or Easter celebration? Why?” These are some of the answers we received about Holy Thursday observances. How will you remember on this Maundy Thursday?

The worship that speaks to my soul the most during Holy Week is Maundy Thursday when it incorporates a Tenebrae service. The intense, sometimes raw, variety of emotions and reasoning expressed by the various groups and individuals in that short span of time echoes the reactions almost every person feels at some point in their lives. The passion becomes real with human responses that we also may experience under similar circumstances. The Rev. Jackie Asher, New Hope and Woollam UMCs, Owensville, Missouri

For me and for so many in our congregation, the most meaningful and the most moving part of our Holy Week observation has been our Maundy Thursday worship service. Watching men, women and children of all backgrounds, ages and races wash each other’s hands (our traditional version of the foot washing Jesus did for his disciples) is a powerful experience, and one that is highly anticipated each year. The Rev. Ken Blanchard, Agawam UMC, Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

The Tenebrae Service: In this world of chaos and turmoil, this service has deep meaning. You are taken back in time and can almost feel like you are there. When the hammer strikes, signifying the nails, tears come realizing the agony our Savior must have experienced. You leave the service in quiet, just reflecting on the experience. Diane Clayton, Zion UMC, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

The most meaningful Holy Week experience for me is Maundy Thursday. The dark, introspective service of music and liturgy provides a finality to the Lenten season. This year the choir will be offering "The Seven Last Word" followed by silently stripping the altar then dismissing the congregation, which I find the most meaningful. In a time of great change, returning to traditional services remembered from childhood can unite us. Marie Conrad, Wesley UMC, Hartsville, South Carolina

Maundy Thursday moves me most. After the worship service, our church has a prayer vigil ending at noon Friday. People sign up in 30-minute slots. Several sleep at church, taking turns to pray. Some come to church to pray for 30 minutes. Some (mostly elderly and invalid) pray at home. I bring prayer requests to the sanctuary. I light candles, kneel and pray. I add my prayers. I meditate on the sacrifice. I weep. I rejoice. Shirley Durr, Epworth UMC, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The most meaningful part of Holy Week is the Maundy Thursday service where Jesus celebrates with his disciples the first communion service and demonstrates a gracious act of humility and servant leadership by washing his disciples’ feet. This act of humility demonstrated that servant leadership is not about standing before a group espousing ideas but being humble. The Rev. Alfonza Everett, New Goshen UMC, Greensboro, North Carolina

The Last Supper: Seated with other disciples. Jesus with towel and basin begins washing our dirty feet. Aware of all my imperfections, I, too, want to say "not my feet" yet I know his answer to Peter. I take the bread and the wine understanding Jesus paid the price for me. I hear these words “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." The Rev. Perla Goody, retired, Pauls Valley (Oklahoma) UMC

Most meaningful part of Holy Week is watching our drama ministry do a drama of the Last Supper, but instead of using all males, using male/female, young/old, able/disabled, various races/ethnicities, etc. as the disciples. Very powerful! Trish Gunby, Manchester (Missouri) UMC

For me it is the Holy Thursday Communion service, serving 12 people around a table and repeating the words of our Savior, “This is my body.” It is a reminder that one of his disciples betrayed him. You ask yourself how you, in your own way, betray him. After a time of silence, they are dismissed by saying, "Go and serve the Lord." As the 12 are escorted to the table where they sit to receive the elements, they walk to a wooden cross where they are given a spike and hammer. They are instructed to nail their sins to the cross. On Easter, each spike has a flower wrapped around it symbolizing new life arising from death. The Rev. Richard G. Leaver, Trinity UMC, Gloucester City, New Jersey

The most meaningful and moving part of my Holy Week observance is a Tenebrae Service on Holy Thursday. During that service, I am drawn so deep that I am present in the Scriptures as a bystander watching the events that unfold. The Rev. Nan Nelson, Clarendon First and Holly Grove UMCs, Arkansas Conference

I've shared a true Maundy Thursday meal with the congregation while I was at Covenant UMC in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I have never forgotten the taste of bitter herbs. Our pastor was Dr. Brooks Ambos, retired now, and he was a wonderful leader. Velia Amparo Rivas, St. Mark's UMC, El Paso, Texas

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday with a beautiful cantata. But the most memorable and moving experience has been the Last Supper service. A long banquet table is set with plates, goblets, fruit and candles. Communion is served 12 at a time. [Our pastor] gives a short service reminding each of the 12 that one will betray him. Each of the 12 answers, “Is it I, Lord?” The pastor then answers, “Yes.” It really takes you back and makes the evening very personal. Pamela Seay, First UMC, Ripley, Tennessee

Each year the Maundy Thursday service touches me so greatly. Our beautiful church is draped in black. As the sun sets and the service progresses, the gift of Christ's pain and suffering twists my heart. The beauty and pain of Jesus' sacrifice is so tangible and amazing at that time, like no other throughout the year. Before attending a Maundy Thursday service, I had never experienced Good Friday or Easter with such understanding and reverence. I hadn't truly understood my own Christianity. Stephenie Snodgrass, First UMC, Wellington, Ohio

The most moving experience during Holy Week is the Maundy Thursday service. Reflecting on the painful suffering Christ endured at the hands of the Roman soldiers and the humiliation he gladly accepted on the cross is very humbling and convicting for me. David Stockford, Kalkaska (Michigan) UMC

The Maundy Thursday Service each year sets our hearts and spirits to truly remember and experience the Last Supper as Christ wanted for us. It is probably the most deeply felt Communion of the year. Kay Weathers, First UMC, Ennis, Texas

Our church has a living Last Supper involving the men of the church portraying the disciples, which makes it feel so real. The drama makes everyone in the sanctuary realize how important Jesus’ selfless sacrifice was. Rick Wilson, Trinity UMC, Columbia, Kentucky

The most meaningful part of Holy Week is foot washing on Maundy Thursday. This was not a practice I knew about until I started attending Buda UMC. Washing someone else's feet was easy. Having my own feet washed was very difficult. This practice helped me this past year as I needed a lot of care while being treated for cancer. Patricia K. Wood, Buda (Texas) UMC

The most moving part of our Holy Week observance is the Tenebrae service. It is so intimate as we share a light meal reminiscent of Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples. As you hear the Scriptures and homily, you can reflect on what Easter really means – how Christ loved us so that he died to save us from sin, yet was risen on the third day. You can truly feel the presence of the Lord. Kametris Wyatt, Centenary UMC, Memphis, Tennessee