The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate). In John’s account, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood. After they had finished the meal, Jesus taught them a “new” commandment, “… that you love one another; even as I have loved you, you also ought to love one another. “(John 13:34). In addition to Jesus’ command to love one another, there are a variety of other events that are clustered on this last day before Jesus was arrested. They include the last meal together, which was probably a Passover meal; the institution of the Eucharist, the betrayal by Judas, Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus washing his disciple’s feet.
Maundy Thursday gives us the opportunity to reflect on and participate in some of these events from Jesus’ last night with his disciples. We remember that we are called to love and serve one another by washing each other’s feet. We will participate in the Last Supper (Eucharist) as Christ commanded us. At the end of the service, we will remove all of the altar coverings and decorations in the sanctuary. This symbolizes the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples. It also prepares the sanctuary to become like a tomb.