Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year C - Holy or Maundy Thursday (March 28, 2013)

This is one of those Holy Days on which the lectionary readings are the same for all three years.  So even within this blog there are several sources of ideas for this night.

Go to Year A - Holy or Maundy Thursday to find
     - Suggestions for celebrating the sacrament around tables
     - Ideas about how to explore the meaning of foot-washing
      with children 
     - Suggestions about explaining the Passover connection on
      this night
     - Description of tenebrae

Go to Year B - Holy or Maundy Thursday to find
      - A guide to reading the story of the night from
      The  Children’s Bible in 365 Stories instead of the Bible
      - Suggestions for hand rather than foot washing

In my book Sharing the Easter Faith with Children find
     - More suggestions about worshiping around tables on this night
     - A child-friendly tenebrae script
     - A script for a children’s tenebrae that includes a prop for
      each story


Detail from the mural of Jesus washing the disciples' feet,
from Art in the Christian Tradition,
a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
[retrieved December 17, 2012].

Especially, if you are following the sacrificial love theme …

U One of the lectionary surprises is that the gospel reading for this night is from John and includes no account of the bread and cup.  Since for children Maundy Thursday is all about celebrating communion on the very night Jesus invented it,  I’d often substitute the account from the synoptic gospel for that year to get the table story.  But this might be a good year to read John’s account of the night and focus on the Jesus’ new commandment, “love one another as I have loved you.” 

Even if you do not actually do a foot-washing service, talk about Jesus washing the disciples’ feetYou can almost see all the disciples looking at their feet, knowing that someone needs to do the washing, thinking that if they don’t make eye contact with anyone maybe it won’t be them.  Then Jesus does it.  He washes the feet of the people who will desert him.  He even washes the feet of Judas who will turn him in and tell his enemies where to find him.   

When washing feet is compared to yucky jobs that must be done every day – taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat’s litter, turning the compost pile, cleaning the bathrooms, dealing with a diaper pail – it calls children to join Jesus in practicing every day self-giving love.  The first challenge is to do these jobs for people we love and who love us back.  As we do we imagine doing them for someone who mistreats us and we remember that Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

U After washing their feet Jesus gave the disciples and us a new rule, “Love one another as I have loved you.” How do we love one another?  We wash their feet and do whatever else is needed (even the yucky jobs) to take care of them.

If your congregation uses the term Maundy Thursday (rather than Holy Thursday),  explain the origin of Maundy in the Latin “Mandatum.”  Mandatum means command or mandate.  Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus gave us a new commandment.  Then identify the commandment and explore its significance.

U After washing the disciples’ feet and sending Judas away to do his deed, Jesus announced, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”  Or, “if you want to see the glory of God, watch me wash feet.  If you want to share in the glory of God, wash feet like I do.” God’s glory is not seen in people walking on red carpets or standing on championship stands.  God’s glory is seen in people taking loving care of those around them – even washing their feet when needed.  This definition of God’s glory is a hard sell with children and worshipers of all ages, but it closely ties God’s glory with down and dirty everyday loving.

Sidebar:  Peter was offended by Jesus’ offer to wash his feet.  Youth and adults today understand his feelings.  But, children are used to being tended in many personal ways.  So, Peter’s issue isn’t their issue - yet.
U If you have been displaying hearts throughout Lent, display one near the major symbols of this night.  Display a towel with a large red hear lying on it.  Or, place a heart on or near the loaf or cup for communion.  You might even have the loaf that will be broken during communion baked in a single large heart shape.

U Go to Maundy Thursday Service in the Emergent Mode to see a more informal service.  The repeated “this is the night of love” throughout the liturgy is a good fit for the Lenten sacrificial love theme.  Children could be included in the “lectio, reflectio, collection” readings if challenged to draw a fresh picture after they listen to the reading each time.  Their pictures could be shared and discussed among the adult comments.  
U If you must do a children’s story on this night and the focus is on foot washing, go to Children's Sermon for Maundy Thursday for a children’s story presenting a crown and a towel with a conversation about what kings do and don’t do.

U “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love” is a hymn choice that fits the night and is familiar to many children these days.

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