by Melanie Hardacker
Holy week may start joyfully with Christ’s triumphant entry on Palm Sunday but by Thursday we have moved into the emotional and heartbreaking sadness of his arrest and suffering. By Thursday we have turned on Jesus. Maundy Thursday might not seem like a very fun service, it is hard to consider it a favorite without seeming a little depressed. However, we can’t have the celebration of Easter without taking time to remember what it is that Jesus suffered and to remember our sin which caused it.
At the end of the service we are asked to leave in silence, respecting the somber events we have reflected upon and the foreshadowing of what Jesus’ arrest leads to. My favorite part of the service is actually after the service. The service concludes in silence with the stripping of the altar. This isn’t a clearing off and redecorating for the Good Friday service. This is a deliberate act of transformation. One candle at a time removed, one cloth at a time carefully folded and put away, a black cloth replacing the red and the cross is veiled. A visible change that reflects the change from the celebration on Palm Sunday to mourning as we remember the sacrifice Christ made for us. It is easy to leave in silence, there is so much to think about and reflect upon.
We aren’t like the disciples who didn’t know what would happen next, we don’t go home with fear or wondering. What should we do next? What is going to happen? We know that while Christ will be sentenced to Death the next day, we will be celebrating his resurrection on Easter morning. But on Thursday night we begin to become aware of what it cost and why we really celebrate on Sunday. On Easter we celebrate the resurrection but on Maundy Thursday we remember the events that led to his death. We remember our sin which led to a need for an Easter and we realize the fullness of Christ’s love for us.