Brian Morris writes: It’s also the root of ‘Maundy’, a word usually attached to this day – the Thursday before Easter.
Maundy Thursday celebrates an unusual event. Jesus and his disciples had met together in secret for a special celebration, the meal which marked the beginning of the festival of Passover.
The pattern of the meal is strictly ordered; but, according to John’s Gospel, Jesus broke the pattern midway by leaving the table, returning with a bowl of water, and washing the feet of his disciples.
‘Maundy’ came to be the term used when people’s feet were washed in this service, a practice still followed in churches today.
Jesus explained his actions – then normally performed by a slave on arrival at a meal – as demonstrating, in a very memorable way, the kind of humble leadership which would be needed as his followers grew, in the coming years, to form the early church. They would not be concerned with status, with financial gain, with honour. The further up the ladder they went, the greater would be their opportunities for service and support to those less able, or less fortunate, than they were.
In three weeks’ time, we will be electing our local councillors; those who serve their community by facilitating many of the services upon which we all depend. They will be putting their reputations, and their plans and hopes for the future, in front of us, seeking our support. It’s worth spending a little time asking ourselves what we expect of them, and how we would wish them to work with us as a community.
Brian Morris, St John’s Church Wakefield, Pilgrim’s Progress is edited by Nick Shields