Today is Maundy Thursday, the Thursday in Holy Week.
It is the day that we remember Jesus having “The Last Supper” with His disciples. Some churches have Passover meals on this night, other churches have a very reflective service and afterwards strip the church of all colourful banners, drapery, altar frontals, etc and leave it bare. Other churches have music practices for the upcoming Easter services, whereas other churches do nothing. I’ve been a part of different churches where these things have happened in each one and there is nothing wrong with any of them. My current church is the latter. But the one I grew up in was the second example I gave.
As a teenager I would almost reluctantly, but definitely routinely go to the Thursday night service. I think the thing I enjoyed most was helping to strip the church bare of all the colour and then ‘dress’ it for Good Friday. We left the altar bare and put a black cloth along the altar rail & a purple one over the cross. But then is enjoyed the right word? How can we enjoy stripping the joy away? It is a reminder.
With the events of that particular Thursday night, Jesus was stripped bare. Not just literally, but He was stripped of His dignity – wearing nothing but maybe a loin cloth, I don’t know.. He was stripped of His friends – they all deserted Him, even Peter denied Him three times before the rooster crowed.. He was stripped of the Father’s Love – He cried out to God “why have You forsaken me?
The tradition of stripping the church building bare represented what happened to Jesus Christ.
Now that I’m an adult, a wife and a mother, I miss some of the traditions I grew up with. I miss the ‘getting ready’ for Easter that all the traditions and routines brought. I miss the choosing of songs for Good Friday &/or Easter Day services if I was worship leading at either of those services. I miss helping my Dad with Easter preparation, or even just witnessing how much time and energy he put (& still puts!) into all the Holy Week & Easter services, doing his best to give anyone that comes the most meaningful experience of Easter possible. I miss making hot cross buns with my Mum on Good Friday.
This week has been just another week in the life of a family. My sons went to school and kindy, my husband went to work, I went to the gym, did housework, had a job interview, did some shopping… all normal stuff. I did some personal ‘Easter prep’ in my devotional times and also physically like buying the things I need to make Hot Cross Buns with my sons. I can pine away for the traditions I miss or I can make my own new ones. After all, I can’t rely on others to get me ready to remover the events of Easter.
We will be going to church tomorrow, with the countless other Christians & other people wanting to focus on the cross. We will make hot cross buns. We will have music/songs playing that remind us of the cross and the love that was poured out.. for you. For me. For us.
That will be Friday.
Hindsight is a good thing. We know from looking back at history that His story doesn’t end with the events of Friday. While we have traditions to ready us for Friday, we have more, or they can be made, for Easter Day too!