On Maundy Thursday we remember the last meal which Jesus ate with his disciples. The term Maundy is rooted in the Latin word mandatum which means ‘commandment’. In John’s Gospel we read of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and giving them a “new” commandment to love one another.
At the service at St Mary’s the celebrant washes the feet of 12 members of the congregation. We share the Eucharist together as we remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples and his command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. At the end of the service some of the consecrated bread is placed on the altar as a symbol of the presence of Christ with us. The altar coverings and decorations are removed from the church whilst Psalm 22 is sung. This “stripping of the altar” symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers prior to his crucifixion.
After the altars have been stripped we listen to the ‘Gospel of the Watch’ which tells the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and the church remains open until 11pm when those who wish can spend time praying and reflecting.