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Maundy Thursday*

The liturgical color is either scarlet or white.

What does the name mean?
The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum;” it is from a verb that means “to give” or “to order” — command. After Jesus and the disciples finished the Last Supper and walked toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught them a new commandment — “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

The Last Supper
On the first Maundy Thursday, after they had eaten, Jesus gave the disciples his body and blood together with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of their sins. Called Holy Communion or the Eucharist, Lutherans believe this to be one of two sacraments — gifts from God. Most worship services focus on the meal and communion as a way to commemorate this day.

Foot washing
The story of the Last Supper in John’s Gospel records a remarkable event that is not mentioned in the other Gospels — to illustrate humility, Jesus performs the duty of a slave, washing the feet of his disciples and urging them to do the same for one another. Some Lutheran congregations incorporate this act of humility into their Maundy Thursday services.

Stripping of the altar
After the Eucharist is celebrated it is customary to “strip the altar,” which symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers before his crucifixion. It represents the humiliation of Jesus and the consequences of sin as a preparation for the celebration of new life. In many congregations Psalm 22 is read or sung while the paraments are being removed.

*From Living Lutheran:

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