At our service tonight (starting at 6:45 with a supper), we will literally follow where Jesus has led. This means that the congregation will be invited to slip off their shoes and allow another to wash them and then turn around and do the same to someone else. If you have never participated in such an overt act of servanthood practiced by Jesus Himself, you may be surprised by how overwhelmingly power such an act is.
This is also the night that we re-member the institution of the Eucharist (communion). As the Gospel is read we become part of the story itself and are reminded to continue to share communion until Jesus comes again. When He comes again we will be reunited with one another, and I pray, sit at the table with the banner "Church of the Holy Apostles!"
After the sharing of communion, are service tonight takes on a solemn and stark character as we witness an abrupt stripping of the altar. This is done to help us get a sense of the violent and mocking quality of those who prepared to crucify our Lord by stripping Him of His outer garments. Those items which we always treat with care and concern, knowing that when we gather around His table (altar), He is present with us, are now treated with disdain. Doing this gives us permission to enter into this drama in profound ways.
With the stripping our service ends with silence. A Garden of Repose has been created in the sanctuary and you are invited to once again enter the drama of this night by waiting, watching and praying in the garden, attempting to live fully into Jesus request when he asked His disciples to stay awake for at least one hour, while he prayed and agonized over what He knew would take place the following day: His death on the cross on our behalf.
Maundy Thursday is usually not the most attended service of Holy Week but it can be an extremely profound experience. I invite you to be present with me tonight (Agape Meal starting at 6:45) as I ponder and pray about how that first Holy Week still moves me to confession and repentance.