During the season of Lent, I am leading a group study on baptism and the triduum at the Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City. We meet on Wednesday nights in English and Thursday nights in Spanish. I am only posting the English handouts on the blog, but can provide Spanish translations on request.
Week 2: Wednesday, March 19
The Triduum Begins: Holy Thursday
Read John 13: 1-15. Then read the following explication of our Maundy Thursday liturgy:
“The Three days of the Christian Passover begin with simple familiarity; the rubric opening the liturgy for Maundy Thursday directs: “The Eucharist begins in the usual manner” (BCP 274). On this night we share the meal that Jesus filled with the meaning of his death and resurrection, the meal that reconstitutes the church in that same paschal mystery week by week. The Eucharist is a fundamental means by which we are incorporated into the dying and rising of Christ, by which we renew our baptismal identity. The meaning of that identity in Christ is expressed in additional ritual actions on this night. The Maundy Thursday celebration allows for the ceremony of foot washing—from which the day actually takes its name. In Latin the word “commandment” is mandatum. At the last supper Jesus says to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus takes the role of a servant by washing the disciples’ feet, revealing his identity as servant of all; servanthood was to be the sign of those who follow him. The washing of feet is meant to be a ritual identification with the servanthood of Christ, a declaration of who we are by baptism. At one time another mark of the liturgy of this day—expressing the same identification with Christ’s servanthood—was a special collection of gifts for the poor. Those who have been fed at the table of the Lord must become food for others.”
- In what ways does this liturgy make the Gospel come alive?
- How important to our faith is Jesus’ command to love and serve one another?
- Have you allowed someone to wash your feet? How did it make you feel?
- Have you washed the feet of another? How did that make you feel?
- What does Lee mean by, “Those who have been feed at the table of the Lord must become food to others”?
Story: Read “Gaining a Dose of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time” from The Washington Post
- How do you feel about foot washing after hearing this story?
- Does this story challenge or inspire you?
- If we are united to Christ in our baptism, and we remember and experience this unification in the Eucharist, how do we express that unification in our service to others?
Jeffrey D. Lee, Opening the Prayer Book (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1999), 88.
 William Wan, “Gaining a Dose of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2006, accessed December 8, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/01/AR2006040100617_pf.html.