The word "Maundy" comes from a Latin word "mandatum" that means "command." On this day in human history Jesus said to his disciples: "A new command I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another."
Jesus said this immediately after having showed them how they were to love... by washing their feet. It was also on this day that the Lord instituted the Eucharist meal by celebrating the Passover with his disciples and using it as a sign of what he would do on the next day, on Good Friday. On this night we will participate in those same two acts - washing one another's feet and celebrating the Lord's Supper together.
There are two unique elements in this service that do not occur during a typical Sunday worship service: the footwashing, and the stripping of the altar at the end of the service. If you have any questions about the footwashing service, please see the FAQ section below.
The Stripping of the Altar
After communion we strip the altar by taking down all the vestments (special hangings) and symbols from the church. We wash the altar to make it clean. We turn the lights down. We do this in remembrance that Jesus is arrested this night, and in preparation for the solemness of the Good Friday service tomorrow.
After the stripping of the altar, you may remain in prayer as long as you desire, then leave in silence.
Where do I go?
There will be 8 stations for foot washing at the front of the sanctuary in front of the communion rail. The middle two sections will come forward down the center aisle and go to the stations closest to them. The side two aisle will go to the stations on the sides.
When you come forward, you will have your feet washed first, and then wash the feet of another before returning to your seat.
How do I do the foot washing?
At each station there is a bowl, a pitcher full of water, and some towels. Pour a small amount of water in the bowl. Wash one foot at a time over the bowl and then dry them with one of the towels provided.
What do I do with my shoes?
Before you go up to the front for the foot washing, please remove shoes and socks and leave them at your seat. A towel will be provided to dry your feet so that you can put them back on when you return to your seat.
Can children participate?
Yes! Children of all ages are invited to come forward with their parents and participate in the footwashing. Sometimes it is helpful, especially for younger children, to "help" a parent wash the feet of another.
Do I have to participate?
No, participation in the foot washing service is open to all. However, if you do not wish to participate you may remain seated during this part of the Maundy Thursday service.