In Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, and particularly Resurrection Sunday, there are a number of things that different parts of the Christian faith celebrate.
I am from an evangelical Baptist tradition. Our Services over this important time of the year usually were solely around a reasonably solemn Good Friday morning service and then a celebration service on Easter Sunday morning. Of course the week leading up to Easter we have, among others, such things as Palm Sunday, the remembrance of the raising of Lazarus from death, Jesus cursing the fig tree at Bethany, and Jesus sharing a “Last Supper” with His disciples.
Other than for the Last Supper, until recently I had paid little attention to the events of Easter Thursday evening. Over the past ten years, we became familiar at our local church with a Service of Shadows – a Tenebrae Service – where darkness descends on the congregation following the extinguishment of a number of candles, all set around specific Scripture passages describing Jesus’ final few hours.
Easter Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, has become something special to me. But strangely it is the word “Maundy” that has caused me to rethink. The word has its roots in Latin and comes from the word “mandatum”, from which we get “mandate”. It means “command” or “commandment”.
So, what commandment is this word “maundy” referring to then?
In John’s Gospel we have a few chapters describing the Last Supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet, leading to the crucifixion of and resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, approximately one third of the entire Gospel of John is dedicated to the last two weeks of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. But it is in John 13:34-35 that Jesus says “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Three words, a commandment, that would do us, and the entire world well to remember – “Love one another”!
After all, and contrary to popular belief and practice, Easter is not about chocolate and hot cross buns. It is about one sacrifice for the world, given in love. So love one another!
Have a safe and happy Easter. If you are travelling, please remain vigilant. Enjoy your break. If you are working – thank you for your continued service.
If you have the opportunity, why not stop into a church for an Easter Service and join with others as we celebrate this hugely significant time of the year in our faith journey and annual calendar?
And, “Love one another”!