Maundy Thursday – Footwashing, Altar Stripping

Today is Maundy Thursday. We celebrate this as part of the Great Triduum, the three day Easter Service. We mark the giving of the New Commandment, the institution of The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Eucharist. It is also quite common to remember Jesus washing his disciples feet. These three are all part of the Biblical story surrounding Easter. You can find out a little more about the first two, by visiting Rev. Donald’s personal blog for some reflections on them.

Maundy Thursday foot washing.
The jug, basin, and towels waiting to be used in Maundy Thursday foot washing.

Another thing that is commonly done in Anglican churches (and probably others), is the stripping of the altar at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday portion of the service. I say portion because Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday are all one service. That is why there is no dismissal at the end of the Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services. We leave in silence from those services, so that we can allow ourselves to fully enter into the mystery and agony of Jesus’s death and burial. While we never forget that Easter Sunday is coming, we don’t want to race ahead and forget to reflect on the more difficult and painful memories of Passion Week. Learning to sit in silence and grief is all part of the resurrection process.

Jesus Washes his Diciple’s Feet

In our foot washing on Maundy Thursday we are reminded that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples when they gathered in the upper room. If you are not familiar with that story, I’ve copied it here below as it appears in the 13th Chapter of the Gospel of John.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”* For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Jesus, despite being the teacher and the one you would expect to be the recipient of the footwashing, instead takes it upon himself to be a servant and wash the feet of his disciples. Washing feet after a journey on the road would not necessarily be a pleasant job. Yet Jesus shows his humility by being a willing washer of the feet of his disciples. Though we wish to be in the role of Jesus as we read this, I think we often find ourselves in the role of Peter, unwilling to let Jesus wash our feet. There is humility in washing feet, but there is also humility in allowing our feet to be washed. Often our unwillingness to allow others to wash our feet is based in an unwillingness to let people see us as we really our. Our shoes and socks hide the real condition of our feet in much the same way our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual masks, cover up the sin and pain in our lives. *It should be noted that even though Jesus knows, and makes reference to Judas and his coming betrayal, Jesus still washed his feet as well.

Stripping the Altar

Clearly the stripping of the altar is not part of the Biblical narrative of the Passion Week. Then, why do it? There are a lot of reasons why this is the case, but instead of listing them, I’m going to point you to this article by Richard Lischer. Lischer is a professor at Duke Divinity School, the same school where Stanley Hauerwas, whose videos are elsewhere on this site, was also a professor. Lischer’s book The End of Words, was one of the textbooks for the preaching course I took while I was at St. John’s College studying for the priesthood. I think this article does a good job of summing up many of the reasons why we strip the altar at the end of our Maundy Thursday service.

Our Maundy Thursday service at Saint Philip’s is tonight, March 29th, at 7:00pm. Our address is 240 Tache Avenue, and we would be delighted if you could join us for this solemn and thoughtful entrance into the great three day service of Easter. We will also be marking Good Friday, on March 30th at 11:00 am, and Easter Sunday, April 1st, at 11:00 am. We will follow our Easter Sunday with a time of celebration and coffee following the Eucharist.

 

 

Easter Welcome

This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. As is generally the case, we expect to receive a whole lot of visitors to Saint Philip’s. Some of them will be people who have never spent any time with us in the past, but many will be people who have shared in our lives over many years. Whoever you are, and whatever may bring you to Saint Philip’s we wish to say welcome. Glad to meet you or glad to see you again. You can find a list of all the services at the bottom of this post.

A couple of weekends ago I, Rev. Donald, attended a preaching workshop at St. John’s Cathedral, featuring Rev. Mark Whittall. Rev Whittall is the pastor at Saint Alban’s in Ottawa. It’s was a really, good workshop, and along the way I picked up several copies of his book Reinvention: Stories from an Urban Church, which the Saint Philip’s vestry will be reading and thinking through over the coming months.

Good Friday, Holy Week
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve read through the book. Today, as I finished the book off, and one of the last things that Whittall talks about is the Easter services of 2015, four years after the church plant at Saint Alban’s got started. While describing how that week went, he talks about the effect of having people from homeless shelters as part of their community. He says:

They teach us what it means to be a welcoming community and to practice hospitality. We know that for some people life is hard and lacks stability, and to walk through our doors is an act of courage. They may be with us for a few hours or for a few years. They may disappear and then show up again months later. When they do, we celebrate. One of the reasons we celebrate is that often people who come from a hard place in life have a great deal to teach us about faith. (150-51)

Whittall is talking about the homeless, and the transient, but so many people in our midst are coming from hard places. At Saint Philip’s we hope you will join us. We hope that you will give us the opportunity to celebrate your presence among us, even, as Whittall states, it’s only for an hour or two.

Perhaps you feel that in the past, we have not celebrated your presence with us. For that we need to repent. Not simply to apologize but to make sure as God’s people we change our orientation. It doesn’t matter where you have been, we hope to be joyfully welcoming you and celebrating that you are with us now. For now is the only time we have.

Easter Week Services & Times

Saint Philip’s invites you to join us as we celebrate Holy Week. We begin on March 25th, at 11 am as we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday. We will be including the palm procession, with readings and music. There will be a coffee time after the service

Holy Week starts
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week

At 4 pm on the 25th, our Kid’s Church will also be having a service of evening prayer. A light supper follows that service.

Thursday, March 29th, 7:00 pm we will Celebrate Maundy Thursday. A remembrance of when Jesus gave a new commandment, John 13:34. We will remember the institution of the Eucharist, offer foot-washing and finish the service with the stripping of Altar as we prepare for…

Eucharist - The Cup remembering
On Maundy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the New Commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.

….Good Friday, March 30th, we will engage in music, readings, and reflections on the cross. This service begins at 11:00 am.

Saturday is a time of further reflection and anticipation before we come together again at 11:00 am on April 1st, to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. There will also be a time for coffee and conversation after this service

Holy Week, Empty tomb
The Angel with the women at the empty tomb.

Holy Week, Bishop’s Visit, Baptism

We have reached the half-way mark of our Lenten journey, and soon Holy Week will be drawing near.

This year, St. Philip’s Holy Week will begin with a Palm Sunday, April 9th, 11:00 am, visit from Bishop Don Phillips, Bishop of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Bishop Phillips will be preaching during the service, while we as a parish participate in the litany and procession of palms. After the service we will spend some time together over coffee and dessert.

Monday of Holy Week, April 10, 2017, will be the second last of Reverend Donald’s lectures on Eucharistic Eating. This week we will be looking at the concepts of death and sacrifice in our eating, and how they relate to the Eucharist.

On Thursday, April 13th, 7:00 pm, we will celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper during our Maundy Thursday Eucharist. Maundy Thursday is also the day when we hear again Jesus’s 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. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) NRSV

Following the service we will be stripping the altar as we prepare for Good Friday.

Friday, April 14th, 11:00 pm we are holding our Good Friday Service. This is a solemn service where we will take time to contemplate and reflect on the death of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week, Empty tune.
The Angel with the women at the empty tomb.

Sunday, April 16th, 11:00 am, is our Easter Sunday Celebration. We will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We will welcome new people into the family of God through the waters of Baptism. Following the Eucharist we will gather in the Memorial Hall to continue the Easter Feast.

We hope you will be able to join us. If you have any questions, feel free to call St. Philip’s at 204-237-3650, or email us at stphilipsnorwood@shaw.ca

Holy Week Services

We are well into the season of Lent. It will only be a few more days until Holy Week begins. During Holy Week we trace the last few days of Jesus’s life. This is the most important week in the life of the church. We will be gathering together several times over the course of the week.

Holy Week Schedule:

Sunday, March 20:  Palm/Passion Sunday. Service at 11:00 am. There will be no Eucharist this Sunday.

Holy Week starts
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week

Thursday, March 24: Maundy Thursday. St. Philip’s will be joining with St. Mark’s and St. Mary Magdalene for a symbolic Seder Supper. This begins at 6:00 pm and is being help at St. Mary Madgalene Anglican Church, 3 St. Vital Road. Rev. Donald will be taking on the role of the father in the Seder Supper. Maundy Thursday also marks the institution of the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist, and the act of Jesus washing his disciples feet.

Holy Week Footwashing.
Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus washing his disciples feet as an act of servant leadership for us all to follow.

Good Friday, March 25 : Good Friday Service, 11 am.

Good Friday, Holy Week
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

 

Easter Sunday, March 27: Easter Morning Eucharist, 11 am.

Holy Week Easter
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

All are welcome to join us.