How to Celebrate Maundy Thursday
Updated: Apr 11
Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday!
Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the holiest days in the church's life - the Triduum. The Triduum begins at sundown on Maundy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday. During these last three days, we walk Jesus to his death and then to his glorious resurrection.
Starting with Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ words, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. Because of his great love for us, Jesus laid down his life so that we might live with him forever. Like the old gospel song says: “What a friend we have in Jesus!”
Beginning at sundown on Maundy Thursday, the church remembers how Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples. The Passover meal was pivotal in the lives of the Jewish people. It celebrated their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and how God acted mightily on their behalf. At the Passover, God established the Old Covenant with the Jewish people and promised to be their God.
After Jesus celebrated the Passover meal, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” In the midst of the celebration of the Old Covenant, Christ announces the beginning of the New Covenant which is sealed by his own blood. Through Christ’s death, ALL people who believe in him are made part of God’s family. Maundy Thursday is actually a solemn feast day because it celebrates the beginning of Holy Communion and the New Covenant.
We also remember how, after the institution of the New Covenant, Jesus washed his disciples' feet and told them to follow his example by serving others. Jesus said, “A new command 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.” This new commandment is where Maundy Thursday gets its name. “Maundy” is from the Latin mandatum which means “commandment”.
Finally, on Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal by Judas, his desertion by the disciples, his trial, and how he was mocked and beaten.
Ways to Celebrate:
Attend the Maundy Thursday service at your church. If your church does not have one, find one in your area that does.
Read Matthew 26:17-29 or Luke 22:7-38 with your family.
Discuss - What do you think it means when Jesus says that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood? Do you think the disciples were confused? Do you recognize some of the words that Jesus used?
Read John 13:1-17
Discuss - What does it mean that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet? Who normally washed feet during Jesus’ times? What does Jesus tell his disciples to do after he washes their feet?
Have a foot-washing ceremony with your family.
Eat a meal reminiscent of the meal Jesus and his disciples ate. Remind your children that this meal is different than the Jewish Passover Meal because we are not awaiting the Messiah, Jesus already died and saved us. Because of this, Christians are not obligated to celebrate the Passover meal. Jesus has given us a new obligation, to celebrate the Eucharist in remembrance of Him. We are merely remembering, through food, what it must have been like for Jesus and his disciples.
Bitter Herbs: Dip a bunch of parsley in salt water and taste it.
Haroset: Applesauce with cinnamon.
Unleavened bread: Crackers, store-bought matzohs or pita bread will all work.
Wine: red wine or grape juice for the children.
Lamb: You could make a dish made with lamb or a roast.
May you and your family have a blessed Maundy Thursday!