Maundy Thursday

This post is the third in a series of articles on the Seasons, Sundays, and Feast Days that make up the Church’s liturgical calendar.  Feast Days are those days set aside by the Church to celebrate and commemorate martyrs, Christians of the past, events from the life of Christ, and other Biblical stories. Join us as we journey through the celebrations of the ancient Church.

At Redemption City Church, we plan our liturgy, preaching, and church life around the traditional Church calendar (also known as the Liturgical Calendar). We believe this is useful and healthy for a Christ-centered church and followers of Christ. In highlighting the traditional Feast Days as well, we do so in order to boast in Christ, and in Christ alone. These stories are centered on Him and we rejoice in celebrating His mighty wonders and deeds. 

You can find out more about the church calendar and why we follow it as a church in our previous article.

Scripture Reading

  • Exodus 12:1-14
  • Psalm 116:1, 10-17  
  • John 13:1-35
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-2

Further scripture reading: Exodus 19:10-18; Job 38:1-21, 42:1-5; Isaiah 50:4-11; Matthew 26:2-27:2; Luke 22:43-45.

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) is a holy day observed by the Church on the Thursday following Palm Sunday; it marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter Triduum –  the period from Maundy Thursday evening through Good Friday to the evening of Holy Saturday. The Old English word maundy is likely derived from the Latin word manadatum, which means command, and refers to the words of Jesus in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” On Maundy Thursday, the church commemorates Christ’s final Passover meal with his disciples (The Last Supper), the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Lord's Supper (also known as Communion or the Eucharist), Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, and Judas’ betrayal.  


Much of the documentation for the early Church’s liturgical practices comes from the letters of Egeria, a Spanish nun, who journeyed to Jerusalem sometime between A.D. 381 and 384.  In one of her letters, Egeria records how the Church observed “Holy Thursday”.  She notes that the Christians in Jerusalem celebrated the Lord's Supper twice on that day - once around noon to mark the end of Lent and the second time in the evening to commemorate the Last Supper.  According to Egeria, as the sun began to set, Christians gathered on the Mount of Olives and prayed until Good Friday morning.


“Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.” (RCL)


O living Christ,
this evening as we gather for prayer,
we are reminded of your solitary prayer in the garden.
It must have been hard to break bread with your disciples that night, knowing that later one would betray you, one would deny you,
and all would sleep out of weariness when you needed them most. With you, O Christ, we pray that the cup of testing be removed from us. We pray that God’s will be worked in our lives.
Preserve us from the Gethsemane sleep
and the sorrow of those who live without hope.
Keep us vigilant in prayer, steadfast in trust,
and grateful for your risen presence. Amen.
— Worship Sourcebook


Liturgical Readings

Tonight we begin the Great Three Days of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection,
the journey from the supper table to the cross, from the cross to Easter dawn.
We are followers in his way, exploring his truth, encountering his life.
This is the night when Christ the Lamb of God gave himself
into the hands of those who would betray him.
This is the night when Christ gathered with his disciples in the upper room.
This is the night when Christ our Lord gave us this holy feast,
that as we break the bread and drink the cup
we may here proclaim his holy sacrifice,
and come at the last to his table in heaven.
This is the night when Christ took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet,
showing us how to honor and serve one another in love.
This is the night for watching and prayer.
We give ourselves freely to the demands of these great days,
confident that those who die in Christ will surely live with him.
— The Anglican Church of Australia,


Up on a mountain our Lord is alone
Without a family, friends, or a home
He cries “Oh, will you stay with me?”
He cries “Oh, will you wait with me?”
Up on a mountain our Lord is afraid
Carrying all the mistakes we have made
And He knew it’s a long way down
Do you know He came all the way down?
Up in the heavens our Lord prays for you
He sent His Spirit to carry us through
So it’s true that you’re not alone
Do you know He came all the way down?
— Up On a Mountain by Vito Aiuto