Maundy Thursday

What does the name mean?

The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum;” it is from a verb that means “to give” or “to order” — command. After Jesus and the disciples finished the Last Supper and walked toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught them a 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” (John 13:34).

The Last Supper

On the first Maundy Thursday, after they had eaten, Jesus gave the disciples his body and blood together with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of their sins. Called Holy Communion or the Eucharist, Lutherans believe this to be one of two sacraments — gifts from God. Many worship services focus on the meal and communion as a way to commemorate this day.

At Rejoice, we choose this date to celebrate First Communion with the children who have completed their First Communion classes.

Stripping of the altar

After the Eucharist is celebrated it is customary to “strip the altar,” which symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers before his crucifixion. It represents the humiliation of Jesus and the consequences of sin as a preparation for the celebration of new life.