Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday 2010

Maundy Thursday 2010 began early tonight when I arrived twenty minutes before Evening Prayer for Confession. "Maundy" means "mandate" or "command"--reminding us of Jesus' command in John 17 to "love one another."

Confession is not mandated for Anglicans. Father Acker summarizes Anglican Confession as: "All may. None must. Some should." And I'm one of the ones who may and should.

Anglican Confession is simple. We opened our 1928 Book of Common Prayer to Morning Prayer and prayed the first half of the General Confession together:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us.
I then recounted my sins--which I certainly am not going to recount here .

Then we continued praying the remainder of the General Confession:

But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
I could pray only in a whisper as tears overcame me--as the grace of God, His mercy and forgiveness overwhelmed me.

Then Father Acker spoke words of forgiveness--words that are precious to me. As someone who has a difficult time forgiving myself, hearing someone TELL me that I'm forgiven is essential for me:

ALMIGHTY God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live, hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins. He pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.

Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
At the close of these words from the Book of Common Prayer, Father Acker advised me as to how to make progress against these sins, and I took notes into my spiritual journal. At the close of the advice, he advised me to spend time meditating on certain Collects and to give thanksgiving by praying and meditating on an Easter hymn.

Father left me to finish drying my tears and blowing my nose, and I joined him and Alice for Evening Prayer, during which six more joined us for Maundy Thursday Holy Communion which is just like any other Holy Communion service with a huge exception of the sermon.

The sermon was one of action rather than words as Father wrapped a linen towel around his waist, brought out a pitcher and ewer and a stack of towels, and knelt at each person's seat to wash one of our feet. On these occasions I feel exactly like Peter did on that Last Supper evening when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. My first reaction is "No way! I can't let this man of God kneel down and wash my stinky feet!" Then I let him, feeling very uncomfortable as he pours warm water over my right foot and then drying it on a towel. He then bends over and kisses the top of each person's foot, then looks us in the eye and says, "Thank you for your service to our Lord." It's humbling for us, and humbling for him. Father stated before he started that washing the feet of everyone present is as much an object lesson for him as it is for us; it reminds him of his need to serve others, too.

The other difference was during Communion as Father set aside extra bread and wine for Good Friday; the complete Holy Communion service will not occur until after sunset on Saturday Vigil--basically, Sunday morning. I don't know whether I'll be spending Good Friday with the evangelicals or with the Anglicans. If Keith feels up to attending, we'll go to Lake Murray; otherwise, I'll attend the Anglican service.

Wishing you all a blessed Maundy Thursday and a deeply meaningful Good Friday,

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