28 March 2018

Maundy Thursday (BAS, Anglican Church of Canada)


In The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada the following is appointed to be said before the Ceremony of the Foot-Washing:

       Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ,
       on the night before his death,
       Jesus set an example for his disciples
       by washing their feet, 
       an act of humble service.
       He taught that strength and growth
       in the life of the kingdom of God
       come not by power, authority, or even miracle,
       but by such lowly service.

       Therefore, I invite you

              (who have been appointed as representatives
              of the congregation and)

       who share in the royal priesthood of Christ,
       to come forward,
       that I may recall whose servant I am
       by following the example of my Master.
       But come remembering his admonition
       that what will be done for you
       is also to be done by you to others,
       for “a servant 
       is not greater than his master,
       nor is one who is sent 
       greater than the one who sent him.
       If you know these things, 
       blessed are you if you do them.”

It is a very simple, straightforward, and elegant solution for providing a standardised introduction to the pedilavium rather than leaving it up to the skills of the presbyter or to the employment of a lengthy exhortation from another book in Prayer Book English.   It is also very realistic in its ambitions as it is the right length for contemporary ears trained by sound bites and commercial advertising.

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet
Ford Madox Brown

At the beginning of the B.A.S. Maundy Thursday liturgy the Celebrant is directed to say the following introduction weaving together the themes and Scriptures of the day ... and these words also serve as a good word for contemplating the meaning of this day in Holy Week:

        This is the day
         that Christ the Lamb of God
         gave himself into the hands 
         of those who would slay him.

         This is the day

         that Christ gathered with his disciples 
         in the upper room.

         This is the day

         that Christ took a towel
         and washed the disciples’ feet,
         giving us an example 
         that we should do to others
         as he has done to us.

         This is the day

         that Christ our God gave us this holy feast,
         that we who eat this bread
         and drink this cup
         may here proclaim his Holy Sacrifice
         and be partakers of his resurrection,
         and at the last day 
         may reign with him in heaven.