Every Maundy Thursday, I am reminded of a particular event that occurred during my time at Seattle Pacific University. My senior year, I took a class from this notoriously hard professor who taught one of the most difficult courses that was offered at our school. For all of us aspiring theologians, this was the rite of passage.
On the first day of class, as the professor dramatically (no joke) made his way to the center of the room, he said to all of us, "Welcome. Your ignorance regarding the history of the Christian church cannot be overstated." Well, thank you, professor. I'm looking forward to this course as well.
Eventually, the deadline for our first paper rolled around, and I was pretty determined to prove him wrong. I was determined to prove that I was actually a church history prodigy of sorts and maybe the first one he had ever taught. I spent a lot of time on that paper. I have to tell you, I turned it in feeling pretty good about myself. I was imagining all the wonderful things he would say when I got that paper back.
I was feeling great, actually; until I got that paper back. Much to my surprise, the word "prodigy" was actually nowhere to be found. Instead, three times—in bright red ink—he had circled the phrase "Monday Thursday." Then at the top, he'd left a single comment: "Maundy does not equal Monday."
As it turns out, the name of this day is "Maundy Thursday," not "Monday Thursday." A subtle, but very important difference. That word "maundy" actually comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means "command." It's where we get the English word "mandate."
That word "command" is specifically referencing a moment Jesus shared with his closest followers the evening before he was crucified, ...
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