Yesterday I was asked what the word “Maundy” means – as in Maundy Thursday. The person asking had always called this day “Holy Thursday” as in the Thursday of Holy Week, and that is certainly an acceptable name for this day, too. The word “Maundy” is an old English word, and thus a part of our Protestant/Anglican/Methodist heritage. It comes from the word in Latin for “commandment” – because this is the day when Jesus gave his disciples the only new commandment he ever taught them, namely “to love one another as I have loved you.”
Some have also said that “Maundy” or mandate or commandment is used for the name of this Holy Thursday as a reminder that Jesus commanded his disciples to “eat this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of me.” We Protestants believe that Jesus commanded us to do two things we call sacraments – baptism and communion. While we certainly recognize that other Christians, especially our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, have up to seven rituals that they call sacraments, we United Methodists follow the Protestant tradition of only having two sacraments, the two which are commanded or mandated in Scripture.
So this Maundy Thursday has several layers of meaning, but the root name simply refers to Jesus telling his disciples (and all of us who claim to be his disciples) to “make it so.” That “make it so” command is the one used by the Captain on the Starship Enterprise in the latest Star Trek series. After conferring with his officers, the captain makes a decision, announces it, and says, “Make it so!”
On this day, this Holy Thursday, this Maundy Thursday, Jesus gathers his disciples, teaches them a new commandment – to love one another with the same love that Jesus himself demonstrated – and says, in essence, “Make it so!”
If only we would make it so. If only Christians would make it so. If only United Methodists here in Indiana (we are the largest denomination in this state) would make it so, can you imagine how much better this state and this world would be?
Perhaps Maundy Thursday is a day for us to ponder the one and only new commandment of Jesus, to ask ourselves why we are not keeping that commandment and loving each other with a Jesus kind of love, and to repent (turn around) from our non-loving ways (even in the church) and actually obey this one and only new command of Jesus.
Let us make it so. Let us obey Jesus. Let us love like Jesus loved … not just this Maundy Thursday but every day.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church