Dean's Blog

Maundy Thursday: Holy Communion and Foot Washing

Maundy ThursdayThe washing of guests’ feet makes a lot of sense in the context of a culture, where people have walked in open sandals over dusty ground, but it doesn’t easily transfer to our own time. But in John’s account it is clearly more than an act of practical service that would normally have been done by a slave, but is also an acted parable of Jesus incarnation and ministry: John describes Jesus’ very deliberate acts (John 13:3-4) which have an echo of Paul in Philippians 2: He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness….he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. It was too an example of very practical service that none of the other disciples were willing to do, or for Peter, so often our spokesperson, willing to be done to…. which perhaps explains the reluctance of so many to come forward and have their feet washed despite the encouragement from the front.

The stripping of the altar at the end of the service leaving it bare for Good Friday always strikes me as a powerful end to the Maundy Thursday service.