This is based solely on my experience, of course. Growing up in the Evangelical church in the 70s and 80s, the only days we named this season were Palm Sunday (and how much more amazing is it to walk waving palm branches in Missouri than in California–I’m just saying) and Easter. In the 90s the Evangelicals started giving a nod to Good Friday and even having occasional services, but the rest of the days were still blank.
ComputerGuy and I have been attending mainline churches since we got married, and a couple years ago we were joking about Holy Week and what Saturday is called. We came up with Hell Saturday or Hades Saturday or Death Saturday. It turns out it’s merely Holy Saturday. Whatever.
This year I learned a new one. This is from RevGalBlogPals: “Spy Wednesday is an old and uncommon name for the Wednesday of Holy Week, which commemorates Judas’ agreement to betray Jesus.” It’s Spy Wednesday! How cool is that? Okay, maybe it’s not so cool because it is commemorating Judas’ betrayal, but still. What would a church service based just on the name of the day look like? Or should we stay home and watch James Bond movies?
And tomorrow is Maundy Thursday. I started wondering what that even meant. I looked up Maundy in a couple of sources and it just said that it refers to Maundy Thursday, the Thursday in Holy Week that commemorates the foot washing and institution of the Lord’s Supper. I knew that. It took a little digging to find the actual origin of the word. It comes from the words of Jesus after he has shown his disciples what it means to be a servant (the foot washing) and what it means to be a community (the Lord’s Supper). He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you: you also are to love one another” (John 14:34 ESV). The Latin for “new commandment” is “mandatum novum” and this was part of a hymn that was sung in Latin after the caremony. The ceremony became known as the Mandatum which in old French was Mandé which became Maundy (from worldwidewords.org). So Maundy Thursday is about Christ’s commandment, and Christ’s commandment was this: Love one another.