If you want to see what religious freedom looks like, you are reading it at this moment. Freedom of religion means I may express my beliefs in the way I wish. You may do the same. Don’t like what I have to say? Don’t read it. You believe something different? Fantastic. You are free to express yourself as you wish. Please do so.
Maundy Thursday was a complex, messy day for Jesus.
At the Passover dinner, he gave the apostles long instruction, to include a lengthy description of the new command to love one another. That command is where the Maundy comes from in Maundy Thursday – command Thursday.
During the dinner he instituted the Lord’s Supper, referred to as the eucharist, or holy communion. The instructions are:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (NIV)
He did this weird washing of the feet thing, a task that was routinely done only by the lowest of servants.
After the dinner, Jesus and the apostles went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.
While there, the betrayal by Judas was completed and Jesus was arrested. He was subject to a kangaroo court of a trial which repeatedly, flagrantly violated Jewish law. (That is a topic for another day.)
There were trials by Pilate, Herod, and again by Pilate before the scourging, the cross, and the tomb. That is tomorrow’s story.
The events of Maundy Thursday are told in a mournful song, Go to Dark Gethsemane. The dark melody is appropriate for the day. The dark lyrics accurately tell the story of the journey from Gethsemane, to the trials, the cross at Calvary, and the tomb.
Yet the song leaves us with incredible hope in the last line:
“Christ is risen! He meets our eyes;
Savior, teach us so to rise.”
Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.
Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There’ adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.
You might want to read the fourth stanza for the hope that arises from the darkness of Maundy Thursday and the horror of Good Friday. All three of the videos omit that verse. When sung on Maundy Thursday it is appropriate to leave out the hope, because that compounds the anguish of the day.
Two more renditions, one from our brothers and sisters in Nairobi and another from Lutherans in Nebraska:
Advent Harmony Choir of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, University of Nairobi
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Seward, Nebraska