Nathan Kirkpatrick: Maundy Thursday

How should we think of leadership in light of this holy day?


"Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet" by Leszek Forczek

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  (John 13:1)

We are at the beginning of the great “Triduum” – the great three days of the church year – when we remember Christ’s betrayal, death, and resurrection. Maundy Thursday begins this solemn remembrance as we remember the four events of this day – Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13.1-11), the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22.14-20), Jesus’ agony in the garden (Luke 22.39-46), and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot (Luke 22.47-54).

Today is an especially holy day for those who serve as ministers of the gospel. It is a day when clergy of a variety of denominations recommit to their callings by renewing their ordination vows. The symbolism is striking: before we clergy read to our congregations the stories of the betrayal of Jesus by those whom he chose to follow and serve him, we first pause to remember the ways that we have betrayed our calling and recommit ourselves to follow and to serve.

Today, we recommit ourselves to keeping watch with those who agonize in their own gardens of despair. We pledge that we will no longer run away from the cross in our daily lives but cling to it. We renew our vow that we will not flee the suffering of the world but rather seek solidarity with those who suffer and bear witness to their plight. And above all else, we stake our souls on the belief that we are called to bear Easter’s hope to a Good Friday world.

So, today, whether you are ordained by action of a denomination or aware of a calling to such a ministry or living into a ministry as a baptized layperson, I would invite all of us to take a few moments this Holy Thursday to recommit to the callings God has on our lives however we understand them and however we live them.