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Maundy Thursday – A day to wash our hands?

Maundy Thursday – A day to wash our hands?

Today Christians all over the world are ceremoniously washing each other’s feet, but apparently some congregations have altered this ancient practice to make it about washing hands instead.


At ECF Vital Practices, Lisa Meeder Turnbull writes about the implications of turning our focus from Jesus’ humble act of service into a reflection on Pilate’s act of hand-washing:

I confess that I scoffed when I first heard of this …But now I’m having second thoughts. Maybe there’s something to this hand washing thing, this Pilate thing.

What if we were to approach this as a moment of truth-telling? What if we could take a hard look at ourselves and admit that we all too often do wash our hands of it, whatever “it” may be….

…I wish we had better health care for everyone, but what can I do? It is what it is.

…I hate seeing so many people come to the end of their unemployment benefits, but what can I do? At least we support the food pantry.

…I know that child is in a bad situation, but my hands are tied.:

…I wish we had better health care for everyone, but what can I do? It is what it is.

Read her full post here. What do you think of the idea of washing our hands instead of our feet on this day?

Along more traditional lines, the pope today washed the feet of 12 young people detained at a juvenile correctional facility in Rome. Not so traditionally for a pope, the 12 included two girls. And the head of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II, handed out traditional “Maundy money” to the elderly at a service in Oxford.

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Ann Fontaine

The mandatum is to love one another and to break bread in remembrance of Christ. -- the footwashing is symbolic of servanthood. If foot washing were the mandatum we would be washing feet every Sunday for the sacrament. Actually I think for some denominations foot washing is their sacrament.

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Chris Arnold

The commandment was pretty clear: wash feet. That's the mandatum. You don't have to do anything at all on Maundy Thursday evening, save celebrate the Holy Eucharist, but if we're going to have a ritual about washing feet, then we should be washing feet. In my opinion.

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tgflux

Hey, thanks for that link, John---really gives new meaning to "more Catholic than the Pope"! O_o

JC Fisher

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Rod Gillis

Re Cynthia, "Jesus washed FEET, not hands. That is a point that may challenge us, but so does ministry to the poor. Are people going to do "Christianity lite" and minister to the middle class instead of the homeless because it's more comfortable"

There are a lot of assumptions in this statement. If foot washing is a meaningful ritual bridging liturgy and ministry that's great. I wouldn't assume that washing hands, or some other alternative to foot washing, means "Christianity lite" or an a emphasis on the middle class.

There are lots of people in churches everywhere who have had strong long lasting ministries to the poor, ministries advocating social justice, who have done so without ritual footnotes.

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Cynthia Katsarelis

Jesus washed FEET, not hands. That is a point that may challenge us, but so does ministry to the poor. Are people going to do "Christianity lite" and minister to the middle class instead of the homeless because it's more comfortable?

Last night, we had significant participation in our foot washing. Learning to serve and learning to receive are both important components. Tonight I'll be an overnight person as we host homeless women in our undercroft. I am absolutely sure that the Maundy Thursday experience of foot washing, receiving and washing others, supports me in this challenging ministry.

I don't have patience for settings where the priest does all the foot washing, putting herself/himself in the role of Jesus, and no one else. It is a significant experience that should be open to all who feel called, or are open to moving outside of their comfort zone.

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