Today is a day full of symbolism and rich traditions.
Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, commandment in English. It refers to the new commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples at the end of today's Gospel reading, to love one another.
The Gospel also tells us that Jesus washed the disciples' feet right before this. By washing the feet, an act of love and compassion, Jesus willingly humbled himself in service to others, illustrating the new commandment that he was about to give us.
In our worship today, we will wash the feet of the congregants as a symbol of the unconditional and absolute love Jesus has for us and a demonstration that the message of Jesus must show in our actions. He wants us to love, have compassion and acceptance for all, and welcome everyone.
The Stripping of the Altar will follow after our worship as a symbol of what prophetically Psalm 22 foretells about Jesus. As Christ was stripped of his garments, the altars are stripped of their coverings.
The Altar Repose is another symbol of Maundy Thursday. Good Friday, tomorrow, is the day in which we observe the death of Christ. Until his resurrection on Sunday, there will be no consecration of bread and wine. We will use the side altar to repose, to rest, the previously consecrated elements.
Today, we participate in many symbols and traditions that help us understand the importance of what we are commemorating, the essence of the Christian belief, that Jesus died for us to conquer death and give us eternal life. Furthermore, he gives us his perfect love and asks us to love one another.