The Queen will toss out a few specially minted coins today as a symbol of charity to fellow man. Of course, she can afford it.
The origins of the word ‘Maundy’ seems to be obscure, but one thought is that it derives from the Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” which many of you will of course already have correctly translated into these words from John chapter 13;
‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall men know you are my disciples.’
The story goes that Jesus gathered with his friends for a last meal together. One of them was going to betray him, another would deny him before the night was over. After all the parables and obscure teachings he offered something unequivocal. He distilled his hopes for his friends into this one simple phrase. He demonstrated it as well by washing their road stained feet.
So many things he could have said- stuff about saving souls, striving for correct doctrine, worshiping correctly, fighting to defend the faith, condemning sins in society etc. All those things that seem to have become the preoccupation of his followers over the years; he chose not to mention these.
So, how do we demonstrate love for one another? What does this look like? Can we or others really recognise it when they see it?
I think of my own community- a loose ragged group of people on a parallel journey. Our love is sometimes tinged with irritation, pride, ignorance. There are often undercurrents that even when unacknowledged leave a stain on our gathering.
But gather we do. We eat together and share lives. In spite of all our busyness, we remain faithful to one another. The quality of our loving is imperfect, certainly less than Christ-like. I fear it might not be convincing to others who might observe from the outside.
And yet- what we have in this gathering is so much more than many others that I know. We have become so separated from one another. Human contact is increasingly excarnate, more like a software interface.
May this Maundy Thursday offer places of connection. May it be a bowl in which you are held in love.