I look forward to the Maundy Thursday service every year. Our church conducts a service in the evening, and this year, as in most of the past several, I will be there, singing several pieces with the Chamber Singers. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means commandment. Maundy refers to the commandments Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper, which are to love with humility by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice.
The BIble tells us that before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus “showed them the full extent of his love.”
Christians vary in the ways they either observe or ignore this special day that comes just four days before we celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. But for me, it is a time when I make an effort to look inside myself and try to judge the extent to which I’m putting my faith into practice. I definitely have more work to do.
As I sit in this worshipful environment, my mind tends to shift to people I care about, mostly family and close friends. Today, I have been thinking a lot about a guy I met more than 40 years ago when I was a reporter covering performing arts in Broward County, Florida. At Broward Community College in those days, an imaginative and energetic group of students were staging some excellent theater productions and venturing into the community to offer impromptu street theater and circus acts.
Several of these students became our friends and on occasion visited us in our home. We have renewed our friendship with one of them. Rick (not his real name), one of the group’s leading lights, is today serving the last few years of a 28-year prison term. He was serving as attorney for a company that cheated people out of their money.
Betsy and I managed to catch up with our old friend a few years ago, and we have exchanged letters in the form of long emails ever since. Rick has been a model prisoner, has married and now can anticipate his release and a new life in 28 months. By my calculations, he will be about 60 or near it. As I move freely about in my life, I feel gratitude for my freedoms and regret for Rick and his fellow prisoners and the restrictions placed on theirs.
Rick and I swapped emails again today. I promised him a longer letter next week, after this busy, special weekend has ended. It begins tonight with Maundy Thursday and its personal reflections.