On the Thursday of Holy Week, also called Maundy Thursday, the Church universal remembers Jesus’ “last supper” with his disciples. Scripture tells us that they gathered in an “upper room” for the passover meal. They feasted and enjoyed one another’s fellowship. The frescos of Da Vinci at the Vatican and of Ben Long in Glendale Spring, NC, capture the intimacy and the complexity of that night.
Jesus surprised them all, first by washing their feet, then by his strange words about the bread and the wine. The former practice is remembered with varying degrees of symbolism and formality by many congregations. The latter practice evolved quickly as the Eucharist, the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. And on Maundy Thursday we re-member both events.
Another practice of Maundy Thursday is “the stripping of the altar”. In this, vessels and cloths, of books and of banners, are all removed from the altar and its surrounding space. And the processional cross is veiled in black. It is as though the resurrection never happened. Death is the end. We move toward Good Friday, woefully aware of the disciples’ abandonment, and even betrayal, of Jesus, saddened by our own “standing by” while that crucifixion continues in other forms today.
In the first ten years of the Advocate, we had neither land nor building of our own, and we developed our Holy Week liturgies in such a way as to allow us to enter into Jesus’ last week as a human being as best we could in our time and place. We said “Carrboro becomes Jerusalem”. And we rented the Fleming Lodge at Camp New Hope to be our “upper room”. Maundy Thursday at Camp New Hope quickly became a favorite event in the life of the Advocate.
Each year we gather in the lodge for a festive evening of Middle Eastern food. Fresh tulips on every table, with a chalice of wine. and a basket of pita. Vestry members and other lay leaders serve the tables, and after supper offer the foot washing. An acoustic band leads us in favorite songs: All Who Hunger Gather Gladly, The Servant Song, Ubi Caritas, and more. At the end of the evening we clear the table tops and then the room itself. The transition is made plain. And we gather in the dark on the porch to hear Psalm 22, stand in silence, then go our separate ways into the night.
It is a night of friendship and faith. It is also a night of hospitality. We encourage visitors and friends to come on over and join us.
6:30 – 8:30 PM. Fleming Lodge, Camp New Hope. (off highway 86, 3 miles north of the I40-86 interchange).
Please come and join us for an evening of food, song and prayer. All are welcome.