We welcome you to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and to this service, the first of the “Great Three Days” (in Latin, Triduum sacrum). Our service is in the evening because it commemorates the evening meal shared with Jesus and his friends.
Following the homily, the Maundy (foot-washing) occurs. In this rite of foot washing, Jesus shows his disciples his ministry of love one last time, the ministry to which he also calls us.
This act of foot washing, echoing as it does the mandate of Christ to love one another, remains a powerful symbol of the Church’s vocation to follow its savior in acts of servant ministry. I invite and encourage you to come forward during the Washing of the Feet, even if participating feels a bit uncomfortable. You are in good company. The disciples also felt uncomfortable when Jesus washed their feet. Having a good number of people willing to have their feet washed is an important part of making this liturgy symbolically effective.
Following the Eucharist, the liturgy continues with a procession to the Altar of Repose. Here the reserved sacrament (the consecrated Bread and Wine which was not consumed at the Eucharist) is placed until Good Friday. Removing the sacrament underlines the emptiness of the sanctuary which will be enhanced by the solemn stripping of the altar.
The liturgy concludes abruptly after the stripping of the altar, since in fact, it is not an ending, but a pause; for now, we await the celebration of Good Friday.
You are all encouraged to come and sit by the Altar of Repose in silent prayer, even if just briefly, to offer your response to Jesus’ question to his disciples, “Can you not watch with me an hour?”