A Poem for Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of what is called Holy Week, which commemorates the week before Jesus died (the week before Easter). Often Christian churches gather for a special service on this Thursday evening.

At this gathering, the church takes communion and reflects on the events leading up to the crucifixion (the last supper; his trial; crucifixion). The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word for "command" (mandatum), from the words of Jesus in John 13:34: "A new command I give you: Love one another."

The service anticipates Easter Sunday, but specifically focuses on the last hours of Jesus' life and his death. Often the service will feature dimmed lights and a single candle burning through the service, to be snuffed out as the crucifixion account concludes and the service quietly and abruptly ends. The design of the service is to enable us to feel the shock and pain of this death and fuel a longing for resurrection.

Maundy Thursday, A Poem

The candle is lit. The lights are dimmed.
The service has begun.

As the melting marks our progress
We do as we are told
Among the reading and response
Watching narrative unfold

We see him set his face like flint
Toward a bitter destination
We hear his silence fill the court
Absorbing biting accusation

The void his words have left
Filled now with darker sound
The hint of kiss
  The curse of foe
    The pound of fist
      The rooster crow

I eat the bread and drink the cup
Bearing stains I can't deny
Think of blood he sweat and bled
Hear my heart shout "crucify"

The old, old story strange and new
The weight of murdered son
His dying breath is on his lips
The closing song is almost done

There. Now. It is Finished.

The room is darker now.
The smell of the snuffed out candle
Creeps toward the worshipers.
And Hope must wait for another day.

March 24, 2016


Popular Posts

Why did Jesus have to heal the Blind Man Twice in Mark 8?

In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus encounters a blind man in Bethsaida. To heal the man, Je…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Historical Theology w/ Madison Grace

In this episode, I talk with my friend Dr. Madison Grace about Dietrich Bonhoef…

"The Gospel" as the Unifying Theme of Theology and the Rule of Faith for the Churches

Mike Bird ends his articulation and apology for the structure of his systematic…