As a young child, I remember the very, very long Greek Orthodox liturgies of Holy Thursday. We called the day Great and Holy Thursday. Other faith traditions name it Maundy Thursday; others the Thursday of Mysteries. The worship service seemed endless to me, and it was about everything: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
On Great and Holy Thursday, light and darkness, joy and sorrow are strangely mixed in the light of the Upper Room and the darkness in Gethsemane. The light of the holy kingdom and the darkness of hell capture us simultaneously. The way of life and the way of death converge on this one Holy day.
It is a portrayal of our very lives, for on our journey through life we meet up with both life and death. We cannot avoid either, though we cling ever so tightly to life and fight with all our might to conquer death.
Here in the remembrances of this day, Jesus shared a sacred meal with his disciples, washed their feet in an act of love, experienced the harsh agony of Gethsemane and endured the pain of betrayal by one of his own. Yes, Great and Holy Thursday is about everything.
The Epistle to the Hebrews wraps up the Gospel in a sacred package that is God’s Final Word in His Son.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
– Hebrews 1:1-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
What an act of worship it is when we remember everything — the central events of the final week of Jesus’s life — on Great and Holy Thursday.