What is Maundy Thurday?

Discussion in 'Worship' started by tcalbrecht, Mar 22, 2005.

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  1. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    From a local PCA church:

    Why the Lord's Supper on Thursday? If they're having the Lord's Supper, would members be required to attend?
  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    It's another Roman Catholic holiday that has been imported into Protestant churches, which is intended to commemorate the institution of the Lord's Supper in the week before Christ's death, sometimes called Holy Thursday. More info here and here.

    [Edited on 3-22-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  3. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Its on Thursday because that was the night that the Lord's Supper was initiated.

    The Session of this Church should make the determination as to whether this will be a called regular annual worship service, which everyone should attend or that it is optional. In my humble opinion, when the Church has a worship service all should be expected to attend (WCF 21.6).
  4. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Some folks believe it was on Wednesday. Wouldn't God have been a bit more careful in identifying the day if He wanted us to celebrate it specially?

    An optional worship service?? A mandatory annual worship service?? Either way you're in a pickle.

    Sounds like Anglicanism:

    "Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren." (XXXIV of the Articles of Religion)

    The Session's jurisdiction is only ministerial and declarative. If they cannot say, thus saith the Lord, then they should not speak. Otherwise we will soon have holy water and genuflecting in the sanctuary.

    The decision such as you have described is begging for a complaint to presbytery.
  5. heartoflesh

    heartoflesh Puritan Board Junior

    Why even pose the questions if you are already convinced of the right answers? It almost appears like looking for an argument.
  6. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior


    Perhaps I should have labeled it "Where do Presbyterians get this Maundy Thursday stuff?"
  7. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    I had never heard of this, and am thankful I had not.
  8. Authorised

    Authorised Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps you should have correctly spelled "Thursday"
  9. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Do you think Sunday services are mandatory or optional? We only have to show up for Church when the Spirit moves us? Unless a person is providentially hindered they need to be in Church on the Lord's Day, the Christian Sabboth. And the Lord's Day is the only day the church can expect members to come, with the exceptions noted in WCF 21.5.

    You might have a problem with thus saith the Lord. I don't know of any verse in Scripture that says "thus saith the Lord, the Church will have Sunday School".

    But then again, we don't have to have a direct quote from Scripture to understand what God requires of us. We can discern through good and necessary consequences.
  10. D

    D Puritan Board Junior

    This is most clearly a non sequitur. For example, no session can declare "thus saith the Lord" with respect to what is the appointed/designated hour (precise time) of the day for when God's people will assemble on the Lord's day for worship. But someone has to speak and designate such a time. As the Westminster Confession explains it, such a decision falls under that which is "to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence." And the session has not only the right to do this, but the duty as well, all within the perimeters of its ministerial and declarative authority.

  11. ARStager

    ARStager Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm very much looking forward to word and sacrament on Thursday night at my church. Since our church only (sadly) has the supper quarterly, I am assuming that they expect full attendance at this specially designated worship service.

    interesting discussion, though. The way I see it, if you just have the sacrament more often on the Lord's Day, there's no need to quibble about having it on Thursday night.
  12. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    The incorporation of Maundy Thursday by a congregation within the PCA is not the only example of reformed protestants succumbing to the seduction of the Roman calander. There are several PCA's on the West coast that are making use of the Lenten season in their worship, a season that is directly tied to the RC penitential system. It is possible that these churches are using this as a foil for evangelical preaching, but the one that I am most familiar with is not. It is to them merely a trendy worship idea, I do believe.
  13. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior


    How about this, my church re-enacts the Davinci version of the Lord's supper up on stage with actors (including Jesus with huge monologues) and musical interludes while the actors "freeze" on stage. Supposedly looks cool, but of course half the actors look nothing like the old guys in Leo's portrait, so they have fake gray hair and beards....classic. My church is non-denominational, and I don't agree with the practice, (I actually participated in it a couple of years ago, but didn't like it so didn't accept after that) but I thought I'd throw it out there for you guys to slaughter!:)

    Just another reason I'm looking into reformed churches.
  14. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Sorry. I just did a cut and paste from the church's web site that is hosting the event.
  15. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    I don't want to argue with anybody...but if you guys want to learn what the Reformed tradition of Maundy Thursday is - in the context of Holy Week - check-out my churche's website for audio-sermons:


    All I can add is - since I've experienced the entire Holy Week worship services for the past 6 years...as they were observed by Calvin....I have gained an increasing deep, fulfilling, reverent and grateful attitude towards the Gospel and the knowledge of Christ. It is completely awe inspiring!

    (Mind you, listen/study these audio files of Holy Week IN ORDER --- tracing the steps our Lord's passion week and resurrection.) May God grant that more and more Protestant churches retrieve this most enriching worship practice.


  16. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Sunday worship services are mandatory. I think the case can be made from the Bible as it is done in the Confession. That seems to be a reasonable interpretation.

    "As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath."

    You are correct. And I would not require a member to attend Sunday school. It is not worship. It is a tradition. I would be hard-pressed to discipline someone who took his family home and continued to worship with his family. There may be good practical reasons to attend SS, but none that make it obligatory.

    Correct. What are the good and necessary consequences for the Session to institute a mandatory Maundy Thursday service?
  17. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    The time, place and length of the sabbath-day service are such circumstances that are "ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence". No problem there. I would fine it difficult, if not impossible, to make such activities as Maundy Thursday worship services fall under the category of circumstances. The timing of extra-sabbath services are elements, since they are not orded by the light of nature, etc.

    So it's not a non sequitur since it has direct bearing on the discussion.
  18. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

  19. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    There isn't one! But then again there are no good and necessary consequences for the Session to institute a Maundy Thursday Service! I think a Session would have a hard time justifying a Maundy Thursday Service or even a Good Friday or Christmas Eve Service based on WCF 21.5.
  20. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I'm not interested in attending or having Maundy Thursday optional services, but how is that different from say, the services held during the weekdays by Calvin or that produced the Morning Exercises?

    Surely we can't say that only mandatory services are permissible?
  21. D

    D Puritan Board Junior

    You had written, and this is precisely what I was responding to, not your concern over a Maundy Thursday service...
    That statement is, in and of itself, a non sequitur, because the session must (as I provided an example) make many decisions for which they can provide no "thus saith the Lord." Your remark, if taken as you posted it, suggests the session has no authority to speak on anything unless they can speak infallibly ("thus saith the Lord"). That simply isn't so. When they set the times on the Lord's day when the flock will gather for worship, they are speaking, but not with a "thus saith the Lord." Nonetheless, members are expected to gather at the stated, appointed times for worship. Again, I am not addressing Maundy Thursday services.

  22. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Since my original comment was only given in the context of the Maundy Thursday service, and not in the context of something like whether the Sunday service should be at 10 am or 11 am, I don't see how it can be confusing or a non sequitur.

    Is someone really trying to argue that calling a special service one day a year and labeling it "Maundy Thursday" is merely a circumstance of worship as understood by the Westminster divines and therefore within the ministerial authority of a local Session?
  23. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I'm not. What I am curious about is how we can distinguish between that and a called service like the Morning Exercises, or Calvin's Tuesday morning worship services.

    Really. I am not advocating Maundy Thursday - just trying to have the best objections answered.
  24. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know the nature of Calvin's mid week services other than he preached the word.

    But the question for a Presbyterian would be, what biblically or confessionally would suggest that a Session can institute such services? (And for the record I'm not talking about the sort of "thanksgivings upon special occasions" services envisioned in WCF XXI:5.)

    Are we permitted to serve the Lord's Supper at a non-mandatory service?

    Are we permitted to move the Lord's Supper from Sunday to Maundy Thursday?

    Are we permitted to schedule regular annual services and give them special names?

    Are we permitted to make additional services either de facto or de jure mandatory? I would think that scheduling the Lord's Supper on Thurdsay makes it de facto mandatory.

    I don't think these questions get asked. I think it's as much tradition as anything else today.
  25. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    I'll have to check into it, Fred, but I think the difference is based on Maundy Thursday being a part of Holy Week - and the specialness of the marking these moments in Redemptive history: (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday.) Our church will be presenting a "lessons & carols" sort of liturgy to serve as catechetical worship. (This is not to be confused with a re-enactment in an entertainment sense.) The Supper is served during Maundy Thursday service, btw.



    [Edited on 3-25-2005 by Robin]
  26. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    I agree that these questions don't get asked at all, especially at the Session level. I also agree that it is either tradition or herd mentality for having these extra-biblical services. Growing up in Presbyterian Churches, I found it to be the norm to have a Maundy Thursday Service and at least a Christmas Eve Candle Light Service. But I believe that if we don't start questioning these services, we will end up going down the same road the PCUSA went and start recognizing the Lenten Season and having Ash Wednesday Services.

    I don't see anything in Scripture or the Standards that would allow for a regular worship service (excluding WCF 21.5 exceptions) with or without the sacraments, being held other than the Lord's Day.

    But I do think that Robin's comments highlights one of the differences between the URC and the 3FU and the Presbyterian denominations that subscribe to the Standards.
  27. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I agree with what you've said. I would just say that in this regard we are already going down the road traveled by the PCUSA.

    The last point is well taken. I fact I've read material from the Christian Reformed Church specifically denying that they subscribe to what Presbyterians call the regulative principle of worship.
  28. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Boy, you've got that right, Tom!

    The real problem is they're neglecting the Gospel...if we forget to uphold the "public placarding of Christ" each Lord's Day - preaching Christ, alone, from the pulpit....there will always be a slide in a bad direction.

    Btw, our Holy Week services have a cohesiveness that points to Christ at each turn. The theology is tight, focused and in the hands of a pastor who will not capitulate to cultural trends. Sadly, this is not frequently the case....too many pastors are either unsupported; confused; and just plain lazy or heretical. The point is, Maundy Thursday - like Easter and/or Christmas "anniversaries" are (and can be) useful to proclaim the knowledge of Christ to both the congregation and visitors (unbelievers) IF done with the right theology - and heart for the Gospel.
  29. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    I am sure that does an excellent job of preaching the gospel during these services. The question is does Scripture allow for the calling of regular Worship services other than on the Lord's Day and are members of the church expected to attend?

    The URC and other Dutch Reformed Churches subscribes to the 3FU while the PCA and the OPC subscribe to the Westminster Standards. (assuming I remember this correctly) The Continental Confessions differ from the Standards in this area.
  30. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    We do hold to the standards - however we are not "legalistic" about church attendence -- even about the Lord's Day. To recap, these "special" services are during Holy Week, Advent and Thanksgiving...these services are catechetical and are definitely not imposed upon the congregation to be attended. (Many of our husbands need to work on Sunday, btw, and therefore attend other services during the week.) A bible study is a "worship service" btw.

    Christ IS the Sabbath. There is true freedom in Christ about worship practices. If we begin to emphasize requirements that we must worship on certain days "or else"...do we not then act like the Judaizers? If we truly receive Christ and R E S T in Him --- then our attitude about the Sabbath will truly be one of resting IN Him. Attending church is about receiving Christ's benefits so we may have the strength to sojourn in the "desert" before a watching, unbelieving world that we are His.

    To anyone about to jump on my case --- remember, I'm bound to vows under our Confessions....so I do know the guardrails that must be kept in place theologically - with that in mind, I speak.

    Christ's burden is light.

    :2cents: :worms:


    [Edited on 3-25-2005 by Robin]
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