A New Commandment I give unto you to love one another as I have loved you’
On the 2nd April 2015 I had the wonderful privilege of being the ‘Companion’ of Margaret Fellows from St Mary’s church, Worsbrough as she received the gift of Maundy money from Her Majesty the Queen.
In the warm up to Royal Maundy at Sheffield Cathedral, the Lord High Almoner, Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge delivered the Maundy Lecture and we were there with nearly 400 other people.
The Cathedral was filled with those recipients that had been invited to receive the gift of Maundy Money from Her Majesty the Queen on Maundy Thursday. The recipients and those accompanying them heard the history of the Maundy from Bishop John. The tradition can be traced back as far as the sixth century, though it wasn’t always carried out on Maundy Thursday.
All the recipients had been nominated by clergy in the diocese for the service they had given to their church and community over many years. That year there were 89 men and 89 women – the number 89 being the Queen’s age at the time. The Queen, as a lifelong Christian and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, honours this service by presenting a set of coins, specially struck in sterling silver for the occasion.
All of us gathered there that morning, heard stories from the Royal Maundy over the years, and also found out more about what to expect on the day itself. It was all very exciting.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the command or ‘mandatum’ by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another and then he washed the disciples feet as an act of service and as a symbol of that love.
How different the world would be if we all did just that. At the Maundy Thursday service at St Mary’s this year I shall be offering that act of service and symbol of love to all those who attend.
Throughout Lent and Holy Week we will have examined our own behaviour and how we are lacking in the way we relate to the people around us, our communities and our world. We will have reflected on the command to love one another and the supreme sacrifice made by Jesus on humankind’s behalf.
As we celebrate Easter and Jesus promise of new life and hope, and await the out pouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us recommit ourselves to serving God, our communities and our fellow brothers and sisters selflessly and to love one another. In the words of Ignatius of Loyola:
Teach us good Lord, to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labour and not to seek for any reward,
Save that of knowing we do your will.