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Holy Week: Christians reflect on Jesus’ last days

POSTED: April 10, 2009 12:03 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

The Rev. Calvin Haney of St. Paul United Methodist Church hands Pierce Hancock a piece of bread during Holy Communion at Maundy Thursday services.

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Today is Good Friday, the most solemn day of Holy Week leading up to Easter.

On Thursday, a number of churches observed Maundy or Holy Thursday, an observance tied to both Passover and the last supper of Jesus and his disciples.

The word maundy comes from the Latin word meaning mandate.

"Jesus, at the last supper, said ‘This do in remembrance of me.’ That’s a part of the mandate," said the Rev. William L. Coates Jr., pastor of First Baptist Church on Green Street. "Maundy Thursday is one of the most holy times for Christians all over the world, where we have the Lord’s supper on the very night that Jesus did, which is Passover night."

The Rev. Calvin Haney, pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church on Washington Street, said the observance on Thursday goes back to the roots of the Christian faith and Jewish tradition.

"It takes us back to our Judeo-Christian beliefs," Haney said. "The Jews had a great influence on the Christian faith. This is the time we commemorate the Passover, where God saved the Israelites from Egypt."

Haney said some Christians don’t care for the sadness of the observance of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

"This is not a lot of people’s favorite time. They want to get to Easter and skip over the pain, suffering and agony of Christ," he said. "It is a very humbling experience for me and others."

Grace Episcopal Church’s Thursday service includes washing of feet, another act of Christ for his disciples following the last supper.

Some churches, including First Baptist and First United Methodist conclude their service with Tenebrae, where the church is darkened and the paraments, such as the cross, candles and other items, are removed from the church.

Often, the congregation leaves the building in silence.

Good Friday observances include a number of local services, including a community service at First Baptist and a service at Free Chapel Worship Center, both begin at noon.

Also today, St. Michael Catholic Church will observe the stations of the cross in a ceremony at Laurel Park, beginning at 10 a.m.



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