For my article this month, I would like to share with you a new experience that will be offered on Maundy Thursday, April 18. Over the past five years at Union, we have shared Maundy Thursday together in several different ways – a more traditional Tenebrae Service of darkness and a Living Last Supper presentation. What exactly is Maundy Thursday? Maundy Thursday is sometimes known as Holy Thursday and is the night when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and shared the Last Supper with them. It is a solemn day; a day to remember the great sacrifice that is to come.
This year you will have the opportunity to walk a labyrinth on Maundy Thursday. For many, this is a word you have never heard, or if you’ve heard of it, you are not sure what it is. Here is a “dictionary” definition: A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness and is designed for spiritual development and inner growth. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
To the left, you can see what one looks like. The Union Labyrinth will be laid out on the floor of the Fellowship Hall and will be available for you to walk anytime from 10-2 and from 4-7:30 on Thursday, April 18. With these expanded hours, we hope that many will take the opportunity to use it. I would like to encourage you to invite your friends, co-workers, and neighbors to join you in this new experience.
A labyrinth walk is a slow walk, something that is difficult in our fast-paced world. Our labyrinth will be guided by the Stations of the Cross. From early Christianity, when pilgrims came to Jerusalem, they visited sites where Jesus was known to have been. Eventually, following in the footsteps of the Lord, along the way of the cross, these 14 “stations” became a part of the pilgrimage visit and were incorporated in many church buildings. As you walk the labyrinth, you will have the opportunity to stop at each of the 14 “sites” to read the accompanying scripture and pray, remembering that part of Jesus’ journey. The 14th station marks Jesus being placed in the tomb.
As you reach the center of the labyrinth, picture it as a place to stop and leave your burdens. As you walk slowly out of the labyrinth, the mental image is re-entry to the world you left behind, held with the knowledge of the great sacrifice of Jesus for you. The Stations and the Labyrinth are offered together, this Maundy Thursday, as a pilgrimage, and an opportunity to experience the passion of Christ on a personal level in an ancient, yet new way.*
*The Stations of the Cross version we will use was developed by The Church of the Nativity, Indianapolis, 2004. It is used with permission.