A few years ago, one of our church members, showed me a small leather purse with some new coins in it. It was Maundy Money, presented to her by the queen at a special ceremony in one of the Cathedrals.
The word Maundy derives from the Latin Mandatum, which means command and it refers to the command Jesus gave His disciples to love another as recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, verse 34. Queens Maundy Money, as it is officially called, are coins which are legal tender but do not circulate because of their silver content and numismatic value. The first Royal Maundy money ceremony took place in the reign of Charles II, when the king gave people undated hammered coins in 1662. The coins were a four penny, three penny, two penny and one penny piece.
Today, those who receive Royal Maundy Money, are men and women in the older age bracket, who are chosen because of their Christian service they have given to the Church and to the community. The ceremony takes place once a year at Maundy Thursday and there are as many recipients as there are years in the sovereign’s age. At the ceremony, the queen gives each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins, while a white one contains the silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the queen’s age.
The ceremony is a symbol of the queen her role to serve the people and is based on the command Jesus gave to His disciples to love another. Jesus not only gave this command, but He also showed them what He meant by washing the feet of His disciples. The ritual of washing feet before dinner was normal in those days, like washing hands before going to eat, but it was performed by one of the servants in the household and certainly not by the host. Jesus however turned this upside down and instead washed the feet of those whom He had invited by Himself. In doing so, Jesus could rightly say; love another....as I have loved you.
There should be no servant/master relationship between those who put their trust in Christ and Jesus gave the example by washing the disciples feet. A Maundy Service in church would have reminded us of this practice and of its symbolic significance. Bill organises this service every year and instead of washing each others feet, we share food prepared by each participant to share with each other before we finish with a short service.
Because this year we’re not allowed to have service in Church, Bill has made a service for us to be watched as a video on Youtube, via the website, via Facebook, or directly on Youtube. The service reminds us all, that as a church we’re serving each other and there is no relationship like master or servant, but we should all be caring for each other as one.