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Note: What do you think? I believe we need to be careful what statements we put on church signs. ~ Bryan

The other day, I posted this picture of a church sign created by someone who clearly lacked self-awareness.

17879957_10155204924134568_315700429073642464_oI had so many questions for the pastor who signed off on this…

Did he think the torture of Jesus was funny?

Was he trying to be cool and hip? (Because he was neither.)

Who was he trying to impress?

I had no clue. But the only thing the sign seemed good for was giving atheists a good laugh.

My Patheos colleague Jonathan Aigner, an evangelical Christian, didn’t get it either. He thought it was in bad taste, at the very least, so he left a message saying as much on the Facebook page for . This isn’t what he sent them, but it summarized his concerns:

It’s an obvious pun, when humor is clearly inappropriate. We’re talking about murder, and not just any murder, we’re talking about the violent, grotesque crucifixion of our beautiful Savior. While these good Baptists may have meant it well, there’s an inescapable glibness in the words.

The church definitely saw his message because this happened not long after he pressed “Send”:

About 20 minutes later, the phone in my office rang. “Hello, this is Jonathan,” I answered as usual, expecting to hear a choir member with a question, or perhaps a return call from that publisher I’d recently contacted.

Nope. It was none other than Living Hope’s pastor, whom I do not know. He had apparently found my name, looked me up, and called me at my office. I was dumbfounded.

He didn’t really seem angry. He was confused. Incredulous, even. “This is straight from Scripture. I can’t believe someone would think this was in bad taste.”

It gets even more interesting from there, and I would urge you to read about their conversation here.

When it comes down to it, though, it looks like the church tried to “sell” the story of Jesus to an otherwise uninterested audience and chose an awful way to get the message across.

They also issued a statement on Facebook Thursday night. There’s no apology or even any acknowledgement that it came across the wrong way. They basically said that Jesus getting nailed to the cross is in the Bible (get it? GET IT?) as if that’s supposed to clear everything up.

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Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, which is described in the Christian bible. The day is also known as Passion Thursday, Paschal Thursday or Sheer (or Shere) Thursday. It is the day before Good Friday and occurs during Holy Week.
Stained Glass of the Last Supper

Maundy Thursday remembers Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper.

©iStockphoto.com/sedmak

What do people do?

Many Catholic and Anglican churches continue traditional Maundy Thursday rites that may include handing out special coins known as “Maundy money” to the aged and poor. Churches may also have the blessing of holy oil and feet washing as part of their Maundy Thursday service. Some churches have a tradition that involves priests washing the feet of 12 people to symbolize Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Many Maundy Thursday church services take place in the evening. Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday” (Gründonnerstag) in Germany, where green vegetables and salad, including spinach salad, are served as part of the tradition. Maundy Thursday is known as skjærtorsdag in Norway and is a day off for workers and students. It is known as skärtorsdagen in Sweden and is linked to a folktale about a witches’ day.

Public life

Maundy Thursday is a public holiday in countries such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Colombia.
  • Costa Rica.
  • Denmark.
  • Guatemala.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Norway.
  • Paraguay.
  • Many regions in Spain.
  • Uruguay.

It is not a public holiday in countries such as AustraliaCanadathe United Kingdom and the United States.

Background

Maundy Thursday occurs during Holy Week and remembers when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper, an event that is told in the Christian bible. It also commemorates the practice of ceremonial foot-washing to imitate Jesus, who washed his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper as a sign and example of humility and love. Holy Thursday also commemorates the events that took place on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

A special Eucharist commemoration on the Thursday of Holy Week was first mentioned in the North African Council of Hippo’s documents around 393 CE. There have been many references to Maundy Thursday observances after that date. Maundy Thursday was also known as Shear, Char, Shrift, and Sharp Thursday. These names are believed to have derived from cutting or trimming hair or beards before Easter during the 14th century. This particular custom signified spiritual preparation for Easter.

Roman nobility practiced washing other people’s feet during the mid 19th century. This practice is no longer common in some Protestant churches but many Catholic and Anglican churches still celebrate this Maundy Thursday rite.

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Today is “Good Friday”. I heard someone say this morning that “Good Friday” should be called “Great Friday” instead. I agree! It is “Great Friday” because nearly 2000 years ago Jesus Christ died in our place on the cross for our sins!

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