Maundy Thursday / The Stripping of the Altar Many of your churches will strip the Altar this evening as a part of the Maundy Thursday service. Some of you may not be aware of all of the reasons for the ornaments, linens, candles, and such placed on the Altar, or the meaning behind stripping it on Maundy Thursdays. I thought I might share this with you, may it help provide a deeper meaning and a greater appreciation for your worship times. Some of you may not participate in this type of a service at all, if that is the case, you might be interested in knowing a little more about why some churches and denominations do practice this. During our Maundy Thursday service (This will vary slightly depending on the Minister/ the Denomination, etc. but I think, overall the meanings and process are still pretty universal regardless of the denomination) I do not have a Sermon message following the readings and the Creed. The service simply proceeds on to the conclusion of the Nunc Dimittis. At this point, the members of the Altar Guild come forward wearing white gloves, and I take my place behind the pulpit and read the following explainations to the congregation as each item is being removed. The white gloves serve to keep oil off of the brass. (I bet you thought there was some really special meaning there!! ) It takes hours to polish all of that stuff, and the oil on your hands tarnishes brass, so we wear white cotton gloves whenever the brass is being handled. Two live Palms were placed at each side of the chancel on Palm Sunday, they are the first items to be removed. Plants represent life, New life springing forth. During the Passion and suffering of Christ, life receeded and was stripped from Him. It is in recognition of these events that the Palms are taken from our presence. The candles are extinguished and removed. Candles represent the "Light of the World" Jesus said; "I Am the light of the World" in recognition of the darkness following the death of Jesus on the cross, the candles are removed from our presence. The Offerings that have been placed on the Altar are removed. Our offerings are one manner by which we serve God and others. They represent the greatest offering that has ever been made, the offering of Gods only Son, given unto death. Just as the body of Christ, which had been offered for our Salvation, was removed from the cross, and removed from sight, our offerings are removed from our presence. The Missal stand is removed. The Missal contains all of the instructions and texts that guide our worship services, our readings, the songs of praise we sing. During Jesus suffering, the songs of joy and thankfulness are not heard. Just as these songs are removed from our own lips, so too the Missal stand and book are removed from our presence. The Communion Ware is removed. Jesus' Body and Blood, have been given to us, have been shed for us, and are given to us with, in, and under the form of the bread and wine. Just as He was removed from us in the grave, so too the elements and the vessels of the Holy Eucharist are removed from our presence. The Altar itself is in the form of a Table. This is the place where our Lord Jesus Christ serves us as both host and meal at His banquet feast. The Altar is dressed in fine linnens, coverings and paraments fitting and deserving of such a Holy Meal, and in the presence of the King of Kings. And just as Jesus' body was stripped of it's coverings, so we too, strip the coverings from this Altar. Finally, The Paschal candle, which has remained lighted throughout this part of our worship service, is carried to the back of the sanctuary, there is no benediction,... there is no postlude, no closing hymn,... because the service is not over. We will continue our worship service tomorrow evening on Good Friday.