Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

courtesy of https://lanciaesmith.com

So many gospel themes find their focus on Maundy Thursday, so many threads of connection flowing to and from this deep source of love and vision, in the foot washing, and in the last supper.

The meditation in this sonnet, is centred on the ancient idea of the four elements of earth, air, water and fire, for it struck me as I contemplated the events of Maundy Thursday, both the foot-washing and the first communion, that all these elements of the old creation are taken up by Jesus and transformed in the making of the new. Jesus is both the fully human companion cleansing his friends with a gentle touch, sharing his last supper with them, showing the fullness of his love, and he also the Word, God in his full creative and shaping power, the One in and through whom everyone in that room, and every element of the world is sustained in the beauty and particularity of its being. What we witness in the birth of the sacraments is both a human drama and a divine act of new creation. Although we cannot be in church to receive the familiar sacrament of this night, it may be, that if our eyes and ears are open we will sense Christ’s all-transforming presence even through the ordinary elements of the place where we are.

This sonnet, and the others I have been posting for Holy Week are all drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA . The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of these sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.

Thanks to Lancia Smith for the image

You can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

Maundy Thursday.


Here is the source of every sacrament,

The all-transforming presence of the Lord,

Replenishing our every element

Remaking us in his creative Word.

For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,

The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,

The fire dances where the candles shine,

The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.

And here He shows the full extent of love

To us whose love is always incomplete,

In vain we search the heavens high above,

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light.

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Filed under imagination

13 responses to “Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

  1. philippe.garmy@okstate.edu

    Fiat lux! Venit Iesus venite, imple me tui spiritus sancti, nunc et semper,

  2. Judith

    Dear Malcolm, it is hard to express my deep gratitude for this beautiful and utterly affirming sonnet. The tears of recognition flow. May your willingness to be portal to the great on-going creative work continue to flourish and thrive.

  3. The fire dances where the candles shine,

    The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
    ~ Malcolm Guite

    I heard you read these words, and saw the water dancing where the candles shine. Beautiful Malcolm. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for this. So many of us will be celebrating in our houses this day, praying, reading scripture, having communion, footwashing, on our own. Thank you for giving us a liturgy to include…

  5. Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    Thank you, Malcolm

  6. I have been using your book, The Word in the Wilderness, all through this Lent, and am so, so grateful to you, Malcolm, for it. Today’s sonnet especially moved me.

  7. I love this & shared it on my Facebook author page. Thank you for blessing so many.
    Melanie Jeschke

  8. Larry N. Beck

    I love where you said that the “God of love is kneeling at our feet.” This takes me to the knees of my mortal thoughts, trying to image this. As I cannot picture this fully in my mind, I thank God, our Father, for meeting us in such humility…His example to us.

    Larry N. Beck
    Associate, Holy Cross
    Monastery, West Park
    NY 12493

    (Member, St. Matthew’s
    Parish Church,
    Wheeling, WV 26003).

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