Maundy Thursday at Mzuma Camp

When I was serving as a parish minister in Argyll one of my favourite services was the one we held on the evening of Maundy Thursday. It was never hugely attended but it was very meaningful to those who came. A distinctive feature was the washing of our feet, following the example of Jesus at the first Easter. It was symbolic but rich in meaning.

My experience today, however, perhaps captured even more movingly the meaning of Maundy Thursday. There was no symbolic washing of feet but there was a very practical outreach to people at Mzuma Camp in a remote part of Zomba District. The people accommodated at the camp are among the many who lost their homes when Cyclone Freddy struck Malawi last month. 

In the scale of the devastation ours is a humble effort but a Relief Committee was quickly formed at Zomba Theological University and we have been contributing whatever we can. So we went to Mzuma Camp with a large supply of sugar, salt, soap, matches, soya beans, buckets, plates, sanitary pads, and clothes. Our wardrobes have all been streamlined as we identified clothes that we did not really need any more. 

These are the basic necessities of life that we normally take for granted but we could see what the supply meant to those who, all of sudden, were left with nothing. I will remember this Maundy Thursday for the dignity of the people as they joined with us for a simple service, and their obvious appreciation that they had not been forgotten in their hour of need. 

We know that the supplies we brought are little more than “first aid” and that a much bigger enterprise is needed to provide for the future. Nevertheless, the togetherness and the practical service made us feel that we were truly marking Maundy Thursday.

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