For the JC April 20121
The Church of England has suddenly withdrawn prayers and a video designed for people to observe Maundy Thursday at home — because of “perceived associations” with a Seder.
In an apology, the Rev Dr Richard Sudworth, the Church’s National Inter-Religious Affairs Adviser, said: “The brief prayers and actions are not, and were not, intended to be a Christianised seder, as the text pointed out”.
At the beginning of March, text was posted on the C of E website offering prayers to be said at home during different days of Holy Week, the days immediately preceding Easter. The prayers designated for the evening of Maundy Thursday were to be said with a household gathered round a table on which there was to be “a bowl of warm water with a towel, freshly baked ‘flat’ bread, herbs, including rosemary, and honey”.
Then the youngest person present was directed to ask “Why is this night different from all other nights”, and the head of the household would reply, recalling God’s bringing of the Israelites away from Egypt.
A spokesman for the Church of England told the JC that there had been a video which was never posted. Late on Wednesday night, after attention had been drawn to the content and style of the Maundy Thursday prayer, the Church’s Liturgical Commission decided to withdraw both the prayer and the video. The spokesman added that to date there had been no complaints from the Jewish community.
In a document jointly signed by the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2019, specific advice was given that there should be no allusions in Christian worship to a Jewish Seder — or even a “Christianised Seder”, which has become increasingly popular, particularly in America.
Dr Sudworth said: “The prayers and readings were offered to help families be mindful of the events of the original Last Supper, and the framing context of the feast of the Passover to Jesus and the disciples, connecting with our Christian Bible texts for this day.
“However, we do not wish to encourage an impression that was not intended by the resource and apologise for any offence caused.
As we prepare for Easter, we would like to offer our greetings to everyone in the Jewish community as they celebrate Passover.”