2020 will be a different kind of Holy Week.
We will not gather in person, and many of us will grieve that, for good reason.
But God may be up to something, even in this strange time of social distancing. Perhaps this is an opportunity to connect with God and each other in different ways than we are used to this Holy Week.
It has me thinking about the story from the Gospel of John, when Jesus raises Lazarus. After Lazarus comes out of the tomb, Jesus says to those gathered: "Unbind him, and let him go!"
It has me thinking: What would it mean for us to be "unbound" this year? What would it mean for us to be "unbound" by our usual way of doing things?
This year, Holy Week takes on added significance, as we journey in the shadow of the sickness and death of COVID-19. But as our Holy Week story teaches us, we do not journey through this shadow bound by fear, but unbound, with a spirit of faith, hope, and love.
With that in mind, here are some ways to practice your faith at home during this "unbound" Holy Week.
Our Sunday Worship continues online in our Zoom Room with Palm Sunday Worship. You can join our Zoom Room by subscribing to our email list. We'll send out Zoom login information on Fridays. Or, you can watch the worship streamed live on our Facebook Page. Find the livestream here:
There are also lots of resources for kids for Palm Sunday, and I am continuing to sift through them to find some of the best. For coloring and activity sheets related to this Sunday's Scripture texts, click here:
Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
For the first half of Holy Week, we encourage you to watch these Holy Week Midrash Dramas created by our very own St. Mark's members!
They imagine what it was like for different characters in the Holy Week story. Check out the full drama playlist here:
The Three Days
For the Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter, we are offering two paths to take.
Take one or the other, or take both!
Three Day Journey, Path 1: The Triduum Project
The Triduum Project is a national Holy Week project Pastor Matt is helping to organize. It will be broadcast on YouTube throughout the Three Days, and will feature the gifts of creative leaders from across the ELCA and beyond as we journey through the Three Days with art, music, worship, conversation, and more. ("Triduum" is an ancient word for the Three Days.) Visit https://www.thetriduumproject.com for a link to the YouTube channel. It will go live beginning at 3pm PST on Thursday, April 9, and will continue until 9pm PST on Saturday, April 11.
St. Mark's part in The Triduum Project will be on Saturday, April 11, at 4pm PST. We'll be doing a Virtual Easter Vigil, with several special guest storytellers and musical guests. Tune in and check it out! Visit https://www.thetriduumproject.com for a link to the YouTube channel.
Three Day Journey, Path 2: The Three Days at Home
Below are some stories, rituals, and reflections you can do at home. For any of the Scripture readings, feel free to use a children's or youth Bible if you have kids at home. The important thing is to tell the story.
Here is a kid-friendly printout that takes you through the Three Days, using all five senses:
Read on for more Holy Week at Home activities...
Maundy Thursday at Home
Maundy Thursday involves two primary images: The Meal and the Footwashing.
Footwashing or Handwashing.
Sometime on the evening of Maundy Thursday, take a moment for washing.
1. Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35.
2. Fill a basin or a bathtub, and take turns washing feet. Alternatively, in this time when the importance of hand washing has been brought home to us especially powerfully, take time to gather at a sink and wash one another's hands.
3. Discuss: Jesus washed his disciples' feet. What in our world needs to be washed, or cleansed, today?
Jesus gathered with his disciples to share a meal together. Perhaps this is the year to return to a simple practice of having a meal at home, just as Jesus had a meal with his disciples.
In the midst of a meal at home, you might also do two things.
1. Bake bread together during the day. Use any bread recipe you like, or use this recipe from Luther Seminary:
2. During your meal, use the following simple liturgy, prayer, and discussion questions at your home:
Good Friday at Home
Take some time to read the story of the Passion. You can find Matthew's version by reading Matthew 26:14-27:66, or you can find John's version by reading John 18:1-19:42.
If you have candles, light one or more near where you are reading. At the conclusion of your reading, extinguish the candle(s).
Holy Saturday / Vigil of Easter at Home
At the Vigil of Easter, we light the "New Fire." Often, this is a bonfire outside. If you have a grill or outdoor fire pit, now is a great time to use it! If not, simply light a candle at dusk.
Around the firelight, we keep vigil by reading the ancient stories of salvation. There are 12 Easter Vigil stories to tell. Read them all, or just read a few. Again, feel free to use a children's or youth Bible if you have kids at home. There are a lot of readings, so don't feel like you need to read them all at once. Maybe read one every hour on Saturday. Or maybe just choose a few to read at bedtime.
Here are the Vigil stories:
1 - Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:4a)
2 - Flood (Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13)
3 - Testing of Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18)
4 - Deliverance at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21)
5 - Salvation freely offered to all (Isaiah 55:1-11)
6 - The wisdom of God (Proverbs 8:1-19; 19-21; 9:4b-6)
7 - A new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
8 - Valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
9 - The gathering of God’s people (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
10 - Deliverance of Jonah (Jonah 1:1-2:1)
11 - Clothed in the garments of salvation (Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11)
12 - Deliverance from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-29)
The final story is the story of the Resurrection. Usually, at the Vigil, the Resurrection story from John is read: John 20:1-18.
At the Easter Vigil, new children of God are baptized, and all of us are invited to remember our baptisms. Pour water into a bowl. Reflect on your own baptism. Do you remember it? Do you have pictures? What was it like? What does your baptism mean to you today?
Read Romans 6:3-11. With water, make the sign of the cross on your forehead, and remember that on this night you, too, are risen to new life.
Easter Sunday at Home
A Simple Easter-at-Home Liturgy.
Here is a simple but poetic and family-friendly Easter-at-Home Liturgy from A Sanctified Art, our friends who have created our 2020 Wilderness theme and resources.
In "Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home," author and pastor Traci Smith suggests an "Easter Sunrise Breakfast." Of course, you can also do this well after sunrise - but consider it!
Here's Traci Smith's idea, taken from "Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home," copyright 2017 by Traci M. Smith, Chalice Press.
1. The night before, set the table. If possible, consider setting up outside on a balcony or deck, or near a window to see the sunrise. Also, prepare as much of breakfast ahead of time as possible as well.
2. Plan to wake everyone in time to be ready at the table about 10-15 minutes before sunrise.
3. Serve breakfast and have everyone seated. Begin with a prayer of your own or use this one. "God of darkness and light, we give you thanks for this Easter morning. As we sit here in the dark, we are excited to experience resurrection in a new way as the sun rises and light fills the sky. Help us to have a meaningful breakfast together as a family. Amen."
4. Begin to eat breakfast together and have someone read John 20:1-18. Read the Scripture slowly and deliberately.
5. Notice the first line: "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark..." (20:1a, NRSV). Notice if it is still dark outside, and notice that this is how it was outside when Mary went to the tomb. Ask "How do you think Mary felt when she went to the tomb in the dark?"If you are able to eat outside, notice what sounds you hear. Is it quiet? Is it noisy?
6. Enjoy breakfast together and notice as it gets brighter and day breaks. Share any thoughts and experiences that come to mind. Ask questions that occur to you or use one (or more) of the following:
What part of the story is most interesting to you or sticks out the most?
Does the light happen all at once, or does it seem to get light outside gradually? What does this tell us about the resurrection?
In the story, Mary calls Jesus a teacher. How is Jesus a teacher to you?
How do you think people felt when they realized that Jesus was alive?
Resurrection means coming back to life. What are some things that remind you of resurrection in the world?
7. Close your time together with a prayer: "Thank you, God, for this resurrection breakfast, a time to focus on you and the mystery of resurrection. Help us to celebrate Easter and to share its message of hope and promise. Amen."
Finally, one of our traditions at St. Mark's is to take family photos at Easter. So, take a family photo at home! If you want, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share them all together.
Easter Sunday Online Worship!
Finally, join us for Easter Sunday Worship broadcast on Facebook Live at 10am on Sunday, April 12. Join the Zoom Room by subscribing to our email list, or find the livestream on our Facebook Page here: