Preparing for Holy Week at Home
As we continue to stay at home as we hope to slow the spread of the coronavirus, we know that we will continue to worship apart for at least the next few weeks. For me, attending worship during Holy Week has been an important part of my spiritual preparation to celebrate Easter. Being in worship has helped me walk through the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Some churches have discussed extending Lent to include all the time that they cannot worship together and then celebrating Easter on their first Sunday together. While this is reflective on our feelings, I think it is even more important to celebrate Easter even when we are apart.
Easter happens even when we aren’t ready, aren’t feeling it and least expect it. On Resurrection morning, the disciples were huddled in the upper room in fear. They didn’t expect the news that the women would bring. They weren’t ready for a celebration. This year, our celebration may be muted, but we know that Christ is risen, anyway. Whether or not we even recognize the holiday, Christ has risen, Christ is risen and Christ will be risen. We trust in the promises of Resurrection, both at Easter and throughout our lives. In this time of unknown and uncertainty, a time of fear and anxiety, I find it even more important to prepare to proclaim, Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia! In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia P.S. Below, you will find some resources about preparing for Holy Week at home. I offer these resources as a starting point, but encourage you to think about what will help you be fully present as we remember Jesus’ passion? While we have almost a week until we begin Holy Week, you may think about your plans early in case there are any items you need to get. As we celebrate, I invite you to share your preparations on Facebook or by email, either a description or a picture.
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Holy Week Centerpiece
Just as we use an Advent wreath to mark time leading up to Christmas, this idea from Lilly Lewin uses candles to mark the days of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday is when we remember Jesus’ last supper with the disciples, when he is arrested and stripped. In worship, we often celebrate Holy Communion or share in footwashing. Worship is concluded in silence with the stripping of the altar. Some ideas to celebrate Maundy Thursday: Bake bread If you do not have yeast, you could make a flat bread like chapati or naan. Prepare a special meal This could be even more meaningful if you live alone and have not cooked a full meal for a while. You could even FaceTime with your family or friends and “share” your mealtime. Stripping of the Table (from https://buildfaith.org/holy-week-at-home-family-practices-for-the-triduum/) Stripping of the altar is an ancient custom of the Church. In the sanctuary, the altar is the table we gather around for the meal given by Christ. For many of us, we gather together around the kitchen table and our home has become our sanctuary. You can begin by reading Psalm 22, then gather up religious symbols from around your house. Those that are too big to move can be draped with cloth. Then, remove all items from your kitchen table and wash thoroughly. Leave the table bare until Easter morning, bringing out all the removed items as you prepare to celebrate. Good Friday On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. As we worship, we reverence the cross as we pray for God’s mercy. Some ideas to celebrate Good Friday: Technology Darkness (from https://buildfaith.org/holy-week-at-home-family-practices-for-the-triduum/) Good Friday church services often end in total darkness, leaving worshipers to imagine their lives in the wake of the dark hours after Christ’s crucifixion. While functioning as a family in total darkness might not be practical, there is a way to practice living in darkness: go dark with your technology.
“Unplug” from noon on Good Friday until noon on Holy Saturday or all the way to Resurrection morning!
Turn off (and put away!) all cell phones, tablets, game consoles, televisions, radios and computers for twenty-four hours. (Make sure you communicate with those who may want to reach you about how they can do so.)
Reflect together on how disjointed, disconnected, lost, anxious, helpless or frustrated you feel without your devices. On that first Good Friday, many lives were turned upside down by Christ’s death: Mary, Martha, James, John, Peter, Andrew, just to name a few…For these people and the other followers of Christ, Good Friday was more than just sad. It was a day of feeling anxious, lost, disconnected, frustrated, and helpless.
Ask questions: How different would our worlds be if the Story of God had stopped on Good Friday? What would life be like if grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness were not available to us?
Fasting Consider fasting from your Good Friday worship to Resurrection morning. You could fast from food, Facebook or other things. Use your anticipation of breaking your fast to heighten your anticipation of Easter morning. Easter Vigil The Vigil of Easter is traditionally celebrated after night fall, when a new fire is lit, the story of God’s salvation throughout history is read and catechumens are baptized. While you may not have celebrated an Easter Vigil before, night fall is a perfect time to light a candle and read the stories. A rite to use at home will be posted later. Easter Morning What Easter traditions can you adapt for home? You could prepare a YouTube playlist of your favorite Easter hymns. You could get up at sunrise to read the story outside. As you have a special breakfast, you could call your loved ones with Easter greetings. You could put a sign outside saying for all to see as they drive past. Start now to consider how you want to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection.