What is Holy Week?
Holy Week refers to the week which begins with Palm Sunday and concludes on Easter Sunday during which the church remembers the events and words spoken by Jesus twenty centuries ago.
Why participate in Holy Week services?
As I’ve celebrated Easter lately, it has grown increasingly difficult to capture all that Easter means during an hour and a half worship service on Easter Sunday. Emotionally, it feels like too much to take in: the anticipation at the meal on Thursday evening, the shock of the betrayal, denial, and abandonment, the devastation on Golgotha, the finality at the tomb on Friday, and the thunderstruck hope and joy on Sunday. This year we will remember the events of Holy Week by celebrating Palm (or Passion) Sunday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday (Tenebrae), and Resurrection (or Easter) Sunday. Both Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday will be celebrated during our regular worship times. In addition, we will hold special services on Thursday and Friday evening from 7-8pm.
What are the services?
Palm Sunday (10:30 am on March 25). Found in Matthew 21, Palm Sunday remembers Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem upon a donkey colt which in effect identified him as the promised Son of David. Recognizing this, some in the crowd spread palm branches in Jesus’ path while others laid their cloaks on road and the crowd ran ahead of Jesus shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Holy (Maundy) Thursday (7 pm on March 29). Sundown on Holy Thursday begins the Triduum (tree do ‘em) or “three days.” Holy Thursday is oftentimes referred to as Maundy which is taken from the Latin “mandatum” or “commandment.” After washing his disciples’ feet and instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).” On Holy Thursday, we will gather and recount Jesus’ last words to his disciples and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Holy Thursday concludes with recalling the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.
Good Friday or Tenebrae (7 pm on March 30). Tenebrae is Latin for “shadows.” During the Good Friday service we will remember Jesus’ last words, his crucifixion, and death.
Resurrection (Easter) Sunday (10:30 am on April 1). Resurrection Sunday remembers the truth that the tomb was empty because the Lord Jesus had conquered death by rising from dead. Jesus’ resurrection confirms for us that he is the Son of God, that he accomplished the work of saving his own, and that we too share in the hope of the resurrection and the promise of new life by our faith in him.
Childcare, as usual, is provided during our Sunday worship services. However, childcare is not provided for Holy Thursday or Good Friday service. Both Thursday’s and Friday’s services are quiet and more somber in their mood. Because of this somber mood, it may feel like too much of a challenge for parents to monitor young children. I want to encourage you to try it out. It has been my experience, that children pick up on the unfamiliar feel of the service and respond surprisingly well. How will they learn unless given opportunity? Not only is this a worship experience, but it is a teaching opportunity.
As you prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may want to reflect on the following passages and hymns:
Read John 12-21. These chapters recount the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Read through the following hymn lyrics. Teach the tunes to your children. “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “What Wondrous Love is This,” “Morning Sun,” “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” or “Up from the Grave He Arose.”
On Palm Sunday: Read: Psalm 24, Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 11, and John 12.
On Holy Thursday: Read: Jeremiah 31:31f, Matthew 26, Mark14, Luke 22, John 13-17.
On Good Friday: Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18-19.
On Resurrection Sunday: Matthew 27-28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, 1 Corinthians 15.