This year, Holy Week will not be what we are used to. Ours is an incarnational faith, celebrating and relying on our bodies and the world we encounter with those bodies. We will miss the comfort of one another’s presence. We will miss the physicality of our corporate worship – shared food, shared touch, shared movement, shared breath. Some of us will be grieving our inability to participate in the Eucharist, especially on Maundy Thursday and Easter morning. Some of us will be grieving our inability to sing and speak in audible chorus together. Some of us will be grieving our inability to embrace one another.
These griefs are real and reasonable. This is not Holy Week as we want it.
But might it be Holy Week as we need it? Might this Holy Week help us focus on something about our Christian faith that we particularly need to understand right now – that it is not only an incarnational faith but also a faith capable of transcending and transforming the limitations of the flesh?
This Holy Week, we will need to rely on our imaginations more than ever before. We will need to rely on the power of the Spirit – the Holy Breath of God that enlivens each one of us – to join our very breathing to one another. We will need to rely on the unseen communion of saints, living and dead, to sweep us up into the mystery of the Passion of Christ.
We need this Holy Week to teach us how to peer behind what the world shows us to see the greater truth of communion with Christ in God, so that we might be ready greet the Risen Christ in a world still bound, still scared, still isolated – but also still made new.
Below are a number of ways to enter into the Holy Week we have been given this year, some alone or with other members of your household and some in communal on-line worship. Whatever you choose to do, I pray that you will be open to the gifts of this particular Holy Week and that you will feel the presence of the Spirit as near as your own breath.
As we are in Year A of the lectionary cycle, we will be reading the Passion according to Matthew on Palm Sunday (although not quite all of it) and, as in every year, we read the Passion according to John on Good Friday. Both are too long to copy into this post but the links above will take you to the Oremus Bible Browser site. Or, better still, pull out your own Bible and work your way through the story in your own time this week.
Holy Week Story with Symbols (for kids)
Prepared by the Rev’d Susan Oliver Martin, Rector of Christ Church in Edmonton, this story is designed to be told bit by bit over the course of Holy Week. It requires a little advance preparation but is a beautiful option for households with children under the age of 6 or so.
Contemplative and Creative Arts
Prepared by members of the Art and Spirituality Practice Group, this resource provides options for Scripture based meditations and creative responses, including visual art, movement, writing, baking, and music. It makes use of materials you likely have at home and is easily adaptable for use with younger children.
Encountering Jesus in the Gospel of John
Our Lenten Quiet Day has become a Lenten Very Quiet Day as we will not be gathering to read the Gospel of John but instead reading it on our own. A simple pattern for organizing your time can be found here.
Music for Holy Week
The Contemplative and Creative Arts Kit, above, includes suggested songs to sing or listen to (all findable on Youtube or similar services). In addition, our music director, Aude has created three Youtube playlists to accompany your prayer time.
- Contemporary Christian Music for Holy Week
- Traditional Hymns for Holy Week
- Classical Music Selections for Holy Week
Praying Holy Week
The Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal monastic order, provide a resource page for each day of Holy Week with readings, prayers, reflections, and music.
Prayer Services – online or in private
Love is Stronger than Death: Stations of the Cross for All-Ages – 10am
This moving service uses simple language and the hope-filled refrain that love is stronger than death to tell the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross in a way that is suitable for young children as well as their elders. Unlike a traditional Stations service or the Liturgy of Good Friday, we end the service with the (quiet) good news of the Resurrection in order to ensure our youngest members feel safe and reassured as they wait for Sunday.
How to join the service:
This service will take place on Zoom at 10 am with time for people to interact with one another. This service will no longer be available as a recording.
Join the Zoom service with a computer or smartphone or call in to Zoom by dialing 1-647-374-4685 and entering the meeting ID 301 177 504. We will not be livestreaming this service.
Liturgy of Good Friday – 12pm
Set up your worship space with just a cross – perhaps one you make for the occasion by tying two found sticks together.
This simplified Good Friday service includes the reading of the Passion of Christ according to St. John, the solemn intercessions, and a time of meditation on the Cross of Jesus. The Zoom service will make use of a contemplative video.
How to join the service:
Download the order of service.
Pray the service on your own, knowing you are not alone, or join others on Zoom with a computer or smartphone or call in to Zoom by dialing 1-647-374-4685 and entering the meeting ID 301 177 504. We will not be livestreaming this service.
Claiming the Hope of the Resurrection
Easter is coming, friends, even if it’s going to feel a little weird.
Easter Morning Greeting
Join in a phone chain to spread the Good News of the Resurrection with the traditional Easter greeting: Alleluia! Christ is risen! Sign up here to give permission for your number to be shared with your designated Easter Greeter and to be assigned a number to call in your turn. Calls will be made betwee 9 and 9:45 on Easter morning. Deadline to sign up is Tuesday, April 7.
Easter Service – 10 a.m.
Our Easter service (on Zoom and streamed to Facebook) will include some of the stories of God’s saving work, presented with poetry, song, and imagination by different members of our community. We will release the *lleluias and ask God to set our hearts free to soar after them as we proclaim the Easter Gospel. We will renew our baptismal vows and be reminded of who we are called to be in a world that is crying out for rebirth.
Prepare to join in the celebration by setting up your worship space with :
- your Good Friday cross, now decorated with lights, flowers, or streamers
- a candle ready to light
- Alleluia streamers or banners to wave (perhaps this familiar butterfly)
- a big bowl of water
How to join the service:
Download the order of service. Join Zoom or watch on Facebook with a computer or smartphone or call in to Zoom by dialing 1-647-374-4685 and entering the meeting ID 301 177 504.