Holy Week is the week of the year from Palm Sunday through the Sunday of the Resurrection. This year, we cannot have our traditional services and remain healthy and out of harm’s way. So I urge you to “walk” your way through Holy Week in whatever ways you can. To facilitate, this Faith@Home newsletter is partitioned by the days of Holy Week—so it’s a little longer than usual. Use the outline below to skip around and return often to continue your journey. And keep an eye out for information from Fr. Mark about special online worship services.
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Matthew 26:14- 27:66
. . . When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ . . .
sermons4kids: “Today we celebrate the entry of King Jesus into Jerusalem. It was a day that marked the beginning of an incredible week. A week that would see Jesus cheered, then arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified. But as that week came to an end, another week began just as the previous week had begun…with a celebration.”
Collect: Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: As this week unfolds, spend some time each day pondering the mind of Christ. What is the shape of his compassion? Describe the image of such great love. Finally, what does it feel like, physically, to be so utterly cared for?
Ear Worm: “Hosanna in the streets” by Pepper Choplin; “Ride on, King Jesus“, spiritual arranged by Moses Hogan
Eye Candy: “Entry into Jerusalem” (1320) by Pietra Lorenzetti; “Church goin’ mule” (early 20th century), by Marshall Blevins
Brain Food: “Poem for Palm Sunday” by Andrew King; “After the parade” by Sharon Blezard
Movies/Videos: “Palm Sunday, a kid video (keep viewing as it is followed by “Hosanna” from Maranatha Singers); here is the top five movies depicting Jesus – you choose.
I hope you spent time reflecting on this triumphal entry into Jerusalem of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a joyous time! And yet, we know that the dark days are ahead of him. How do you anticipate and prepare for the dark days?
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
. . . After he [Jesus] had washed their feet, . . . he said to them, “. . . you also ought to wash one another’s feet. . . . I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
sermons4kids: “When Jesus went back to heaven to be with his Father, he left behind a picture for us to remember him by. It isn’t a picture in an album that we can look at and remember what Jesus looked like, but it is a picture to help us remember what Jesus did for us. We call it “The Lord’s Supper.””
Collect: Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: The lectionary readings for Holy Thursday are full of sacramental themes and imagery: (1) the institution of the Passover meal in Exodus 12:1–14, just before the crossing of the sea; (2) the gift of the Lord’s Supper described in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; and (3) the imagery of bathing and washing in John 13:1–17, 31b–35. Reflect on the understanding and practice of the sacraments in your congregation. How are these biblical themes and images reflected? Think about the relationship between the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in your congregation. How is that relationship communicated, negotiated, or lived out?
Ear Worm: “Wash their feet” by Pepper Choplin; “Mandatum Novum” (I give you a new commandment), liturgical music by Luke Mayernik
Eye Candy: “Jesus washing the disciples feet” (1929) by David Painter; “The Last Supper” (1495-1498) by Leonardo da Vinci
Brain Food: “Judas: faithfulness to turning away” by Peter Lockhart; “The Fractal Mystery” by Peter Coffey
Movies/Videos: “A Hidden Life” (2019), a conscientious objector during WWII; “The Martian” (2015), accepting reality.
At the “Last Supper”, we gain many directives for our common lives. We learn about Eucharist, sharing God’s Body and Blood. We learn about the new commandment to “Love one another”. We learn about servitude, humbling ourselves to wash others feet. How would you relate this to the Trinity (One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit)?
. . . Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
sermons4kids: “Because Jesus loves us and so our sins can be forgiven.”
Collect: Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ear Worm: “Calvary” by virtual church films; “King of Suffering” by Pepper Choplin
Eye Candy: “Capture of Christ” (1450) by Master of the Karlsruhe Passion; “Kakindo Crucifixion” by Sam J. Ntiro (1923-1993)
Brain Food: “They took the body of Jesus“, reflection and art by Jan Richardson; “Songs of the women” by Monica Coleman
Movies/Videos: “A man for all seasons” (1966), biography of Sir Thomas Moore; “Red Dawn” (2012), fighting for freedom.
Good Friday is one of the most solemn services in our church year. How do you feel when we read the special narrative from the Bible of the crucifixion and Christ’s burial? Does it make you sad? worried? helpless? Explore all those emotions
Keep watch for a special post from Fr. Mark about the Great Vigil of Easter.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb . . . But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
sermons4kids: “Some people, like Mary, Peter, and John can’t see Jesus because they are looking for Him in a grave or on a cross. He isn’t there! He is risen and is seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven. If you want to see Jesus, look in His Word, He will reveal Himself to you, just as He did to Mary!”
Collect: Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: When Mary Magdalene first saw the resurrected Jesus, she did not recognize him, even though she knew the tomb was empty. Have you ever experienced the presence of the risen Christ, even when you were not expecting him? Are there times you have been in the presence of the risen Christ but have not recognized him? How would you know?
Ear Worm: “Worthy is the Lamb and Amen” from Handel’s Messiah; “O death where is your sting” by Pepper Choplin
Eye Candy: “Mosaic of the resurrection of Christ” (1951) by M. Hildreth Meiere; “Resurrection of Christ” (1923-24) by Albin Egger-Lienz
Brain Food: re-read the items in this post
Movies/Videos: no movie could do this justice
If you wish, share your thoughts on our website.
The Paschal Mystery
In Lent we will frequently hear a word unfamiliar to English-speaking Christians, but one which, if we learn to use and understand it, will open our hearts and minds to the celebration of our redemption. The word is pascha. It is the ancient biblical word for Passover and is used in the Holy Scriptures both for the exodus/Passover event which saved Israel in the time of Moses, and for the death and resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate at Easter and on every Lord’s Day. Indeed in many languages the name of Easter is some variation of pascha—see particularly French, Italian, and Spanish.
Liturgists and theologians speak of the “Paschal Mystery,” a phrase heard often in the liturgy during Lent and Eastertide. Its meaning is brought home by William Pregnall, former Dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He describes the Paschal Mystery as the saving event by which God in all times and in all places saves the human race. It has been specially manifested at four points in history:
- In the Passover/Exodus, which freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, and journeying to the promised land;
- In the death and resurrection of Jesus, which saves us from slavery to sin and death and leads us into the promised land of God’s kingdom;
- In Holy Baptism, when we each become participants in the dying and rising of Jesus, and partakers of its benefits;
- In our participation in the Eucharist, where all of these past events become present to us again and we are active participants in them.
Lent is not a gloomy time, a sad time, or a depressing time for those who are remembering what God has done for them. Our self-examination, which reveals our sin, prepares us to recognize our need for God. Then we gather Sunday by Sunday in the liturgy where our story as the people of God reminds us that God has met and still meets our need. Our fasting and self-denial give us the resources with which we can join Christ in his struggle against evil and death. Joining him in that struggle, we also join him in his victory.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.