“We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.”
Engaging All Ages in Holy Week
The following Building Faith articles offer an overview and big picture ideas for celebrating Holy Week with children, youth, and adults.
Holy Week, the Cross, and Children
Longtime Christian educator Dr. Elizabeth Windsor offers talking points and approaches for discussing Holy Week with children. Whether you are leading a Sunday school class or constructing a sermon, you will find this wisdom invaluable. For example, one of the most important things to remind children is that Jesus did not die alone.
Holy Week Through the Eyes of Youth
This post includes practical ideas and insights for including teenagers in the services of Holy Week. Cookie Cantwell and Santi Rodriguez, deeply committed youth ministers, offer what has worked for them in engaging teens during this season.
The Triduum: Why These Three Days?
Sharon Pearson answers the Holy Week question, “In other weeks, we gather for worship only once; why in this week do we come so often?” These once-a-year liturgies offer a unique ritual environment for the retelling of the central events of the last days of Jesus’ life and of God’s saving act in the resurrection. Sharon offers meditations to prompt faith leaders to see the Triduum for all ages.
Good Friday through the Eyes of a Child
Children are very concrete thinkers. Therefore, explaining Good Friday to children requires preparation and extra sensitivity. Sharon Pearson thoughtfully offers suggestions to shift children’s focus to the actions of the day (not on the Easter baskets to come). She also offers ideas for how to tell the story of “Christ has died and Christ is risen” for children who may only hear that Jesus was put to death.
Ideas for Worship Services in Holy Week
These Building Faith articles give practical tips and ideas for special Holy Week worship services, especially with children and youth.
Holy Week Service for Children
Elizabeth Rees describes a single-day service walks children through the moments of Holy Week. Children are encouraged to participate in Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem, eat a meal with Jesus, wash feet, and stand at the foot of the cross. The service ends with the empty tomb and the women sharing the Good News that Jesus lives. This service takes place before Palm Sunday, giving children an overview of the actions of Holy Week.
Children’s Stations of the Cross
Matthew Kozlowski describes the basics of a stations of the cross service that involves children throughout. He gives reasons why children benefit from experiencing the stations, as well as practical tips for carrying it out.
Maundy Thursday with Children
Elizabeth Ewing describes an evening Maundy Thursday event which welcomes children and families. Participants move through three stations as they experience the fullness of the Holy Week narrative. Part 1 is a last supper meal and communion. Part 2 allows everyone to trace their feet on a cloth. Part 3 is a traditional foot washing. The evening concludes in prayer and silence.
Holy Week Service of Tenebrae: Props & Movement
Carolyn Brown offers a version of the Tenebrae service that works especially well for children and intergenerational groups. Rather than using candles, her service has a clever twist to include props and movement. The passion story comes alive as the scriptures are read and participants cover objects with black cloths, until the service concludes in darkness.
The Gethsemane Watch: Maundy Thursday Vigil
The vigil marking liturgical time from the stripping of the altar until the Great Vigil of Easter is a powerful time of prayer. Richard Giles offers suggestions for making that prayer space meaningful, as well as suggestions for how to help people pray. Excerpted from the 2008 book Times and Seasons.
Age Appropriate Music for Holy Week and Easter
Fiona Vidal-White, an experienced Christian educator and music minister, offers her suggestions for songs and hymns that work well with children and multi-age groups. Drawing from a variety of published worship books, she provides a set of options for every service of Holy Week and Easter.
Holy Week Activities and Practices for the Home
Here are five Building Faith articles about practices, activities, and traditions that households and families can use in the home during Holy Week.
Holy Week in a Box
Simple objects tucked into a small box, along with scripture, tell the story of Holy Week. Each item in the box is a symbol, representing a piece of the gospel narrative: from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper, betrayal, burial, and finally the empty tomb on Easter morning. This post guides faith formation leaders in making boxes for households to use in Holy Week.
Maundy Thursday at Home: Stripping the Table
Stripping the altar on Maundy Thursday is a meaningful pause in the liturgical year, marking the way Christ’s life was stripped from him by stripping the altar of all signs of life and beauty. This almost-bare worship space reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through his resurrection. Jerusalem Greer invites households to reflect on the actions and meaning of stripping the altar in their homes.
Lego Journey for Holy Week
Allison Sandlin Liles adapted an online resource for daily Lego meditations for her family. Each day during Holy Week they read scripture and created a response from Legos. This post offers exposition and images from her family’s walk through the week as an inspiration for others.
Beginners Guide to Christian Fasting
Professor Jacques Hadler reminds us that Holy Week is a good time to recommit to fasting. He suggests you begin a fast on Maundy Thursday evening, and continue through Good Friday, breaking your fast with light food at 3 p.m. on Good Friday – the time Jesus breathed his last on the cross. This post explores the history of fasting as a Christian discipline as well as helpful guidance.
Holy Week at Home: Family Practices for the Triduum
Concrete ideas from Jerusalem Greer for implementing congregational practices of the Triduum into your home. These range from “stripping the altar,” to taking a technological fast, to creating colored eggs or a Pascal candle to represent waiting, and the light of Christ.
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