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Families Growing in Faith: What is Holy Week? (4/1/20)

March 31, 2020

Theme: What is Holy Week?


Read this next section as a family:
“What is [Holy Week]?

Holy Week is the last week of Lent.

In most churches, the decorations are red to symbolize the blood of martyrdom. Some churches remove all decorations on Good Friday, veiling anything that can’t be removed in black or purple. Holy water is also removed from the fonts in churches on Good Friday and Holy Saturday in preparation for the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. This removal also corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated.

Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday)
Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday)
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
The time from sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Day is also known as the Triduum, which is Latin for “three days.”

Some History
The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ.

• Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
• Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday), the institution of Communion and the betrayal by Judas.
• Good Friday, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
• Holy Saturday, the Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.

Reconstructing the Holy Week from Scripture

Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover
The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on Thursday. We might call it Friday Eve, because by Jewish reckoning, the day begins with the previous sunset. That’s why we call 24 December “Christmas Eve.” Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. They ate it early, which was not uncommon. In that era, most Passover Seders did not include lamb, because most Jews lived too far away from the Temple to obtain a lamb that was kosher for Passover. Therefore the disciples, who were from Galilee, would have been accustomed to a Passover Seder without lamb. Judas left during the meal. Jesus and the remaining disciples adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and the disciples kept falling asleep. Judas arrived to betray Jesus, who spent the rest of the night being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate. The following morning, which was still the same day by Jewish reckoning, the Crucifixion significantly took place just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:55-56, and John 19:31 all inform us that this took place on Preparation Day, which is the Jewish name for Friday. Mark and John explain that the next day was the Sabbath. Later the disciples realized that in giving them the bread and pronouncing it His body, Jesus Himself had been the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Thus Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for our sins on Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His blood protects us from the angel of death. Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath
Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. According to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, and Luke 23:56-24:3, the day before the Resurrection was a Sabbath. This is the second day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits
On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after the Sabbath, according to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 23:56-24:3. John 20:1 says the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. He does not explicitly say that the previous day was the Sabbath, but there is no room in his narrative for any intervening days. The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the new creation in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

Biblical Foundations:
• Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all inform us that the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place on Preparation Day.
• Mark and John inform us that the next day, the day after the Crucifixion, was the Sabbath.
• Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John inform us that the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week.
• Matthew, Mark, and Luke inform us that the day before the Resurrection was the Sabbath, and John heavily implies it.”


Ask your child(ren):
What stories do you remember about Holy Week from the Bible?
What do you think about Holy Week?


Watch as a family:
Elementary: Palm Sunday and the Passion- For Kids
Middle School: Holy Week in Three Minutes


Use the activity below (or pick another online) and do it together as a family:
Holy Week in Handprints


Holy Week Family Activities to Remember Jesus:

Palm Sunday
In Jesus’ time, palm branches were used in celebrations or to honor dignitaries. Have your kids make palm branches out of green construction paper and decorate the dinner table. During dinner, read John 12:12-13 and discuss the meaning of Hosanna. (It was used as an appeal for divine help or salvation and a way to praise someone.) Ask your children what they might shout if they saw Jesus coming down the road today.

Eat bread as part of your meal, and discuss why Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. Read John 6:35. Point out that just as bread gives us nutrition and sustains us physically, Jesus offers us eternal life and sustains us spiritually.

Sometimes the greatest joy is in the giving. Get some art supplies and create and decorate cards for your family. Either send them to your family in the mail or create them for the people in your household.

-For God so loved you that He gave His only Son, that if you believe in Him you shall not perish but have eternal life. Happy Easter!

-Let the joy of Easter lift you from loneliness to love and happiness. God Bless You!

Send your children on an Easter scavenger hunt. Instruct them to find items that symbolize different parts of the Easter story. Examples: A rock (the tomb), two sticks (the Cross), something black (sin), something red (blood), something white (a clean heart), something green (growing in Christ). Older children can go on a digital scavenger hunt, taking photographs of items that remind them of Easter.

Experience your own foot-washing ceremony. Fill a bucket with water, grab a few towels, gather your family, and share the story found in John 13:1-17. Then take turns washing each other’s feet and praying for one another.

Make a cross out of wood scraps. Ask each family member to think of an attitude or action from the past week that they knew didn’t make God happy. Have family members write their thoughts on a piece of paper, fold it and pin it to the cross. Talk about how Jesus suffered the punishment for all of our sins so that we would not have to.

Take a morning walk around your neighborhood. Talk about how spring reminds us of the new life Jesus gives us. Point out the signs of new life that are starting to appear.

Easter Sunday
Make Resurrection Rolls and read Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-4. Discuss how a large stone couldn’t keep Jesus in the tomb and how surprised the soldiers must have been when it was rolled away.

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