- Bible Readings (Palm Sunday & Holy Week): Mark 11:1-11; 15:16-39
- Bible Readings (Easter): Mark 16:1-8
- Free Resources: Holy Week Stations (Cross+Gen Worship, NL), The Empty Tomb (Cross+Gen Worship, NL)
- Unit Theme (March 29—April 12): God’s Triumph
- The Point: We can celebrate Jesus, the crucified and risen king.
This has been an overwhelming Lent, and we are approaching Holy Week and Easter quickly. For the first time in probably most of our lives, we will not be gathering (in person) to celebrate the holy days of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.
As I look across Facebook, I see faith formation leaders all over the country (and likely the world) diving deeply into their creativity and learning new skills. We humans are adaptable, and the worldwide context has changed indeed. As someone who is not responsible for arranging worship or other faith formation events, I honor you and thank you.
While the stories of Holy Week and Easter are not as familiar in popular culture as the Christmas story, they are the foundation and bedrock of our faith. The significance of these events, the substance of the gospel, begins at the end. It is the resurrection of a first-century Jewish man that brings his person, life, and work into the spotlight and the world stage. And this is not just a resuscitation as can happen in the world. This is a person who was truly dead, coming back to life transformed. This is world-changing.
In the Light…
In truth, the resurrection does not make Jesus significant, it is proof that he is significant. But, from our perspective, that is where it begins.
- In the light of the resurrection, we see that Jesus’ death was not just the sad, painful death of one of the many who opposed Roman oppression.
- In the light of the resurrection and crucifixion, we see that Jesus’ lordship is universal, and the radical significance of his washing of the disciples’ feet and the sharing of a final meal.
- In the light of the resurrection and crucifixion, we see the beauty and irony of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The messiah the people are celebrating is different than the messiah they have.
It is the resurrection that informs our understanding of Jesus’ life, work, birth, and all that comes before. We are a resurrection people.
New and Old
The typical conundrum that faith formation leaders confront this time of year is how to balance the beloved and meaningful traditions of this holiest of weeks with a new perspective, something to catch people’s attention and help them hear the good news in a new way.
This year, the conundrum is instead the logistics of worship at a faithful, safe distance. The new threatens to overwhelm the familiar. Sadly, I have no special insight into how to make this all work. What I can suggest is to see this as an opportunity to engage worshippers and students in faith formation in a new way. Done well, this difficult situation will connect families (households) as the basic building block of faith formation, where it all begins. And it provides congregations with the push to create a virtual space for forming faith.
But we need to remember in this time of crisis and response, that in the light of the resurrection, all things are new.
Since I am covering Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter in one post, I am providing two free activities this week. Both have undergone some of the same adaptations you have been doing to allow the activities to be done in homes and online.
For Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we have an activity called “Holy Week Stations” from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship (Narrative Lectionary) product. This is inspired by the traditional stations of the cross. These stations can be done in homes with simple supplies. The seven stations can be set up at one time for a full circuit, or participants can do one per day from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday. Depending upon your technological abilities, you might be able to adapt the stations so worshippers can do this together online.
The second activity is for Easter itself, also from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship (NL) product. In “The Empty Tomb,” worshippers work together to create still scenes illustrating the resurrection story in Mark. This can be done online as a part of a participatory service or within the home. Note: both resources are combined into one ZIP file, so each link above downloads the same file.
No matter what, we are a resurrection people. We know that darkness does come, but it is always followed by the light of God.
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
New Blog Series
I have started another brief blog series directed specifically for laypeople, The Church at Home. Through this blog series, we are providing our Living the Word: Sharing God’s Story @ Home devotional bulletin inserts for free, along with a brief blog reflection each week. Please share the weekly link with your congregations.
Our Living the Word (Narrative Lectionary) resources for 2020-2021 are now available to order. On our website, you can find more information for our Year 3 (2020-2021) products and see our current release schedule. The 2020-2021 Narrative Lectionary Planning Tool is also available for download.
We are also excited to announce that we are introducing our first product for the Revised Common Lectionary, a Cross+Gen Education curriculum inspired by our Narrative Lectionary Cross+Gen Education product. More information coming soon!
If you would like to know more about our perspectives on faith formation and cross+gen ministry, you can check out the following links:
- Faith Formation: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Faith Formation? series.
- Cross+Gen Ministry: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Cross+Gen Ministry? series.
- Narrative Lectionary: Frequently Asked Questions
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our complete Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!