CELEBRATING HOLY WEEK AS MORMONS


NOTE:

A year ago, after listening to a Mormon Matters podcast series about the different Easter traditions, my bishop asked if I would do some research into the different  Holy Week traditions and give a proposal to the Ward Council of what our ward could do to celebrate Holy Week.  I did a lot of reading as well as met with a Catholic Priest, corresponded with an Episcopalian and Methodist priest, corresponded with a Jewish Rabbi and finally meet with the Executive Director of the Rabbi’s temple, all in preparation for my presentation.  

The following is an attempt to reproduce the handout that was given to the ward members after I gave a presentation of what our ward would be doing to celebrate Holy Week.   This was a group effort of our Ward Council, the two men that made the handouts (the original handouts are way more beautiful than my copy and past job here), my bishop, and finally me.  I hope you all will appreciate the love and time and effort that my ward has put into the preparation of celebrating Holy Week as a ward family.

I have posted this as a blog post for three reasons:

1. When I shared with the permabloggers  at Rational Faiths what my ward was doing, they thought I should take the handout and make it a blog post

2. Perhaps this will be a starting point for a good conversation with your ward about what can be done to better celebrate the Easter Season

3. Make you all jealous of how awesome the Medford 4th Ward of the Central Point, Oregon Stake is.

 

WHAT ISimages

HOLY WEEK?

Holy Week is the week, starting with the Sunday before Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ last week of his mortal ministry and his death and resurrection.

AS A WARD

SUNDAY, MARCH 30:

The primary Children will be making palm leaves for the entire ward in preparation for Palm Sunday.

PALM SUNDAY

SUNDAY, APRIL 13:

tumblr_lsf3l1uahD1qzdr99The Sunday before Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ last en- trance into Jerusalem. The reason it is called Palm Sunday is because it is marked by Christian congregations waving palm fronds in the air in memory of Jesus’ disciples laying down tree branches in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Anciently, palms were a symbol of royalty.

Usually when a congregation waves the palm fronds in the air, they shout something in unison.

On Palm Sunday, the ward will meet outside, on the east side of the building, 20 minutes before Sacrament Meeting starts. Everyone will pick up the palm fronds made by the Primary children.

After everyone has a palm frond in hand, a Primary child will read a scripture. After the scripture reading, the entire congregation will wave the palm fronds in unison while shouting out-loud:

“Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the Highest.”

(Matthew 21:9)

In some traditions this is especially powerful because normally the word Hosanna is used during their worship services. However, starting with Ash Wednesday (which marks the beginning of Lent – this year it was on March 5), the word Hosanna is never spoken until Palm Sunday. That is forty days without using a word that is normally used in their services. Think of a word that we use a lot in our meetings that is important to us, such as prophet, and then not using it for forty days. After the forty days are over, not only do we use the word again, but we shout it. Very powerful!!

Many families will take the palm fronds home and hang them in a prominent place to remind them that it is Holy Week. We invite you to do the same.

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MONDAY, APRIL 14:

(this year Passover begins on this day)

Below you will find an outline for a Family Home Evening lesson that goes over Jesus’ last week in Jerusa- lem, His death, and triumphant resurrection.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15 & WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16:

Traditionally it is believed that Jesus taught in the temple for the last time on Monday through Wednesday. To help the ward remember this, the following has been scheduled:

TUESDAY, APRIL 15:

Youth temple trip to do baptisms.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16:

Adult temple session

THURSDAY, APRIL 17:

(Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday)

Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning commandment. It refers to Jesus’ command- ment to his Apostles during the Last Supper:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”

(John 13:34)

Holy Thursday is the day we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.

The ward will meet together Thursday evening to celebrate a Passover Meal (called the Seder Meal) together. This will help us, as a ward, to contextualize The Lord’s Supper. The Seder Meal will be led by Ayala Zonnenschein of the Havurah Shir Hadash Synagogue.

This will be followed by a scripture reading from one of the Primary children.

In many congregations, members will wash each other’s feet in remembrance of Jesus washing His Apostles’ feet (see John 13:4). In some Christian con- gregations, the priest will wash the feet of twelve of its parishioners, representing the Twelve Apostles. Some traditions will bless the different types of oils they use in their different ceremonies.

In our faith tradition, the different Priesthood Quo- rums will sometimes consecrate a larger container of oil and then divide it among its different quorum members. As a ward family, we will do this on Holy Thursday after the Primary child does the scripture reading. Consecrating the oil will also remind us of the oil with which Jesus was anointed by Mary (see John 12:3).

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FRIDAY, APRIL 18:

(Good Friday)

The word good comes from the traditional goode meaning “holy.” This is the day on which Jesus was crucified.

In this pamphlet, a lesson has been provided that can be used in the homes of our ward.

SATURDAY, APRIL 19:

(Holy Saturday)

Many traditions have a Saturday Vigil which is quite powerful. It is a day in which Christians remember the faithful women who approached Jesus’ tomb in love and prayer. It is a quiet day in which we might open ourselves to be strengthened in faithfulness and patience. The Easter Vigil is a rich moment in time in which Christians are drawn to Jesus’ timeless victory over sin and death that is now ours as well.

The Vigil often begins in darkness (Saturday night), which allows us to ponder the reality of sin and the coldness of death. It also allows us to reflect on the shock the darkness that Jesus’ disciples felt with the fact that He had been killed. It starts outside with a single candle being lit from a fire.

As a ward family we will meet outside the church building on the evening of Holy Saturday. We will have a simple patio fire pit in the parking lot. Unlit candles will be past out to everyone. The first candle that is lit will be lit from the fire. The first candle is then used to light other candles that the ward mem- bers will be holding. This will continue until every- one’s candles are lit.

After the last candle is lit, a scripture will be read.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20:Mary-Magdalene-at-the-Sepulchre.Harold-Copping.sermon-Caitlin-Trussell

(Easter Sunday) 

The opening hymn will be sung standing. It will be

hymn #200 Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

The talks on Easter Sunday will be about Jesus’ last week and his triumph over death and sin.

 

FAMILY HOME EVENING

LESSON FOR HOLY WEEK

Note:

Much of the following was already discussed, but with the Family Home Evening lesson, scripture readings have been added.

WHAT IS

HOLY WEEK?

Holy Week is the week, starting with the Sunday before Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ last week of his mortal ministry and his death and resurrection.

The Sunday before Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ last entrance into Jerusalem is called Palm Sunday. The reason it is called Palm Sunday is imagesbecause it is marked by Christian congregations waving palm leaves or branches in the air in memory of Jesus’ disciples laying down tree branches in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  Anciently Palms were a symbol of royalty.

READ MARK 11:1-8

Many churches will wave the palm branches in the air on Palm Sunday and  they shout something in unison

imagesREAD ANY OF THESE SCRIPTURES:

MATTHEW 21:9 MARK 11:9, 10 LUKE 19:38 JOHN 12:13

The Thursday after Jesus came into Jerusalem for the last time is called Holy Thursday or Maundy (pro- nounced mondee) Thursday:

Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning commandment. It refers to Jesus’ command- ment to his Apostles during the Last Supper

READ JOHN 13:34

Holy Thursday is the day we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.

On this day, Jesus met with his Twelve Disciples for a traditional Passover Meal. The Passover is a time in which Jews remember God delivering them from the Egyptians during the time of Moses. When Jesus celebrated his last Passover Meal with his Apostles, he changed the meaning of the meal to represent his body and blood which he freely sacrificed for us. We usually call Jesus’ last Passover Meal, The Last Sup- per. Every Sunday when we take the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (we usually just call it The Sacrament), we remember Jesus’ last Passover meal and that he suf- fered, died, and resurrected for us.

READ JOHN 13:1-10

READ MORONI CHAPTERS 4 & 5

After Jesus’ last Passover Meal, he washed his Apostles’ feet. In many congregations, members will wash each other’s feet in remembrance of Jesus washing His Apostles’ feet. In some Christian congregations, the priest will wash the feet of twelve of its parishioners, representing the Twelve Apostles.

READ JOHN 13:4

The ward will meet together on Holy Thursday to celebrate a Passover Meal (called the Seder Meal) together. This will help us, as a ward, to better understand The Lord’s Supper.

On Friday, Jesus was crucified and died. The Friday of his crucifixion and death is called Good Friday. The word good comes from the traditional goode meaning “holy”.

Bloch-SermonOnTheMountREAD LUKE 23:32-49

 

READ HELAMAN 14:20-27

samuel

The Book of Mormon prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, prophesied of Jesus’ death.

Samuel’s prophecies were fulfilled:

READ 3 NEPHI 8:5-23

Many traditions have a Saturday Vigil ( a vigil being a festival day as an occasion of religious observance) which is quite powerful. It is a day in which Chris- tians remember the faithful women who approached Jesus’ tomb in love and prayer. It is a quiet day in which we might open ourselves to be strengthened in faithfulness and patience. The Easter Vigil is a rich moment in time in which Christians are drawn to Jesus’ timeless victory over sin and death that is now ours as well.

The Vigil often begins in darkness (Saturday night), which allows us to ponder the reality of sin and the coldness of death. It also allows us to reflect on the shock the darkness that Jesus’ disciples felt with the fact that He had been killed. It starts outside with a single candle being lit from a fire.

As a ward family we will meet outside the church building on the evening of Holy Saturday. We will have a simple patio fire pit in the parking lot. Unlit candles will be past out to everyone. The first candle that is lit will be lit from the fire. The first candle is then used to light other candles that the ward mem- bers will be holding. This will continue until every- one’s candles are lit.

Read the following and discuss how Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus must have felt:

MARK 15:36

Sunday morning is the day Jesus came from his tomb in a resurrected and glorified body. Notice who the first witnesses that Jesus had resurrected?

MATTHEW 28:1-9

Because Mary was one of the first witnesses of the resurrection, she has been called the apostle to the Apostles. In Greek, apostolo means, “one who is sent out.” So Mary was an apostle, not in the sense of a Priesthood office. But rather in the sense as one who was sent out by Jesus as a witness to his resurrection.

The Book of Mormon adds its witness of our resur- rected Lord. But, contrary to common belief, He did not appear until almost a year after his resurrection in Jerusalem:

3 NEPHI 8:5

The signs began in the beginning of the 34th year.

3 NEPHI 10:18

Jesus appears the spared Nephites at the end of the 34th year

3 NEPHI 11:13-16

The remaining Nephites feel the prints in Jesus’ hands and feet

2 NEPHI 2:8

 

 

FAMILY DISCUSSION

ON GOOD FRIDAY

You and your family can review the Good Friday portion of the Family Home Evening Lesson:

On Friday, Jesus was crucified and died. The Friday of his crucifixion and death is called Good Friday. The word good comes from the traditional goode meaning “holy”.

READ LUKE 23:32-49

Bible scholars agree that there was no interpretation of Jewish scripture at that time, that would have led Jesus’ disciples to believe that their Messiah would die.

Contemplate and discuss the utter shock the disciples must have felt when Jesus died.

The Book of Mormon prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, prophesied of Jesus’ death.

READ HELAMAN 14:20-27

Samuel’s prophecies were fulfilled:

READ 3 NEPHI 8:5-23

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If you would like to know more about Holy week, we recommend the following fantastic Mormon podcast with Dr. Dan Wotherspoon. Mormon Matters, episodes 159-163; it’s four hours worth of podcast discussing the different traditions surrounding Holy Week.

http://mormonmatters.org/2013/03/12/159-163-an-easter-primer/

Michael is a Guatemalan-American Mormon living in the Northwest with his family. He is one of the proprietors of the Rational Faiths blog.

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