Holy Week, the final week of Lent, was full of opportunities to move with Christ toward death and resurrection. The last week of Jesus’ life as recorded in the gospels was our map for church-wide gatherings every day. The Daily Prayer gave everyone ways to engage beyond the observances too, including suggestions for families and cells. Check out the great stuff we came up with!
Palm Sunday: Welcoming Joy (Mark 11:1-11)
We welcomed Jesus to town with palms at our Sunday Meetings. Palm Sunday is the beginning of the climax of Mark’s gospel which we used as our main text for all of Lent. Jesus was being revealed for who he really was. He was fulfilling his purpose and finding joy even though death was on the horizon. We asked again, how does our suffering make a difference? One difference was joy even in the midst of suffering.
Monday: Witness Jesus clearing the temple (Mark 11:15-19)
We went to Temple University (slight pun intended) to make a bit of a spectacle like Jesus did. What Jesus did at the temple was not a fit of anger, it was a deliberate act. We got together in the cold near the bell tower to read the gospel of Mark, hand out hot chocolate and flyers, and sing. There were even dance pieces choreographed as a form of worship. We were putting ourselves out there in new ways as a church.
Tuesday: Hear the teaching that incited the powers to kill Jesus (Mark 12-13)
We started at the Comcast Center, the tallest building in town to apply Jesus’ prophecy in Mark 12 and 13 to our contemporary powers that be. The security guards weren’t sure what to do with us but we moved on from there in several groups moving through the underground concourse from Suburban Station to City Hall. Each group’s leader led us in exercises that helped us to enact our litany refrain, “We’re paying attention. Move us, Lord.” We ended our time together singing in City Hall’s courtyard. The acoustics were amazing!
Wednesday: Touch the Savior who is about the touch the world (Mark 14:1-11)
It got a bit more intimate on Wednesday night. An unnamed woman anoints Jesus with expensive perfume and Jesus honors her despite her detractors. Our time together was quiet and sweet at 3800 Marlton Pike. We identified our gifts and offered them to Jesus using a flower as our symbol. Then we received the flower and anointed ourselves as the Body of Christ, crushing the flower like the alabaster jar that the woman broke and using its fragrance as our perfume.
Maundy Thursday: Share the Lord’s last meal with his disciples (Mark 14:12-26/John 13:1-17)
The pallet tables the crew made for our dinner of Palestinian food were full. As we sang, talked, and prayed we remembered our provision – what God has done. We confessed and received the symbol of the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins, passing bread and juice down the long tables; and we washed each other’s feet following the example of Jesus because no servant is greater than his master.
Good Friday: Endure the way of the cross with the Crucified One (Mark 14:27-15:47)
On Friday between the hours of 12p.m. and 3p.m., the hours when the sky went dark before Jesus died, we remembered Jesus on the cross in vigils at each of our locations. We walked with Jesus from his arrest to being laid in the tomb on an imaginative prayer walk in the neighborhoods where each of our congregations meet. On North and South Broad, in the evening, teams created more opportunities for remembrance in worship and prayer.
Holy Saturday: Wait with Jesus In the grave
Resurrection Sunday: Greet the Risen Lord at the tomb and in the room. (Mark 16:1-8)
We woke up early to catch the first glimmers of joy. 300 of us got together on Lemon Hill to greet the risen Lord, to reenact the story of those women who found the tomb empty on that day, and to celebrate how God has moved us through suffering. Six storytellers shared how their suffering had made a difference. Then in the evening we got together like we always do on Sunday nights, to see how the story continues in our own lives in each of our four locations. There was lots more story telling and praise for how God was with us in our immediate circumstances. We were demonstrating what faith looks like in real life.