Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week

We are in the midst of Holy Week.

It began on Palm Sunday, and will take us through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then finally the celebration of Easter Sunday.

For the past few years, our family was fortunate enough to be part of a house church in Winnipeg.  We were part of that gathering of friends for about four years.  In that short amount of time we were able to develop and establish rich traditions together.  Our family was just warmly remembering them together last night...

On Palm Sunday the families with kids would get together for breakfast.  Auntie Di would bring a bushel of fresh palm branches.  The kids would go to the end of the hallway and parade into the living room mimicking the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.   This would all happen with Uncle Ken playing his guitar and us singing Steve Bell's "Holy Holy Holy Lord".   Afterward, as the celebration continued, Ken would do his best "old Jewish man" impressions and for some strange reason and to the delight and urging of the kids, he'd also do some Russian dancing which we thought went very well with the Jewish songs we were playing.

Every year the adults would gather together for a Maundy Thursday meal and conversation, and communion.  Those were rich times.

On Easter Sunday we'd have a family celebration.  One year we released helium balloons into the air with words that Jesus spoke that inspired us.  We ended the morning with a dance party to hits from the 80's, 90's and beyond in our basement - choosing to celebrate the freedom we received on Easter.

Our season of doing House Church deposited significant memories and moments into our family.

We're alone here this Easter.  We don't have our house church to celebrate with.  In fact, we're heading away together for the weekend.  We do however, have our own traditions that we've created over the past many years.

Every evening of Holy Week we read from a children's book the girl's received at Easter a few years ago.  If you've got young kids, it's a great one - it's called Eyewitness Animals - the Story of Easter by Robin Currie.  The book is definitely well below Hannah's age level, but she still loves the stories and the memories they bring from hearing it over the years.


Another book we look at each night of the week before Easter is The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith.  This book has the most amazing artistic representation of Jesus' experiences the week before Easter.  The girls spend a lot of time studying the detail in the illustrations - loving the royal feel the gold gives to each page.

A final resource for us has been Common Prayer - A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals compiled by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro.  We've tried to use this book after supper over the past few months.  Sometimes we do better with it than others.  I try to pick and choose excerpts from the daily reading that will fit the girl's ages best.  There is a whole section devoted to The Holy Week and it packs a powerful punch.  I know this book will become tattered and worn over the next few years.  At least I hope it does.

What are some Holy Week traditions your family has?


  1. 1 comments:
    joyce said...
    Easter tradition: worry that the children aren't being taught much about Easter.

    Swear to self that this year will be different. A church with stations of the cross will be located and visited. A meaningful tradition will evolve.

    chew my fingers to bloody stumps.

    eat chocolate bunnies.

    I like yours better.

    (sorry for messing up your comment box. seems that blogger hates me today. not that I condone or endorse hatred in any way, being a fan of Jesus and all)

  2. That's why I love you, my Joycie.

    Some of our other Easter Traditions are:

    -snarfing down enough Mini Eggs to save a small African nation

    -lay in front of the tv watching the Canucks getting their asses kicked and listen to husband use very naughty words in front of offspring

    -try not to worry because your girls have heard the same words from you

    -bang head against wall because you know that simply reading some Easter stories isn't going to make up for your personal insanity

    Does that help at all??
    We're more alike than different. But you know that already.

  3. This year I was asked to help as part of the Maunday Thursday service at church to wash feet. I only washed my friend's Kim's feet, but it reminded me of all the Youth retreats I did, in my youth, as it were, where we would celebrate Easter in our Dying, Rising and Going out into the world. On the night before the participants came, the background team would get together and the leaders would wash everyone's feet. I used to love doing that!

    This year, with the kids we decorated eggs, again, but this time we did it Ukranian-style. Jack got to use a Kitska and flame and bees wax. I just wanted to one up it. Plain old dye kit from Safeway was not enough for me! (I have a picture up on fb.) We took Friday off to do nothing but decorate eggs and I ended up making a turkey for just us.
    Annabelle made ressurection eggs at school, where each of the twelve plastic pop open eggs represented some part of Jesus' story. There was a some silver in one, a cross, a nail, a cloth,... and the last egg had nothing, because he was risen. She really liked retelling it to us! (Which we then made her retell it to the whole family at Easter Dinner on Sunday!)

    Then the usual hub-ub of tying a string to a basket and hiding it, then unravelling the string all around the house until it arrives at their door. When the kids awake to the 'Easter Bunny' they have to wrap up said string until it leads them to their basket. Jack, who knows All about the Easter Bunny, thanked me... I mean him, for making it especially difficult this year.
    I researched eggs and their significance to Easter this year, as I thought about teaching it to preschoolers (but didn't!), and therefore had an outdoor easter egg hunt. It was beautiful outside and all the eggs were found, thank goodness.
    Then it was time for family. Dave's parents used to host a fairly large family dinner, but his family has either moved away or... died. So for the past few years she has graciously invited my family to share in this time with us. So their were 14 of us at their table and my family can share in a favourite tradition of Dorcas' and my kids spend another meal getting to know their extended family (which is a lot of work!).

    Easter can be so busy, and I think we had the right balance of busy and quiet to make it work. Time to reflect and time to celebrate!