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Holy Week reflections resource

I’ve put together reflections for Holy Week a few times and thought they might be useful to share in current circumstances, feel free to use them yourself or in your churches. I’ve put them all on one page for ease of access, (though it makes for a lengthy post!) so there are 2 versions below, Version 1 is simpler, and version 2 gives more options, so take a look and see which works for you. I’ve taken a quick look and think all the links are working but do tweet me if you have any trouble.

Version 1 (I used this in 2019)

Outline:

Each day there are 3 things you can choose to reflect on.

  • An artwork to look at and reflect on for a few minutes (follow the link)
  • a one word prompt related to a scripture passage. You can use these words however you like to consider however you feel about this part of Holy Week.
  • Questions to ask yourself

You might want to just look at the pictures, perhaps you will find the scripture passages help you to focus on the Holy Week narrative, or you might find the questions helpful to continue in reflection. It’s your choice and it might be different each day.


Palm Sunday: Triumph

  • Passage: Luke 19:28-44
  • Image: Palm Sunday by Kai Althoff
  • Spend a few minutes looking at today’s image – how does it make you feel? What emotions or thoughts does it raise in you?
  • In Jesus’ triumphal entry there was also sorrow as he wept over the city, sometimes our triumphs also bring pain. Sometimes our triumphs can seem small and trivial to others but are all consuming for us.
  • What does triumph mean to you?
  • Where are the moments of triumph in your life this week? However big or small?
  • How has Jesus helped you to triumph this week? Where do you need him to help you? Or meet you in your sorrow?

Monday Prompt: RAGE

  • Spend a few minutes looking at today’s image – how does it make you feel? What emotions or thoughts does it raise in you?
  • Sometimes when we feel anger or frustration we turn it on ourselves.
  • What makes you angry or frustrated?
  • Do you get angry with yourself?
  • Do you get angry with God?
  • How can you bring this anger, frustration or rage to Jesus?

Tuesday Prompt: LOVE

  • Passage: Matthew 22: 34-40
  • Image: ‘Gladys & Elizabeth’ from the Madonna & Child Project by Kate Hansen (see pic and to read more here)
  • Spend a few minutes looking at today’s image – how does it make you feel? What emotions or thoughts does it raise in you?
  • Jesus tells us to love God and to love those around us. He said on that love hangs all that has gone before. What does love mean to you? How do you express love? How easy do you find it to express love? How do you receive love from others?
  • How do you feel about Jesus loving you?

Wednesday prompt : BETRAYAL

  • Passage: John 13: 18-30
  • Image: Judas kiss sculpture on the façade of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • Spend a few minutes looking at today’s image – how does it make you feel? What emotions or thoughts does it raise in you?
  • How have you experienced betrayal? Have you been someone who has betrayed someone close to you? Have you been on the receiving end of betrayal?
  • Perhaps this week is a good time to let go of any negativity you feel and bring it to Jesus?

Maundy Thursday Prompt : SERVE

  • Image: Woman anointing Jesus feet (ref Luke 7:36-50)
  • Spend a few minutes looking at today’s image – how does it make you feel? What emotions or thoughts does it raise in you?
  • How do you serve the world around you? What gifts has God given you to share with others?
  • What is your motivation to serve or give?
  • Ask Jesus how you can be a willing servant for him.

Good Friday Prompt: SACRIFICE

  • What does the word ‘sacrifice’ mean to you?
  • What sacrifices have you made in your life? How have they impacted you?
  • What does Jesus’ sacrifice mean to you?

Holy Saturday prompt: SORROW

  • Jesus entered Jerusalem in Triumph just a few days earlier, and we read that he wept over Jerusalem. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because so many of them didn’t know God, they didn’t turn to God, they didn’t recognise who God was, and Jesus knows that a life without God is one lived in darkness and brokenness. His tears were shed for the pain of those living without him.
  • We might ask ourselves are there are things in us that might cause Jesus sorrow?
  • What if Jesus were crying, like this (picture) in love for you…



Version 2 (I used this in 2017)

outline:

I have gathered a selection of resources and ideas to use as an aid to prayer or as a reflective tool, as we remember the week that Christ died. It includes passages of scripture from the Holy Week narrative, paintings and images, poetry in the form of Malcolm Guite’s, ‘Stations of the Cross’ and prayer points, so there is plenty of variety. You might find you just want to focus on one theme, perhaps just choosing to listen to the stations of the cross each day and reflecting on those, or looking at the paintings and seeing what thoughts they raise in you, you can do as much or as little as you would like or have time for.

There is a section for each day and I have kept the items, questions and prayer points simple so that if you are short of time you could do all of it in 10-15 minutes each day, but there is also scope to spend much longer if you would like.

The purpose of this set of resources is to encourage and enable you to interact with the truth of the gospel message afresh in your personal faith. Some of the ideas might be more accessible to you than others, some might challenge you or make you think, others you might simply skim over. There is no right or wrong way of going through this, it is up to you


Palm Sunday ‘Triumph and sorrows’

ReadLuke 19:28-44 perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 1 and 2(click on the numbers for the link)

Watchthe clips as shown in our morning services from the BBC’s ‘The Passion of Christ’:

  • How do the clips make you feel? Try and imagine yourself in the crowd in both scenes. Where would you be? What might you be saying?

Painting: ‘Entry into the City’ by John August Swanson (click on the title to go to the image)

  • This painting is a very colourful depiction of the triumphal entry. Spend a few minutes looking at the picture. What is your eye drawn to?


Prayer points:

  • Thank God for moments of triumph and celebration you have had in the last week
  • Ask that God would open your eyes to new moments of triumph in your life
  • Pray for those you know going through a period of sorrow

Monday – Cleansing of the Temple

ReadMark 11: 15 – 19, perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • What are the things that make you angry? Why not spend some time thinking about a time when you were angry, frustrated or annoyed recently. Spend some time reflecting on how Jesus might have reacted to that situation?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 3 and 4Click on the numbers to go to the audio.

Illustration: Modern interpretation of Christ driving the money changers from the temple by Anthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger

  • What is your instant reaction to this picture? What emotions does it raise in you? Do you think it is fair as a modern interpretation?

Article: Following Jesus Means Being Political and Advocating for “The Least of These”

Following Jesus Means Being Political and Advocating for “The Least of These”

  • Does this article resound with you?
  • Does following Jesus mean being political to you?

Prayer Points:

  • If you feel led to do so, pray into the situations you thought about above where you experienced anger.
  • Pray for an issue of injustice, for example those who suffer because of race, religion or sexuality.
  • For those you know who struggle with unresolved anger

Tuesday – The Greatest Commandment

Read: Matthew 22: 34-40perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • How important are these commandments to you in your life? In what ways do you show the love of Christ in your daily life?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite and 6(click on the numbers of get the audio)

Painting: ‘God Hold Me’ by Charlie Mackesy

  • Can you imagine yourself in this painting?
  • Can you think of a time when you have experienced God holding you in this way? Perhaps you might need to experience this now in a situation you face?

ArticleHoly Week in an Unholy World

  • Does this article resound with you?


Prayer Points:

  • As above, imagine God holding you in an embrace like the painting. Can you invite him into a particular situation you are facing?
  • For situations in the world that need God’s embrace more than ever right now, for example for those grieving in Syria
  • For someone you know who needs to feel God’s embrace afresh today

Wednesday – Betrayal

Read: John 13: 18-30perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • How do you feel about Judas? Was he purely evil? Was he deceived by the Devil? Do you think he had a choice about what he went to do?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 7 and 8click on the numbers to get the audio.

Painting: ‘The Bound lamb (Agnus dei)’ by Francisco de Zubaran click on the title to see the picture

  • The image of Jesus as the pure and innocent lamb is very powerful, especially as depicted here tied and bound and completely helpless. Does this help you to focus on the idea of Christ as a pure sacrifice? Or on the idea of betrayal? Have you ever betrayed Jesus?


Prayer Points:

  • Lift up to the Lord any situations where you feel you have let him down, perhaps even betrayed him, seek his forgiveness.
  • Pray for those who are helpless in our wider world, for example those starving in the current famine in East Africa. (Tearfund has some prayer points here)
  • Pray for those close to you who feel helpless in a situation they face

Maundy Thursday – The Last Supper

ReadLuke 22: 7-30 and/or John 13:1-17

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 9 and 10click on the number to hear the audio

Painting‘Journey with Jesus’ by He Qi click on the title to see the image

  • There is much symbolism and many references in this picture, what stands out to you?
  • Where would you be in this picture?

Prayer Points:

  • Focus on the line from Luke ‘…my blood is poured out for you…’ Spend some time thanking God for the amazing sacrifice he made for you.
  • Pray for those in positions where service is key, perhaps the emergency services, medical staff or armed forces.
  • Pray for those who serve you personally. At home, work, church or in the community…

Good Friday – The Crucifixion

ReadMark 15:21-41 perhaps 2 or 3 times

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • Imagine yourself in the text, at the foot of the cross, how does it make you feel?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 11 and 12 click on the number to get the audio

Painting: ‘St John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dali Click on the title to see the painting

  • This painting was inspired by a drawing, kept in the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, Spain, which was done by Saint John of the Cross after he had seen a vision of Christ during a powerful spiritual experience. Dali talks of the unity of the world in Christ through his own interpretation. What does it speak of to you?

Song: Strange way by Martyn Joseph

  • A cleverly written song on the Crucifixion, have a listen to the lyrics and see what stands out to you and think about why.

Prayer Points

  • We sometimes talk of nailing our burdens or our sin to the cross. What do you need to let go of and give to the Lord right now? Lift it to him in prayer.
  • Pray for those who are persecuted for their Christian faith around the world.
  • Pray for those you know struggling in their faith

Holy Saturday – in the Grave

Read: Luke 23:50-56

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 13 and 14 click on the numbers to get the audio

Artwork: two choices today:

‘The Deposition’ Ugolino de Nerio – look close up at the faces of Mary and Jesus

or Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ sculpture (click on the titles to see the paintings)

  • Both these pieces depict the raw emotion of a Mother with her dead son. Can you feel the sorrow through the artwork?

Prayer Points:

  • As we come to the end of the week’s reflections, why not commit yourself afresh to the Lord? You could use this prayer – The Methodist Covenant Prayer which Methodists repeat every year in committing themselves afresh to the Lord.

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. 

Amen.

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