How to participate in Holy Week right where you stand

Holy week, or the Passion Week, is almost here and we find ourselves unable to participate with our communities of faith as we are mandated to stay home. This is a good thing, we are saving lives! However, we can still participate in Holy Week and create a sacred space right within our homes. Holy Week doesn’t happen just within the four walls of our churches, it can happen within the four walls of our cozy and perhaps very messy homes.

Stay Holy, Stay Home

I have been thinking about the first Passover. The Israelite people were enslaved in Egypt and Moses was asking Pharaoh, “Let my people go”, over and over again. God sent frogs and boils, turned rivers into blood, and yet the stubborn heart of the Pharaoh would not relent. Then God sent the final plague: the killing of the firstborn in every household. He gave his people this instruction:

“Take a year old male goat without defect. Take care of it until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at midnight. They are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lamb…On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn… The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
(Exodus 12:1-14)

We are entering into Holy Week in much the same fashion. A spirit of death lingers in the air around us in the form of Covid-19 and we find ourselves huddled in our homes waiting for it to pass over our household and the households of our loved ones. Many of us even have sanitizing stations right outside our front doors to keep the virus from passing over the threshold and into the safety of our homes.

Social distancing has been a struggle for many and there is certainly a spectrum of responses and dare I say, obedience, to the instructions. Many of us though, painful as it is, have hunkered down in our homes, avoiding as much social contact as possible. Who knew going to the grocery store would bring such anxiety?! Others are trying their best to maintain social distance as they head to work every day. Let’s just pause here to thank all our medical workers and first responders who put themselves literally between us and the virus, and even all our people at the grocery store that help us eat every day! There are also people who flat out ignore the social distancing instructions, putting many at risk. I’m sure there was a spectrum concerning God’s instruction to Israel in protecting their household. They hadn’t heard from God or felt His protection in quite some time after the death of Joseph who was their protector in Egypt (read full story here). In their lack of trust or belief in His care, I’m sure many Israelites questioned God’s instruction and perhaps flat out ignored it. They paid dearly for it. I can’t say for sure but one thing we are all familiar with that gives us a clue: human nature. God’s people had a reputation in the Biblical story of not obeying God’s instruction. They were known to be a hard hearted people. This human nature is exactly what we address in the season of Lent; remember that we are humans, oftentimes rebellious and selfish, who need a loving God to reform our nature and set us free.

Holy Week is approaching regardless of this season of isolation and quarantine this week. This season exists outside the four walls of our churches. The seasons of Lent and Easter are by far my favorite time every year, and I am sad to not be able to participate with our new community. I feel the loss that I cannot have my family and friends over for a meal and to decorate Easter eggs together. But we are in a time of instruction. While it is certainly not the voice of God dictating our isolation, nor should we treat it this way, we do have an instruction by God that is to be obeyed in every circumstance:

Love the Lord your God with all your soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

To obey the greatest command given to us by God Himself: love your neighbor as yourself. So I am calling the people of God to stay holy, stay home this week. Participate in the very character of God as an act of obedience to Him.

Stay Holy, Stay Home Daily Activities

Just because we are home and not able to go to church or see our friends and family, does not mean our ability to participate in holy things is inaccessible. The Spirit of God lingers in our hearts and homes, and we can create a holy space right where we stand. Whether your home is full to the brim with children, or if you are quarantined alone in your apartment, the Trinitarian God is with you and ready to participate alongside you this Holy Week.

Starting Palm Sunday, I will post a daily blog with a scripture to read, a short teaching and a simple activity to do. I will list the supplies for the activities below, so you can prepare. I am using items that should be just around the house, in order to encourage you not to leave your home to go to the store.

Palm Sunday – Greenery from your yard. If you have palms, great! If not, use anything green.

Monday – Bowl of dried figs (or any dried fruit)

Tuesday – Bowl of pennies

Wednesday – Cup of dirt

Thursday – Bread and wine

Friday – This one will be done virtually for the most part. If you have a crown of thorns, can make one out of branches or print one along with collecting some toothpicks, that would be great too.

Saturday – Candles. Lots of candles! Plan to have the lights off all day. This one is fun for the older kids. If you have littles, put them to bed and enjoy the rest of the night by candle light.

Easter Sunday – Sunrise Service. Details coming soon!

Apart but Together

Although we are entering into Holy Week apart from one another, we are ultimately doing these activities together! I would love to see your activities throughout the week by sharing your pictures on social media. Simply use the hashtag

#stayholystayhome

to connect with one another. Share this blog with your friends and family, and make sure to subscribe to my blog so you get these directly to your email once they are published each day. I am looking forward to participating with you in Holy Week this year in a unique way that ushers in the greatest day of our Christian calendar, Easter!

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Hey friend! I'm excited to meet you! I live in Portland, OR and completely love city life. My hubby and I have been married for over 10 years and still completely adore each other. I am a Jesus follower who is passionate about building up the local church and developing healthy communities. It's so nice of you to stop by! So grab a coffee or a glass of wine, and hang out a bit.

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