By Lilly Lewin
Several years ago, I created a Holy Spirit Centerpiece that retells the story of the last week in the life of Jesus. Since we are all at home this Holy Week, I thought it would be great to share this again. The center piece is not as easy to do as Praying with your Cup for Holy Week, but it’s a powerful way to connect the story of Holy Week around your dining table or even your coffee table. You might even do this together as a community via Zoom or Facebook Live! The host would have all the supplies set up and would lead the prayers each day.
Holy Week Centerpiece2020 PDF is at the end of this post and you are free to share and print out, just please acknowledge my creativity and authorship. Thanks! I’d love to hear how you use it yourself or with your family.
Holy Week Centerpiece Created by Lilly Lewin
Experiencing Holy Week by yourself, with family, kids, youth group etc, and even together on line!
In preparation for Holy Week, here is a centerpiece and meditation you can create for yourself, your family, or even online via a video or on a Zoom call with your community!
In the future, you could create this for your entire church community on site (making it larger as necessary…using larger candles and enough supplies for your entire group)
Each day there is an activity/response you can do on your own or with your family/group to retell the story of the last week of Jesus’s life.
The centerpiece works a bit like a reverse advent wreath. Start with all the candles lit on Palm Sunday and Monday, and then you extinguish a candle each day, and thus the centerpiece is dark on Saturday. And all candles are relit on Easter! Begin with a plate or dish for your centerpiece and 5 candles. I use a red candle for Good Friday and place it in the center, but you could also do the candles in a row if you were creating this on an altar space. This can also be created for your coffee table rather than your dining table.
Remember you don’t have to do all of this, just start. Do a couple of days. Do what works for you and your family/group. Feel free to modify the questions for the ages in your group.
We started with just the candles and purple cloth activity the first year. Get your family/group/roommates to join in the creation of the centerpiece and getting the props together. Just use what you have!
I love this way to pray, because we remember much more of what we do than what we hear. And I would love to hear how you use this centerpiece. Please email me!
Rejoicing in the already but not yet! Lilly ©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com
• 5 Candles..perfect world 4 white, one red
• Dish or plate that will hold candles and be large enough for extra things to be added to it.
• Pieces of fern or palm branches, size depends upon size of your table/centerpiece. I have a small table so we have a small centerpiece.
• Cut out clothes/jackets either from magazines or run off outlines like paper doll clothes on 8.5×11 sheets of paper. PDF included
• Coins …pennies or the plastic gold coins
•Olive oil, Vegetable Oil or bottle of perfume
•Hershey kisses enough for everyone or Kiss Cut Out
• Pieces of paper with a plate drawn on it to use as placemat, or printout of place mats, enough for all members of your group.
• Purple Fabric (or any color) cut into 3×6 inch strips, make a half inch cut in the short end of each strip so they can easily be torn into two parts
• Piece of muslin or black cloth that will cover entire centerpiece to represent grave cloth.
• Band aids. One for each person
• Candles, one for each person in your group ( you can use small birthday candles)
HOLY WEEK CENTERPIECE
DAY 1: Palm Sunday, (Palm cut and coat cut outs, or pieces of fern )
Pick a passage Matthew 21: 1-10, Luke 19: 28-40, Mark 11: 1-11,John 12:12-19. LIGHT ALL 5 candles.
Read the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem, and talk about what it would be like to be in the crowd when Jesus rode into town. What do you see, hear, smell? Are you excited, scared, angry like the Pharisees? Talk about this.
Add pieces of palm fronds or cuts of a fern to symbolize the entry into Jerusalem. If you have younger kids in your group or you are feeling artistic, print off the page of coats, jackets and palm branches and color these and cut them out and place around the centerpiece plate .
DAY 2: Monday: Cleansing the Temple (dish of pennies/coins)
Leave Palm Branches around the plate for a couple of days and bring a bowl of pennies/coins to the table.
Read the story: Luke 19:45-48, Matt. 21:12-17, Romans 8:35-39
LIGHT ALL THE CANDLES and have someone blow out one of them.
Pass around the coins and HOLD A penny/coin in your hand and think about the scene. What does it look like, smell like, what do you see? What do you notice?
The Money Changers were blocking people’s access to prayer & worship, especially the Gentiles.
What things block you from prayer and worship right now?
What things keep you from worshipping Jesus?
What things (like the tables of the money changers) keep you from being with God?
News, Texting, Computer time, facebook, Netflix Video games, busyness, fear, worry, lack of trust, what else?
As you hold your coin, TALK to God about these things. Allow Jesus to hold these things for you and ask Jesus to take away these blocks.
Then take time to talk about this as a group if you are with others.
DAY 3: Tuesday: Anointing at Bethany (olive oil or perfume)
LIGHT ALL CANDLES and have someone extinguish two of the candles.
Read the passage: John 12: 1-11, Mark 14:1-9 Matthew 26: 6-13
The woman in the story gave Jesus her most valued possession. She honored him with this gift of expensive perfume.
What is your most valuable possession?
It might be a material thing
It might be a talent that you have.
It might be your health or even your life today!
Are you willing to give this to Jesus to honor him? Talk to Jesus about this.
Are you willing to give up your most valuable, most precious possession in order to honor Jesus?
Pass around the olive oil or perfume and a dab on your forehead as a symbol of your willingness to honor Jesus.
Day 4: Wednesday: Judas betrays Jesus (Hershey Kiss or cut out lips)
Light all the Candles and have someone extinguish 3 of the candles.
READ one of these: Matthew 26:14-16 ( 17-21) Mark 14:10-11,Luke 22:1-6
This week, Jesus was betrayed by two of his friends, Judas and Peter. Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.
Anyone betray you this week/month/year?
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Take time to pray for the people who have betrayed you or people or groups that are your enemies.
What about you? Have you betrayed Jesus lately? With your actions or inactions? Bad attitude, lack of faith, etc. Talk to God about these things.
Eat a Hershey kiss as a symbol of your willingness to forgive those who have betrayed you and as a symbol of your need for forgiveness. Or Write your Name on the kiss cut out and put it on the centerpiece dish/plate.
Day 5: Thursday: THE LAST SUPPER (Pieces of Cloth and placemat )
Light all the Candles and have someone extinguish 4 candles.
Pick one of these passages to read: Mark 14:12-26, John 13: 1-17 , Luke 22: 7-30, Matthew 26: 26-30, Luke 22: 14-21
Add a piece of purple cloth under the candles to form a cross. Have extra pieces of purple cloth, enough for each person in your group. (cloth pieces should be about 3×6 inches w cut in the the narrow side) You will use these on Good Friday.
Placemat Print Out: Have a paper placemat for each person or have people create one before you begin.
READ the Passage: Imagine the scene. Picture the colors, the smells, the atmosphere of the room.
Consider that it was Jesus’s last meal with his disciples, his closest friends. If it was your last meal what would you be eating and who would be at your table?
Take time to write out or draw your menu for your last supper and name the people at your table on your placemat. Take time to Pray for the friends you have listed.
Day 6: Friday GOOD FRIDAY (pieces of cloth) Light only the red candle. Pass around pieces of purple cloth.
Read the story: Matthew 27: 32-54, Luke 23: 26-49, Mark15:21-33, 33-40
Extinguish the candle. SAY “IT IS FINISHED.”
After listening to the passage (use Bible Gateway App to listen to it if you don’t want to read it out loud) have everyone rip their pieces of purple cloth in half symbolic of the temple curtain being torn separating the holy of holies when Jesus died on the cross.
When the candle has had time to cool, have someone cover the centerpiece with a cloth symbolic of Jesus’ burial.
The curtain was ripped top to bottom! We now have direct relationship with God! Talk to Jesus about this.
How does it feel to know that you are not separated from God even in death?
How does it feel to know that Jesus knows and understands your suffering and pain?
What things do you need Jesus to finish for you in your life?
Talk to Jesus about this and share with someone else today.
Day 7: Saturday: (BAND AIDS) All the candles are out. The strips of cloth are on the plate. Entire centerpiece is dark and covered with “burial cloth”
Jesus’s disciples, his friends, have abandoned him and are hiding and afraid. His body is buried in a borrowed tomb.
How are you feeling today about the death of Jesus? What if you didn’t know that Sunday was going to mean resurrection?
Talk about this.
PASS OUT BAND AIDS
Take time to pray for anyone you know who is suffering or sick or feeling afraid.
We have all lost something this crazy season…jobs, freedom of movement, security. Talk to God about this.
Pray also for friends who have suffered a loss or lost a loved one in recent months.
Place a band aid on your wrist as a reminder to pray these people in the next few days.
We are all experiencing grief and loss in this crazy time. Take time to journal or talk about this with someone. What is the grief you feel today? Give this to Jesus to carry for you.
Day 8: EASTER!!!!! (small candles like birthday candles )
You can do this at breakfast or around another meal on your own or with housemates.
If you covered your centerpiece, uncover and RELIGHT ALL THE CANDLES!
Have all the candles lit before people sit down for the meal.
READ the Resurrection Story together! Choose one Matt.28:1-10, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24
Pass around the birthday or other small candles.
Light your candle from the centerpiece as a symbol of Jesus resurrection and the Light returning to the World. Now we can share that Light and his love with everyone we meet.
Say together: CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED.
What are some ways you’ve seen or experienced resurrection and new life this week?
Spend some time thanking Jesus for his love for you and all the good things that are in your world.
Pray for places that need the Light and Resurrection of Jesus today.
Hospitals, Places of conflict and poverty, medical workers and others on the frontlines.
Pray for your community, your neighborhood, to see and experience more of the love of Jesus.
Pray for specific needs you know about.
Pick a country to pray for in the coming days. Pray that healing love and light of Jesus will be seen there.
Use a map of the world, globe or map on line to pray with this week as we ask Jesus to shine his light and love in these places.
EXTRA: you can create a prayer collage (cutting out pics or words from magazines or drawing them) to remind you to pray for things in your world that need resurrection.
Jesus help us to see your light and experience your resurrection today and every day. Thank you that we are Resurrection People able to share your love and life with others. AMEN
©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com
For more resources check out:
Lilly Lewin @lillylewin on instagram, twitter and facebook freerangeworship.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
By Taflin Fisher –
In this moment take stock of the treasure of creation.
In pink blossoms lie the promise of sweet juicy peaches.
In ground cover, rain, fungi and earthworms is the promise of living soil for spring planting.
In seeds carefully saved from last year’s produce is the spark of new life.
Treasure the sunshine! Reach and grow and stretch up to the sun!
Treasure the rain! Feel the tickle as it runs down your face. Lift your eyes to cloud and rainbow and feel God’s promise to be with us always.
Treasure the moon! Benevolent ruler of tides and cycles of birth. Gentle light of the night.
Treasure the stars! They guide our way by night and lend an element of magic to the skies.
Treasure the wind! It blows to spread seeds far and wide. To clean out last year’s leaves from trees waiting to bud and to make the Earth fresh.
Treasure the waters! Mineral rich, they tumble and splash through watershed, river and creek. All life exists because of the gift of water.
Treasure our bodies! Able to tend the soil, plant the seeds, harvest and preserve the gifts of the garden. We bow our heads in thanks for this gift, whether our ability allows us a small windowsill garden or acres.
Treasure creatures who share this Earth with us! Our beloved companions, those who give us milk and eggs, and those who are wild and free.
Treasure our Earth! Tiny blue and green sphere spinning in the galaxy. Our home sweet home. Mountains, valleys, plains and oceans teeming with all life. Able to sustain and nourish us. Home!
Treasure all peoples and cultures!
Learn from each other. From new scientific breakthroughs to the wisdom of the ancients. Grow together. Respect, delight in and care for one another.
Most of all, treasure our Creator! With us always. Love in purest form. Coaxing us to be co-creators, caregivers and healers of the earth we are so blessed to share.
In this moment be awed by all this creation! Let your heart store up these treasures and be glad.
By Keren Dibbens Wyatt —
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8 NIV
The world seems fearful right now. Things feel out of our control (because they are). We don’t have any training except in media-hyped panic and we are falling foul of the invitations to hoard and make sure we are marked safe in the war on contagion. Death is fine if we can keep it “over there” somehow, at a distance, like an old woman who lives at the end of the road. We nod at her sometimes, we see her out of the corner of our eye as we run to the next errand, the next appointment, the next job, but we don’t really look, just in case she has something to say. The last thing we want is to be neighbourly with the one whom St Francis called Sister Death.
We Christians have, in the west, been guilty for many years of thinking Jesus is like a kind of spiritual Domestos, that he will kill all the germs and keep us safe and that it is only the poor people abroad in those other, far-flung, not-remotely-like-ours places who will die, hopefully quietly and off camera.
But those of us who have been living in various states of isolation for a long time, those of us who are chronically sick and who have asked Jesus for help and have found him, rarely healing us, but more often climbing down into the plague pit with us, those of us who are well-used to looking death in the face, and finding only a sweet smile, we have some things to say to our fellow disciples who are scared.
You know all those poems you have heard at funerals that tell you your beloved dead are only in the next room? Thought they are steeped in metaphor, they are not wrong. You know all those hymns that sing of heaven as a real and glorious place full of praise and light? They are not selling you a lie.
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38 NIV
Death is a part of life just as Winter is one of the seasons. And Resurrection, just like Spring, is a real and certain living hope.
We all want to carry on living our earthly lives. Though if you are comfortable, you might be surprised at how many of the sick and poor are quite keen on passing through into something better. Death might sometimes be called a doorway or a rebirth, and so it is. But we spend so long avoiding the very thought of it, that such sentiments seem silly and twee, even to some brought up as Christians. We don’t really believe all that hokum, do we, about heaven and that? Somehow, it’s become a bit like believing in Father Christmas, a nice idea but we all know that’s not how things are.
Well, maybe now is a good time to sit with the idea that it’s all true. That this is part of the Good News. Maybe now we might quieten ourselves down and decide whether we really believe what Jesus told us, that we might, if we die, be that very day in Paradise with him. Maybe now is a time to sit and ponder how we might want to live now, if we really believe that we are going home to God when our earthly time is done.
Perhaps then we might be less afraid of dying and more concerned about not having lived for Christ. We all have an opportunity to make this pandemic a turning point in our faith and in our relationship with the Lord at the same time as taking necessary precautions. Maybe we have a little extra time that could be turned to prayer, or to loving our fellow humans and any creatures in need. Maybe we could be a witness to the love of God and the eternal nature of his kingdom by standing firm and sure in our hope of “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” that we profess to believe in each time we recite the Apostles’ Creed.
We may have less to lose, and more to gain, than we think.
Image from Pixabay
By Sue Duby —
I’m not a great auditory learner. Give me a pencil and some paper, notes to take, equations to solve or some journal-type writing to clarify my thoughts… THEN information may well stick in my mind and memory.
I know the truth . . .that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made. Even so, I do feel badly in the middle of a great sermon and I find myself wandering off to the grocery list, a friend in need or the next sleepover with the grandkids. Saturday night was no exception (we love Saturday night services, but are tempted to create a T-shirt for our Sunday morning hikes that reads “I went to church last night!”).
The pastor read through Psalm 23 reminding us of God’s great affection as our Shepherd. I know that Psalm, can quote it and have studied it multiple times over the years. Not a good set up for me, the “drifter”. Familiarity leads me to “tune out” even more quickly than normal.
Amazingly, in the midst, I suddenly heard these words: “What if you turned all your ‘What Ifs’ into ‘Even Thoughs’?” Just as the Psalmist does in not placing focus on “What if you walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, but rather “Even though you…”. My whole body felt alert and I knew that Holy Spirit nudge was saying, “This one is for you!”.
I’ve spent much of my life battling fear. Gratefully, its hold has lessened over the years and the wrestling is now more of acknowledgement when it crops up and then letting it go. Still, it’s ready to grab hold at the least expected moments.
Fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat” or “anxious concern”. My own list tends to center around health, family and future. For each one, instead of saying to myself, “I’m afraid of _____”, I’m really thinking, “What if______?”.
What if my aching back never feels better? What if something happens to Chuck? What if our kids get in an accident? What if my memory really starts fading (more than it already is!)?
Just the words, “What If” make my heart stir, knowing any way I finish that sentence will be scary! No matter the focus of the “What If”, it leads me to feeling alone in my fear, pensive, unsure and anticipating bad things. “What If” leaves me dangling… full well knowing that something may happen or not, so I’m stuck feeling very insecure and unsettled.
In His grace, God offers a better way. Psalm 23:4 gives us a roadmap.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” NIV
Not “what if” I take such a difficult journey, as we all will at some point… or many times in our life. But rather “even though” I take such a journey. Just attaching those two words to one of my fears… “Even though my back may never feel better…”, somehow physically feels like a weight rolling off my shoulders, a fresh breath of air and a letting go.
The Psalmist gives clear reason for being able to speak “even though” in confidence. “You are with me”, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me”. There is the Shepherd. Present. Protecting. Tending, Caring. Encouraging. Directing. Leading.
I’m choosing to daily embrace a better way of thinking, a new way to battle fear. When a fear pops up, no matter how silly or overwhelming, my heart now says “Even though….”. I can feel myself falling back into the Shepherd’s embrace and letting Him carry the weight, knowing He knows and that His presence is enough.
May you purpose to grab hold of every “What If” when it hits and acknowledge the good Shepherd’s presence with a simple whisper back to Him, “Even though…”.
The Celtic saints were a fun loving people with many prayers that expressed this. Here is one I love that I thought you may enjoy as I focus on laughter today.
My walk this day with God,
My walk this day with Christ,
My walk this day with Spirit.
The threefold all-kindly;
Ho! Ho! Ho! The Threefold all-kindly
My shielding this day from ill,
My shielding this night from harm
Ho! Ho! Both my soul and my body,
Be by Father, by Son, by Holy Spirit:
By Father, by Son, by Holy Spirit.
Be the Father shielding me,
Be the Son shielding me,
Be the Spirit shielding me,
As Three and as One:
Ho! Ho! Ho! As Three and as One.
by Christine Sine
“Don’t let the world defeat your laughter and song.” This quote by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt has held my attention this week as I, like all of us, have grappled with the seriousness of what COVID-19 has imposed upon us. It is so easy to forget that in the midst of dealing with the fears and anxieties of possibly getting sick and even the busyness of moving so much of what we do online, we also need fun and laughter. So this week, I did a little research on the impact of laughter and thought that you would like to see the stunning results of my investigations. We really do need laughter. It’s good for us physically, emotionally and I think, spiritually too.
The joy that laughter brings can impact our creativity and our perspective on life. Babies laugh on average 400 times a day. Yet adults over 35 on average laugh only 15 times a day. So get out there; play, have some fun, laugh and enjoy yourself.
I have adapted the rest of this post from this article Stress Relief from Laughter posted by The Mayo Clinic.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. And laughter is contagious. Last week, we were taking photos of Tom for publicity for his upcoming book. It was my job to make him smile. He asked me to tell some funny stories but that was hard for me so I just started laughing, and by the end of the session Tom wasn’t just smiling, he was laughing too.
- Stimulate heart, lungs and muscles. It enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Laughter reduces your blood pressure, improves your muscle tone (especially your abs) and and increases your tolerance for pain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling. Even a smile can help. It, like laughter, is contagious and often leads to a good laugh too. This not only improves your mood, but has the added benefit of improving the quality of your relationships with those around you. It can even help create new relationships. And at a time like this, these are all things that we need.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress and improve the quality of your sleep.
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
- Creates hope. Laughter changes your perspectives and helps you to see difficult circumstances as a challenge rather than a threat. It is hard to feel anxious, sad or angry when you are laughing.
- Promotes creativity. Humour reduces tension and causes you to relax, and relaxation is an important component of creativity.
Improve Your Sense of Humour
- Add a daily dose of humour to your schedule. What makes you laugh? Is it photos, greeting cards, or comic strips that make you chuckle. I know I have a collection of each and am pulling them out this week to help me get my daily dose. I might even hang a few of them around the house for when I need an extra boost. And in the evenings, Tom and I are looking for funny movies and books to read. I am particularly drawn to cartoon prayer books that both make me laugh and nourish my soul: Like Scott Erickson’s Prayer: 40 Days of Practice Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the fox and the Horse and Michael Leunig’s A Common Prayer.
- Laugh and the world laughs with you. What about the current situation makes you laugh? Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good. And if you are not sure where to begin watch this:
- Or you might like to try some laughter yoga:
- Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. Perhaps you could plan a virtual fun night together. Share funny stories or jokes or play games together that make you laugh.
Laughter is the best medicine and a gift from God
Jesus was “anointed … with the oil of gladness” (Heb 1:9). Some of the things he did sounded very humorous. I think he loved to laugh. Spend a few minutes reflecting on Jesus laughing. What images come to mind? How does it make you feel?
Now go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? Do you feel a little more connected to God? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.
I really enjoyed listening to this today and thought that some of you would too. We all need to develop, and listen to, practices that help us center in on God, find peace and nourish our souls. Contemplative prayer, and particularly the Taize style prayer used here is one of the most powerful tools I have found for doing this.