Updated: Apr 6
Hosted by the Faith To Go team in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, David Tremaine and Charlette Preslar, and joined the each week by a special guest, the Faith To Go Podcast highlights themes from the Sunday Gospel reading for you to take into your faith discussions and reflections throughout the week.
Making Sacred Space in Holy Week: Building a Family Altar In this time when church communities are not able to gather in their worship spaces together, it is especially important for us to create sacred spaces within our homes. Step 1: Find a Space Usually we would choose a space that is relatively quite and set apart. In this season of our communal life though, when many are streaming church at home or looking to create some grounding space in the midst of much chaos, we are going to build the altar in one of the main gathering areas of the house. If you stream your church's service on Sunday mornings, where do you watch it? Try building the altar around this space. Maybe the top of the cabinet under your television, or the surface where you place your computer or laptop to watch together as a family. If you don't stream a service, find a surface in a room where your family gathers regularly that could serve as this sacred space. Step 2: Build your Altar Starting today, and over the next three days, we are going to add things to the altar. Today put down a simple piece of cloth, red or purple would be appropriate for the season, but any color or patter will work. Then, each member of your family can add these items to the altar each day: Sunday (today): add some leaves or palm branches (if available) from outside. Take a walk in the backyard or down the sidewalk and see what leaves or other plants catch your eye. Bring them back and arrange them on your altar. You could also color and cut out the palm from these Holy Week coloring pages or make your own out of green construction paper, green poster board, or painted/green cardboard. Monday: add sacred art to the altar. This could be sacred images you have around the house or some that you create. Maybe draw a picture or find a photograph of an important person in your life or a family member that you are missing. It could even be a favorite saint! Tuesday: add some flowers to the altar. These could be picked from outside or created as a craft project using paper, Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, or felt. Maybe a potted plant from around the house would work well. Wednesday: today add some candles to your altar. Small tea lights will work, or whatever candles you have. Maybe you could even decorate them before placing them on the altar. Step Three: Use Your Altar Now your altar is all set. How might you use the altar over these first three days as a family? You could set a bowl on the altar with small strips of paper and whenever you have a prayer or thanksgiving to offer write it down and place it in the bowl. Maybe you could say a prayer together before meals standing in front of your altar. Remember, keep it simple. It's OK to take things off if it is getting cluttered or plants need to be replaced or you spill the glass of water you were just putting down for one second. The simpler and less cluttered the better. Make sure to check out the Maundy Thursday resources to see what will happen next.
Views and Qs: The Triumphal Entry
Watch this video together and then use the discussion questions below to reflect as a family (watch from 0:00 to 3:06).
1) Why was Jerusalem such an important place for Jesus and the Jewish people?
2) Why was it dangerous for Jesus to enter Jerusalem?
3) Who were the people in power at the time Jesus entered Jerusalem?
4) Who are the people in power in our world today? Are there people in our world who are not allowed to live the way they want?
5) Can you think of any other people in recent history that challenged the people in power in our world? In our country? What happened to them?
Stay and Pray: An Observation of Palm Sunday In today's family prayer time we offer an at home observance of Palm Sunday adapted form the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Occasional Service of the Episcopal Church. Feel free to use the palms you created or found for your altar in the service. This prayer time will be a "procession" around your home at four "stations." It is a combination of a Palm Sunday ritual like we would do at church and a house blessing ritual.
Before you begin, take a few moments to decide who will read the scripture readings and who will be the leader of the service. Also, decide on four "stations" that you will visit around your home. Maybe start at the altar you've built together.
Notes for the service:
The service moves from the door through four “stations” in the home, with the stations chosen as seem fitting in the particular configuration of the house. (Make this decision prior to the beginning of the rite.) The service may conclude with a simple meal and the Feast and Faith discussion questions. In choosing stations, one might best give the sense that the house has been covered “end to end.” The spaces could be significant spaces for you or your family. The home altar or the room you have chosen to build it in could be one. Wherever you eat your meals could be another. The backyard or any outdoor space you use regularly. Maybe the kitchen or another place of sustenance.
Alternatively, if it makes sense of the house, the stations might cover the “four directions” – north, south, east, west. In a one room or very small space, the rite can move from corner to corner or other spaces as convenient. A single person could eliminate biddings and responses as appropriate. As with all house blessings, those who are able to do so can move from station to station, while those who may be mobility-limited can remain in a central room while the procession moves and the prayers are offered, loudly enough for all to hear.
Gather in a room spacious enough for all. The leader greets any others participating. Palms may be distributed to all. Now, proceed to a place at or near the front door. Leader: The Lord be with you. Response: And also with you. Leader: Let us pray. Almighty God, as your Son Jesus came to Jerusalem to bring to completion the work of our salvation, so come to the homes of your people and bless us by your presence. Call your church again to the way of the cross. Give us strength to follow it. Quicken our memories and stir our hearts as we contemplate those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. The following gospel is now read aloud, without introduction or conclusion. Matthew 21:1-11
When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, `The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee." The leader now says three times: Leader: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Response: Hosanna in the highest! And now: Leader: Let us go forth in peace; Response: In the name of Christ. Amen. Hymn could be sung in unison, with or without an instrument. THE FIRST STATION Proceed to the first station. When stopped, verses of Psalm 118 are read: Leader: Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them I will offer thanks to the Lord Response: This is the gate of the Lord; he who is righteous may enter. Leader: I will give thanks to you, for you answered me and have become my salvation. Response: The same stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Leader: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Response: Hosanna in the highest! THE SECOND STATION Proceed to the second station. When stopped, verses of Psalm 118 are read: Leader: This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Response: On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Leader: Hosannah, Lord, hosannah, Lord, send us now success. Response: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. Leader: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Response: Hosanna in the highest! THE THIRD STATION Proceed to the third station. When stopped, verses of Psalm 118 are read: Leader: God is the Lord; God has shined upon us; form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar. Response: You are my God, and I will thank you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. ALL: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; God’s mercy endures for ever. Leader: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Response: Hosanna in the highest! THE FOURTH STATION Proceed to the fourth station. When stopped, verses of Psalm 78 are read: Leader: Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. Response: I will open my mouth in a parable; I will declare the mysteries of ancient times. Leader: That which we have heard and known, and what our ancestors have told us; we will not hide from their children. Response: We will recount for generations to come The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, and the wonderful works God has done. Leader: The Lord be with you. Response: And also with you. Leader: Let us pray. Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory until he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. After a moment of silence: Leader: Let us bless the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God. Participants may adjourn to a simple meal. If palms were held during the service, they might be strewn about the dining table or returned to your altar, and a Bible placed on the table in clear sight of all.
If you continue with a meal, take this time to engage in the Feast and Faith discussion questions below.
Feast and Faith: Who Holds the Power
For this week’s dinner discussion, we are talking about the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem triumphantly. If you are going to do the Palm Sunday Prayer Procession in your home with your family, do that prior to eating and end with this meal and discussion.
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As we begin this final week of Lent, the week we call Holy Week, with the celebration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem we are invited to reflect on the exuberance and hope present in those who sang Hosanna to Jesus as he entered the city. For three years leading up to this day, Jesus had preached about equality, freedom, and salvation for the poor and oppressed in his country and world. He also regularly pushed back against those in power both in the governing structures of Rome and within the leadership of his own Jewish community:
1) Why do you think the people welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem were so excited that he was there?
2) What hope do you think they had that day in what Jesus would do?
3) Do you think the people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem were the people in power or the people who had little power?
4) What do you think they hoped would change with the arrival of this new "king" named Jesus?
5) Do you think Jesus was a king? Why or why not?
Final Nugget: Today we get a glimpse at the building tension in the world of Jesus' time. For years he had preached and taught about God's love for all people and God's dream of equality and freedom for the whole human family. Now Jesus is entering into Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life and a central location of Roman authority in his region. Do you see similar tensions in our world today? How can Jesus be an example for us now of how to respond to those tensions?
Share some of your conversations in the comments below: