Intergenerational Holy Week Journey

Thanks to The Network for sharing this Great Idea!

Meet the challenge of presenting Holy Week stories – and the still-prevalent atonement theory theology that makes them even more difficult to share (especially with children) – with a multi-generational (outdoor??) Palm Sunday trek.

While the original article articulates Jesus’ death as a ‘sacrifice’ – belying their continued use of atonement theory – the remainder of the idea is sound, focusing on the events, Jesus’ character throughout, the role – both in strengths and weaknesses – of friends and community, and themes of death, loss, grief – and the hope of New Life.

The original post also relies on Christian Network’s publication, God’s Big Easter Story devotional. This may or may not be necessary for creating your own Holy Week path.

The basic idea is breaking Holy Week stories down into about eight stations. The article invites two adults to take responsibility for each station with a couple additional adults for general helping; make this actually intergenerational by inviting all ages to share responsibility for presentations. Basic costumes, props, and small gifts for use on Easter are listed for each station, as well.

Each station has a detailed script, which can be found here.

Read the original article here.

You might make the journey more interactive by inviting all participants to act out the stories, rather than just the volunteers. Here are ideas:

Station One: Palm Sunday Parade: create a parade with recorded music or invite everyone to sing – wave palms, throw blankets on the ground, shout, listen to rocks (to see if they cry out when you are silent); have someone ride in on a real donkey or child’s toy horse; have a real donkey there to offer rides and pets, etc.

Station Two: Throwing Out the Money Changers (I would call this “Temple Tantrum): use chocolate coins (for fun), let everyone take out their anger at injustices by naming them – especially injustices carried out in the name of Christianity – and attaching a sticky note to each coin; toss the coins about the area; pick them all back up; read out the injustices as a prayer for healing; keep the coins for a week, considering how you might intervene

Station Three: The Foot Washing: let everyone wash and be washed, preferably feet – there is something important about sharing this vulnerability with one another, but be aware of special needs and sensitivities by offering to wash hands; if it’s cold, be sure to have plenty of towels for thorough drying

Station Four: The Last Supper: make gluten free bread together (here’s a simple recipe – it makes a LOT); invite younger people (or new members) to taste communion bread and wine or grape juice; squish grapes to make juice/wine

Station Five: Betrayal: gather around a fire; have everyone play each part: Jesus on trial, Peter at the fire, the inquisitive woman, and the rooster

Station Six: Jesus Dies: on a strip of cloth write or draw a current source of pain (make two – one for this station and one for the next): something big that effects us all, or something very personal – whatever is causing pain; tie one cloth strip onto a crown of thorns (barbed wire round works well) or nail it to a cross

Station Seven: Jesus Is Buried: create a tomb-like space (covered, dark, small), holding their duplicate strip of cloth, invite one or two participants to enter at a time; while inside, wonder about how pain can become New Life; explore what transformations might be possible that would turn existing hurt into something more like joy

Station Eight – Jesus Is Alive! You may want to skip this one until Easter, but whenever you share it: perhaps another bon fire in which the strips of cloth can be burned – you could burn the entire cross or crown of thorns (if made from combustable materials) at the Easter Vigil, too. Yoga moves that help to move through pain might be introduced; stretches to reduce pain – how do we move through pain toward New Life? How does Jesus’ resurrection affect our pain and invite us to New Life? Wonder about solidarity, the power of knowing God is with us in our struggle, etc.

There is a lot of room for improvisation in this – indoor vs. outdoor, elders teaching vs. all-ages as leaders, holding off on the eighth station until Easter morning, etc. Make it your own – and enjoy!