HOLY WEEK WORSHIP IDEAS AND IMAGES

Across the Church congregations of all sizes conduct extra, special services for Holy Week - Maundy Thursday and Last Supper services, Good Friday and Tennebrae services, you name it. But are these worship services just information about Jesus, a detached retelling of the story some have heard forever and others don't care to hear at all?

This year approach your special Holy Week worship with creativity. Here are some ideas.

Maundy Thursday / Last Supper

What is it? Jesus' final meal with his disciples.

When is it traditionally held? Thursday night

How to make it more creative?

Serving communion in worship is by nature experiential. But what if instead of just doing it the usual way, you actually set up first century dining tables? Place folding tables on cinderblocks and cover them with tablecloths so they are about a foot off the ground. Have people take off their shoes and sit in groups around tables.

Tell one of the four gospel accounts and have lead servers at each table pass out the elements.

If keying off John's account, consider having a basin with water at each table for a foot washing service.

A candle lighting station may hold appeal to people with church memories rooted in Catholicism. Low overhead light with candles providing much of the light in the room will suggest the feel of the evening meal.

We have a number of images and videos that refer to Jesus' final meal with his disciples. To preview, look at Maundy Thursday, Communion, The Lords Supper and Last Supper.

Good Friday

What is it? A commemoration of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion

When is it traditionally held? Friday afternoon / evening

How to make it more creative?

One approach to the service has been to focus on the 7 Last Words of Jesus as outlined scripturally. Another has been to dramatically highlight the biblical story of what happens at the cross, or theologically to use narrators and props to talk of sin, atonement and the meaning of the cross.

But beyond all of that, the big question is, does it relate to people? Why does the cross matter? There is no better time of the year than Good Friday, and it's uniqueness, to do something creative around the power of the cross.

Consider doing wordless worship where images of the cross, crown of thorns, and cloths are present in the room. Instructions might be given via the screen for people as they enter the sanctuary in silence.

As worshipers enter the room, place nails (age appropriate of course) in their hands. At some point in the service, during prayer, invite worshipers forward to pound the things to the cross that they need to be forgiven for.

Len wrote a Good Friday script that focuses on the irony of the service's title, and our common inability to be good. The human condition is that if we're all honest with ourselves, we know we screw up, and that we're broken. Here's a link to the service.

Some churches want to de-emphasize music and media on Good Friday, preferring to approach it in an "umplugged" fashion. That is fine as long as unplugged doesn't mean uncreative. Such an approach often reveals an "AV Mentality" toward creativity. If the use of creative elements does more to make the gospel real, than don't take it out for Good Friday. Put it in, plus! (If your use of media, music and creativity is just a bunch of noise that doesn't help to communicate the gospel anyway, than maybe you need to re-think why you use it in the first place.)

Here's a Good Friday image from our Midnight Oil library that captures the darkness of the day. Also, here's one highlighting the hammer and nails.

Last, don't forget about Easter Sunday. We've got an image for that, too.

May you know the presence of Christ this Holy Week.

The Midnight Oil Guys