Hospitality Ideas for Holy Week

by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

The week before Resurrection Sunday (which is also known as “Holy Week” or the week of “Passover”) is one of the best times of the year to share the Good News of Jesus. Many families, especially those with children, are looking for special springtime holiday or Easter-fun ideas, and some mothers, especially those with school-age children, will consider bringing their family to church or to a special Passion play (even if they usually never attend).

The Jewish celebration of Passover is to remember how God delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and how the death angel “passed over” their homes. A special dinner called “Seder” includes unleavened bread (Matzah), lamb, and bitter herbs.

Jesus celebrated the Passover every year, and through His death on the cross, He fulfilled it. God has provided freedom from the bitterness of sin and eternal death, for “. . . Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7 NLT).

Passover IDEA: Perhaps your family could have a special “Seder” dinner (or even communion) this Thursday night with another family. Or, you could invite a few families to watch The Ten Commandments, and you could talk about how Jesus (Y’shua) came as the fulfillment of the Jewish Passover Messiah.

Years ago, as our family was on a mission trip during Holy Week to Costa Rica and Guatemala, our family felt so burdened as we witnessed to people on the streets. Although the cultural traditions were beautiful and deeply religious (below are a few examples of the elaborate Holy Week flower-carpets from Antigua, Guatemala), many people we met had no personal relationship with the Lord, or an understanding that JESUS is ALIVE today. We saw huge processions with statues of Jesus and other religious relics carried through the streets, yet in many places, even on Sunday morning, there was little (no mention) of the Resurrection.

Just last week, our family took pretty flower-seed packets and handed them out on the streets in our city, and at a local Blossom Festival parade, along with “A FRESH START!” Gospel witness, and an invitation to our church. We were able to share with hundreds of people, and had some great conversations!

Mission-Minded Family Ideas for HOLY WEEK:

1. Pray for families you know who are thinking about Easter eggs and baskets for their kids, but who have no thought about the real meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection. Brainstorm a few specific ways that your family make an impact, this week, for Jesus. Perhaps you could go to a local public Easter egg hunt, specifically for your children to share about Jesus, or to invite people to your church.

2. Think of the families in your neighborhood, and pray about who you could invite to church. Walk through your neighborhood, and pray for these families specifically. Make a simple effort (perhaps with a phone call, a stop at their house with a plate of cookies or a simple basket with Easter treats and a church bulletin or handwritten card) and INVITE them to come.

3. Have your kids make simple hand-drawn pictures about the cross of Jesus Christ and the resurrection, with an invitation to your church’s Sunday Easter Service; bring the drawings with you the next time you are in the vicinity of your home church, and have your kids look for someone specific they can invite to church.

4. Read the Biblical account of the Passion Week.

5. Read aloud from Christian children’s books which focus on the true meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, such as any Bible storybook. Two of our family favorites are The Tale of the Three Trees, or The Little Rose of Sharon.

6. If you decorate Easter eggs, include pictures of the cross and the empty tomb, and words such as “JESUS IS ALIVE!” (You can write these with crayon, before you put the eggs in the dye.)

7. Celebrate communion together as a family or even all by yourself during a quiet time – perhaps on Thursday (to remember the Last Supper) or on Good Friday. Play a CD, or sing together a simple song you know about the cross or the blood of Jesus, read aloud I Cor. 11:23 – “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread…”

8. Watch the classic film, The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, and especially focus on the scene of the Passover and the blood of the Lamb.

9. Watch a film about the Cross and the Resurrection – The JESUS Film by Campus Crusade for Christ (from the Gospel of Luke, translated into about 1000 languages and is utilized in missions and evangelism throughout the world), The Gospel of John, or The Passion of the Christ, are all excellent selections.

10. Look on-line to get a glimpse of Holy Week celebrations throughout the world – to focus your prayers on nations and people who need to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

11. Have your kids use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures of Jesus, and the Cross, and the Empty Tomb. Write, “JESUS IS ALIVE!!!” and “GOD LOVES YOU!!!” outside your house on the sidewalk in front of your house.

12. If you have a daughter, a few little girls to join you for a fun & fancy (but simple) dress-up Easter Tea Party. Eat little sandwiches and strawberries; drink tea in teacups, and read aloud a picture storybook about Jesus (this is a good time to read The Little Rose of Sharon).

13.Take a few Children’s books with the story of Jesus and the Cross & Resurrection (such as The Three Trees), and invite local neighborhood kids to your front yard to listen to you read aloud.

About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

8 Responses to Hospitality Ideas for Holy Week

  1. Sam April 23, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Sorry,i agree with Sheila’s observation. You refer to Holy Week and the fact that there was no mention of the Resurrection. There isn’t supposed to be. That was the first thing that jumped out at me when I read the article. I find it hard to believe that the Catholic Church does not proclaim the Resurrection on Easter as you then imply in your response to Sheila. I am Not Catholic BTW.

    • Ann Dunagan April 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

      Dear Sam,

      I was surprised too. Growing up in the Catholic church (here in the U.S.), our family (and every parish we were involved in) DID always proclaim the Resurrection on Easter Sunday; it was always a special time. (Yet even so, we did know many parishioners who didn’t have any real relationship with the Lord; my parents prayed with spiritually-hungry people all the time, and led seminars in Catholic schools and church basements all throughout my childhood). In the article, I was referring to what my husband and I witnessed personally when ministering with Central American missionaries years ago. The point I was simply trying to make was that many people throughout the world, and even here in the U.S.A practice religious rituals and yearly Easter-egg traditions, yet they have no personal living relationship with Jesus Christ.

      The point is that people need JESUS, and we all need to be witnesses for Him.

      Today, our family (and a team of friends) talked about Jesus on the streets in our home town, distributing of postcard invitations and inviting people to church tomorrow for Resurrection Sunday. What stood out to me the most was the hardness in so many people, who could really care less about anything to do with GOD, or CHURCH at all, especially in one particular area where people were gathered to celebrate Earth Day. Oh, there are SO so many people who need the Lord.

      I didn’t mean to come across divisive; I was trying to point out how surprised we were on RESURRECTION SUNDAY in Central America (in an area where there had been huge Good Friday processions), the streets were bare and there was little or no reference to Jesus rising from the dead. I simply was trying to convey that to me, it was sad.

      I treasure special yearly times to especially focus on Good Friday and the CROSS. Last night (on Good Friday) our family attended a wonderful outdoor PASSION play production, where we met and talked and prayed with numerous people. The night before that, on Thursday, we had a special group of families over to our home for one of the most special times of communion ever. It was such a beautiful time to remember ALL that Jesus did for us through His suffering and death. However, in my opinion, remembering the cross is not something we reserve just for Holy Week. All throughout the year I daily treasure and thank God for the CROSS of Jesus and the shedding of His precious blood. In the same way, all throughout the year (even during Holy Week) I praise God and thank Him for His glorious Resurrection and His New Life.

      He is ALIVE, and He is real.

  2. Ann Dunagan April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Hello everyone!

    Lindsay just sent me a note and said that someone wrote her to ask about how to make Matzo for Passover.

    Here are a few links:

    Matzo Recipe for Passover – fat-free recipes
    Kosher-for-Passover Matzo – this one looks much easier to follow
    Easy Christian Seder Supper

    One thought is that the whole idea of UNLEAVENED bread was that it was to be made without yeast (which represented sin), and cooked quickly (because they were leaving Egypt in haste). I don’t think the cooking process was supposed to difficult or complicated.

  3. Sheila April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    You have some really neat ideas and I appreciate your post. One thing I did want to comment on is your observation that during Holy Week you didn’t see mentions of resurrection during some religious events. I am Roman Catholic, and I think I may can explain that. Holy Week is the week that leads up to Easter. During Holy Week, we remember the events leading up to Easter. We remember the joyous welcome to Christ on palm Sunday. We meditate on the passion of Christ and remember His suffering for us. During the entire period of Lent, we do not even use the word hallelujah during our Mass. We are preparing our hearts for Easter. On Easter Day, it’s a huge celebration! Christ has risen! Hallelujah!! Easter Day begins the 50 days Easter season for us (until Pentecost). So all that to say, I don’t know what type of services/celebrations you witnessed, but that may explain somewhat no mention of resurrection. It is not at all that we do not celebrate and rejoice in the resurrection. It’s just that we do so on Easter and during the Easter season. I just wanted to offer this information as I am a conver to Catholcism from a Protestant faith, and I had no idea about these things. For we as Catholics, this is such a Holy time to draw near to the Lord. Holy Week is a VERY special time.

    • Ann Dunagan April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      Dear Sheila,

      I also come from a Catholic background, and I have many precious Holy Week memories with my grandmother, concerning lent and Palm Sunday and remembering all that Jesus Christ did for us through HIS death and suffering on the cross.

      What surprised us on our missionary journeys to Guatemala and Costa Rica and other Latin American countries was not the Holy Week celebrations but the total absence of ANY acknowledgment of anything to do with Jesus on Easter Sunday and the days that followed, or the Resurrection of our Lord. We were grieved by some of the acts of penance that we saw people doing to try to “atone” or pay for their sins by self-efforts — such as watching people crawl on bare knees for miles to this one big cathedral until people’s knees were all bloody, similar to other examples like in the Philippines, when men are actually NAILED to a cross, but taken down shortly before death, thinking that they are pleasing God. Practices like those make me sad, because I believe those take away from the COMPLETED work that Jesus did once and for all.

      I also love Holy Week, and I am so thankful for all that Jesus did in coming to this earth to be born, and to live, and to die, and to rise again!!! It’s true that Roman Catholics more-emphasize the CROSS, and Protestants more-emphasize the RESURRECTION; but it’s not that one is better than the other. At the CROSS, Jesus fully paid the horrible punishment for sin that we all deserved; and at the RESURRECTION, Jesus rose again and totally conquered death and hell forever. It is all GLORIOUS!!!

      Tonight, our family are having a group at our home to worship together and to celebrate communion together; tomorrow night, we’re going to an outdoor PASSION PLAY with several other families; and Sunday morning, we’re going to CHURCH to WORSHIP!!!

      Thank you so much for your perspective and comment!!! Bless you dear sister!!!

  4. Danielle B April 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Another great movie to watch is The Passion of Christ w/Mel Gibson.

  5. Ann Dunagan April 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Here’s a few more ideas:

    1. Have your kids use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures of Jesus, and the Cross, and the Empty Tomb. Write, “JESUS IS ALIVE!!!” and “GOD LOVES YOU!!!” outside your house on the sidewalk in front of your house.

    2. If you have a daughter, a few little girls to join you for a fun & fancy (but simple) dress-up Easter Tea Party. Eat little sandwiches and strawberries; drink tea in teacups, and read aloud a picture storybook about Jesus, such as The Little Rose of Sharon.

    3.Take a few Children’s books with the story of Jesus and the Cross & Resurrection (such as The Three Trees), and invite local neighhood kids to your front yard to listen to you read aloud.

  6. MinnAnn April 20, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    What a great collection of ideas! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!