Holy Week Prep – Signs, Symbols, Scriptures, & Questions

At the heart of our Christian life is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery—the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. If we’re going to celebrate this journey through Easter well, we must prepare our hearts and minds. Lent invites intentionality. So, in these final days of preparation known as Holy Week, let’s hone in on the signs, symbols, and Scriptures associated with this deep mystery, this core experience of our faith.

Use this process personally, or offer it to your whole congregation. You can tweak the template below for a bulletin insert or incorporate these suggestions into a sermon or Facebook post or congregational email. Then offer space for people to share their experiences—on your church Facebook page, a gathered time following the service, or a virtual gathering.

Sink into these signs, symbols, and Scriptures…

Palm Sunday – On this day, we recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. He was heralded and welcomed by the crowds.

  • Palms
    • What do they symbolize? What expectations for “Messiah” did the people have, and why?
  • Procession
    • Jesus entered into the city and people processed behind him. In your life, are you typically in the procession or on the side, watching others process? Explain. Some among the procession soon called for Jesus’ death—what do you learn about human nature from this?
  • Scriptures to Consider:
    • Matthew 21: 1-11
    • Mark 11: 1-11
    • Luke 19: 28-40
    • John 12: 12-19

Holy Thursday – On this day, we remember the Last Supper and the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane with his friends.

  • The Last Supper
    • Jesus could’ve given his disciples his “last words” in any context—why a meal? Reflect on who was present with Jesus. What did he say to them, and why? What actions were taken during this meal that were part of the Passover tradition? What was new?
  • Washing of Feet 
    • What does Jesus mean when he invites us to do what he has done? How do we live this invitation in our daily life?
  • Gethsemane– Jesus invited the disciples to go with him to the Garden of Gethsemane and stay with him as he prayed. Unable to stay awake, Jesus found them asleep each time he returned to them.
    • In your daily life, what does it mean to stay awake and watch with Jesus?
  • Scriptures to Consider:
    • John 13: 1-20
    • Matthew 26: 17-46
    • Mark 14: 12-42
    • Luke 22: 7-46
    • 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

Good Friday – On this day, we remember the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. We stand at the foot of the cross with John and Mary.

  • The Cross of Christ
    • Why have we made the cross a symbol for following Jesus—why not a sheep instead, for example? Because we wear the cross as an ornament, what meaning have we gained about it, and what meaning have we lost? What does it mean to “lay our burdens at the foot of the cross”?
  • Walking Alongside Christ
    • The Catholic devotion of the Stations of the Cross invites believers to walk alongside Christ during the journey from his arrest and trial to Calvary. How can we walk with Jesus on this day? What does it mean to walk alongside him in his suffering? How does he walk alongside us in our suffering?
  • Scriptures to Consider
    • John 18: 1 – 19: 42
    • Matthew 26: 47 – 27: 66
    • Mark 14: 43 – 15: 47
    • Luke 22: 47 – 23: 56

Holy Saturday – On this day, we wait in hopeful anticipation that Christ’s death was not the end. We pause and reflect on what it means that Jesus died for our sins and for our salvation.

  • Consider what it means to say that Jesus is the light of the world. What is the impact of light on darkness? What is the light illuminating?
    • What gives you hope in the midst of sorrow?

Easter Sunday – On this day, we rejoice in Christ’s triumph over death. We journey with the women and the disciples to the empty tomb. We walk with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, wondering at all that had transpired.

  • New Life, Water, Baptism
    • How do these images and symbols help us rejoice in the resurrection?
  • Scriptures to Consider
    • Luke 24: 1-12
    • Luke 24: 13-35
    • Mark 16: 1-8
    • Mark 16: 9-13
    • Matthew 28: 1-10
    • John 20: 1-10
    • John 20: 11-23

As we prepare to enter into this most Holy Week of our year, remember this great truth—we cannot experience the joy of Easter Sunday without the horror of the cross. May your journey to the cross lead you to the joy of the Resurrection.

Rosina Hendrickson is a member of Vibrant Faith’s Coaching Team, and she’s the Training and Events Coordinator for Liturgy Training Publications in Chicago, Illinois. She also facilitates STEP courses through the University of Notre Dame, a platform for online adult formation.


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