Show us how to live in joy and sorrow

As we enter Holy Week, we invite you to be in God’s presence and see what God has for you as you remember Jesus’ passion journey. This post is part of our 2020 Lent At Home worship resource series. You can download the full Lent At Home worship guide here.

Call to Worship:

(Leader can speak the “All” parts which are echoed by others.)

Come worship and learn from Jesus how to celebrate his life and honor his death.


This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad with those who waved palm branches. Help us remember God’s faithful love endures forever; through the happy and the sad times we will reflect on this week.

Candle lighter:
This last candle of Lent reminds us that God remains faithful and forgiving even when we don’t and cause suffering. This is why we worship.


Listening to God’s Word

This week read these passages from God’s word: Matthew 21:1-11, Psalm 118:1-2 and 19-29, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Matthew 26:1-5, Philippians 2:5-11 (Saturday), Matthew 28:1-20 (Easter Sunday). Additional passion narrative texts to consider are: Matthew 26:20-35, 69-75, (Maundy Thursday) Matthew 27:27-54 (Good Friday).

Pondering thoughts to choose from

  1. What would Jesus have seen, smelled, heard, felt during the Palm
    Sunday parade?
  2. How do you think Jesus’ friends felt during this week?
  3. I wonder how big Jesus’ love and trust in God must be.
  4. I wonder how we can best respond to this strong love.

Songs of the week

Hymnal: A Worship Book 238 “Hosanna, loud hosanna,” Sing the Story 78 “Sizohamba naye (We will walk with God)” or Sing the Journey 75 “Be still”

Closing prayer

To you, Jesus, we give our hope, our worship, and our love. Please give us the courage and the peace we need to keep walking with you in all the ups and downs of our lives.

Candle snuffer:
As we blow out these candles, we want to walk with you in joy and in sorrow.


Activities to choose from

  1. Improvise palm branches and hold a parade for a donkey riding Jesus.
  2. Choose songs of the week to sing as prayers for this holy week. Change the mood of your singing to match the feelings of each day’s scripture reading.
  3. Worship with a good picture book, such as The Easter Story, by Brian Wildsmith, (1993 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)
  4. Rearrange your worship center to include some rocks around a tomb. A small clay pot works well and will provide a good base for damp soil barley and some crosses made out of twigs. Place a rock in front of the opening until Easter morning. Write, “God’s faithful love lasts forever,” on a folded strip of paper to stand in front of the crosses.
  5. Identify with Jesus and the disciples by using the Family Holy Week service and activity guides on the following pages.
  6. As you decorate Easter eggs, do so as a sign of your love for and thankfulness to Jesus.
  7. Pretzels resemble a traditional prayer position of arms crossed over the heart. Bake pretzels to remind your family to pray and worship our loving, forgiving, saving Lord. Share them with a neighbor or friend.

Maundy Thursday Foot-washing

Maundy comes from the Latin, “dies mandatum” which means “the day of the new commandment.”

On that first Maundy Thursday, Jesus surprised his disciples by washing their feet. This was something servants regularly did when people came indoors, because the Palestinian roads were dusty and their sandaled feet were dirty. But Jesus was their teacher! By kneeling in front of them and washing their feet like a servant, Jesus taught them something very important. Jesus expects his followers to be like servants to each other, instead of trying to boss each other around. Listen to the Gospel words: “After he had washed their feet…he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.’” (John 13: 12-14)

Even though most North Americans don’t wear sandals and walk on dusty roads in March, we can still obey Jesus’ new commandment and wash each other’s feet. We can still obey what Jesus taught us about serving. We can imagine what it is like to have our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, kneeling in front of us and washing our feet.

Here’s how you can have a foot washing service in your home.

Getting Ready

Invite the family that joined you on Shrove Tuesday to join you for this activity.


  • A stack of small towels, one for each person who is participating.
  • A large bowl, or plastic dishpan, to catch the water.
  • A jug filled with warm water for pouring over each other’s feet.
  • Suitable songs to accompany the activity.
  • Readers. Practice reading the scripture and prayers to
    communicate well.

Order of Service

Opening song:
Sing the Story 49 “I will come to you in the silence,” Sing The Story 2 CD, (2008 Herald Press, track 18).

Scripture Reading:
John 13: 1-20

Leader’s Words of Invitation:
Because Jesus, our Lord and Teacher, washed all of his disciples’ feet, and told us to wash each other’s feet, we invite you to do so with us, even if your feet aren’t dusty and dirty. When Jesus washes us, his love cleans us, even on the inside, where bad attitudes can dirty our lives. Because we follow Jesus, we can help each other be cleaned by Jesus’ love. (Pause)

Quietly take off your shoes and put them to the side so no one will trip on them. Take a moment to breathe out all the ideas and attitudes that make it hard for you to follow Jesus.

Lord Jesus, you washed the feet of your disciples to show us what you expect us to do. Let our participation in this foot washing strengthen us for your service, and fill us with your fairness, love, and peace.

To you be glory forever. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sing, or listen to Sing the Story 40 “We will follow,” Sing the Story 2 CD, (2008 Herald Press, track 15).

Foot washing instructions

  • Everyone sits around the worship center during the foot washing.
  • The oldest person goes to the foot washing chair and invites the
    youngest one to come and sit on the chair with the basin in front of it.
  • They kneel down in front of the child, place a dry towel over one arm, take one bare foot in the non-dominant hand, make sure it is centered over the basin, and pour some warm water over the foot from the pitcher.
  • Put down the pitcher and rub the foot gently. Rinse with some more water from the pitcher.
  • Dry the foot gently, and then do the same with the other foot.
  • After this is completed; get up and greet each other. (Watch for the reciprocal gesture and respond with the gesture preferred by the person who desires the least contact: folded hands with a nod of the head, high five or fist bump, handshake, side hug, or hug.)
  • The child repeats the foot washing of the adult in the same manner.
  • This continues until everyone’s feet have been washed. If there are an odd number of people, the first person to wash feet can also be the last.
  • After everyone’s feet have been washed and dried, they pass the
    peace of Christ to each other by saying, “The Peace of Christ be with you.”
  • All return to their seats for the final blessing.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us how we can kneel and serve each other. Thank you for honoring our willingness to serve and to be served. Thank you that your peace and love fill us as we obey and follow you.

And now we pray the prayer Jesus taught us: (recite the contemporary version of the Lord’s Prayer together, Hymnal: A Worship Book 731):
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.

After this foot washing ritual, it would be good to have a snack at which you remember the way Jesus ate with his disciples. If you wish to have a Seder meal together and celebrate Passover, a number of resources for this can be found at CommonWord. Seder is a traditional Jewish feast ritual that marks the beginning of the Passover festival.


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