בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Bārūch atāh Adonai Elohênū melekh ha`ôlām šeheḥeyānû veqîmānû vehigî`ānû lazman hazeh

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us life and sustained us and brought us to this season

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Before Holy Week

 

For ideas about preparing and celebrating Christmas, consider using the four weeks of Advent to study Matthew 1‒2, Luke 1‒2, and the Book of Mormon prophecies about the coming of Jesus such as 1 Nephi 11, Mosiah 3, Alma 7, Helaman 13, and 3 Nephi 1.[1]

Between Christmas and two weeks before Easter, consider reading one of the accounts of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1‒8; Matthew 3‒20; Luke 3‒18; John 1‒10). In the weeks before Palm Sunday, start decorating the home with spring flowers, prints of art depicting the ministry of Jesus, and renew your dedication to your personal prayer life, scripture study, and service to others.

 




Decorate the home further for the week before Easter, filling it with fresh flowers and potted plants and putting up Christ-centered art that matches the events of each day in Jesus’ last week.
Some families may even want to borrow from the model provided by the Christmas-season Advent Wreath, which is an evergreen wreath with four candles. Each Sunday in the four weeks before Christmas a new candle is lit and a family Christmas devotional is held by its light. Perhaps starting with Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, they can set up an “Easter wreath,” a flowery wreath with three large candles: a purple one representing that Christ is our king, which can be lit starting on Palm Sunday; a red one representing that he is our priest, added starting on Spy Wednesday; and a white candle, lit Easter morning, that proclaims that Christ came forth alive from the tomb with healing in his week.


 Although this book suggests devotionals starting with Palm Sunday, some families might want to start a week before, using the ideas discussed in chapter 1. Readings for this week could be as follows:
  • Sunday: read Mark 8:22‒26 and discuss the symbolism of the blind man healed in stages.
  • Monday: read Mark 8:27‒30 and its parallels in Matt 16:13‒20 and Luke 9:18‒21; read “Pure Testimony” by M. Russell Ballard (Ensign, November 2004, 40‒43) and discuss the elements of a testimony, especially what we need to know about who Jesus is and what he did for us; sing “Testimony” (hymn no. 137) or “Search, Ponder, and Pray” (Children’s Songbook, 109).
  • Tuesday: read Mark 8:31‒38; discuss what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
  • Wednesday: read Mark 9:30‒37; discuss what it means to be a servant and be like a little child.
  • Thursday: read Mark 10:32‒45.
  • Friday: Read Mark 10:46‒52; compare and contrast Bartimaeus and the blind man healed in stages.
  • Lazarus Saturday: Read John 11:1‒12:11; discuss the raising of Lazarus and why Mary anointed Jesus; sing “My Redeemer Lives” (hymn no. 135); make Lazarakia. 
    • See also the suggestions of Emily Belle Freeman, Celebrating a Christ Centered Easter, 11‒19.

Inspiring art includes Carl Bloch’s, “Healing the Blind Man” and “The Raising of Lazarus”; vignettes from James Tissot’s The Life of Christ such as “The First Shall Be Last,” “Jesus and the Little Child,” “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan,” “The Two Blind Men at Jericho,” “The Resurrection of Lazarus”; Harry Anderson’s “Christ and the Children”; and J. Kirk Richards “Sight Restored.”



Preparing for Holy Week

Studying these scriptural passages individually, reading and discussing them with our families and friends, and making other intentional efforts can prepare us for a truly rich experience as we prepare to commemorate Holy Week. Like Bartimaeus, our eyes can be fully opened so that we, seeing Jesus for who he is and understanding better what he has done for us, can join with him on a scriptural journey to Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the Garden Tomb. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1994, has taught, “As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear” (“None Were with Him,” Ensign [May 2009]: 8).

 


[1] Eric D. Huntsman, Good Tidings of Great Joy: An Advent Celebration of the Savior’s Birth (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011).

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