"We should expect nothing less of readings that shadow Jesus’s painful, determinedly self-aware, utterly selfless journey towards a brutal execution."
Not many of us, at least within the Methodist tradition, take part in a service of worship each day during Holy Week.
For many of us, a Good Friday service is an option (maybe a three-hour vigil), and perhaps we may attend a Maundy Thursday service also – maybe focusing on an act of feet-washing or participating in a Passover Meal. The other days of the week, however, often pass us by.
Yet the Bible Lectionary guides us through Monday to Saturday with a set of substantial readings for each day. They not only follow John’s unique account of Jesus’ approach to his crucifixion but also reflect some of the major themes and images that have become associated with Jesus’s life and actions: the narrative of “the suffering servant”, as told by the prophet Isaiah; and the institution of the Jewish Passover feast, involving the blood of a sacrificial lamb (the book of Exodus).
The idea of God as “our refuge” also recurs, and other readings challenge us to explore our personal response to the actions of Jesus, the “mediator of a new covenant” between us all and God.
Taken as a whole, the readings set for Holy Week are a demanding, thought-provoking series of texts. We should expect nothing less of readings that shadow Jesus’s painful, determinedly self-aware, utterly selfless journey towards a brutal execution.
In 2020, Singing the Faith has arranged the readings and related hymns for Holy Week a little differently from previous years.
Rather than list the readings and choose a few hymns that might suit each one, each day is laid out with:
- the four Lectionary readings for the day
- a short summary of the main themes that run across the readings
- a selection of hymns suitable for the day and reflecting the themes rather than individual readings
We hope that this approach may be helpful to those following the readings for personal reflection as well as for those planning in worship.
If you are reading the texts for yourself each day, we suggest you pick just one or two of the suggested hymns, and ask yourself how they reflect, expand upon or complement the passages from Scripture.
In addition, each day quotes the single-verse hymn “A new commandment I give unto you” (StF 242), which uses Jesus’s words after he has washed his disciples’ feet (Thursday’s Gospel reading). As well as any other hymn, these words summarise the driving motivation and meaning of the events of Holy Week.