We are living in unprecedented times. Never before has the world been shutdown so rapidly and so dramatically. Schools, restaurants, and churches closed as people are asked to stay in their homes and isolate.
With the latest news that churches will stay closed through Holy Week and Easter, you may be wondering how to still celebrate these most sacred of holidays.
How can you still celebrate Holy Week during quarantine and worship God this Easter from your home?
16 Ways to Observe Holy Week and Celebrate Easter During Quarantine
The Church isn’t a building, it’s a community of faith that exists without walls. While we may prefer to gather together to worship and learn, that building doesn’t define us as Christians.
So, we can also celebrate a Holy Easter outside those walls.
Below are some ideas to help you celebrate Holy Week during quarantine and have a holy Easter at home.
Many churches and organizations are creating new online experiences and worship opportunities, so look for more ideas to popup each day.
1) Live Stream Services
Now is the time to get active on Facebook and YouTube. Even if you haven’t been a fan of social media in the past, I encourage you to get connected now.
Churches, bands, teachers, and other worship leaders are moving to online streaming as a way to serve you. Services, worship music, and Bible studies are being offered online all over Facebook and YouTube.
Look for what your church is offering, but this is also a great time to take advantage of other online opportunities.
2) Online Bible Studies
Look for an online Bible study group and commit to spending time in prayer and study through this season of Lent and Holy Week.
New groups are forming on Facebook and other platforms. See what your church is offering or look around for other groups and topics.
Now, more than ever, we need to lean into technology to stay connected and cultivate relationships with others – even if it’s through a computer screen.
3) Make your own Holy Week devotional
If you prefer to create your own devotional plan, below are some suggested passages for each day:
- Palm Sunday: Read and pray through Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11)
- Monday: Begin reading the account of Jesus’ final week in John. Today, read and pray through Jesus’ anointing at Bethany, when Mary pours perfume on his head (John 12:1-11)
- Tuesday: Read and pray through Jesus’ prediction of his death (John 12:20-36)
- Wednesday: Read and pray through Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal (John 13:21-30)
- Thursday: Read and pray through the Last Supper (John 13:1-17, 31-35) and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-45)
- Friday: Read and pray through Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion (John 18:28-19:37)
- Saturday: Read and pray through the burial of Jesus (Matthew 27:57-66)
- Sunday: Read and pray through the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:1-18)
4) Journey to the Cross Devotional
If you want a focused devotional for the week, let me suggest Journey to the Cross. I wrote this one with a specific emphasis on deeply experiencing these final moments of Jesus’ life.
This scripture-based devotional will lead you through the key events leading to the cross, immersing yourself in the story. Each day includes reflection prompts, a related scripture for prayer, and additional study to go deeper.
5) Holy Week Prayer Guide
Grab this free prayer guide for Holy Week. You’ll find prayers for Holy Week with related verses and reflections for each day in Holy Week.
Grab your free printable of these prayers below:
6) Make traditional Holy Week food
Have some fun family time in the kitchen trying new recipes. Explore traditional Holy Week food from around the world, or make food to remind you of each day’s Holy Week events.
Below are some ideas and recipes you can try:
- Lenten pretzels
- “money bag wontons” to symbolize the money Judas took for betraying Jesus
- Judas buns – a traditional Czech bread to symbolize the rope Judas hung himself with
- Unleavened bread for Maundy Thursday
- Christian Seder meal
- Crown of thorns crackers
- Easter story lunch for the kids to help tell the story of Easter through food.
- Hot cross buns for Good Friday breakfast
- Resurrection rolls for Holy Saturday
- Easter story cookies
Here are some other ideas of traditional Holy Week foods from around the world. Try something new this year by exploring recipes from another culture and cooking together as a family.
7) Pray and Worship Together Online
Easter is traditionally a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate. So, gather (virtually) with friends and family on a video chat. (Here are some good video chat apps to keep you connected.)
Do a devotional together, reading the Bible, discussing what you’ve read, play some worship music, pray for each other, and spend time just connecting.
Connect with a prayer partner throughout the week and pray together.
Check-in virtually with family and friends, especially the most vulnerable and alone.
8) Maundy Thursday Foot Washing at Home
I’m really going to miss our Maundy Thursday service this year. It’s one of the most moving services of the year, to experience foot washing and then see the altar cleared as a reminder of the world without Jesus on Good Friday.
Consider doing a foot washing service at home this year with your family.
- Take time to wash each other’s feet, explaining to your children that it’s a way to serve each other.
- Read John 13:1-17, 31-35 together and then wash your children’s feet.
- Have your children to wash each other’s feet.
- Discuss what it means to serve others.
- Share ideas about how to better live this out in your daily lives.
- Talk about how you can continue to serve others, especially in this time of social distancing and quarantine.
9) Keep a Prayer Vigil at Home on Thursday
After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. This was his most passionate and desperate night of prayer, yet the disciples he took with him kept falling asleep.
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41 NIV)
Christians have traditionally observed this prayer vigil during the evening of Maundy Thursday, committing to stay awake and pray with Jesus through the night – or for at least an hour.
Commit to an hour of silent prayer on Thursday night.
Sit outside on your porch or balcony and pray ‘in the garden’ with Jesus. Or, light a candle and create a sacred spot in your home to pray.
10) Pray the Stations of the Cross Online
You may not be able to walk the Stations of the Cross in your church this year, but you can find online resources to do this virtually.
Watch, too, for churches to live stream the Stations of the Cross.
This post, Online Stations of the Cross @ ChurchNext, has a number of links to online stations of the cross for adults and children.
You can also find video versions on YouTube, such as this one below:
This video would be great to watch with your kids (it’s a great explanation of the stations for anyone, especially if you haven’t prayed it before):
11) Fast on Good Friday
Good Friday is a traditional day of fasting in many churches. Whether it’s your church tradition or not, take this as a day to fast in some way. Good Friday is the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, the day he died. So, it should be a day of solemn remembrance of the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.
Mourn the loss, imagine a “Good Friday world” without Jesus, and take time to repent of your own sins.
12) Observe the 3 hours on Good Friday when Jesus was on the cross
Jesus hung on the cross for three hours before he died. Historically, this is observed from noon to 3pm on Good Friday with a time of silence.
Turn off electronics, sit in the silence, pray. Observe these three hours, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for you.
13) Share the Easter story with your kids (or grandkids)
I first read the whole Easter story to my children when they were very young (around 2). We’d been reading through the Beginner’s Bible, but I’d been hesitant to tackle the Easter story. I thought it was too much for them at such as young age. But, one night they insisted on reading those chapters. I was blown away at the depth of questions they asked and how they took it all in.
- Share the Easter story with your children (or grandchildren). Walk through Holy Week with them, so they more fully understand why we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
- If you’re a grandparent, consider doing this over Facetime or the phone
- Read the story from an age-appropriate Bible.
- Use Resurrection Eggs to tell the story to younger children. You can purchase a set or even make your own.
- Watch a children’s version of Stations of the Cross and discuss each event.
- Read an Easter story book together.
14) Keep Saturday Solemn
Holy Saturday marks the day Jesus spent in the tomb, so keep this day solemn and observant. It’s a day to sit at the tomb of Jesus and wait expectantly for his return, mourning his death and reflecting on his great sacrifice.
Turn off electronics, limit activities, and imagine a day without Jesus. Experience the deep grief of the disciples who thought Jesus was gone forever and didn’t yet understand the prophecy.
This may be hard with already stir-crazy kids at home, so consider setting aside even an hour or two of silence and reflection. Maybe go for a walk or sit outside. Talk about what life would be like without Jesus in the world.
15) Rejoice on Easter Sunday
Get up early and worship God as the sun rises. Go for a walk and praise God and the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection.
Churches will be live streaming Easter services, so join one (or more) and worship from home.
16) Fill Your Neighborhood with the Good News
Find creative ways to be salt and light in your neighborhood.
I’ve been seeing pictures of notes written in chalk on sidewalks. As you get outside for fresh air, take along a piece of chalk and leave notes of hope, encouragement, Bible verses, and the good news of Jesus for others to see.
Make food for a neighbor. Leave it on their front porch with a Happy Easter note.
Make a sign for your front yard or window proclaiming the good news of Easter.
How Will You Celebrate Holy Week During Quarantine this year?
Share other ideas and resources in the comments!
Let’s get creative and find new ways to worship and observe Holy Week and Easter at home, even when we can’t gather in our churches and enjoy our traditional services.