|Our Holy Week Tree|
During Holy Week, my family meditates on our Lord's last week before His crucifixion using another interactive tool--a Holy Week Tree. This idea is not my own; I came across it nearly twenty years ago, before I converted to the Catholic Church. It was originally presented in a small booklet written by Pam Lancaster, a homeschooling acquaintance of mine. Over the course of the years, I have lost the booklet and forgotten the title, but the "Resurrection Tree" (as she called it) continues to bless our family. If any one finds this resource still available for purchase anywhere, please let me know so I can give Pam full credit. I know her text was copyrighted, but I think I can share what we do, which is similar but not exactly the same. It was her idea, though, not mine!
On Palm Sunday, we place our "Holy Week Tree" in the center of the dining room table. For many years, our tree was just a nice, multi-pronged branch stuck into Plaster of Paris in a coffee tin which the children painted. It worked great, until someone knocked it off the shelf in the storage room and that was that! So, I found another one which I purchased. Point is, you can make it for basically free, so don't let the lack of a fancy, store-bought tree keep you from starting this devotion.
To set up the tree, I put the objects in plastic colored eggs which are numbered 1 through 7 (or you could write the day on them). Then each day during Holy Week, we open the egg for that day, take out the object, and read the Scripture. I might then make a few brief comments about the event. We take turns hanging the objects on the tree and opening the eggs. For some of the objects, like the felt palm fronds, I made enough for each child to hang their own. Other items, such as the wooden lamb, are hung by only one child. Very simple, but perfect for elementary aged children and even older! (My older children still enjoy participating in this tradition). The children love the yearly repetition and it really helps them think about our Lord during His last week.
Here is a brief synopsis of the days, events, and objects:
Palm Sunday Entry into Jerusalem felt palms, rocks
Monday Cleansing the Temple plastic doves
Tuesday Widow's Mite bags with pennies
Wednesday Mary anoints Jesus perfume bottles Thursday Last Supper grapes/wheat
Friday Crucifixion* lamb, crosses
Saturday In the Tomb* black shroud
Sunday Resurrection!* butterflies, eggs, hearts
*(The last three days all are linked to the same Easter Sunday post, since I was too busy to post separate blog entries just before Easter.)
I love the way this simple tradition helps us spend a few minutes together as a family focusing on our Lord's final days.
Here's the first day:
Open egg number one. Inside are felt palm branches and small rocks. Read Luke 19:28-40 (you may want to read through verse 44 with older children). Hang the palms and scatter the rocks underneath the tree.
Some comments about this reading: A king riding on a donkey was a sign of his coming in peace. In wartime, a conquering king would ride in on a horse. Palms represent victory and are also a sign for the people of Israel of God's final dwelling among His people. Jesus wept because He knew the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. In the Gospel reading, He explains that this was the result of His people failing to recognize and accept Him as their Messiah. God's creation will praise Him, even if we fail to do what we were created to do, that is, know, love, and serve God.