These Holy Week resources come from two contributors to the book Gifts in Open Hands — More Worship Resources for the Global Community. Gerardo Oberman of Argentina shares an opening prayer for Palm Sunday and Laura Markle Downton has created a contemporary Maundy Thursday reading based on her experience when she was in Mexico.
Reading for Palm Sunday
(while the following is being read, carry in, very slowly , a candle, which symbolizes the presence of Jesus in the midst of the people.)
Lord, we greet your presence in our midst,
as on that day when you entered,
riding a borrowed donkey,
into that city in which you were acclaimed and hated,
received and rejected, praised and insulted.
We raise our hands to heaven,
as a sign of gratitude, in the same way that, on that other day,
many placed their own clothes on the road
and waved palms as you passed
to welcome you,
to express their joy,
to show their hope…
Each extended arm
was a symbol of freedom,
a desire for peace,
the dream of a better tomorrow,
a desire for peace.
And each shout raised up to the heavens
contained the longings of generations
of men and women
injured by injustice
and wounded by scorn.
each from our own situations
of pain or disillusion,
or sadness or frustration,
greet you with faith,
we receive you with love,
we give to you all that we are
and promise to accompany you
on the road that you choose for us.
Welcome, Lord Jesus, to your home…
Thank you for coming to us.
Modern Day Maria: A Maundy Thursday Portrait
When the judge read my son’s sentence; “guilty,” I could not contain my screams. It was as though that fast, forceful gavel pounded straight down on my head.
I stood. I screamed. They eventually had to usher me out of the courthouse because my cries could not be consoled. When they put me out on the curb, it was so cold on the outside of that stone building. It was fitting that they read such a verdict to me surrounded by such stone- “they are stone- their hearts are stone,” I screamed. The wind was strangely still. All I could hear was my own frantic breath.
My son’s sentence: death. Execution. My baby! How dare I be given another breath as they take his away? Months have passed- what feel like years, since that moment. Now, the time of my son’s execution is tapping my shoulder. Here, in Texas, they execute some with lethal injection. Tomorrow, they will fill my son’s veins with their vile hate and kill him. Why? Because my son has been too honest for their taste. He’s been too outspoken about the injustice of the authorities on the Mexico-US border… of the way they shoot us down. He’s fought the authorities too vocally. He’s been telling them that no human is “illegal” and that our families and children crossing the border have real economic hardship that needs to be remedied. He’s called them on their greed! And for this, they will kill him tomorrow!
From the time he was young, he’s always had that fire about him. He would speak his mind anywhere and to anyone, even to our Priest. Some weeks I would be nervous to bring him to mass, fearing what he might say. Fearing, almost admiring his boldness. And now they’re gonna snuff that fire out because they can’t handle the heat of his truth. They can’t handle the mirror he holds up to them!
No amount of poetry, of prose, of appeal, can come from my pen to stop them. I have visited the judge’s home, again and again, with candle vigils and photos of my son in hand. I stopped this when they threatened me with arrest. I can’t afford to go to jail and leave the others at home alone. But home- our home, will be shattered by their cruelty. By his honesty. They are murdering my son. Yes- he is guilty. Guilty of love. Guilty of telling them the truth.