Holy Week to the Streets

April 09, 2013

As Christians gathered to celebrate holy week recently, some did so with interesting and powerful public liturgies. The idea of taking holy week to the streets is a fascinating idea similar to other efforts I have highlighted, including taking Ash Wednesday to the streets (see post here) and taking Advent to the streets (see post here). Here are a couple of the efforts that I found to be inspiring takes on the sacred week.

Washington, D.C.: Episcopalians gathered on Monday of Holy Week to walk through the stations of the cross. As participants stopped at key locations of political power, they reflected on a liturgy focused on gun violence. You can watch a short video of part of it here, and the Episcopal News Service reported on it here. It is a powerful scene as they walk through the rainy streets of D.C. to reflect on the suffering of Christ and our culture of violence while staring at the symbols of political power that refuse to take actions to save lives. The service was planned by Episcopal leaders in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. They explained about the effort: "Our presence here today reflects our common commitment to transformational change and the proclamation of God's hope to the world." The liturgy for the event can be read here.

Philadelphia, PA: On Good Friday, the faith-based group Heeding God's Call gathered for a public service to lament gun violence and remember those who were killed by guns in the city over the past year. They have held this service for numerous years as a way of reflecting on the pain and hope of death and resurrection. Organizers described the effort's goal: "Remember the suffering and violence of Good Friday and grieve for those killed by guns in the Philadelphia region." A video of part of this year's liturgy can be seen here.

Minneapolis, MN: Mennonites gathered for a Good Friday service outside the U.S. Courthouse to offer a anti-drone witness. The liturgy for the event reflected on the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Roman Empire and the deaths of thousands of people from unarmed U.S. drones over the past several years. Organizers of the service explained: "We'll gather for a public liturgy where we will remember the witness of Christ. We gather to lament our complicity with our government's death-dealing, to repent, and to move together more deeply into embodying the Good News of Jesus." The Mennonite Worker of Minneapolis posted a brief report and a couple of photos on their blog here.

These and many other efforts are interesting ways of bringing our faith to the public square. As Shane Claiborne wrote about these types of services: "Liturgy and worship were never meant to be confined to the cathedrals and sanctuaries. Liturgy at its best can be performed like a circus or theater - making the Gospel visible as a witness to the world around us."