Lessons and Prayers for Holy Week

  Saturday, March 26
Today we remember that our Lord Jesus was buried. In his burial, Jesus sanctified the graves of the saints, so that they are no longer places of terror to us, but resting places where we may lay quietly and peacefully until our own resurrection.

The Prayer of Confession

  For my soul is full of troubles,

          and my life draws near to Sheol.

  I am counted among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 88:3-4a

The Gospel Reading

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:38-42

The Psalm of Response

  Every day I call upon you, O Lord;

          I spread out my hands to you.

  Do you work wonders for the dead?

          Do the departed rise up to praise you?

  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

          or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

  Are your wonders known in the darkness,

          or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

Psalm 88:9b-12

The Prayer for the Day – of Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, I your unworthy servant give you humble thanks for all your goodness and steadfast love to me and to all that you have made.

I bless you for creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, I pray, give me such an awareness of your mercies, that with a truly thankful heart I may show forth your praise, not only with my lips, but in my life by giving up myself to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all my days.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory throughout all ages.

Book of Common Prayer, 1979

The Closing Psalm

  In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;

          let me never be put to shame;

          in your righteousness deliver me!

  Incline your ear to me;

          rescue me speedily!

  Be a rock of refuge for me,

          a strong fortress to save me!

  For you are my rock and my fortress;

          and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

  you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,

          for you are my refuge.

  Into your hand I commit my spirit;

          you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Psalm 31:1-5

  Good Friday, March 25
Today we recall our Lord Jesus Christ’s shameful and painful death on the cross. On this day evil is conquered, and we are released from the guilt and power of sin. We are crucified with Christ so that we may live with him.

The Prayer of Confession

  Do not be far from me,

          for trouble is near,

          and there is none to help.

Psalm 22:11

The Gospel Reading

So [Pilate] delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”          

John 19:16–24

The Psalm of Response

  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? …

  All who see me mock me;

          they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;

          let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” …

  I am poured out like water,

          and all my bones are out of joint;

  my heart is like wax;

          it is melted within my breast;

  my strength is dried up like a potsherd,

          and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

          you lay me in the dust of death.

  For dogs encompass me;

          a company of evildoers encircles me;

  they have pierced my hands and feet—

  I can count all my bones—

  they stare and gloat over me;

  they divide my garments among them,

          and for my clothing they cast lots.

  But you, O Lord, do not be far off!

          O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 14-19

The Prayer for the Day – of Praise

  We praise you, O God,

          we acknowledge you to be the Lord.

  All creation worships you,

          the Father everlasting.

  To you all Angels cry aloud

          the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.

  To you Cherubim and Seraphim sin in endless praise:

          Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God of power and might;

          Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

  The glorious company of the Apostles praise you.

  The noble fellowship of the Prophets praise you.

  The white-robed army of Martyrs praise you.

  Throughout the world, the holy Church acclaims you:

          The Father of an infinite Majesty;

          Your true and only Son, worthy of all honor;

          Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

  You are the King of Glory, O Christ.

  You are the everlasting Son of the Father.

  When you took to yourself our flesh to set us free,

          you humbly chose the Virgin’s womb.

  When you overcame the sting of death

          you opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.

  You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.

  We believe that you shall come to be our Judge.

  Come then, Lord and help your servants

  whom you redeemed with your precious blood,

  and bring us, together with your Saints,

          to glory everlasting.

Te Deum, 4th Century

The Closing Psalm

  You have answered me.

  I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters:

  all you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;

  stand in awe of him, all your offspring of Israel.

  He did not hide his face from me,

  but heard when I cried to him.  

adapted from Psalm 22:21-24

  Maundy Thursday, March 24
Our Lord, knowing that the time of his death is near,
and filled with heaviness of heart,
nevertheless picks up the towel to serve those for whom he will soon die.

The Prayer of Confession

  You have taken me up and thrown me down.

  My days are like an evening shadow;

          I wither away like grass.

Psalm 102:10b-11

The Gospel Reading

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

John 13:1–15

The Psalm of Response

  For my days pass away like smoke,

          and my bones burn like a furnace.

  My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;

          I forget to eat my bread.

  Because of my loud groaning

          my bones cling to my flesh.

  I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,

          like an owl of the waste places.

Psalm 102:3-6

The Meditation for the Day – of Wonder

  When we see salvation whole,

      its every single part

           is found in Christ,

  And so we must beware

      lest we derive the smallest drop

      from somewhere else.

  For if we seek salvation, the very name of Jesus

      teaches us

          that he possesses it.

  If other Spirit-given gifts are sought –

      in his anointing they are found:

          strength – in his reign;

      and purity – in his conception;

      and tenderness – expressed in his nativity,

          in which in all respects like us he was,

               than he might learn to feel our pain.

  Redemption when we seek it, is in his passion found;

      acquittal – in his condemnation lies;

      and freedom from the curse – in his own cross is given.

      If satisfaction for our sins we seek – we’ll find it in his sacrifice,

      and cleansing in his blood.

  If reconciliation now we need,

      for this he descended into hell.

  To overcome our sins we need to know

      that in his tomb they’re laid.

  Then newness of our life – his resurrection brings

      and immortality as well comes also with that gift.

  And if we also long to find

      inheritance in heaven’s reign,

           his entry there secures it now

      with our protection, safety, too, and blessings that abound

           – all flowing from his royal throne.

  The sum of all is this:

      For those who seek

           this treasure-trove of blessings of all kinds,

                in no one else can they be found

                than him,

           for all are given

                in Christ alone.

John Calvin,

trans. Sinclair Ferguson

The Closing Psalm

  Hear my prayer, O Lord;

  let my cry come to you!

  Do not hide your face from me

          in the day of my distress!

  Incline your ear to me;

          answer me speedily in the day when I call!

Psalm 102:1-2

  Wednesday, March 23
Today, we see Judas Iscariot revealed as the one who will betray Jesus. We are called not only to remember the pain of Jesus, but also to enter into his trust in the Father.

The Prayer of Confession

  Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;

          all day long an attacker oppresses me.

Psalm 56:1

The Gospel Reading

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

John 13:21–30

The Psalm of Response

  My heart is in anguish within me;

          the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

  Fear and trembling come upon me,

          and horror overwhelms me.

  And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

          I would fly away and be at rest;

  yes, I would wander far away;

          I would lodge in the wilderness.

Psalm 55:4-7

The Prayer for the Day – for Mercy

O Father, in your mercy look on my weakness, and for the glory of your name turn from me all those evils that I most righteously have deserved. And grant that in all the troubles of this life, I may put my whole trust and confidence in your mercy and grace, and always serve you with a pure heart and a clear conscience and a sincere faith in holiness and love, to your honor and glory, through our only Mediator and Advocate Jesus Christ.

adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, 1689

The Closing Psalm Prayer

  Give ear to my prayer, O God;

          do not hide from my supplication.

  Attend to me and hear me.

  I will cast my burden on you, Lord.

          You will sustain me,

          and I will trust in you.

adapted from Psalm 55:1, 22, 23

  Tuesday, March 22
Today we remember how our Lord was pained by the unbelief around him.
Although he calls on people to believe in him, the words of the prophet Isaiah come true.

The Prayer of Confession

  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;

        heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

Psalm 6:2

The Gospel Reading

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

John 12:37–43

The Psalm of Response

  I am weary with my moaning;

        every night I flood my bed with tears;

        I drench my couch with my weeping.

  My eye wastes away because of grief;

        it grows weak because of all my foes.

  Depart from me, all you workers of evil,

        for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

  The Lord has heard my plea;

  the Lord accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:6-9

The Prayer for the Day – of Supplication

I beseech you, merciful God, to allow me to drink from the stream that flows from your fountain of life. May I taste the sweet beauty of its waters, which spring from the very depths of your truth. O Lord, you are that fountain from which I desire with all my heart to drink. Give me, Lord Jesus, this water, that it may quench the burning spiritual thirst within my soul, and purify me from all sin. I know, King of Glory, that I am asking from you a great gift. But you give to your faithful people without counting the cost, and you promise even greater things in the future. Indeed, nothing is greater than yourself, and you have given yourself to humankind on the cross. Therefore, in praying for the waters of life, I am praying that you, the source of those waters, will give yourself to me. You are my light, my salvation, my food, my drink, my God.

St. Columbán, 6th Century

The Closing Psalm Prayer

Lord, do not blind my eyes or harden my heart. In these days when we remember your Son’s suffering, and always, deliver me from my sins and save me for your mercy’s sake; through Jesus Christ your only begotten Son.

adapted from Psalm 6:4

  Monday, March 21
Today we recall how Mary, the sister of Martha, washed the feet of Jesus with fragrant oil. With Mary, we adore Christ.

The Prayer of Confession

   Save me, O God! …

   I am weary with my crying out;

           my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim

           with waiting for my God.

Psalm 69:1a,3

The Gospel Reading

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.          

John 12:1–11

The Psalm of Response

   Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;

          according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

Hide not your face from your servant;

          for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.

Draw near to my soul, redeem me;

          ransom me because of my enemies!

Psalm 69:16-18

The Prayer for the Day – of Adoration

    Glory to God in the highest,

          and peace to his people on earth.

    Lord God, heavenly King,

    almighty God and Father,

          I worship you, I give you thanks,

          I praise you for your glory.

    Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

    Lord God, Lamb of God,

    you take away the sins of the world:

          have mercy on us

    you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

          receive our prayer.

    For you alone are the Holy One,

    you alone are the Lord,

    you alone are the Most High,

          Jesus Christ,

          with the Holy Ghost,

          in the glory of God the Father.

The Greater Doxology (Greek, 3rd Century)

The Closing Psalm Prayer

    Let heaven and earth praise him,

          the seas and everything that moves in them.

    For God will save Zion

          and build up the cities of Judah,

    and people shall dwell there and possess it;

          the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,

          and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Psalm 69:34-36

Palm Sunday, March 20

Jesus is proclaimed by the crowds to be the King of Israel. Many who identify with him on this day will turn against him by Friday.

The Prayer of Confession

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
     test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
     and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:2–3)

The Gospel Reading

When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:29–40)

The Psalm of Response

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
     ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
     worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. (Psalm 29:1-2)

The Prayer for the Day – of Dedication

Almighty and most gracious God, who gave your only-begotten Son for the salvation of the world, and for your peoples’ redemption; Grant that, as I remember today the way he went up to Jerusalem, there to suffer – the just for the unjust – so may I follow him in his holy footsteps. And, as in him I have died to sin, may I from now on in him live to righteousness, to the glory of your name. (Prayers for Common Worship, 1936)

The Closing Psalm Prayer

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
     whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? …

Wait for the Lord;
     be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:1,14)