Holy Week offers churches the opportunity to journey with Christ through the real emotions life invites us to experience. During Palm Sunday, we experience Christ’s triumphal processing; on Maundy Thursday, we experience injustice with Christ; on Good Friday, the tragedy of loss; on Holy Saturday, we experience the haunting silence of God, followed by the triumph of Easter Sunday, as we celebrate God’s ability to continue bringing new life.

So, it seems altogether appropriate that during Holy Week we see Wesleyan congregations walking together into grief, remembrance and celebration.

At Newark Wesleyan Church (NWC) — a revitalizing church in Newark, Delaware — lead pastors Revs. Tori and Steven Covington celebrate the ways their congregation served the community. “When I reflect on Easter, the word that I can’t escape from is family. New friends were gladly welcomed, longtime family members gathered once again, and everyone was excited to contribute to the family celebration,” reflected Rev. Tori Covington.

People brought flowers, finances and lots of candy to create an Easter egg hunt for local families; and a group of congregants spent the weekend engaged in landscaping around the church. That sense of cohesion at NWC built a vibrant culture for Easter but also offers insight into the ways their congregation can continue coming together to serve. “We were overwhelmed by the spirit of generosity and joy that God has gifted our people with this Easter season and look forward to how he will continue to knit our little family together this year,” she shared.

Resilient Church — a church plant in Vermillion, South Dakota — held their Easter gathering one week early with a worship service in their future location. Students, young families and neighbors from around Vermillion came to share a meal and worship together.

“When God called us to plant a church in the college town of Vermillion, South Dakota, we had no idea what to expect (nor what we were doing),” reflected Rev. Jake Thurston, the church planter shepherding Resilient toward their upcoming launch. “But since we got to Vermillion in June 2021, we have been blown away by the Lord’s faithfulness. The team God has given us to plant this church has been incredible, and the community’s response to us coming to town has been overwhelmingly positive,” Rev. Thurston continued.

Resilient’s Easter gathering was their fourth worship night and connections in the community continue to grow as they approach their public launch on August 28, 2022.

At Embrace Church in Emporia, Kansas, the team decided to create a sensory experience of Holy Week, handing out boxes that included small reminders of the suffering, sacrifice, victory and freedom found in Christ. A small leather strap, vine piece, nails, sponge, linen strip and broken wax seal were tangible reminders of the journey of Christ.

“For Easter this year, we wanted to engage as many different senses and connections to the resurrection as we could muster. So, we put together these small boxes,” reflected Pastor Mark Adams. The opportunity to assemble these boxes — and engage his family in assembling and praying over them — was among the most meaningful rhythms of Easter for Pastor Adams. These boxes offered the congregation a chance to reimagine an often familiar narrative with fresh eyes, ears, taste, touch and smell.

As we continue to see Wesleyan churches experience this season of the church year with their communities, we are reminded that Easter is not just one Sunday, but a movement — an invitation to live in Jesus’ resurrected life by making him known in our communities.

For more stories of how The Wesleyan Church is seeing lives made new, visit wesleyan.org.

Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of collegians and young adults at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development Division.