Theological Analysis of a Holy Week Service

Your assignment is to sketch a theological analysis of a church service (but not a Westmont chapel service) during Holy Week (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday). This can be the service of your choice (such as Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Tenebrae, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday) at the Christian church of your choice.

My goal is to help you draw connections between the doctrine we've been learning in class, and the Christian practice that goes on in the worshiping Church. The latter embodies the former; the former interprets and guides the latter. So don't just describe what went on! I'm not looking for a 'report' or a travelogue, but an analysis. Make sure you underline and develop the connections by drawing explicitly on the lectures and relevant readings.

Obviously the easiest connections to make during Holy Week will probably involve the atoning work of Christ (for instance, theories of atonement or the offices of Christ). But these may not be the only ones you find. And since the resurrection underpins practically every Christian doctrine, you might be able to range far and wide.

Don't forget to list the name and denomination of the church, which service you attended, and so on. However, if you want to do well on this assignment, don't spend much time (or even any) rehearsing or describing the service. Analyze it theologically, bringing in background only where directly relevant to the points you are making.

If you attend a church service outside your tradition and find the proceedings unfamiliar, don't be shy — ask a fellow worshipper what is going on, or wait until after the service and ask one of the leaders to explain things. In my experience, these people are delighted to help you by sharing the things they love.

Did I mention that you need to draw extensively on course concepts from lectures and readings? Why, yes I did. Three times now. Is that because semester after semester, students write 'reports' rather than analyses, with little if any appeal to course concepts and materials? It is indeed. Does that make me suspect that these students haven't done the readings and are hoping I won't notice? Draw your own conclusions.

Further tips:

Look for:

Look at:

Uh-oh! What if the service is theologically and doctrinally poor?

Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

(Back to Schedule)