Contextualizing Holy Week for Asian Americans

Worship leaders planning ahead for Holy Week may find inspiration from Japanese American artist Henry Sugimoto, who contextualizes the passion of Christ in a striking way. Thinking About Christ (image above) draws a parallel between Christ’s suffering and the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.

In Camp Jerome (below) portrays a Japanese American soldier as a Christ-figure ready to give his life to demonstrate loyalty to the U.S. A woman offers the soldier a senninbari cloth belt, a symbol of protection for soldiers heading off to war.

These paintings remind us that Christ understands injustice and the plight of Asian Americans suffering racism. On the other hand, Asian Americans can understand the suffering of Christ more deeply as we grapple with our collective experiences of racism.


Rev. Michael Chen also makes powerful connections between Asian American stories and the Holy Week story on his Instagram page @aapi.liturgy. Below is his Palm Sunday prayer (click the arrow in the middle right to read all 3 slides). Additionally, Rev. Chen reflects on the last supper here, and Holy Saturday here.


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Please share this blog post with your pastors and worship leader friends. Feel free to share more worship resources and ideas in the comments below. Thanks for your support!

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