Sharing Our Faith Together

Reflections Through The Passion - Day 3. Worship for Palm Sunday

by Peter Blount and Andy Cokayne 28 March 2021

We commence our time of worship together this morning with a hymn that echoes the sentiments of the crowd that first Palm Sunday, as they welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem in triumph. ‘Make way! Make way for Christ the King.’

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

On Palm Sunday, the crowds shouted the praises of Jesus; yet on Good Friday they shouted for him to die. Let us who also worship him, confess that we sometimes reject him, and ask for his forgiveness:

Lord Jesus Christ, you come to us in peace, but we shut the door of our mind against you. In your mercy: forgive us and help us.

You come to us in humility, but we prefer our own proud ways. In your mercy: forgive us and help us.

You come to us in judgement, but we cling to our familiar sins. In your mercy: forgive us and help us.

You come to us in majesty, but we will not have you to reign over us. In your mercy: forgive us and help us.

Lord, forgive us our empty praise, fill our loveless hearts; come to us and make our lives your home for ever. Amen.

Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our second hymn reminds us where our hearts and minds should be fixed ‘My Spirit Looks to God Alone;’ 

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

We turn once more to our Heavenly Father in prayer.
Heavenly Father the contrast appears stark between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, yet we realise that the difference is often stark between your plan for us and our world, and how we are treating each other and your world.

Heavenly Father we bring to you the pandemic and all those suffering through it, those grieving the loss of loved ones, those in hospital, those suffering through loss of job or reduced income, those seeking to care for those with the virus, those seeking to make critical decisions in connection with the virus that will affect many, those who have had their mental wellbeing affected due to the virus, and the many more affected by the virus in whatever way, we pray that you will meet each at their point of need.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father we pray for our troubled world, for our government that you would give them wisdom to make decisions that are for the good of all, and for all who seek to serve you in parliament. We pray for businesses seeking to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, and Brexit, again we pray for those in power that they would make the right decisions. We pray for our ongoing relationship with the EU and the affects that has, that calmness, and diplomacy would remain and again that the decisions made are for the good of all. We pray at this time for Batley, the teacher and head teacher at the centre of the arguments that your wisdom may prevail, and for churches in the area, that you would make their witness strong, and they would bring healing to the community. 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father we pray for ourselves and our own fellowship, that you would give us a vision for the future, that you would show us what part you want us to play in bringing healing and help to our local community. We often feel so insignificant, but we know that you call each of us to play our part, and we pray that through the Holy Spirit we may be given confidence and the opportunities to share the good news that Easter brings.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We ask these prayers in the name, and for the sake, of your Son our Lord and  Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen


The Triumphal Entry

Reading: Matthew 21 v 1-11

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

I remember many years ago HM the Queen passing through Derby near to where I was working at the time.  So, along with thousands of others I went to line the route and try to get see her.  As the moment came, the crowd roared, hands and flags waved, we all surged forwards and………the car shot past and that was it!  Yes, I did get a glimpse – just! 

On this special day in our church calendar that we call Palm Sunday, for obvious reasons, I’m sure we all have recollections of celebrations, fellowship and singing, aside of course for the last two Palm Sundays. But mainly the memories are joyful and stirring, Ruth has shared with us one such occasion:- 

On 16 April 2000 we attended the Palm Sunday service at St Luke's United Methodist Church in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA. On arrival, we were welcomed warmly and invited to sign the attendance book and handed a piece of soft greenery about a metre long. The pews were full, there was organ, choir and band. The service was traditional, perhaps a little old fashioned by our standards, until the congregation were invited to stand and wave our greenery (which of course was a palm frond!) as we sang Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. Being in the midst of all that sound and movement was so thrilling and filled us all with such excitement. I still have the order of service and palm frond, it's yellow now and looking much more like the dried leaves we see as the familiar Palm crosses we distribute. I like to think that it was perhaps a tiny flavour of how it might have felt to have been in the crowds 2000 years ago.  

Our main reading today from Matthew 21 is the account of Jesus journey from Bethany into Jerusalem, including the ‘borrowing’ of a Donkey and the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with voices raised in Hosanna and palm branches being waved high in the air, because everyone wanted to be there!

A bit like me wanting to see the Queen.  

But the gospel writers do not record how Jesus reacted to the accolades and the celebrity status that was shown to Him.  As far as Jesus was concerned he was, yet again, fulfilling to the letter, all that He had to do to complete His mission to a lost world, which, had been decided by God, predicted by the prophets and recorded in the old testament.  

The prophet Zechariah writes in Ch9 v 9 ‘see your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’.  Psalm 188 v 26 declares ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. And in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah we read the heart rending description of a man of sorrows, who was to be rejected and despised by man.

Therefore, the picture is perhaps of a Jesus oblivious to all that is happening around him, simply and completely focused on His immediate circumstances and the events of the coming week.

For all of us the challenge of Palm Sunday is to balance the euphoria of the day with the utter despair that was just around the corner.  As with all the gospel story, including this particular chapter, it makes much more sense when we can view the complete picture. To look at Palm Sunday in the reflected light of Easter Sunday is much more palatable, but for Jesus and His disciples experiencing the ‘live event’ as it were, the pressure would have been unbearable. 

We often see the struggle between Jesus the human being, naturally looking for the least painful path, against Jesus the Son of God fulfilling his earthly mission. However, as we have referred to several times recently Jesus did not have a choice at all, His mission, life and place in history were set out from the beginning.

As you and I share this passiontide together it would be of great benefit to consider our own mission in life, asking the question do we really have a choice or is our mission also set out ready for us. The difference being, of course, we have the assurance of Jesus love to guide us, His power to help us and His grace to sustain and bless us. 

 Our final hymn is Ride on! Ride on in Majesty.

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Heavenly Father as we echo the many who heralded your Son's entrance into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, may we not in the following days deny his Lordship, but enable us to live consistent Christian lives to your glory. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

We are united with churches throughout the country on this Palm Sunday as we share    together in the 'The UK Blessing'.

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.