The Lord be with you! Welcome, Cheviot churches and also those joining us from elsewhere. Come, people of God, let us worship together this Palm Sunday
Good Friday – Yetholm at 2.30pm
Easter Day – Yetholm at 10am and Morebattle at 11.15
Short podcasts for every day of Holy Week will be on the podcast page of the website, including the Maundy Thursday service. The exception will be Good Friday, when there a video of the actual service will be online in late afternoon.
Call to Worship
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Let palms wave, in high ‘hosannas.’
Let coats and cloaks create a path:
the unloosed colt
and untamed Rabbi ride,
to usher in the coming kingdom. Hosanna, hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Let us worship God!
Hymn 367 – Hosanna, loud hosanna (1,2)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Living God, how good it is to be in your house, how good it is to join with our sisters and brothers to worship you, especially on this holy day. As we step into Holy Week, open our hearts and minds to your love. May this coming week be holy for us. May we live this time, expecting that in some way you will meet us.In whatever way we live this week, give us the times and spaces to ponder again, that you know us and understand our suffering, especially our struggles over this past year of pandemic.
Lord Jesus, you enter our lives humbly,
Riding on a donkey, staying at our level, inviting our response. Circle our hearts, centre our minds, still our bodies. Be present to us now.
God of compassion,we confess that like that crowd on the first Palm Sunday, we can be fickle and sometimes unintentionally allow ourselves to be dragged along by the views and thoughts of others without noticing the consequences that lead to death and not life.Forgive our fleeting enthusiasms and shallow commitments.As we witness again the story of Jesus confronting his enemies, strengthen our desire to follow him and serve you with courage like his.
Jesus says, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. Jesus brings light to those in darkness, forgiveness to those who truly confess, and pardon to all who seek to follow Jesus. We are a forgiven people.
Readings – Psalm 118: 19–29
Blessing of Palm Crosses
We thank you Lord for these palm crosses,
A simple reminder of the love you showed for us.
As we take them into our homes,
May they remind us through this special week
That you gave your life for us upon the cross.
May they remind us of how deep and wide and high
Is the love you have for us.
As we take them into our homes,
So may we take your love into our hearts
And worship you as Saviour and King.
And like the people on that first Palm Sunday,
May we also cry ‘Hosanna,
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord’.
Hymn MP 167 – Give me joy in my heart (3,4)
Loving God as we remember the first Palm Sunday, we see Jesus who embodied meekness and majesty and we join with those exclaiming "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!" You are our God, and we give thanks again this day for your goodness, in the certain knowledge that your love endures forever. Amen
How good it is to be back in church. I feel as if we should be having a party, a celebration, but of course, we can’t. Tuesday saw the anniversary of lockdown, and we have missed out on a lot over the year. Weddings, christenings, the various ridings and festivals. Who knows when they will take place again?
But today is Palm Sunday, and we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem on the donkey to great acclaim. There was a carnival atmosphere to Palm Sunday, with shouts of Hosanna and the waving of branches, as the crowd gathered to see what was happening and to welcome one who, according to some, was the Messiah.
It was Passover time, and pilgrims had gathered to celebrate the festival, a festival which reminded the Jews how their ancestors had been liberated from the oppressive rule of Pharaoh. The Romans were the power in charge of Palestine now, so they sent troops to ‘keep the peace’ and make sure the locals didn’t get any fresh ideas of liberation from the oppressive Romans. They didn’t like the idea of crowds! And so on Palm Sunday, there were probably two processions. The first, from the Roman capital of Caesarea on the coast: a cavalry of elite troops, with war horses and weapons and banners, riding to Jerusalem as a show of strength. And the other procession – well, it was the ragtag group, with a man on a donkey, and the crowd waving palms and laying out their cloaks.
Two parades – one of military might: the other a mere protest. But of course, it was more. It was drama. Jesus was enacting a prophecy from Zechariah and alluding to Psalm 118. By riding on a donkey, he was making a statement, that his way was not one power and oppression, but one of peace and compassion. And so, this was a clash of two kingdoms – the kingdom of Caesar or the kingdom of God, and the people had to make their choice.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of the final confrontation, and we have to ask ourselves which parade do we want to be part of. If we align ourselves with Jesus, then we have to be prepared to travel with him through this week. We have to join him in the Upper Room, where he talks of betrayal and denial and humble service, as he shares a meal, he points to a broken body and shed blood.
We have to join him in the garden of Gethsemane, as he prays that the cup is taken away from him and watch as he is arrested and led away.
We have to join him at the trial where the cries of Hosanna will be drowned out by the cries of Crucify. We will follow to the cross, where the same crowd who witnessed the procession, will now witness an execution.
It is so easy to jump from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, ‘Hosanna’ to ‘He is Risen’, but if we follow Jesus, we have to go through all of Holy Week. Do we align ourselves with the one who makes himself known in vulnerability rather than might, who rides a donkey and not a war-horse, whose greatest victory is not on the battlefield but on the Cross and empty tomb? So, let us choose which parade we follow.
Palm Sunday reminds us that suffering and hope travel together. We place our hope in Jesus, the one who walks alongside us, who has walked the way of the cross and who moves us from suffering to salvation, from death to life everlasting.
Hymn 399 – My song is love unknown (1,3,7)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of justice, in a world that continues to tell the tired old story that might is right, we give you thanks that, in Jesus, you have shown a new and different way— that real strength is found in vulnerability and through self-giving acts of humble service.
We pray for those in positions of power— for heads of state, and for those who serve in government at local and national level, that they govern wisely and well, and with integrity, putting the needs of constituents and country above their own desires.
We pray for people who live under the heel of oppressive regimes, for countries where lawlessness has replaced the rule of law, for places where human wrongs are the order of the day, not human rights.
We remember the ones forced to flee their homelands for daring to speak truth to power, or who are discriminated against because of their faith, gender, orientation, or the colour of their skin. Lord, may your kingdom come where justice is mixed with mercy.
God of compassion, in a world that is riddled with compassion fatigue we give you thanks that you take us by the hand and keep us. We pray for the most vulnerable in our communities, those who have been bruised by life, those for whom hope has gone, who see only darkness and despair.
We pray for those who are ill and especially we bring before you those affected by the COVID-19 virus, and those who tend to them. Give comfort to all who wait and watch, to those who are weary and overwhelmed, and to those who are walking the way of grief. Lord, may your kingdom come where compassion is a by-word, and no-one is left without care.
In a moment of quiet prayer, we bring before you all who are on our minds and in our hearts at this time, and we pray for our own particular needs
God, who makes all things new, we offer you these, our prayers, in Jesus’ name. Amen
Hymn 365 - Ride on, ride on in majesty
Go into Holy Week, walking in the footsteps of Christ and may the blessing of God, Creator, Guide and Inspirer, rest and remain with you, now and forevermore. Amen