Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed are those who honour God!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Blessed are they who follow Jesus to Calvary
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed are we who hope to rise with Him in glory. Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hymn 364 – All glory, laud and honour
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 majesty and mercy,
we worship today, as the Cross looms larger on the horizon. We praise you for Jesus, who came in humility to free us from captivity. He came in mercy to free us from the sins we recognize in ourselves,
and the sins we easily overlook. He came to show us the full extent of your mercy, love and justice.
So we praise you for your kindness and the strength you show to lift our burdens and shoulder them for us in Christ Jesus. Receive our worship in Christ’s name and for his sake.
As we ponder your parade, we confess that we’ve failed to understand You. We’ve acclaimed you as king without thinking about what You mean by kingship. We jump from Palm Sunday to the empty tomb but skip Golgotha. We sing hosanna and hallelujah but forget your pain and passion. Forgive us O Wounded King, give us time to change, that as we follow You, we learn to count the cost of Your terrifying triumph.
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.
Blessing of Palms
Lord Jesus, in the fullness of time You came to show us how to live, challenged the powers, upset the religious, worried the authorities, and on this day, entered your city as its rightful king. The people acclaimed you with joyful shouts and strewn palms. May we acclaim You as our king, and follow You in Your work.
Holy One, bless now these palms, let them remind us of the ways in which Jesus unsettled the status quo and showed a different way of being royal. As we keep these palms at home, remind us of the radical nature of Your call to us, now and evermore, Amen.
Readings – Isaiah 50: 4-9a (pg 737)
Matthew 21: 1-11 (pg 988)
Hymn 367 – Hosanna, loud hosanna
Sovereign Lord, as we approach Holy Week, help us to enter into the story of Christ’s passion. May we understand in some small way the sacrifice He made for us, as we join with those of old saying "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord". Amen
What kind of King are you, Lord? We’ve got a king again now; and we’ve known of kings for years. Kings wear crowns, have retainers and flunkeys, command armies, live in unimaginable wealth, have stories fed to the press to keep the positive news flowing – though that doesn’t always work of course. Kings have families who we are taught to honour and respect. Kings have security – discreet agents, hidden weapons, and security vetting.
Yet none of that seems to be accurate for you. You were born in a stable, not a palace. Your first years were spent in exile not private school. You didn’t wear a crown – you seemed to own nothing except your clothes. When you were crowned it was with thorns as a cruel mockery of your reign. You had disciples not flunkeys – and some of them weren’t very reliable. You had no armies to command, no weapons to rely on. No press in your day of course but I can’t imagine you having stories planted on the sly. You had heaven’s armies to protect you - but they didn’t do a good job now did they? What type of king are you. Lord?
What type of priest are you. Lord? We know about priests – though we have lots of different names for them – ministers, vicars, pastors– but the job’s the same. They look holy, often wear odd clothing, tell of God’s actions, be a bit distant, mix with the right people. They have to balance being radical with being careful, navigate difficult people with tact. They have to be creative in liturgy honouring both tradition and change.
Yet none of that seems to be accurate for you. We don’t know where you trained but your command of the Bible and its teachings is second to none. You didn’t seem to look that holy, you didn’t keep that professional distance that ministers are supposed to have. You really mixed with the wrong people – sex workers, collaborators, and dirty gentiles. And what about tact? You really can’t call people “white washed tombs” and get away with it! You can’t call the king a “fox”! You seemed to sit fast and loose with tradition – stretching laws to breaking points, reinventing liturgy, bringing new meanings and offering mystery not always explanation. What type of priest are you, Lord?
What type of leader are you Lord? Leaders have to be slick, they need mission statements and visions for the future. They have focus groups quietly working out what’s the best way to get a hearing. Leaders now avoid saying what they really think but want, instead, to please their base. Leaders offer cheap tricks where they blame outsiders for the ills of the world and build themselves up. Leaders need to be popular – don’t you know that Lord?
Yet none of this seems to be accurate for you. That nice rich guy who wanted to follow you – you told him to give away all that he had! Come on, wouldn’t a nice donation have been good enough? Your message is memorable, I’ll give you that, but would it get through a focus group. Turn the other cheek? Love your enemies? If asked for our coat we have to give our shirt as well! See you in the poor and naked and hungry and imprisoned! You didn’t seem to please your base either – you were nasty to the Pharisees and often told Jewish people that gentiles were more righteous than them. You didn’t find a scapegoat for social problems did you Lord? Look where that ended you up. What type of leader are you Lord?
The type of king, the type of priest, the type of leader, who would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and not on a war horse, who could have summoned the people to mount the barricades, but rather presented peace. The type who would accept betrayal and denial of friends and still forgive, who would accept the taunts and jeers of soldiers intent on humiliating him, before carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. The type who stretched out his arms wide as nails were hammered through flesh as he would hang on the Cross. The type who loved the world so much, he would go through even death for our sakes. ‘Amazing love, how can it be? That thou, my God, shouldst die for me!’
As we walk through Holy week, let us reflect on the passion of our Lord and how far he went for you and for me.
Hymn 399 – My song is love unknown
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
we ask you to bless our gifts, of time, talent, and treasure, that we may use them wisely, and that we may be freed from our need to worry, and come to trust You, who count every hair on our heads.
God of courage and compassion,
as we follow Jesus toward the Cross this holy week,
we give you thanks that he faced his enemies with courage, not violence. We are grateful he loved us enough to die for us, bearing every pain and sorrow others inflicted.In Christ we trust that your love has power in every situation, even the most troubling or tragic. So hear us as we bring to you the people and places facing trouble and tragedy this day.
Eternal One, before the ages You loved our world and all that is in it, you formed us from stardust, and set us in this place, giving us all that we need to sustain life and flourish. Teach us, O Most High, to live in harmony with creation, to cherish what You have given us, that we may understand and reverse climate change where we can and learn to live with a new climate where we can’t. In Your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
Crucified One, we bring before all those who are tortured today, and those who torture; we pray for those humiliated, those who are condemned to death this day, and those who condemn them. Give us grace to understand your victory, that we may challenge the powers that seek to rule our world, and remind them, and us, that they stand defeated. In your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
Powerful One, we bring before you the crowds and peoples of our age, swayed by social media, charismatic leaders, and corrupt politicians, as easily as the crowds in Jerusalem were so long ago. We think of those who protest for democracy in Israel. Help us to stand firm when we waver, help us to maintain truth when all around are lies, help us to love when the voices bay for hatred. In your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
O Most High, in silence we bring to you places of pain and people in need…. Accept our prayers, Eternal One, for the sake of Your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ
God of courage and compassion, thank you for your love that never lets us go. Amen
Hymn 365 – Ride on, ride on
Go with courage to face the days ahead.
May the Christ who walks on wounded feet walk with you on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands stretch out your hands to serve.
May the Christ who lives with a wounded heart open your hearts to love.