Palm Sunday – March 28th 2021

Welcome

The Roots Activity Sheet for the younger members of our church can be found here.

Good morning all – wherever, whoever and whenever you are watching this. It is a pleasure to have you share in this Palm Sunday service.

We are today thinking about Palm Sunday and at the start of in Holy Week. We will retrace the story of Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. But our intent in doing so, and throughout the week, is not simply to remember in order to try and generate some emotion or feeling about the events. Instead we recognise that, yes, this is a past, historical event – but that the effect of it is made present in our lives now.

All the events of Holy Week, Christ entering Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Jesus death and resurrection are past events. Yet these need to be present to us now, today, in a way that shapes and gives meaning to every moment, empowering God’s People.

As we celebrate the Easter mystery this Holy Week we don’t do so just to recount the events again. We do it so that we will experience Christ’s legacy, death, resurrection and kingdom, as a reality in our own lives, and in that of our community.

Let’s begin our time of worship, with words from Psalm 118

Worship

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

 

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

 

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

 

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.

 

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

 

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Psalm 118
1-2; 19-29
Lyrics: You Have Come to Save Us (All Sons and Daughters)
 
You have come to save us
You have come to save us
You have come to save us, Lord
 
You have made a way here
You have made the way clear
You have come to save us, Lord
 
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
And Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
 
You are light and fire
You are our desire
You have come to save us, Lord
 
You’re the hope among us
You’re the peace that binds us
You have come to save us, Lord
Oh yeah, You have come to save us, Lord
 
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
And Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
 
So King of all kings and Lord of all lords
Light of the world, You shine
You’re the King of all kings and Lord of all lords
Light of the world, You shine
You’re the King of all kings and Lord of all lords
Light of the world, You shine
You’re the King of all kings and Lord of all lords
Light of the world, You shine
 
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth
You’re the King of all the other kings on earth
Oh, You are!
You’re the King of all the other kings on earth

Word

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

 

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Mark 11
1-11

As an option for the younger members of our church – here is the Crossroads Kids Club telling of the Palm Sunday story.

Palm Sunday – so called because of the leafy branches in our reading, that are identified in the Gospel of John as palm branches, that grow on the Mount of Olives.

 

In our Church calendar, a week before Easter Sunday, we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, sometimes called the Triumphal Entry. That’s what we often think of, if we think, of anything, when we hear the words “Palm Sunday” – it has connotations and meaning. There are probably feelings associated with it, and songs and liturgies that spring to mind and colour, enrich and change our thoughts. All this tapestry of meaning, all these ideas, come together in our minds to make up what it is that Palm Sunday means to us.

 

Of course, this is true of all words, and arguably not just words, but it’s that I want to focus on today, this idea of meaning, and pose the question: Who is Jesus to you?

 

Our reading fits into the start of what some refer to as Jesus Passion – the last short part of his life on earth, leading up to his death and resurrection. It is also known as Holy Week. We are at the start of that week, with Jesus and disciples coming from Jericho, via Bethany and Bethphage to Jerusalem. They are only a mile or two away when the familiar narrative starts. Our reading in Mark’s Gospel, and Luke’s Gospel too, both capture the instruction of Jesus to two disciples to go ahead, find the unridden young donkey and being it back. Each of the four Gospels then record the same key events taking place, with some minor details added and removed as fits each one. These events are:

  • Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem (Matt 21:1–7; Mark 11:1–7; Luke 19:29–35; John 12:14).
  • As Jesus approaches and enters Jerusalem, crowds and/or disciples spread cloaks and/or branches on the road (Matt 21:8; Mark 11:8; Luke 19:36; John 12:13).
  • People shout praises and blessings, enthusiastically embracing His arrival (Matt 21:9; Mark 11:9–10; Luke 19:37–38; John 12:13).

Many of us will be aware of that basic narrative. It’s a story that may be quite familiar, and so as we think about meaning today, we’ll ask the question of what the crowds expectation, and feeling and association was. And use that to think about ourselves. We often mention how the Jewish expectation was seemingly off the mark, but how is that manifest here.

 

At this time and place, the Jews, Jesus being one of them, would celebrate Passover. In and of itself that brings a subtext, a history and a backstory all of its own to the events in our narrative today. The Jews identified themselves as God’s people, and they had marks of that claim. They had the Temple the Law and the feasts and fasts of their calendar to remind them and to re-enforce their position before God.

 

Passover brought millions of pilgrims to Jerusalem, to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Ex. 12). This feast and coming together of so many people was a huge annual celebration in which each Jew had a sense of being personally involved in the original event, and being part of the nation formed from it. It also pointed forward to a future act of deliverance for God’s people by his action.

 

That overtone and festival are what Jesus and the disciples come into. The spreading of the leaves on the ground was performed each year by the residents of Jerusalem at the feasts of Tabernacles and Passover for the bands of pilgrims approaching the city. They come into an atmosphere of celebration and feasting. Some even suggest that the liturgy of verses 9-10 was again a yearly event They had significant nationalistic implications in the welcoming of a coming kingdom.

 

That coming kingdom is mentioned in association with David and gives us an insight into the hopes of the people. They had a messianic hope for the restoration of David’s kingdom – the height of the Kingdom of Israel. Their enthusiasm was for a ruling Messiah and a political kingdom with land and boundaries. It was for the vanquishing of their enemies, and their renewed covenant with God. This goes some way to explaining the entries in the gospels where Jesus counsels people to silence about his true identity (Mark 1:25, 34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 9:9)

 

The intent is to prevent misunderstanding of his identity and of an erroneous popular response. Yes, he is the expected Jewish messiah, but he first had to establish what that meant to a people already expecting something vastly different. All of what they hoped would be fulfilled, but in a reconfigured way.

 

This year the significance of the approaching King was fulfilled. The king, the messiah rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. This is both fulfilling prophecy (Gen. 49:11; Zech. 9:9) and the common mounts of Jewish kings (this is also mentioned in the Mari Tablets and the Sumerian Gilgamesh Epic). This young donkey would also fulfill the kingly prophecies: only the king rode on his donkey, this young donkey had never been ridden. In line with Rabbinic thought this communicated an unworthy people receiving their king, rather than a king riding in glory to a worthy nation.

 

With all these, and many more, layers of significance – and Jesus own recent history and followers – the events in our reading today would have communicated so much different meaning to so many. Some understood and laid their coats in the road – not likely to be something done yearly, but realising a significant event – others continued with the celebrations as expected, no doubt excited and enthused but also missing the full meaning of what was unfolding.

 

Jesus was in the midst of an event that conjured enormous meaning for millions. On that day for many he represented a removal of Roman oppression and glory days for the nation of Israel. For some he represented something else, the bringer of a new kingdom and a new paradigm that wasn’t fully understood or realised.

 

So as we enter into Holy Week, I want to encourage you to pause for a moment, and ask yourself: Who is Jesus to me? What does he mean? When you hear the name what ideas, feelings and thoughts are brought to mind? What is it you associate with that name?

 

As you bring these thoughts to mind, gently test them, and compare them to the 1st Century itinerant Rabbi that is brought to us in the Gospels. Compare them to the Jesus explained in the NT letters that came before them. Look again at the Jesus that is woven throughout the whole of the Bible and ask yourself honestly if that is the same Jesus that comes to mind when you hear his name. The Jesus that came to rescue by his cross and resurrection, to being new life and identity in him, re-fashioning the values and lives of the Church he established. As this Holy Week unfolds I hope you see a fresh vision of the Jesus revealed within it.

Pause and take a moment.

Who is Jesus to me

What does he mean to you?

When you hear the name what ideas, feelings and thoughts are brought to mind?

What is it you associate with that name? 

Think about your responses and feelings and the thoughts, hopes and dreams that are tied up with them. 

Then spend some time comparing these to the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus revealed in the letters of the NT and the Jesus revealed throughout the whole of scripture.

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Hope of all hopes, God of new life, of resurrection, we come before you this Easter season, our hearts rejoicing in you. And yet, despite our joy and hope, we feel the darkness around us. God, may we know your healing presence in that darkness, and may your light shine in and through us. Comfort and strengthen us that we may be beacons of your light to those around us.

Mysterious one, you walk among us, but we do not always recognise you in our midst. Open our eyes to you. Open our ears and our hearts that we may see you at work in our midst, through our neighbours, in our community.

Source of all power, we pray for our leaders and the leaders of the world at large, that they too may recognise you in unexpected places, that instead of vying for power, they may strive to work with and for their constituents, that they may recognise the value of life of people near and far. That they may recognise the inherent worth and value of the creation we share and are gifted to participate in.

Maker of the universe, as the world around us bursts into life and colour at this time of year, we rejoice in your creation. Help us to be good stewards, carers and guardians of our home, the earth, that we so often take for granted. May we, with awe and wonder, care for and seek justice for your creation: the creatures, the land, the water and air that work together to sustain and nourish us.

Source of comfort and peace, we ask that you be with all those who suffer. We lift up those who have lost loved ones: through illness, old age, disaster or violence. We pray especially for those who have lost family and friends, those in war torn lands whose lives are punctuated by war and unrest, and those here in our city. We ask for your comfort and peace in the face of the fear, anger and grief of loss.

Light of the world, you hear all of our prayers, those spoken aloud and those whispered only in the silence of our hearts. Cast your light upon us, gracious one. 

(Adapted from https://worshipwords.co.uk/)

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Amen.

Close

 

God of transcendence
as an example of humility for the human race,
you sent our saviour to become incarnate
and to submit to the cross,
grant us the grace to learn from this patient suffering
and so to share in the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church