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Service for Palm Sunday
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
[Keep a moment of silence, calling to mind that, though we are unable to come together for public worship, we share fellowship as a Church family as we offer this short act of reflection and prayer in our own homes]
In fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the world, we begin this week of solemn celebration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Today we remember how Christ entered his own city to complete his work as our Saviour, to suffer, to die, and to rise again. Let us join with him in faith and love, so that, united with him in his sufferings, we may share his risen life.
The Collect for Palm Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.1-11
A reading from the Gospel of St Matthew
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
On Palm Sunday the Choral Eucharist usually begins with us gathering outside the Church for the Liturgy of Palms [Mumbles weather permitting!]. We hold our palm branches up as they are blessed; we listen to the account of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and we process into Church with the words, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’
The service that follows includes the dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel, when we become the lynch mob baying for Jesus’ blood. Our ‘Hosannas’ turn to shouts of ‘Crucify him, we have no king but Caesar!’ The Palm Sunday Eucharist is the first of several dramatic services in Holy Week.
This year there will be no such liturgical drama in All Saints’ or in any other Church across much of the western world. But this does not mean that we cannot accompany Jesus as he enters Jerusalem as the ‘Son of David’, or stand at the foot of the cross witnessing ‘Love so amazing so divine’. Though members of our Church family are isolated and apart we can still celebrate Holy Week and Easter together as the great hope of our faith.
Today we reflect on St Matthew’s telling of our Lord’s journey into Jerusalem. He sees it as the fulfilment of one of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ In the Holy Land of the first century a donkey was seen as a noble animal, as well as a beast of burden. The people knew that when kings went to war they rode on horseback, when they came in peace they sat on a donkey.
So, by riding on a colt that no one else had sat on Jesus entered Jerusalem as its king. It was a courageous and provocative act. It’s why the crowds went wild with excitement and covered his path with their coats and palm branches. They gave him a right royal welcome because they were looking for a King David like liberator who would help them to rid the land of the hated Romans. It’s why they shouted ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ The word ‘Hosanna’ means ‘Save us!’
Palm Sunday is a day of contrasts, especially when we think of the expectations of the crowd and the claim that Jesus actually made. We reflect on how our Lord entered Jerusalem as its saviour, but not in the way the people were expecting. He came instead as the ‘Servant King’.
Today marks the beginning of a week when we follow the way of the cross. We all have our crosses to bear at this time. It may be the cross of enforced isolation during this national emergency or being anxious for vulnerable loved ones and friends. We are also thinking of those who are selflessly risking their own lives at the moment in the NHS and in our front line services. They know, from their vital work, how heavy the cross can be. Their sacrificial love for those who contract the virus is bringing healing to the critically ill.
If Holy Week celebrates anything it proclaims the victory of sacrificial love, human and divine. Our hope and prayer must be that the way of the cross, the way of love, will see us through during the challenging days and weeks ahead.
Heavenly Father, we remember today how our Lord entered Jerusalem and journeyed the way of the cross. We pray for strength to take up our cross and to follow his way of sacrificial and saving love.
Lord, hear us.
We pray for those who have contracted the Coronavirus throughout the world; for those who are mourning lost loved ones and who are fearful as the pandemic spreads. Help us, Lord, to trust in you and to feel your presence close to us at this time
Lord, hear us.
We pray for governments across the world as they seek to contain the virus. We also ask your blessing on our health workers, doctors, nurses and hospital staff, and on those who are involved in our frontline services. Lord, keep them safe and strengthen them in their vital work.
Lord, hear us.
We pray for our own community, here in Mumbles, for our families, neighbours and friends. We bring before you the members of our own Church family, as we offer this time of prayer and worship. As we walk with you the way of the cross, may we come to share in the joy of Easter’s victory.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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.
Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.
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