Palm Sunday is also called The Sunday of the Passion. As such, it has two main focal points. The first is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when Jesus was proclaimed as King of kings and those along the way spread garments and palm branches as a sign of his triumph. The service opens with liturgy of the palms, when we process with palm branches singing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” The second focus is in complete contrast as the hosannas change to “crucify him” in the reading of Jesus’ passion. As we participated in singing praise with the procession, so too we participate in the story of Jesus’ suffering and death. The service leads us onward on the journey of Holy Week, as we await the glory of Easter.
PREPARE THE SPACE
As you are able, and as your wi-fi allows, it would be appropriate to begin this service outside. After the blessing of the palms and acclamation, listen/sing the hymn All Glory Laud and Honor as you walk into your home and settle at your sacred space. We invite you to find some palms or branches of a bush. If you would like to view a video on how to make palm crosses, you may find one here:
PREPARE YOUR HEART It is customary for a time of silent prayer to be kept.
One: Let us pray.
Assist us mercifully with your help, O God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
THE PROCESSIONAL GOSPEL Matthew 21: 1-11
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 fulfill 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.”
One: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
One: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
One: It is right to praise you, Almighty God for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen
All: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
HYMN: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”
Once inside the following is said:
One: Let us pray
All: Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
THE READINGS Please take turns reading these portions of the Palm Sunday liturgy.
Psalm 31:9-16 said either in unison or responsively
9 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; *
my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat and my belly.
10 For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; *
my strength fails me because of affliction, and my bones are consumed.
11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbors, a dismay to those of my acquaintance; *
when they see me in the street they avoid me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; *
I am as useless as a broken pot.
13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is all around; *
they put their heads together against me; they plot to take my life.
14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord. *
I have said, "You are my God.
15 My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.
16 Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me."
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
REFLECTION/HOMILY OR IN A HOME, YOU MIGHT REFLECT ON THESE QUESTIONS:
During Holy Week we are reminded of Jesus’ journey to the Cross and his Resurrection. What has the journey of your life and faith looked like? Consider drawing or reflecting on your spiritual timeline. What feelings or remembrances come to mind or heart when you hear of Jesus’ arrest? What voice resonates in your soul most clearly in this narrative? Jesus must have had many thoughts and feelings in this narrative? What are your thoughts and feelings in this time of distance, disorientation, and concern?
THE PASSION READING
Today we will read the Passion story and conclude at the arrest of Jesus.
The narrative is set in parts for use by gathered small groups. However, it can be read aloud by one person.
Narrator: The passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew. Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,
Jesus: Sit here while I go over there and pray.
Narrator: He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them,
Jesus: I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.
Narrator: And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,
Jesus: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.
Narrator: Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,
Jesus: So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Narrator: Again he went away for the second time and prayed,
Jesus: My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.
Narrator: Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,
Jesus: Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.
Narrator: While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,
Judas: The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.
Narrator: At once he came up to Jesus and said,
Judas: Greetings, Rabbi!
Narrator: and Judas kissed him.
Jesus: Friend, do what you are here to do.
Narrator: Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,
Jesus: Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?
Narrator: At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
Jesus: Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.
Narrator: Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,
Crowd: This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'
Narrator: The high priest stood up and said,
High Priest: Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?
Narrator: But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him,
High Priest: I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus: You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.
Narrator: Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,
High Priest: He has blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?
Crowd: He deserves death.
PRAYERS FOR PALM SUNDAY 2020 Written by the Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger
One: This hour we turn to you, O Lord, in full knowledge of our frailty, our vulnerability, and our great need as your mortal creatures. We cry to you, as one human family, unsure of the path ahead, unequal to the unseen forces around us, frightened by the sickness and death that seem all too real to us now. Stir up your strength and visit us, O Lord; be our shield and rock and hiding place! Guide our leaders, our scientists, our nurses and doctors. Give them wisdom and fill their hearts with courage and determination. Make even this hour, O Lord, a season of blessing for us, that in fear we find you mighty to save, and in illness or death, we find the cross to be none other than the way of life. All this we ask in the name of the One who bore all our infirmities, even Jesus Christ our Risen and Victorious Lord. Amen.
One: Almighty God: Our times are in your hand. We call upon you in this hour of our need, when we are lonely and must stand apart. Be our strength, O Sovereign Lord, our calm in the midst of raging seas, our refuge and our dwelling place. Sanctify to us this time drawn away from others, even as your Son, O Father, drew away to a lonely place for prayer. Deepen our need of you, O Lord, that every breath may be a whisper of the Spirit’s prompting, a renewed searching of the deep things of God. Stir up in us the great act of intercession, that we may spend our time apart in prayer for the world you created and sustain. Bless us in our turning toward you, and make us a blessing to those who stand in need of you, the whole fragile earth. All this we ask in the name of the great Physician, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
All: Lord of the Feast, we thank you for gathering us as your people. We call to remembrance the many times we have been fed at your table and we lament our distance now. Be present Lord Jesus as you were present with your disciples, be known to us in the breaking of the bread, and may your Holy Spirit sustain us and all your Church until we can gather together again. We ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
One: Let us bless the Lord
All: Thanks be to God
The service ends in silence.