Sunday, 4th April

Journeying with God: Palm Sunday

The following has been adapted from a service which was given in St Mary de Crypt Church Gloucester. This church is now used to provide training for ordinands and readers in Gloucestershire. During this time of uncertainty as we are limited to what we can do or where we can go then it is good to remind ourselves that God is with us whatever journey we take.

Please use it in whatever way is helpful to you.

Let us begin by being still, settle our breathing, calming our minds and being at peace in the presence of God.

God of pilgrimage

Be with me on my journey through this life,

guard and defend me,

shelter and feed me

challenge and inspire me,

teach me and lead me,

and when my days are ended

welcome me home at last

to rest in your love forever. Amen

 

O Christ

You are Lord of our Journeying,

Lord of our Searching,

Lord of our Exploring,

Lord of our Finding,

Lord of our Arriving

May we find that in travelling to the edges

We discover The Centre. Amen

 

In all our travelling

May your footsteps guide us

In our journeying to work and on returning

May your footsteps guide us

Within our homes and families

May your footsteps guide us

In our leisure time together

May your footsteps guide us

In difficult situations and conflict

May your footsteps guide us

As we stumble on the way

May your footsteps guide us

In the journey with our faith

May your footsteps guide us

As we place our trust in you

May your footsteps guide us

In all our journeys wherever they may be, Lord

may it be your footsteps in which we place our feet.

Amen

 

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;

Teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all day long.

Ps 25: 4-5

 

Reading: 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 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.’

 

Thought for Palm Sunday by Brian Brobyn

“Ride on, ride on in majesty; in lowly pomp ride on to die”

How very pertinent these words are.

This was a time for extravagant gestures – a time when anything else would appear just mean and calculating.

Jesus sent two disciples into the town to borrow a donkey. The scriptures read, “Fear not, daughters of Zion, your king will come riding on an asses colt.”

Jesus rode the donkey for the last two miles, from Bethany and Bethphage, via the Mount of Olives, into the holy city. They had no rich trappings to adorn the donkey so they used the best they had – the cloaks off their backs.

Even though he travelled in a lowly form, riding on a donkey, it was infinitely better than his usual transport, on foot, but now, at least, he was mounted. His ride into Jerusalem was planned to highlight his lowliness – he was not afraid of the power and the malice of his enemies within the city – but he rode into the city on a donkey – not a fine horse as a king should have done – but a donkey; and a borrowed donkey at that. When you consider it, it was typical of the whole life of Jesus. He was born in a borrowed stable, he went out onto the sea of Galilee in a borrowed boat, he ate his Passover meal in a borrowed room and was buried in a borrowed sepulchre. But, when you think about it, for someone who was as humble as Jesus, with no possessions at all, borrowing would have been the only answer.

As Jesus rode on into Jerusalem, can you imagine his surprise when the streets were packed with crowds cheering and shouting ‘Hosanna’ ‘Son of God’ ‘Hosanna to the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord’ This was a greeting usually used by priests when pilgrims arrived for the feast. The crowd wanted to own him as a king – Messiah. They heartily wished him well, both with their cheering and with their ‘Hosannas.’

Hosanna, of course, means ‘Let the king live for ever.’ The excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd was so great as they descended from the Mount of Olives, that the Pharisees were afraid that it might cause trouble with the Romans, so they asked Jesus to silence his followers. Jesus said to them that if they were to silence them, the very stones would cry out instead. Now, it is widely believed that the disciples did have something to do with agitating the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. But what a fickle crowd this was – one minute they were calling out that the king should live for ever, and not much later they were calling out, ‘Crucify him’.

As Jesus rode on, people threw down their coats before donkey. This must have been another extravagant gesture. Our Gospel tells us that they broke branches off trees and threw before him. John reports that they were carrying palm branches. This was, at the time, a symbol of victory, which probably gave rise to the term ‘triumphal entry’.

Can you imagine the feelings going through Jesus that day?

He knew that he was to be insulted, humiliated, beaten and then crucified. What terrible turmoil he must have been in – after all he was human with all our human feelings and emotions.

This was supposed to be his ‘Triumphal Entry’, and some think that this turned out to be somewhat of a misnomer, but I don’t think that at all. It is, I agree, a battle and war situation, but at the end of the day Jesus did triumph. He triumphed over death. He triumphed over the grave. He won a victory for us, and wiped clean the slate for all mankind.

Jesus showed us that the only way to God is through him. He threw wide open the gates of heaven for us all, and he stands on his cross with arms wide outstretched to welcome us into his kingdom. Jesus didn’t die in vain if each of us turns to him and throws open our arms and welcomes him into our hearts.

And we, in our humble human way should respond by giving him all our love, all our prayers, and when we get the chance of God’s grace and mercy, let us grasp it with both hands, let us learn from the mistakes of others, and, above all, let us greet him with our Hosannas.

Hosanna – let the king live forever – and may we serve him every way we can, for as long as we live.

Amen.

Prayers

As we pray, we might like to reflect on this picture, inspired by the poem, ‘footprints in the sand’

Thank you, loving God,

for being with us on our journey of life,

thank you for being our friend,

when we are weak, strengthen us,

when we are lonely, speak to us,

when we are sad, comfort us,

when we are lost, find us,

when we cannot see the way ahead, show us the way,

when we have decisions to make, guide us,

when we are glad, rejoice with us,

when life is too hard, carry us. Amen.

 

Lord, we give thanks for all those whom we meet along our faith journey,

those who have helped guide us, shown us a different pathway, steered

us along more interesting routes, given us new perspectives,

helped us discover the gifts.

 

Sometimes we may have ventured down blind alleyways, and had to backtrack, but your presence has always been a constant Lord, you carry us when the terrain is tough, and your light shows us the true path which leads to your Kingdom – you who are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen

A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus:

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

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 forever. Amen

 

Knowing that Jesus loves us we say the words that he taught us:

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 for 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

 

Let the Lord be with you

Thanks be to God