Jesus and his followers, after probably weeks on the road, finally entered Jerusalem a few days before the crucifixion. The story reflects the tradition in ancient ages of rulers entering a city in triumph. Undoubtedly, those who heard the story of Palm Sunday from the beginning knew exactly how to interpret this account: The King is coming home to his people.
And thus—Jesus did precisely that. Yet, Jesus came in his own way, and this fact would also have been clear to early Christians. He wasn’t riding a strong and well-groomed, noble steed, but rather a lowly donkey—a work animal. Instead of being accompanied by well-disciplined, victorious troops, he was joined by peasant followers, met by residents of the city, wondering what all the commotion was about.
Some people got it and thought to wave palm branches and to put down their capes on the ground in front of the donkey. I suspect the vast majority of Jerusalem’s citizens felt mostly confused and then went about their business.
We live in a world and time when the throngs around us still are confused by religious faith, and thereby go about their daily affairs. We who are Jesus’ followers, know that Christ was is fulfilling his divine mission, a week that for millennia has been called Holy. As Paul writes, echoing an ancient hymn, Jesus in the form of God, emptied himself and became obedient to the point of death.
– Pastor Neil
Let us pray. Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the
human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross. This selfless act of obedience and love gave us also an example of his great self-sacrifice in humility. Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his life and suffering We live also in the glory and promise of his resurrection. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
A reading from Philippians, at the Second Chapter:
One of Christianity’s Earliest, Oldest Hymns
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
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. … For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
The Gospel of Matthew, at the 21st chapter
Jesus Makes a Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
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, 5“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.”
A Confession of Our Sins to God
God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world, you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on us ☩, forgive us all our sins, and through the grace of Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.
Prayers of the People
O God of compassion, the giver of life and health, we pray your healing mercies upon all who are in any way affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Comfort and sustain those who have been stricken; relieve their pain, and restore to them your gifts of gladness and strength. Grant to all in authority the courage to make wise decisions that are essential for the common good, and strengthen them to lead institutions that care for those whom they serve. Watch over all first responders and those in the medical professions whose duty it is to care for the sick; guard them against all danger, and keep them safe in the knowledge that is through their sacrifice and service that the health of the whole community is promoted. Mercifully accept these our prayers, O God of all comfort, and our only help in time of need. Amen.
Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them the courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
Adapted from the New Zealand Prayer Book
In calling forth creation from the void, God, you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.
Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world and equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Protect Mother Earth from human neglect. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Burn out all that is evil in us; consecrate us for holy service and empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for the mission. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Renew the faith of all those who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace, mercy, and healing to fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders—particularly in this time of crisis, confusion, and fear—and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Be with those who are dying and ill, and their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by hurricanes, floods, and fires, viruses, and any other human and personal calamities. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
We especially pray for those we name now… (please add your petitions). Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
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, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Loving God, we give you thanks for restoring us in your image and nourishing us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. Now send us forth a people forgiven, healed, renewed; that we may proclaim your love to the world and continue in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen.
Sisters and brothers, when we go out into the world in peace, we live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, hold on to what is good, return to no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice and hope, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Amen.