Sunday 28th March – Palm Sunday
The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.
True and humble king,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you
on the way of the cross,
which is the path of glory.
Liturgy of the Palms
John 12. 12-16
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!’
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!’
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
Liturgy of the Passion
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.
Post Communion Prayer
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.
Palm Sunday Sermon 2021
It all seemed to be going so well – for any of Jesus’ followers in the triumphant crowd on that first Palm Sunday. What better time than Passover to come and establish God’s rule and reign from Jerusalem. Jesus their new Moses – their Messiah would rule in God’s power – Israel would be great again – this was going to be their Passover just like their ancestors knew when Moses led them out of Egypt – the Romans would soon be a thing of the past – the good times were here at last. It struck me this week that this is one of those times when we can really identify with both Jesus and the crowd of His disciples.
With Jesus – because like Him we know the way the story plays out – we know that in a matter of days He will face – unjust rejection, humiliation, pain, suffering and death. We can’t get too excited about this triumphal procession – we know what lies ahead, what awaits Jesus within the city walls of Jerusalem. What is more we know that Jesus knows it too – He has told His disciples numerous times – He has tried to prepare them for the worst but no-one seemed to listen – it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. But for Him this is the hour He came for, the destiny to which His life had always been moving.
But for that crowd of disciples we know their hopes will soon turn to disappointment and we can identify with them too. Have you ever had the experience where everything is going so well, all your ducks are in a row, everything is coming together and suddenly something happens and the whole thing comes unravelled? Or you think you know the way ahead and all seems clear and yet the road takes an unexpected turn and what seemed so clear is now like driving in thick fog and you have no idea where life is going? At times like that we can feel so disappointed – with God, ourselves and others. Why me? Why us? It all seemed so good and now this…
If you could speak to that crowd of joyful disciples on that first Palm Sunday what would you say? You might say listen this isn’t going to play out as you think it will but don’t despair, don’t give way to disappointment. You see something much bigger, much better is happening – this is not just about Israel it is about the whole of creation. God’s ways are not our ways, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts – God’s plan is vaster than you can imagine – just wait and let it unfold. It looks like the end but it’s really the beginning – the Kingdom is coming but not in the way or by the means you thought it would.
As I have walked around Sandford in the last few weeks I have had to listen to a few disappointed people – it usually starts with “So you are leaving us I hear…” things haven’t quite turned out as everyone expected. One of my favourite spiritual writers is Julian of Norwich and her book Revelation of Divine Love and at one point in one of the sixteen visions God gives to her – God says a wonderful thing to Julian. To paraphrase it God says, ‘If I can take the worst event of human history – the killing of the God-man Jesus Christ and turn it into the best event for humankind – the salvation of the world – surely I can work everything together for good in your life too’. It’s simple but true and it’s the story of Holy Week – remember that crowd on the road to Jerusalem and if today you are facing disappointment or hope is running thin remember God’s promises to work everything together for your good. I’ll end with the words God gave to Julian that some of you will know. “All shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.