The Peace of Christ be with you all.
Call to Worship –
Come and join the noisy crowd. Shout Hosannas and sing praise to God! For today we remember the one who enters in gently and humbly, on the back of a colt.
We will raise our voices and proclaim the wonder of the One who comes in peace.
Holy Brother, you have come in God’s name and for our sake. You have entered our souls in moments of shouted Hosannas and waving branches and you have come also in our late nights and confused hearts. As we celebrate your entry in triumph to Jerusalem 2000 years ago, may we also celebrate the life, the love and the grace this day symbolizes. Come to us again, our Dear Brother Jesus Christ, and help us to follow you. Let your name be on our tongues and in our hearts. Amen.
HYMN– TIS 333 All glory, praise and honour
Refrain: All glory, praise and honour to you, redeemer, king,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
1.You are the king of Israel, and David’s royal son,
now in the Lord’s name coming, our king and blessèd one.
2.The company of angels are praising you on high,
while we and all creation exultant make reply. 3.The people of the Hebrews with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems before you we present.
- To you before your passion, they sang their hymns of praise:
to you now high exalted our melody we raise.
- Their praises you accepted: accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good take pleasure, our good and gracious king.
Scripture Readings- Mark 11:1-11; Philippians 2: 5-11
Prayer of Confession-
Gracious God, in this time of confession, we offer to you the fullness of our lives.
We all have failings and things we would rather weren’t a part of our story.
Be with us when we stumble and help us to stand up once more.
As we remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, we may find ourselves there in the crowd,
shouting Hosannas and singing your praises. May these Hosannas come from our hearts
knowing what is to come of Jesus. Help us not to shy away from the truth of Christ’s giving. We too may find ourselves amongst those who will shout crucify; Love is sometimes too hard to face. Be with us as we journey towards the cross that we might enter into this mystery with our whole lives and be recipients of your amazing love. Amen.
Words of Assurance
God is abounding in steadfast love. Even when we fail, God’s love is never ending. In Christ, you are forgiven. Thanks be to God.
Sermon – Praising Jesus today
Do you enjoy watching processions or taking part in them? What do you expect to see? How do those taking part behave? How do the crowds behave? What do they say or do? How does this differ from what we heard of Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem? Can you imagine yourself being part of that crowd?
In Mark’s story, the crowds were quoting from Psalm 118: 25-26 – one of the psalms pilgrims sang as they travelled up the hill to Jerusalem at Festival times. It also reminds us of
Zechariah 9:9 where God promised the people of Israel who had returned from Exile in Babylon that someday in the future, their enemies would be punished and their king return – but not like the conquering armies of their neighbours, no, their king would be humble and ride on a donkey, not a war horse. For the first century Jewish contemporaries of Jesus in Jerusalem, triumphal entries by Roman armies and governors like Pilate were painful and anxious experiences. In the near future, by 66-70 CE, such armies would totally destroy Jerusalem as punishment for Jewish rebellion. What was happening exactly when Jesus came along riding on a donkey? What might he be trying to say by this demonstration? Do you wonder why the Roman authorities didn’t put a stop to it – the crowd’s behaviour cutting down branches and spreading clothes on the ground to make a ‘royal carpet’? What did those in the crowd expect to happen? Were they hopeful of change?
Does it remind you of some demonstrations of victory parades or parties after an election where the opposition party now has won power? Celebrations of relief for some – augurs of disaster for others.
Have you ever voted for someone and later regretted it because s/he did not live up to the promises they made? I recall feeling really cheated and somewhat foolish for trusting them. Did the crowds in Jerusalem feel like that about Jesus later in the week or were they just manipulated by the Pharisees and priests and intimidated by the Roman authorities?
We’ll never know, but a more pressing question for us in 2021 is how do we relate to Jesus now? What would we like to say in praise of Jesus? What adjectives would we use to describe him? Courageous, tender, protective, compassionate, wise, patient, prayerful?
To whom do we compare him in our contemporary society? His society used Hebrew Bible comparisons – have we some more recent heroes who exemplify his behaviour?
Who is Jesus for you now? Saviour? Co-creator? Lord of life and conqueror of death?
Teacher or healer?
Advocate for women and children?
Radical reinterpreter of God? Exemplar for our prayer life?
God who comes to you inviting you to join his team? Jesus the Forgiver and Reconciler?
Jesus the Good shepherd?
Do you want to praise Jesus as Miracle worker? Or martyr? Friend or Saviour? Embodiment of God? Comforter or Encourager? Bridge to God? Connecting cable for us with God? Word of God? Alpha and Omega? Light of the world? Bread of heaven? Vine to which you cling?
Servant leader? Suffering servant? Son of Man? Son of God? Cosmic Christ?
How do you imagine Jesus and what do you say to him about your relationship with him? (silent prayer time)
We have no portrait of Jesus the human being from his time. Have the images painted of him over the centuries enhanced or discouraged your faith?
Contrary to most of the depictions of Jesus we see, the earliest painting shows a short haired, beardless man. Long hair was a sign of a Nazirite who dedicated himself to God for a period of time and vowed not to cut his hair or drink wine and then shave off the hair in a special ceremony at the end of the period. We have no indication Jesus did this – and certainly he was accused of partying too much with friends and ‘sinners’.
In 2001, forensic anthropologist Richard Neave created a model of a Galilean man for a BBC documentary, ‘Son of God’ working on the basis of an actual skull found in the region. He did not claim it was Jesus’s face. It was simply meant to prompt people to consider Jesus as being a man of his time and place. This coming week, we will remember the transformation of the human man into the cosmic Christ and wonder at its meaning for us.
I invite you to affirm your faith in words put together in our ‘Uniting in Worship’ p. 128
Statements of Faith #6 The gospel by which we are saved
This is the gospel which we have received, in which we stand, and by which we are saved, if we hold it fast:
That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, and that he appeared first to the women, and then to Peter and to the twelve, and then to many faithful witnesses.
We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the beginning and the end; he is our Lord and our God. Amen.
HYMN- TIS 348 Ride on ride on in majesty (Henry Hart Milman 1791-1868 Public Domain)
1.Ride on, ride on in majesty; hark, all the tribes hosanna cry!
O Saviour, meek, pursue your road with palms and scattered garments strowed.
2.Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die;
O Christ, your triumphs now begin o’er captive death and conquered sin.
3.Ride on, ride on in majesty; the winged squadrons of the sky
look down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice.
- Ride on, ride on in majesty; your last and fiercest strife is nigh;
the Father on his sapphire throne awaits his own anointed Son.
5.Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow your meek head to mortal pain, then take, O God, your power and reign!
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Offering prayer O Great God, you weave your blessings into our lives. Take these gifts that we offer; may they be a blessing to others. Amen.
Prayer of Intercession
Loving God, our world cries out in pain and suffering. Be with us in our need and offer comfort in our distress. We pray for our world. So many people cry out for justice and hope for a better tomorrow. As we hear their cries, embolden us to be the change we wish to see.
Give us strength and grace along the journey.
We pray for the church. We have not always acted for peace and healing in the world. Help us to mend our ways that we might be your hands and feet, offering light in dark places.
We pray for our communities. Sometimes people feel alone in crowded rooms – sometimes people feel crowded even when they are alone. Help us to build communities that draw the embracing circle wider so that we can encompass all your children. As we move into Holy Week, help us to draw near to you so we might see you with us through our pain and suffering. Amen The Lord’s Prayer-
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. Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen
HYMN- TIS 276 There’s a light upon the mountains (Henry Burton 1840-1930 Words by permission Methodist Publishing House UK. Used by permission CCLI licence #217268.)
1.There’s a light upon the mountains, and the day is at the spring
when our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King;
weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long,
but his triumph day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.
2.There’s a hush of expectation, and a quiet in the air,
and the breath of God is moving in the fervent breath of prayer:
for the suffering, dying Jesus is the Christ upon the throne,
and the travail of our spirit is the travail of his own.
3.He is breaking down the barriers, he is casting up the way,
he is calling for his angels to build up the gates of day:
but his angels here are human, not the shining hosts above;
for the drum-beats of his army are the heart-beats of our love.
4.Hark, we hear a distant music, and it comes with fuller swell —
the great triumph song of Jesus, of our King, Immanuel:
Zion, go you forth to meet him; and, my soul, be swift to bring
all your finest and your dearest for the triumph of our King!
We have come to shout Hosanna and sing praise to God. We now go out – knowing that the horizon is dark. May we be sustained in these moments and celebrate life’s journey.
God goes with us, even in the darkness. Go in peace, Amen.
Resources used in this service include Words for Worship year B 2021 by MediaCom (subscription of Rev Dr Elizabeth Nolan) and The Abingdon Worship Annual 2021 edited by Mary Scifres and B.J. Beu, Abingdon Press, Nashville USA (owned by EN); and Uniting in Worship People’s Book by Uniting Church Press (JBCE) 1988 Melbourne and The Australian Hymn Book multiple copies owned by the St Lucia Uniting Church congregation. Copyright license 217268