Palm Sunday: Where are the Palms? (Sunday, April 5th)
Updated: Apr 5
Welcome to worship!
Preamble / Info.
In the light of the good advice from health authorities that we practice ‘social distancing’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not worshiping in person at the church.
However, Jesus promises that where two or three are gathered, He will be there. So, we can gather in spirit, sharing the Word, hymns, and prayers that bind us together as followers of Jesus and people of God.
We may not be in the same room, and we may not even be doing this at the same moment in time; but, along with millions of people around the world in any number of languages, we are worshiping God and caring for one another.
In preparation, you may want to have a candle handy (either a real candle or one of those little battery-operated ones). We always light candles in church because they remind of the presence and beauty of God. You may also want to turn off your phones or other devices so as not to be disturbed or distracted and be fully present in worship.
God be with you!
Let’s pause before we begin (take a couple of moments to quiet yourself before proceeding further).
A rousing Palm Sunday hymn:
Prayer (suggestion: take your time with this, reading the plain text silently, saying the bold out loud, and pausing between each paragraph).
For the message of the Palm Parade, a message declaring that might has not power over righteousness, we give thanks to you, O God.
For the enthusiasm of those early followers of Jesus, we give thanks to you, O God.
For the love we experience in community, brought together as disciples, we give you thanks, O God.
For the light of wisdom, compassion, and generosity that shines in the shadows of our souls, we give you thanks, O God.
For all those who provide care, compassion, and leadership in times of calm and in times of crisis, we give you thanks, O God.
For the gathering of your faithful in new and often strange ways, but always in your name, we give you thanks, O God.
For being with us at this time of worship and with us at all times and in all places, we give you thanks, O God. Amen.
If you have a candle, this would be a good time to light it, using these words:
I light this candle, with the prayer that Jesus, the light of the world, will be my light; today, tomorrow, and always. Amen.
Scripture readings (don't be shy -- read it out loud!).
Psalm 118 (selected verses)
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?
The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
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.
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.
Matthew 21: 1 – 11, “Jesus enters 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,
“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[b] 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.”
The Sermon: Where our Faith, the Word, and our Lives meet.
A great song from "Common Cup Company," a group of Canadian Anglican songwriters and musicians. We've sung this on Palm Sunday before, so even though you may not know the words, it's familiar and the words captures the poignancy of the day.
Our offering is a both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the ministry of the St Paul’s continues during this crisis:
· Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;
· Mail your cheque to the church;
· Go on PAR (call Rosie for details);
· Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).
May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered be used faithfully to build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven!
A musical gift from Grant Campbell.
Prayer (this may be said aloud, quietly, or silently as you choose)
Dear God, the echoes of the Hosannas are still ringing in our ears even as we see the gathering clouds of Holy Week leading to Good Friday and the cross on a cruel hill. Despite the crosses that we must carry and the challenges of these difficult times, we will wave our palm branches high, professing our faith in you and our hope for coming days. We will, like Luther, plant our trees in defiance of a world that seems to be going to pieces. The trees we plant today will bloom and bear fruit just as you, in us, bloom and bear fruit. That is your promise and covenant with us.
Healing God, we pray for all those who are in need of your sustaining strength:
· those of us who are ill, in body, mind, and spirit;
· those of us who are isolated and alone;
· those of us who suffer on the edges of society, who are hardest hit by this pandemic: the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, the outcasts;
· those of us working to slow the spread of the virus, and those of us who are taking care of us: our friends and family, doctors and nurses, ministers, and pastors, city workers and government officials;
And, we pray for our church, our friends and family here at St. Paul’s: in our church family we hold tenderly in prayer Pastor Paul, Sandra Vousden, Billy Boileau, the Catibog family on the passing of Alex's father Ricardo, the family and friends of Alan Milliken on his passing, and all those who, although unnamed, have their own particular challenges at this time. May your care, O God, knit us together even more tightly as a Christian community committed to following in the steps of Jesus, working for a healed world.
And so we continue to pray in the words of Jesus:
Our Father, who are in heaven,
hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today 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, the power and the glory, forever and ever.
Let us pay close attention to the words of the Psalm: This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Therefore, let us go into the world, full of God’s love, knowing that we are blessed and a blessing. Let us go into the world, to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
And, with this last video of an SPUC favourite, we bless ourselves and one another:
*Don’t forget to extinguish your candle!
* Get your Palm Cross or other palm-like thingy out and put it on your door!
*Take a picture of the palms / greenery on your door and share it on FB or email to Rev. Dan.
*As an exercise in keeping in touch with your SPUC family, we’re inviting everyone to open their Church Directory, find your own name and then count UP the list by 3 names and call that person. They might be a good friend, they might be a casual acquaintance at church, or they may be someone you don’t know. Give them a call and wish them peace in the name of Christ, and just see how they’re doing.