Palm Sunday

Aire Valley – Separately yet together
Bingley URC – Idle Upper Chapel URC –
Trinity, Keighley Baptist & URC
28th March 2021

Our readings for today are:
Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29 Mark 11:1–11 Mark 14:1–9

You may like to get them ready in your own Bible.

Welcome to our “Palm Sunday” worship. This Sunday is also designate “Passion Sunday,” and I have chosen to use Gospel readings from both aspects of the Lectionary.
In addition to the image above I have enclosed with our service sheet instructions for making a palm cross out of paper, maybe you will have had a go at making one. Maybe you have a palm cross from previous years that you might like to find and have with you during this act of worship.
Call to worship
Let us join our praise across time and space –
with all those who thronged into Jerusalem
proclaiming Jesus as King!
Let us join our praise across time and space –
with all those who have accepted Jesus as King;
Let us join our praise across the world –
with all who will today proclaim Jesus as King!
Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!

Hymn 141 Make way! make way!
Graham Kendrick
© 1986 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

Reading Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29
This is the set Psalm for today, you might like to read it out loud.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures for ever.
2 Let Israel say:
‘His love endures for ever.’

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 LORD, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures for ever.

Now let us pray:
We lay before our King all that we are and all that we bring;
the good and the bad, the riches and the poverty,
our strengths and our weaknesses.
We confess our sins in penitence and faith,
for we are not a forsaken people.
God will hear the cry of our hearts,
and will have mercy upon us.
Silence
God’s face shines upon us. God has given us light.
We trust God to save us.
Hosanna. God, our God,
hear the cry of our hearts and save us. Amen.

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, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Reading Mark 11:1–11
11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” ’
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’
10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’
‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Theme Part One
For me, Palm Sunday has such joy to it. We have read words which are loaded with joyful emotion and hope. I plan to come back to this in several weeks’ time. The hymns that we share are also filled with joy and hope, and proclamations of Jesus Christ as our King.
If we had been gathering in a church building I would expect us to ‘raise the roof’ with our joyful singing.
Let’s think about the hopeful shouts and praise in our passage:

‘Hosanna!’
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’
10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’
‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

I hope that you can detect resonances of the covenant theme that we have been considering during Lent. The people were desperate for change, and there were those who were longing for the hoped for Messiah, the King in David’s line promised in God’s Covenant with David. 
Could it be that the people actually thought that the Covenant King was among them? Or were they carried along with the crowd?
I believe that there were certainly a goodly number who were seriously considering the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah. We have to take the journey through Holy Week to see how this unfolds. 
It is incredibly important to me that we do not leap-frog from the joy and celebration of Palm Sunday to the joy and celebration of the resurrection. If we do we bypass the cross, and therefore the display of Jesus as the one bringing in the Kingdom.

Before we moved I was involved with the local CoE Primary school in the village where we lived. The vicar had early on invited me to share in their Church services at Harvest, Christmas, Easter and the end of the school year. At the Easter service all the children were given palm crosses to take home and hopefully they will have prompted them to talk about what they had shared in.
If we had been gathering in a church building we would all have received a palm cross. I don’t know what you do with yours, but some people stick them in their windows so that those outside can see this sign of our Christian faith. Some display them in their cars. Other people put them somewhere in their home where they can see them. Others … well I don’t know what else people may do with them – what do you do?
I would ‘normally’ have palm crosses distributed at about this point in a service, and then offer a prayer. For a few moments, I invite you to look at a palm cross, whether that is the one on the front of our service sheet, one you have made, or one from a previous year.

Palm crosses prayer
Bless to us our palm crosses, loving God.
May they help us to praise you from our hearts.
May they help us to understand how much it cost you to die for us.
As we live through this Holy Week, and all through the coming year, may we be reminded that you have promised to be with us always, and help us to follow you always, wherever you send us. Amen.

Hymn Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Henry Hart Milman (1791 – 1868)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_VcZofNG2c

1/4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hark, all the tribes, ‘Hosanna!’ cry,
thine humble beast pursues his road
with palms and scattered garments strowed.

2/4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
in lowly pomp ride on to die:
O Christ, thy triumphs now begin
o’er captive death and conquered sin.

3/4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
the Father, on His sapphire throne,
expects His own anointed Son.

4/4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
in lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
then take, O God, thy power, and reign.

Prayers of Intercession for Holy Week
God of the palms
we give you praise and thanks
for the work of Jesus in our world and in our lives.
We pray for those in our church family,
especially our children and young people.
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray.

God of Bethany
you spent time with your friends and disciples
in the household of Lazarus who died and was raised:
we pray for those who find themselves alone
and for those who mourn the death of a loved one.
May the fragrance of your loving presence
be made real to them this week.
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray.

God of the seekers,
during your ministry there were many who came to you
to seek for answers and comfort in their lives:
we pray for all those who are seeking and searching this day,
for all who are troubled and need answers and comfort.
Be with them this day and give them strength for their search.
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray.

God of the Last Supper,
you washed the feet of your friends,
you broke bread in friendship and sacrifice:
help us to serve those in need.
We pray for those in our community who need help.
We ask that we may give our time and talent sacrificially for others,
as you gave your body and your blood for us.
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray.

God of the cross,
you suffered and died that we might know your love:
be with those who suffer and with those who are dying.
May they know the strength of your love for them.
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray.

God of Holy Saturday,
teach us the patience of waiting:
when the work is done but the time of resurrection has not yet come,
give us patient hearts
and a strong faith that supports us
and others in the times of darkness.
For ourselves and all who are without hope,
Lord of all hope, be with them and us we pray. Amen.

Hymn All glory, laud and honour
Theodulph of Orleans (c750-821)
Tr. John Mason Neal (1818-66)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9OGhw3Lps0

1/3 All glory, laud and honour
to Thee, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal son,
who in the Lord’s name comest,
the King and blesséd one.

2/3The company of angels
are praising Thee on high,
and mortal flesh and all things
created make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before Thee went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before Thee we present.

3/3To Thee before Thy passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to Thee now high exalted
our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightests,
Thou good and gracious King.

All glory, laud and honour
to Thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

Our next reading is a portion of the Gospel passage set for Passion Sunday.

Reading Mark 14:1–9
14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 ‘But not during the festival,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot.’
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.
6 ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’

Here is an imaginative monologue, drawing on the parallel passage in John’s Gospel.

What would He do next? Mary’s story

It had been an incredible week, plummeting into the depths of sadness, when my brother, Lazarus, had died.

then filled with wonderful happiness, when the Master came and brought Lazarus back to us out from the grave!
I sometimes almost wonder if it really happened, then I fill up with amazement again. It was extraordinary! All that happened certainly changed my life, and Martha’s, and Lazarus’s! And his disciples too! Afterwards they told us that the Master had said that Lazarus’s illness would not end in death, but was to “the glory of God, and to bring glory to the Son of God,” even though they had thought that our brother was sleeping until they arrived at our village.
But not everyone was happy. Some of the religious leaders, when they heard about it, started seriously plotting to get rid of the Master. Did that group of leaders really think that they could put to death permanently the one who could raise people from the dead?!
But because of this, it wasn’t safe for the Master to stay so near to Jerusalem so he went with his disciples into the wilderness again, but we knew he’d be back for the Passover. Sure enough, a week before the festival he came back, and we put on a feast for him. Martha was wonderful as usual, organising everyone and making sure all the food was ready at just the right time, the whole village came to see the Master, and Lazarus sat with him. In truth the people came to see Lazarus too, they could hardly believe what had happened to him.
I … I just couldn’t help it, I took the sweet spiced oil that was supposed to be kept for preparation for burial – I don’t know why we hadn’t used some of it for Lazarus, I suppose the fever took him so quickly. I don’t really know why I used it at the meal, but felt as though I had to. I poured it over the Master’s feet and smoothed it in, then wiped it away with my hair.
Some people grumbled, in a village with poor people around how could I be so extravagant? But how could I not? He had given us back our dear brother, and surely the Master really is God’s Messiah! The Son of God!

And I wondered: what would he do next?!

© 2021 Annette Haigh

I invite you to take a few moments to reflect before moving on to our concluding hymn.

Hymn Selected verses
1/5 Crown Him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own:
awake, my soul, and sing
of Him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy chosen King
through all eternity.

2/5 Crown Him the Son of God,
before the worlds began:
and ye, who tread where He hath trod,
crown Him the Son of man;
who every grief hath known
that wrings the human breast,
and takes and bears them for His own,
that all in Him may rest.

3/5 Crown Him, the Lord of love!
Behold His hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above
in beauty glorified:
no angel in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends his burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

5/5 Crown Him, the Lord of peace:
whose power a sceptre sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease
absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
and round His piercèd feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

6/5 Crown Him, the Lord of Heaven,
enthroned in worlds above;
crown Him the King to whom is given
the wondrous name of Love:
All hail! Redeemer, hail!
For thou has died for me:
Thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.
Matthew Bridges 1800-94, Godfrey Thring 1823-1903

Blessing

The blessings of this week will be
extravagant, unexpected, transforming:
the extravagant blessings of the One
who remembers those who the world will usually shun;
the unexpected blessing of the One
who will tell of betrayal coming,
but still shares His bread;
the transforming blessing of the One
who knows we will not always keep watch,
but still calls us His friends.

May the extravagant, unexpected and transforming blessing of Christ,
beaten and crucified,
be ours this week and for eternity. Amen.
Anne Sardeson – URC Prayer Handbook 2015

Shared blessing

May the Lord, mighty God, bless and keep you for ever
Grant you peace, perfect peace, courage in every endeavour,

Lift your eyes and see His face and His grace forever.
May the Lord, mighty God, bless and keep you forever.