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Palm Sunday 5/4/20

Sunday 5th April 2020
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A sermon for  Palm Sunday
Some Prayers
Link to on line services Worship Resources


Palm Sunday 5 April 2020: Matthew 21:1-11
Jesus’ triumphal entry in to Jerusalem


Matthew has been preparing us for this climactic episode in Jerusalem when the confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders must come to a head. Of the three pilgrimage festivals when all Jewish adult males were supposed to visit the Temple in Jerusalem (Passover, Weeks and Tabernacles) Passover seems to have been the most enthusiastically observed. Passover Pilgrims came not only from Galilee and other Palestinian provinces, but from all over the Mediterranean world where Jews were settled. A Galilean was basically a foreigner in Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples would normally have stuck out like a sore thumb. They may have been less conspicuous during Passover due to the crowd that swelled the city’s population to maybe triple its normal size. In chapter 20 v29 we learn that Jesus and the disciples were not travelling alone, they were part of a much larger group coming from Galilee for Passover. 

Clearly all of the elements of Jesus’ final approach to Jerusalem were deliberately orchestrated to make a point. Never before have we heard of Jesus travelling other than on foot or by boat, so why does he now need a donkey to carry him the last mile or so to Jerusalem? Evidently it was done for a purpose. Surely this is reminiscent of King David  returning after the defeat of Absolom or Solomon riding on King David’s mule as he is being taken to Gihon to be made King. The symbolism here is that of royalty.

In verse 5 Matthew quotes the Old Testament prophet Zechariah (9 v9) who prophesied the coming of the ruler of God’s people. In verse 8 we hear of the people spreading their cloaks on the ground in a kind of makeshift red carpet which is reminiscent of the proclamation of Jehu as king in 2 Kings 9 v13. The branches cut for the trees were the palms from which Palm Sunday takes its name. The palm had long been a symbolism of Judaism and were, in effect, a way of saying “Romans go home”. Jesus had arrived like a bull in a china shop and the Jewish authorities were going to be furious. Jerusalem was like a tinder box, especially at Passover, and they were afraid that Jesus and his disciples could be the spark that set the whole lot alight. So it seems we have quite a carnival atmosphere going on outside the walls of Jerusalem with the arriving pilgrims proclaiming Jesus as their King. Matthew tells us that Jerusalem was “in turmoil”, the place didn’t know what had hit it.

So what does that have to do with us sitting in isolation (I keep saying hibernation)? Clearly the scene on the edge of Jerusalem was about people coming together and celebrating the arrival of their king. We are stuck in the dark days of an exceptional situation. A situation that raises the usual feelings of Lent to new levels. We are denied that most fundamental of our spiritual needs, we are denied the opportunity to gather together and worship our God.

But we can still be a community drawn together by our common love for our God. The greatest sign I have seen of a community drawn together in isolation during our current situation has been done by a brass band from Wales. The Cory Band have recorded a couple of videos. Each member of the band have filmed themselves playing their part at home and then the whole thing has been stitched together to form a whole. You can see the video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0KiCXZ2IM0. There are also wonderful examples of churches coming together online to worship, I have especially noticed members of my All Saints college community, who I am training with, doing stuff online. But equally those of us with less technical ability can keep in touch by phone and even video calls. At the very least if we just have a regular time to pray and we know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are praying at the same time it can help us to feel that we are not alone in our current difficulties. But my prayer for this difficult time is that we the Church can show the world that we have a God who loves us all more than we could ever understand. I pray that as our worship gets into peoples’ homes through their computer screens, their tablets and their smartphones that the word will spread. As a Church we spend a lot of time in Church hoping that new people will come along and join us. Now we are making the effort to get out there. We might just get into the nooks and crannies of peoples’ lives and shine the light of Christ on them. I don’t know why this situation has befallen the world, but I know that God will use it as an opportunity to further his mission. We have to play our part in that. That’s what we signed up for when we became Christians, to do the leg work for God, so we need to listen to him. For many of us the hustle and bustle of everyday life has calmed down in a way that was unimaginable just a couple of weeks ago. Let us use this time wisely to discern what God is calling us to do.

Jim Britcliffe
2 April 2020

Prayers for Palm Sunday

The Collect for Palm Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race,
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Post Communion Prayer for Palm Sunday
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross four our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Palm Crosses for Palm Sunday
You may like to use one of the following ideas as we are unable to distribute palm crosses in church this year.
Use a palm cross you have from a previous year.
Make your own ‘palm’ cross from paper or card.  You could decorate this and put it in a window.  You might like to use paper or card and adapt to follow the instructions at:


Use a different kind of palm and draw a cross on the palm of your hand to wave.

A Prayer over the Palm Crosses
God our Saviour,
whose Son Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem as Messiah to suffer and to die;
let these palms be for us signs of his victory
and grant that we who bear them in his name
may ever hail him as our King,
and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession
As we face up to the costly loving
shown by our God,
let us approach him in humility
and pray to him now.

O God, give us your Church undivided hearts
to love you and one another, and go on loving,
through insult and praise,
through acceptance and rejection,
in the sure knowledge that you are Lord.
Make us strong;
to do your will in all things.
O God, may the kingdoms of this world
soak up the values of your kingdom;
may their leaders and their peoples
uphold what is right and just,
and establish a social order
which is rooted in Godly love.
Make us strong;
to do your will in all things.
O God, in all the heartaches and joys
of human relationships,
may we be governed by your selfless love,
faithful and forgiving like you,
without limit.
Make us strong;
to do your will in all things.
O God, draw alongside all who suffer
that they may know the comfort of your presence
and the healing power of your forgiving love.
Make us strong;
to do your will in all things.
O God, we pray for all
who are making that last journey of death,
that they may be surrounded with your peace
and rest in your love for ever.
Make us strong;
to do your will in all things.
O God, we give you thanks
that the Messiah has come to save your people.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Topical Prayers to use during the coronavirus pandemic:
Written by Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
Amen.
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
For those who are ill
Merciful God,
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
For hospital staff and medical researchers
Gracious God,
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
From one who is ill or isolated
O God,
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me 
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
For the Christian community
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.

Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference