Palm Sunday Service 2020

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6th Sunday of Lent – 5th April 2020

John Spooner

Introduction

I am sure – that like Janice and I do – you will feel that it is a long time ago since we last met together for Sunday worship in the Church building – and we do miss being with you in Glenburn. 

Although through the wonders of various types of communication technology we can access Sunday worship broadcast and relayed from various places, I think that it is important that on Palm Sunday and certainly again on Easter Sunday  – that to the extent to which we are able – we can be together by sharing in a common act of worship.        

Over the last few weeks, Maria has graciously sung and recorded hymns which Stephen has kindly put onto the Church web-site and Facebook page.  The recorded hymns in this service will be available closer to Sunday and the words are printed in this text.

Call to Worship

On that day — crowds thronged the road as Jesus rode into Jerusalem they shouted       

“Hosana to the Son of David

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

Today — there are no crowds in our streets and on our roads but people in their homes still echo the cry of the Jerusalem crowd – as they proclaim

                                      “Hosana to the Son of David

                                      Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

Let us join with each other as we say

“Hosana to the Son of David

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

Let us worship God

Our first hymn is “Make way, make way         

Make way, make way,
for Christ the King in splendour arrives.
fling wide the gates and welcome him into your lives.
Make way! (make way!) for the King of kings!
Make way! (make way!) and let his kingdom in!

He comes the broken hearts to heal – the prisoners to free.
the deaf shall hear, the lame shall dance – the blind shall see.
Make way!…

And those who mourn with heavy hearts – who weep and sigh;
with laughter, joy and royal crown – He’ll beautify.
Make way!…

We call you now to worship him as Lord of all.
To have no other gods but him: their thrones must fall!
Make way!…

Prayers of Approach, Confession & Lord’s Prayer            

Lord our God

     although in these days — we are unable to be meet together in the sanctuary

            we still meet together — but remotely — each in our homes

            we still meet in your presence —  for you are with us always

            we still meet  — bound together in faith and in your love

     so as we meet to share this time of common worship

            we ask for a very real sense of your living presence

            your presence surrounding us and deep within us

            your voice speaking to us

            your Holy Spirit filling and leading us

On this special day — this Palm Sunday

     we remember that it is a day of stark contrasts

            that many were lining the road to welcome Jesus into the Holy City

            the crowds  were greeting him with shouts of joy and songs of praise

            people were hailing and greeting him as king

     yet at the same time – in secrecy and out of public view

            there were others who stayed away from the scenes of welcome and acclamation

            others who feared him and did not want to accept him

            others who were scheming and plotting against Jesus

     we remember that over the course of the following few days

            welcome turned to rejection

            adoration turned to hostility

            cries of “Hosana” turned to cries of “Crucify”

God of mercy and forgiveness

     we live at the distance of centuries from that deeply significant day

     and it can be easy for us to stand in judgement of these people of old

          but we need to ask for your forgiveness when we do so

          because we too can be guilty of what we condemn in others

              with the crowds of the faithful – we sing Hosana

              with the crowds of  hostility – we often merge into them and don’t stand out

              we maybe don’t cry “crucify” 

              but equally we prefer to be silent and we don’t cry out that

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

     Forgive us Father

          for every way and time when we deny you

          when we do not live by the standards which we proclaim in your name

          when people do not see your love reflected in our lives

     In being forgiven

          may we be renewed and inspired

          to receive you more fully into our hearts

          and to commit ourselves again to your service

These prayers we bring in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray together in these words

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 debts:

as we forgive our debtors

and lead us not into temptation:

but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory :

for ever.  

AMEN                            

Scripture Reading : Psalm 31 : verses 9 to 16 (Good News Bible)

9       Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in trouble; my eyes are tired from so much crying; I am completely worn out.

10     I am exhausted by sorrow – and weeping has shortened my life.
I am weak from all my troubles even my bones are wasting away.

11     All my enemies and especially my neighbours treat me with contempt.
Those who know me are afraid of me; when they see me in the street, they run away.

12     Everyone has forgotten me, as though I were dead;  I am like something thrown away.

13       I hear many enemies whispering; terror is all around me.
They are making plans against me – plotting to kill me.

14     But my trust is in you, O Lord; you are my God.

15     I am always in your care;   save me from my enemies – from those who persecute me.

16 Look on your servant with kindness; save me in your constant love.

AMEN

Thanks be to God for his Word to us today

REFLECTION

 The Psalms were the soul-songs of the Jewish people and ancient though they are – they still speak to us in our time and our situation

     as they capture in so many ways – the heights and depths of human emotions

     as they recount the highs and lows of life – and of faith in God  

Psalm 31 is the Psalm nominated in the Lectionary for today and it is both a cry of anguish and a prayer for deliverance.

     anguish – most certainly a reality across today’s world – in our own society – and in the lives of many individuals and families

     prayers for deliverance – rising each and every moment from people’s hearts to the Throne of Grace

In Psalm 139 we read about God’s deep knowledge of us

     as He looks into our heart and knows all about us

     as He knows when we are resting or working

     as He notices everything we do and everywhere we go

     as before we even speak a word – He knows what we will say  

God wants us to be open and honest with him – and at the bottom line – as Psalm 139 tells us – try as we might — we can’t really hide from God

Read again verses 9 to 13 (printed above) and note that the Psalmist recognises the pains of trouble – everything from eyes tired with crying to exhaustion – weakness – fear – abandonment.  In these current days – it is not difficult for us to understand and empathise with these feelings 

So it is right and proper that we do as the Psalmist did and bring our laments and concerns to God – that we share with him our confusion and our desperation  

     about the health of loved ones and our own health

     about sustainability of health and support services

     about how long the pandemic will last

     about when normality will return to daily living

However – both before and after verses 9 to 16 of Psalm 31 there are words of confidence and trust in God 

14     But my trust is in you, O Lord; you are my God.

15     I am always in your care;   save me from my enemies – from those who persecute me.

16 Look on your servant with kindness; save me in your constant love.

As we enter Holy Week – remember that Jesus cried out in anguish to his Father 

“My God, my God, why have your forsaken me ?”

but he also quoted from Psalm 31 in his final words  – when from the Cross he cried out

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”

 In times like this — of confusion and concern – it is right that we take our worries and our fears to God – but we should do so – putting our trust in God – who forever supports us with his ”everlasting arms” and holds us in redeeming love

AMEN

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Loving God

     although there is much in these days to concern us 

     there is also much for which we should be grateful

     so we bring our thanks for very blessing which is ours

          of family and friends who care for us and cheer us

          of food and shelter which sustains us

          of faith which gives us assurance that even in the darkest times – through your love – all will be well

     in these days of national emergency

          thank you for all the caring and love – all the vision and planning  – all the effort and work – all the commitment and sacrifice – all the communication and information

          shown and given by so many people to so many other people

          and we pray for your strength  and blessing on all of them in the times ahead

          as they work to develop and bring healing – support and comfort

          as they have to make important decision of stark choices

          as they work to maintain the critical functioning of society

          and we pause to remember them

     be with people who are ill – people who are recovering – people whose lives are drawing to a close and

     be with those who watch and wait – and those who mourn

These prayers we bring in the name of Jesus – Saviour and Lord

AMEN

Our closing hymn is “Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well”

Through the love of God our Saviour –
all will be well.
Free and changeless is his favour-
all, all is well.
Precious is the blood that healed us –
perfect is the grace that sealed us,
strong the hand stretched forth to shield us –
all must be well.

Though we pass through tribulation –
all will be well.
Ours is such a full salvation –
all, all is well.
Happy, still in God confiding –
fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
holy, through the Spirit’s guiding –
all must be well.

We expect a bright tomorrow –
all will be well.
Faith can sing through days of sorrow –
all, all is well.
On our Father’s love relying –
Jesus every need supplying,
in our living, in our dying –
all must be well.

Blessing

May the blessing of God

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

be with us and with all whom we love

and for whom we have prayed

now and always

AMEN