Online Sunday Service – Sunday 5th April 2020 – Palm Sunday

Online Service 3.

5 / 4 / 20  

PALM SUNDAY

“The Triumphal Entry’

Good morning, I hope that you are all safe and well and keeping out of harms way. It’s getting quite scary isn’t it!? We are now hearing of people we know who have the Virus and that brings it closer to home for us.

I hope you are coping well with the isolation and managing to find some peace in this very difficult situation. It’s like nothing most of us have ever experienced before, so how can we prepare ourselves?

Keep calm, keep healthy, keep praying and keep others in your prayers too.

As you will probably know, today is Palm Sunday – the day we celebrate the Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, on a donkey. It is the beginning of a week of extreme highs and intense and heart breaking lows.

But before we look at that – let us pray together ~

Dear Lord of heaven and earth – we come to praise and worship you – you are our amazing king – you are the Lord of lords, yet you humbled yourself on that first Palm Sunday when you rode into Jerusalem on that small donkey. Today we remember the joy and excitement of that day and we come to sing your praises at your coming into our lives today.     We give thanks for all Jesus achieved in His ministry, in those 3 short years- and all that was achieved in that week, in those 7 short days. But we know that our human ways can be fickle – and we remember that the cheers of “hosanna” soon turned to shouts of “crucify him” in just a few days – remind us to remain faithful to Him who gave his very life for us – Jesus Christ.

Remind us of all that He endured, the humiliation, the pain and the suffering – was all for us.

But we know that for all your kindness, your consideration and your compassion – for all you suffered ~ we show little gratitude or appreciation. For all your guidance and your encouragement, we fail to follow your advice or live in accordance with your ways……. We say and do things which we know we shouldn’t – we hunger for things which we are aware give us no real satisfaction – forgive us we pray ……… and hear our silent prayer now as we bring our personal prayer of confession to you – so Lord be with us – in the peace of our silence ………

……………..short time of silence…………..

 

Caring Lord, as undeserving as we are, we ask for your forgiveness, your mercy and your grace…. be with us on our journey of life and guide along the right paths, we pray.

 

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as pray together – the family 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 debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

Our New Testament reading is that great narrative of Jesus entering Jerusalem to a royal welcome – cheers – palm leaves, cloaks laid at his feet – He was following his destiny – following God’s will for him – and the crowd went wild ! It was a day of great celebration – aye – but was it to last ?? ~

Let us read God’s word together ~

Mark 11 : 1 – 11 Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 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. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 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.”

Amen.

May God bless to us this reading of His holy word.

In that reading from Luke’s gospel – we hear the well known account of Jesus entering Jerusalem to a hero’s welcome.

The crowd were high – they were shouting and cheering. There was a real ‘carnival’ atmosphere that day – as the Saviour entered through the gate of the holy city of David – riding on a donkey – just as the prophets of old had foretold.

The Psalmist – Isaiah Malachi

He prophet and priest Zechariah – had written over 500 years before ~ “ rejoice greatly, shout, daughter of jerusalem, see, your King comes to you – righteous and having salvation – gentle and riding on a donkey”.

And here – now – before their very eyes – the prophesies were being fulfilled.

*Jesus and his companions would have been weary – it had been a long journey – 3 years in the travelling ––

An eternity in the planning.

The preparation for this journey had begun before time.

The wheels – so to speak – were set in motion, long before the earth was created.

And on that very first ‘Palm Sunday’ – in Jerusalem – God’s ‘master plan’ was continuing to unfold.

*Jesus had travelled a long way since his birth in Bethlehem.

But then, Jesus was used to journeys.

33 years before – he had made a journey to life – as he travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem – cradled in His Mothers’ womb.

Then their was the flight from Bethlehem into Egypt as the cruel king Herod sought to kill the boy Jesus.

There were the lazy days of childhood – about which we know very little.

Then came his Baptism by his cousin John the Baptiser..

His mission had begun………………

He had called his disciples into service.

Then came the miracles and the healings – the personal encounters – the mass hysteria – followed by times of solitude and prayer.

There was the preaching and the teaching – the wanderings – accompanied by a small band of loyal followers – who never really understood what it was all about – yet faithfully followed Jesus anyway – because they could see that there was something very special about this man from Galilee.

There had been journeys into His homeland of Galilee – Palestine – Judea – journeys on boats – journeys on foot – journeys into dark places – journeys which brought joy.

And then there was the last lap of the journey – the road to Jerusalem – Jesus was journeying to his death – death on a cross.

Yes, Jesus knew all about journeys.

His ‘triumphal entry’ – as it has been called – was a brave act of defiance – he was a man with a price on his head – wanted by the authorities – yet instead of sneaking in by another way – he calmly and boldly – entered the city with head held high !

What amazing courage that must have taken

Now – the end was now in sight ~

Or was it just the beginning!?…..

The day had come – the wandering was over – as Jesus entered the gates of that ancient, holy city – a city with attitude – a city with a history.

It had withstood invasion after invasion – it had seen more than it’s share of bloodshed. It was populated by very rich – and the very poor – the holy – and the heretic.

It was a city whose religious leaders were far removed from the everyday lives of the everyday people.

Their ancient religion bore no relevance to their reality – the people saw only restriction and hypocrisy.

It had become a religion of “thou shalt not’s” – and sadly, many still think that is what religion all about today – instead of seeing the joy and the freedom that it brings.

It was a city in need of a God who would love and care for them.   A city in need of a Saviour – who would free them from all that they endured – who knew their problems and their needs – and their names.

Their traditions told them that God would send a rescuer,

a ‘man on a mission’ – someone who would drive out the occupying roman forces by the strength of his arm – a strong saviour.

Their hopes were raised – their expectations were high ~

No wonder they cheered – no wonder they shouted Halleluiah ! – no wonder they laid out palm branches like a ‘red carpet’ – for their Saviour to walk upon.

*

And so, it was into this melting pot that Jesus entered that day – riding on a donkey.

And so the people cheered!

But wait a minute ! – are those ‘alarm bells’ I hear??

What kind of warrior king was this?

What kind of hero was this?

Where was the crown?? Where’s the army??

And riding a donkey ? – whatever next!

That was the means of transport for a merchant or a priest, perhaps!

Where was the white charger that a conquering king triumphantly enter a city on?

But this was no ordinary king – no ordinary saviour. Jesus came to save alright – but not by the strength of His arm – by the power of His love – the power of God!

He was laying out his credentials – showing just what kind of king he was.

He was a King and a Prince – rolled into one.

He was the king of kings and the prince of peace – come to save them – but not from the Roman rulers – but from themselves – from their lack of faith – their insistence on going their own way rather than God’s way – and to save them from the awful consequences of living a life apart from the Father.

But they didn’t know this yet – that’s why they cheered.

They were full of excitement and hope – Jesus was full of love and compassion.

His very entrance in to the city – was a challenge to the establishment – a threat to the religious leaders – an act of defiance to the roman overlords –

And a promise kept, to the people.

God’s promise – God’s pledge to send a messiah – a deliverer – was being fulfilled.

That too – is why they cheered. Jesus was fulfilling God’s promise – God’s plan was rolling on, like an ever rolling stream.

*

And so – yes – Palm Sunday was a day of celebration and joy – for many reasons – but Jesus knew that lay ahead… betrayal, agony and death…

That was the bad news.

But there was good news too – there always is when Jesus is around !

And although what came in the short term was intrigue, plot, betrayal, humiliation, suffering and death………..

Long term it brought love, care, peace, a chance of a new life, a chance to have eternal life with Him who suffered and died for us during that awful ‘holy week’………

That’s what this all about – it’s what it’s always been about !

That’s why Jesus came in the first place – cradled in his mothers womb as she entered Bethlehem on that silent, holy night – riding on a donkey.

All to fulfill God’s eternal plan – birth, life, death – and resurrection to a new eternal life.

And that plan is still being worked out today – in you and in me – in all who put their trust, their faith, their life – in the hands of jesus.

We all have birth, life and we will all, one day, pass away – and because of Easter – because Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem and fulfil God’s plan for him, we too can know a resurrection to new life, both here and hereafter.

It’s what Easter’s all about and we will hear all about that next Sunday, on Easter Day.

No wonder the people were excited and cheered and shouted ‘Halleluiah’ !! …….. Maybe we should get excited and shout about it more often too !!……………

And so – as we walk towards the cross with Jesus, this ‘holy week’ – let us give thanks for all that Jesus endured, for our sakes – let us pray for the strength and courage to stand with and stand up for our Saviour – in this ‘melting pot’ of a world that we live in…

A world where God is too often side-lined, dismissed and rejected as irrelevant in a modern day world.

Short sighted thinking, short sighted lives. Seeking short term pleasures but losing long term gains in the process.

We pray for them, that they may come to know just what Jesus did for them, what He promises them ‘life here and life hereafter’ – a promise made to you in Heaven and reiterated to you this very day.

But how will they know if we do not tell them?

As the old Hymn says, let us, you and I ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus…’ the Saviour of mankind – the Saviour of each one of us… who gave up His life for us.

That really is something to shout about!

And let us do it – in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

Let us pray together –

Lord – on Palm Sunday, you were given a hero’s welcome, but you chose to demonstrate your power with humility.

Help us to put behind us our pride and arrogance – so that we may follow in your steps – in humility – on the journey that you have chosen for us – and so, in your time – enter your gates with thanksgiving………

As we celebrate and sing your praises – we know that elsewhere there are those who do not know the love and peace that we have found. And we pray for them.

Those involved in war – starvation and deprivation of so many kinds –

Today, we particularly think of the many areas where our brothers and sisters who suffer – and watch their families suffer because of the lack of the basic necessities of life.

Lord, we pray that their suffering will be a short one – but we fear that it may not..

Stir us to help – wake the world up to their cry – and call all of us to see that if we profess to be followers of Christ, then we too must feed the hungry and clothe the naked……..

Lord – you came as the Prince of Peace – and we pray for peace in the world – and ask that your love and peace will be with those who have lost loved ones – give to those serving in all conflicts, both courage and strength and the knowledge that you are watching over them………

Bless those at home who are anxious at this time – and we pray for those who put their own lives in danger to keep us safe – watch over them and their loved ones too.

Be with those who are struggling with the time of isolation. Give them your peace and your calm, may they know the love of Jesus for themselves.

We pray for the sad, the lonely and the abused, aye maybe someone reading this today feels that.

Touch their lives and bring them comfort in their dark times. Shine your light upon them, cast away their shadows and remind them that they are never alone – for you are with everyone of us – you do not fail or forsake us, you are our ever present help in troubled times.

Listening God – be with us now, Lord, as we sit for a few moments in silence, each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer for those whom we know, in our own lives, who are in need of your hand upon them, at this time – so hear us now listening lord – in the peace of our silence………………………….

 

Lord there are so many who need your blessings upon them – be with them as we bring them before you today – in the name of our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.       Amen.

A ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ for our young people – and for the ‘young at heart’ J

Imagine the scene ~ it’s the day after Palm Sunday – Palms and banners litter the streets of Jerusalem – the donkey who carried Jesus the day before – wakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride.

He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.

But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.

“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”

They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move.

“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.”

But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.

“The Palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yes­terday, you threw palm branches!”

Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.

“Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without Jesus, you are just an ordinary donkey?”

*

You know – that’s like us, we are ordinary people – but when we are in His service, working for His good – and we have the knowledge that He is with us – then we are lifted up with confidence and strength to become much more than just ‘ordinary’ – we are ‘key players’ in His great and wonderful plan – for the world and for our own lives – and that makes us very special indeed !!

 What a lovely thought…

Amen.

And may the Blessing of almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all, with your families, all who you know and love – and ought to love –

this day – and every day.

 Amen.

 Take care, God Bless and keep safe.