COCU18C.Ash Wednesday.6March2019

ash wed image

With These Ashes‘…
With these ashes, we remember
What we’re made of, what we’re made of
With these ashes, we remember
We are made of dust
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
So it has always been
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
We return again
(Source: Kathy Douglass)
Listen to the Soundfile here.
A PDF of the music: Music.With these ashes (please attribute author)

“Lent is endeavouring to go under the surface….
Sometimes we too, feel our arms, spread for loving, are nailed down. Our legs, connected to the earth and to our centre of creating and loving, are nailed down…
Our God is not a superficial God… Lent calls to go down to the heart, to the crucifixion if need be…”
(from a Facebook post)

On this day we wear the mark of the ashen cross to remind ourselves that stardust is our origin and our destination. We have a responsibility for right living with each other and our Mother Earth. We wear the cross of suffering and pain inflicted by injustice and exploitation. We wear this mark to remember the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth so that all may have life and have it to the full. 
Repent is not a popular word and rarely makes it into the friendly game of Scrabble. Yet it is a life giving choice we make if we are to be agents of change and rewrite grace into history. Ash Wednesday calls us to repent of all that is not life giving at the personal and social in our choices. Repentance also demands a change of heart and practice if it is going to be effective.
This is the time to fast from inhumanity and cruelty. This is the time to put our prayer into action and our alms giving into justice making.
Let us be glad for the season of Lent. 
(Source: Tony Robertson, The Holy Irritant)

Out of our ashened lives
when we let go and leave behind all that weighs us down,
God’s Spirit encourages our new life to spring forth.
Let the ashes fall this Lenten tide.
Let us not be afraid to live this cycle of letting go,
so all that is new and unexpected,
may spring up, blossom and grow,
and flourish in the love of Christ.
We are loved, known and cherished.
(Source: Anne Hewitt, Executive Officer/Ecumenical Facilitator SACC)

Imposition of ashes: “Remember that God formed you from the dust of the earth and in God’s hands you shall remain. May this time deepen your faith and love in God.” (Source: Lavender Kelley, Facebook post, RevGalblogPals) Continue reading

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IWD – International Women’s Day (March 8 each year)

2019 theme is #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019
Better the balance, better the world.
(the link above shows ‘the pose’ for the theme for 2019)

An International Women’s Day Prayer
Today we honour the women of all times and places,
Women of courage,
Women of hope,
Women of suffering,
Women of mourning,
Women living fully,
Women experiencing joy,
Women delighting in life,
Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family,
Women promoting human flourishing,
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures,
Women seeking and sharing wisdom and love,
Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love,
On this day we celebrate the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere,
We know that whatever denies or distorts the full humanity is not of God,
Help us to be faithful to your call to love all of humanity equally,
In your holy name we pray, Amen .
(Source: Tané Theron, Christian Ethos and Chapel Prefect, Ravenswood School for Girls)

Prayer for International Women’s Day
(here is a link to a powerpoint presentation for this prayer)
Women are a reflection of the glory of God.
Today we honor the women of all times and all places:
Women of courage.
Women of hope.
Women suffering
Women mourning.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.

Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.

Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing.
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.

Women seeking Wisdom.
Women sharing Wisdom.

Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.

Women: life-giving.
Women: the image of God.

Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.

Help us to be faithful to your call to love. Amen.
(Source: Education for Justice)

Continue reading

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11: Instructions to bring the first produce from each crop as a thanksgiving offering to God, and a recognition of God’s care, provision and liberation of God’s people in the past and the present.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16: A psalm celebrating God’s care and protection of those who dwell in God, and make God’s presence their safe refuge.

Romans 10:8b-13: The message of faith in Christ that ensures that we will never be disgraced, because all who call on God’s name are saved.

Luke 4:1-13: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He is challenged to turn stones into food, to jump from the top of the temple, and to gain all the world’s wealth and glory by bowing to the tempter. But, he resists, using God’s word as his guide.
(Bible reading summary, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Reflections on Lent by Bob Holmes (Contemplative Monk) Lent reflections.BobHolmes

Christine Sine is exploring Breaking Down Walls as the Lenten theme on Godspace in 2019. “I am not just thinking of the controversy about the border wall on the U.S/Mexican border when I choose this topic. (Nor the wall in Bethlehem?). All of us have walls in our lives. Walls that separate us from the one true God, from each other and from God’s creation. Jesus is the one who is able to break down the walls and open the barriers that keep us closed off. Lent is a great season of preparation for destruction of the barriers that separate us.
What walls do you still need to break down:
* within yourself to find inner healing from past hurts and scars;
* in your attitude towards others to bring reconciliation and unity;
* in your concern for creation to become the best steward of God’s good earth that you could possibly be;
*in your relationship to God and your desire for new depths of intimacy with your creator.

Giving up chocolate and beer for Lent is not what Jesus had in mind by Landon Whitsitt

Links to resources for Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter here.

Textweek worship suggestions
Helpful reflections on the lectionary texts: Sharron R. Blezzard

In the northern hemisphere, the traditional diet of soup, lentils and beans during Lent was once an identification with the poor and the vulnerable for whom this was the hunger season of sparseness before spring crops could be harvested. How might practices around what you eat be part of your Lenten journey this year?

Lent 1C prayer (based on Psalm 91)
Lord, You are our fortress, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you.”
We seek to live in your presence,
and stay in the shadow of the Almighty
Lord spread your wings over us like a mothering hen,
Protecting her babies.
We have nothing to fear living in your faithfulness.
Though circumstances become tough, illness strike us,
Death comes our way, whatever befalls us we have nothing to fear.
We know this because you God, are our refuge.
and our sanctuary.
Though temptations come to lure us from small ones to big ones,
though evil one looks like he is winning the day;
We can trust in you.
No matter what happens in life we can hold on to you Lord,
Because we know you are with us, caring for us, loving us, and delivering us.
Lord, we can call on you anytime and anywhere
And we can believe and trust that you will answer.
You alone are our refuge, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you. Source:RevGalPals

Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted. (Luke 4.1-2)
A place of harshness
and subtraction.
Shadows splinter and deceive.
How sweet, then,
in this unyielding place,
to possess, control,
never to hunger or hurt or fail,
perfect undepence.
He had to admire them first,
not some devil’s trick
but secret loves,
had to see them stark
against the heat’s pavement,
cherish them, so fetching
among stones, places of skulls,
hold them in his hands, so lovely,
pinned by the nails of the sun,
had to feel the clutching,
had to know how alluring the gems,
singular, untouched, untrue,
and want them badly,
to leave them to the dust
for something even better.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

A reflection by Jan Richardson
If we back up a bit in Luke – if we turn around, hang a left at the genealogy, and take a look at Luke 3.21-22 – we will be able to enter this week’s text with the same knowledge that Jesus had: that when he went into the desert, he went with the baptismal waters of the Jordan still clinging to him, and with the name Beloved ringing in his ears. How else to enter into the forty-day place that lay ahead of him? How else to cross into the wilderness where he would have no food, no community, nothing that was familiar to him—and, to top it off, would have to wrestle with the devil? How else, but to go into that landscape with the knowledge of his own name: Beloved.
In this first week of Lent, as we turn our faces toward whatever this forty-day place holds for us, we would do well to have that name echoing in our own ears—to enter into the terrain of this season with the knowledge that we, too, are the beloved of God. And so I want to offer you a blessing that tells us this. It’s a blessing I wrote last year for those who joined us on the Beloved Online Lenten Retreat—a beloved community indeed.
As we cross with Christ into the landscape of Lent and into the mystery that lies ahead of us, may we know at least this about ourselves: that our name, too, is Beloved.

A reflection by April Fiet, The Gift of Temptation

Beloved Is Where We Begin
If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.
Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.
Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.
I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.
But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.
I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:
(Source: Jan Richardson, from Circle of Grace) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | 1 Comment

resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

A Prayer for Aotearoa New Zealand
God of peace, we have seen hatred unleashed and precious lives lost. We grieve with the families and communities mourning the death of loved ones. Our hearts go out to those who have been injured physically and mentally and those who now feel a heightened sense of insecurity because of what has happened. God of comfort bring light in the darkness.
Sustain religious and community leaders as they support families and seek to bring hope and healing within their communities. Be with the people of the NZ emergency services and others traumatised by these recent events.
Thank you for all the expressions of solidarity we have seen following this act of terrorism. What was intended to spread hated has instead brought people together. Thank you that many have come together to join voices, stand together, convey their condolences and affirm their commitment to building an inclusive society. Thank you for those offering wise and prophetic leadership, who have communicated by their words and actions a vision of the kind of societies we want based on respect, kindness, compassion and good will towards one another. May we continue to engage in a process of self-examination as we consider what creates an environment where seeds of hatred grow.
Loving God bring light into our darkness. Bring peace to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Give friendships across religious differences. Plant in us seeds of hope for a world where all your children flourish. Amen
(Source: Rev Helen Richmond, Facebook post, March 2019)

O God, We Grieve the Hatred
(written in response to the NZ mosque shootings)
AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation”)
O God, we grieve the hatred, the ugly, racist fear
that hurts our common living and harms those you hold dear.
For Muslims who were gathered to worship and to pray
soon found their lives were shattered as violence filled their day.

We pray for those now grieving for loved ones who are lost;
we pray for people suffering because of hatred’s cost.
For all of us, now frightened by what extremists do,
we pray: O God of mercy! May we find strength in you!

We grieve our lack of courage: we tolerate the wrong
of people who are racist; we simply go along.
We let the fear continue; we’re slow to challenge hate.
We say, “It’s not our issue,” until it is too late.

O God of love and mercy, you teach us how to be
a loving, caring people, a kind community.
May we reach out to neighbors and welcome others here
for love is what is needed to cast out pride and fear.
Biblical Reference: 1 John 4:7-21
Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864 (“The Church’s One Foundation”)
Text: Copyright © 2019 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:

God of hope, we come to you in shock and grief and confusion of heart. Help us to find peace in the knowledge of your loving mercy to all your children and give us light to guide us out of our darkness into the assurance of your love. Amen.
(Source: New Zealand prayer book)

We Pray in the Wake of the Horror of Violence
Present with us in Christ,
Supporting and guiding us in the Spirit,
Embrace us in your compassion,
Hold us in your truth,
Infuse us with your love,
For the world can be a dark and violent place,
Where what transpires is unfair and wrong,
And where innocents suffer for the agenda of evil.
Calm our fears and worries.
Give us strength of peace.
And the power of hope.
We think of victims and their loved-ones.
Be with all who need solace and comfort in their time of distress.
Work for healing with all who need it.
When we turn our thinking to the perpetrators,
Smack down any self-righteousness within us.
Teach us how to unclench our souls as prejudice and judgement arise within our mindset.
When we start to label people or name people as enemies,
Corrupt our thinking with your grace, love and compassion,
Reminding us of the teaching of Jesus about such people.
May we not let go of our sense of horror at wrongdoing,
Not seek to excuse acts of cruelty or hate,
But transform these in your grace,
So that understanding, forgiveness,
and reconciliation become the orders of the day.
May we work with you in this world,
So that the day might come sooner than ever,
Where peace is the priority,
Injustice is resolved in good and right ways,
Where no-one dies because of the cause of others,
And that we might live together,
If not in unity, at least with respect and tolerance.
May we better learn your way,
And better live it together,
So that the horrors of humanity might end.
This we pray,
Now and always. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite) Continue reading

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Harmony Day, 21stMarch

Harmony Day is managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and is intended to celebrate the cohesive and inclusive nature of Australia and promote a tolerant and culturally diverse society. Harmony Day began in 1999, coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and each year. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together and participate in local activities. Orange is the colour chosen to represent Harmony Day. Australians are encouraged to wear orange clothing and/or the distinctive orange ribbon to show their support for cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia.
(This text has been taken from

The theme for 2019 is, ‘‘Harmony – it’s up to us’. In the year of the Australian Federal election, how might this theme be developed?

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Isaiah 55:1-9: An invitation from God for those who are hungry and thirsty to receive food and drink free of charge, to seek God while God may be found, and to recognise that God’s ways are much higher than the ways of human beings.

Psalm 63:1-8: A psalm of longing for God’s nourishing presence, and of thanksgiving for God’s satisfying care and life.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13: The disobedience and rebelliousness of the Israelites in the wilderness is a warning to us to resist the temptations we face. But, God provides, and strengthens us, if we will allow it.

Luke 13:1-9: Jesus confronts the idea that natural or human-initiated disasters only befall the sinful or the evil, and challenges the self-righteousness of his hearers, calling them to repentance, even as he reflects, in parable, on God’s mercy that gently waits for us to wake up and start bearing fruit (parable of the barren fig tree).

See home page for generic worship resources.

Call to worship (Luke 13:1-9)
Turn to God, with honest hearts
Turn to God, with open hearts
Turn to God, with hungry hearts,
Turn to God, with all your heart,
ready to worship, heal, grow. Amen.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

Prayer of Confession and Assurance: (Luke 13:1–9)
Where in the world do fig trees grow,
but grow no fruit to share?
In the gardens of our good intentions,
stifled by our inaction.
Where in the world do fig trees grow,
but grow no fruit to share?
In the chapels where our prayers and songs
fill the air, but there remain.
Where in the world do fig trees grow,
but grow no fruit to share?
In pre-election rhetoric designed to win
votes, but not to change a thing.
Where in the world do fig trees grow,
but grow no fruit to share?
Here, they grow, around and within us,
fig trees with no fruit to share:
Forgive us, though we make poor use
of the good soil you provide.
Dig around and feed our roots,
help us to grow again.
Turn around, Jesus calls,
and I will restore, renew.
Hear this promise,
receive this grace:
God will enrich our growing,
take heart, and be at peace. Amen.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

Continue reading
Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU21C.Lent3C.24March2019



Joshua 5:9-12: The Israelites celebrate the Passover, as God proclaims that the “disgrace of Egypt” is removed from them, and have their first meal in Canaan. The day after that the manna stops arriving.

Psalm 32: A celebration of the joy and healing that confession brings, and the restoration that God offers those who admit their sin. God’s promise to instruct and guide those who trust in God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21: In Christ we are reconciled to God, and we are called to invite others into this reconciliation – both between people and God, and between people and people.

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32: Jesus’ parable of the loving and forgiving father who welcomes back his wasteful and repentant son, and seeks to reconcile him with his resentful elder brother.

forgiving father.frank wesley

Forgiving Father by Frank Wesley

Helpful websites
Singing from the Lectionary
Sacredise daily resource

Call to worship
In the name of God,
who created us,
who holds us and the whole world in divine embrace
In the name of the Son
who came into the world,
who reconciles us with God.
In the name of the Holy Spirit
who fills us with eternal life,
who links us with all Christians
and incites us to peace,
we come together to offer our thanks and praise.
(Source: Sheilagh Kesting, Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday)

Call to worship
Turn to God, with honest hearts
Turn to God, with open hearts
Turn to God, with hungry hearts,
Turn to God, with all your heart,
ready to worship, heal, grow. Amen.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

Prayer of adoration and confession
God our Parent,
we gather to open our hearts to you
trusting that you will welcome us with open arms.
We come to worship you.
The One who leads us through times of trial;
the One who supports us in sorrow and struggle;
the One who is beside us when all is bleak.
Holy One, we praise you.
A silence is kept
God our Shepherd,
we confess that we often lose our way.
Sometimes we follow like sheep
and end up in places that we should not be.
At other times we choose our own paths
and end up hitting a dead end.
In a moment of quiet,
we bring before you those things we have done in our straying
and ask that, in your mercy, you will bring us back on track.
May we, like the Prodigal Son, come to ourselves.
A silence is kept
May we trust and follow you alone.
May we listen and follow you alone.
May we worship you alone this day. Amen.
(Source: Jonathan Fleming, Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU22C.Lent4C.31March2019


Isaiah 43:16-21: The God who has saved Israel in the past invites God’s people to believe that a new salvation is coming for them in their exile.

Psalm 126:  A psalm celebrating the return of exiles to Jerusalem, and asking for God’s grace as they seek to rebuild their lives and their homeland.

Philippians 3:4b-14: Paul, who has every reason to trust in his goodness under the law, explains why he chooses rather to trust in Christ for his righteousness, and how he commits to continually striving to reach the reward that is promised in Christ.

John 12:1-8: In Bethany, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Judas, however is unimpressed.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Helpful websites
Singing from the Lectionary

THE DINNER PARTY (John 12:1-8)
Anointing with nard
filled the house with its fragrance:
love, surprise and shock.

Mary’s costly act
signalled hospitality
and yet foreboding.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, The Billabong, 2016)

More for Lent 5C

Call to Worship
We come to this place
because we want to know God,
who helps us set aside the past,
to walk the path to new life.
We come in these moments
because we want to know Jesus,
who anoints us with the resurrection,
who shares our lives with us.
We come with these people
because we want to know the Spirit,
who shapes us for life with God,
so we may praise God forever! Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU23C.Lent5C.7thApril2019

COCU24C.Lent6C.Palm Sunday.14April2019

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29: A celebration of God’s goodness and faithful love, answering prayer, turning the rejected stone into the capstone, and inviting people into God’s presence.

Luke 19:28-40: Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the people offer praises. The Pharisees though are unimpressed, calling on Jesus to silence the crowd.
(Bible Readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)


Palm Sunday – image from Guatemala


John van de Laar’s reflections on the texts.

Church of Scotland starters for worship – Palm Sunday.

A wonderful resource of music, art and readings at Gospel Feelings website.

Article: Palm Sunday and the gift of disillusionment

Excellent resource (2015) by the Disciples of Christ. 

Call to Worship: Palm Sunday
The story of Palm Sunday tells of how
people removed their cloaks and spread them out
in front of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.

The cloak we wear every day to face the world
is both the persona we wish to present,
and our defence against the elements.

As we come to worship may we be willing
to lay down our defenses and disguises,
at the feet of the One who sees us we really are.

And then, set free for worship,
may we offer our praises
with open hearts and lives.
(c)Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality Centre.

Call to worship: Recognizing Jesus
When God appeared on earth in the person of Jesus,
most of the world did not recognize him
and therefore did not worship him.
Today we ask for faith that will open our eyes
to see Jesus for who he is,
that we might worship him in truth.
People of God, behold your God!
We open our eyes to see his glory.
We open our ears to hear his wisdom.
We open our hands to offer him gifts.
We open our mouths to sing his praise.
We open our hearts to offer him our love.
posted on Reformed Worship

Knowing (inspired by Luke 19:39-40)
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him,
“Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
But Jesus answered,
“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

(Pile of stones in the middle)

Did the stones know?

Did the stones know
they would soon have to shout ‘Hosanna’
because those who had first shouted it
would soon be shouting ‘Crucify’?

Did Jesus know?

Did Jesus know
that those who followed in this fickle crowd
would soon turn their backs
on the only hope they had

Did Jesus tell the stones?

Did Jesus tell the stones
that they would be needed to shout
for they alone knew
the secret of tombstones

Do we know?
Do we know when to shout
and when to hold silence
as the saviour struggles for love
and love struggles with him
(c) Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Mucky Paws.

Like palm leaves 

Without the breeze

The stillness of the heart 

Without its beats 

Oh…Like the ocean 

Without its waves
Your absence 

Engenders a silence
The melancholy

Of the dawn

Without the dew 

That washes its face 

For the morning
(Source: Ibrahim Samdo)

“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19.40)
Silently, they cry out.
The stone the builders rejected
has been made the cornerstone.
God gave Moses the tablets of stone.
God is able from these stones
to raise up children of Abraham.
Command this stone to become a loaf of bread.
You who are without sin cast the first stone.
No stone will be left on another.
I will remove your hearts of stone.
Your bother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
The stone was rolled away.
Even the stones know they are dust
and to dust they shall return,
evolving always toward gentleness,
toward each other.
The stones cry out, all Creation sings
praise to God’s love made present,
wails in lament for our fearful cruelty
and the cry of the dispossessed,
those who are trampled, thrown,
treated like dirt, stoned,
used for our wars and imprisonments.
Even the stones shout
hope for the word to come.
Listen to the stones.
Let your heart join them.
(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

The story begins with great expectations, which are easy to miss. Jesus has just been in Bethany, close to Jerusalem, where he resurrected his friend Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus’s eyes have barely adjusted to the sunlight, and his story has spread throughout the region. Hearing this story, the crowds begin to predict how God will act in their lives based on the way that God acted before: God will intervene again. God will work a miracle. God will expel the occupiers and resurrect God’s people in God’s city.
The palm branches signalled the crowd’s high expectations, a symbol largely lost on those of us who are separated from the culture and chronology of the story. Jewish history told of a man named Judas Maccabeus, a freedom fighter who entered Jerusalem 200 years prior to Jesus. As he approached, people waved palm branches and sang hymns. When Judas finally arrived, he defeated the Syrian king, recaptured the Temple, expelled the pagans, and reigned for a century before the Romans took back the city. 
God had saved God’s people from an occupier once before when an uncommon man trotted into town. The crowds began predicting another takeover. Their song declared, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). This is a song that Jews sang at the beginning of Passover. It’s taken from Psalm 118, the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. It tells of an enemy swarming like bees, driving the psalmist to the brink of destruction. Then God sweeps in with a mighty hand and wipes out the enemy. The word Hosanna means “Lord, save now.” They are asking Jesus to drive out the enemy army and restore order.
Even the donkey plays a role in elevating expectations, as it harkens back to an image from Zechariah 9:9, a prophetic passage that many of these Jerusalemites would have heard before. “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey.”
(Source: (excerpt) Jonathan Merritt, Christianity Today)

A Justice call to worship
This happened.
Jesus entered Jerusalem this way.
But it isn’t just a one time thing.
Jesus still comes in the middle of our world
and our distress and we still cry out
Hosanna, Save Us
When the ordered world and it’s institutions fail us
Hosanna, Save Us
When our trust in power, violence, and military might turns on us
and becomes oppressive
Hosanna, Save Us
When we are trapped in behaviors that pull us away
from relationship with God and each other,
Hosanna, Save Us
When the harms done to us through racism, sexism, or victimization
become open wounds in our lives,
destroying our trust and making us hate ourselves
Hosanna, Save Us
When society itself becomes an enslaving trap
from which we are afraid we cannot escape
Hosanna, Save Us
From gun violence in our schools and on our streets
that kills our children and makes targets of people of color
and those who are marginalized by our society
Hosanna, Save Us
From leaders who lack courage,
or who have sold out for money and power
Hosanna, Save Us
From everything that is life destroying,
O God, and separates us from You
Hosanna, Save Us
No wonder they told Jesus to shut His people up.
This is language that changes the world.
And it changes the world because God hears our cry.
God gives God’s own Self in Jesus to do what we cannot…
and then invites us to be part of that redeeming work in the world.
But today, this Sunday, we point to the wounds, the sins,
the oppressions we see in ourselves and in the world around us and we cry out
Hosanna, Save Us.
(Steve Price, posted on Gifts in Open Hands website)

I will have only you
Luke 19: 39,41-42: They said, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”… As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
Let them have their warriors and demagogues.
I will have only you,
humble and riding on a donkey,
king not of might but of love.
Ride into the city of my heart,
its prideful palaces and their corruption,
the dark alleys of fear,
the crowded hovels of inadequacy.
Ride in and be my sovereign:
endure my shouts and curses,
rise above my judgments and certainties,
and reign over me in love and forgiveness.
Then let me be your loyal subject in this world,
this day ruled by other kings, other laws.
Show me how to reign, not dominate.
teach me the things that make for peace.
Keep me close to you in this fickle crowd,
steady amid the yelling and fighting,
gentle in the face of brutality,
mighty with the awesome power of love,
my lord, ruler of the universe,
little king with the holes in his hands.
(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

Threat: A Responsive Litany for Palm Sunday
Jesus was beloved by the poor and the outcast
but he was a threat to people with power.
Jesus stood against the Temple,
so he was a threat to the Sadducees.
Jesus healed on the Sabbath and ate with sinners,
so he was a threat to the Pharisees.
Jesus took the titles of “Lord,” “Son of God,” and “King.”
those were the Caesar’s titles:
he was a threat to the government.
Jesus came without violence
yet he disturbed the peace.
Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God
and the kingdoms of this world were frightened.
Lord, help us to love your Kingdom
more than the kingdoms of this world.
For thine is the Kingdom,
the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
(c) Rev. Drew Ludwig, posted on LiturgyLink.

Hymn: We Long to Know Peace!
LYONS (“O Worship the King, All Glorious Above!”)
“We long to know peace!” Jerusalem said
As Caesar’s great troops filled people with dread.
As soldiers and armies marched in with great might,
No justice was found and no peace was in sight.

“Hosanna! God saves!” they cried to the Lord.
They called him a king and looked for his sword.
Would he fight their battles and turn things around?
Then Christ rode a creature of peace into town.

“He isn’t our king!” the crowd quickly turned,
Rejecting the gift for which they had yearned.
They mocked him and killed him, yet death did not win.
Christ rose from the dead and brought God’s peace again.

“We long to know peace!” O God, we still say,
Yet when Jesus calls we turn him away.
O God, may we see in this non-violent king
The peace that your offer, the life that you bring.

Biblical References: Luke 19:38-40; Luke 22:14-23:56
Tune: Joseph Martin Kraus, 1784; until recently attributed to Johann Michael Haydn (“O Worship the King, All Glorious Above!”)
Text: Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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Celebration of ordination

I was asked to craft a liturgy for a friend celebrating 50 years of ordination. I’ve attached the service, and also this song.

There is Joy in Serving Jesus
NETTLETON D (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”)
There is joy in serving Jesus – living Lord and present friend.
Through the work to which God calls us, God’s great reign of love extends.
We proclaim what we’ve been given: Jesus came to set us free!
We are called to love and serve him; there is joy in ministry.

There is joy in seeking justice for our neighbours near and far.
There is joy in showing kindness, meeting people where they are.
There is joy in walking humbly with our God who guides the way.
God has called us to this journey; there is joy when we obey.

There is joy in caring gently for our neighbours and for earth.
There is joy in helping churches value every person’s worth.
There is joy in faithful preaching and in teaching of God’s love,
at the font, at feasts for sharing, in our songs that rise above.

At this time of installation, joy is great and hopes are new.
Bless this loving congregation; bless this loving pastor, too.
God, bless what we do together; by your Spirit may we be 
faithful in this new adventure, joyful in this ministry.

* The hymn can easily be adapted for other special services – changing “installation” to “ordination” and “pastor” to “leader(s).”

Tune: John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, 1813 
Text: Copyright © 2019 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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