See also Palm Sunday A and Palm Sunday C

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
An exhortation to give thanks to God for God’s eternal mercy. Also a cry for God to save God’s people, and an invitation for God’s people to join a procession of thanksgiving, marching to the altar with palms, blessing the one who comes in the Lord’s name.
Mark 11:1-11
Jesus instructs his disciples to fetch a young donkey for him to ride. Then he rides it into Jerusalem and a procession forms with people laying their coats and leafy branches on the road, while shouting out “Hosanna, Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”. Then Jesus goes into the temple, looks around and leaves because it is late.
Isaiah 50:4-9a
In contrast to the happy hosannas and the cheerful parade that normally accompanies Palm Sunday, Isaiah offers an entry into Holy Week in a far more stark way. This is the story behind the populism of Palm Sunday. Here are the words we perhaps need to hear to shape Holy Week. This is Isaiah’s third ‘servant song’. The servant songs were written at the end of the Babylonian exile and over time, especially in the Christian era, the songs have been given many diverging interpretations. But what is clear is that the servant is Israel charged with keeping true to Yahweh. The way Israel is to do this, given the history of exile and oppression and invasion, is not to respond to the conflict with conflict. Quite the opposite. ‘Do not cry or lift up your voice’ says God. Your attempts at power have all failed and to return power with power will fail once more. Instead listen to God, listen and learn. Do not turn away from learning about God: this will sustain you. Keep the faith alive, speak of it, teach it, even when people attack you for it. It is easy to see why the early Christian applied this to Jesus: it seems to mirror his life. Both Israel’s and Jesus’ lives were in parallel: our journey through Holy Week is similar to Israel’s journey through exile.(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

New resource – An Extraordinary Execution (2024) for each day of Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday, from John van de Laar, Sacredise
Palm/Passion Sunday: The Saving Servant
On Palm Sunday, as Jesus put his nature as the Saving Servant in stark contrast to the dominating power of Rome, we cannot miss the call to be servants as we follow Christ. And when we respond to that call, we discover that it is a true, liberating, and transforming path to salvation.
Holy Monday: The Perfect Example
When we follow Jesus’ example, we may endure pain, rejection, and even martyrdom in our quest to embody beauty, goodness, and truth, and to eradicate the injustice that robs others of life. But we will be truly and abundantly alive through it all – as Jesus was. 
Holy Tuesday: The Ultimate Love
If we are able to believe that the heart of the atonement is God’s invitation into loving union with God, then maybe we can begin to expand our view of love until we realise that nothing else can or must be added to love for us to be saved.
Holy Wednesday: The Final Sacrifice
When the cross is a symbol not of God’s punishment for sin, but of God’s transforming, healing, and restoring love, then we are truly free – to live and love as extravagantly, indiscriminately, and infinitely as God loves us.
Maundy Thursday (Tenebrae): The Inextinguishable Light
Based on readings from Mark’s Gospel, this Service of the Shadows invites us to meditate on how the Light of Christ remained unquenched by the darkness of betrayal, false accusations, and hatred that lead to the cross.
Good Friday: The Unlikely Victor
Jesus overcomes evil and death by refusing to play their game or obey their rules. And in doing so he offers us all a way to be free of the cycle of evil in our own lives and relationships.
Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil): The Unquenchable Life
A contemplative service which follows the story of salvation through the Bible and draws us into an experience of God’s grace, love and unquenchable life.

A Litany for Palm/Passion Sunday
Jesus, you began the week riding into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna. Save us.”
In this current climate of mass shootings and violence,
the intersection of racism and misogyny,
the dislocation of global migration,
the fear of variant streams and a third wave,
the flooding and environmental emergency,
we, too, shout “Hosanna. Save us.”
Hosanna. Save us.
In this trying time, grant us your peace and your strength.
Jesus, you experienced a parade of palms and shouts of joy.
Today, we struggle to raise our cries in jubilant celebration.
Many of us are in shock at the current state of the world.
Many cry tears of grief and loss.
Many live with fear and anxiety.
Many of us worry about the unknown future.
Hosanna. Save us.
In this trying time, grant us your vision and your hope.
You, Holy Other,
do not arrive in Jerusalem on a charging steed.
You enter riding on a donkey.
You, Holy Other,
confuse our love of celebrity with your humility.
You, Holy Other,
confound our lust for winning with your vulnerability.
You, Holy Other,
die on a cross.
You, Holy Other,
are executed.
You are not the way of imperial power and principalities.
You are the way of righteousness and radical compassion.
In your passion, shake us, confront us, and teach us your ways.
And grant us your conviction and your courage.
Blessed are you who comes in the name of all that is holy and sacred.
(Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, United Church of Canada, 2021)

Two Processions (based on Marcus Borg’s The Last Week)
(video clip on Youtube with lyrics – scroll to end or click here)
Two processions entering Jerusalem,
Two opposing kingdoms on display.
Which of these processions are we part of?
Which one will we follow on its way?

Will we shout “Hail Pilate” or “Hosanna”
When we have a choice whose praise to sing?
Will we trust the violent mighty ruler?
Will we trust the peaceful peasant king?

Two processions entering Jerusalem,
Power of love against the love of power.
Will we choose the path of domination?
Will we let compassion have its hour?

God has had a dream of joyful justice.
Rome has spun a nightmare of neglect.
If we join the commonwealth of servants
We may bring God’s joy and justice yet.

Two processions entering Jerusalem:
Realm of hope, dominion built on fear.
As we choose the path that love has opened,
We will see the realm of hope draw near.
(Words and music: Amanda Udis-Kessler)

Philippians 2:5-11
There is a lot written about the nuances of the words of this hymn, a hymn that was possibly written before Paul included it in this letter. We could, and many have, used a lot of paper defining and redefining what these words mean. But that turns it into an academic exercise and worship is hardly the place to dance of such pinheads. This hymn is a great long word about Jesus as Christ. It hardly breaks for breath and takes us through the vast journey from incarnation to death and how Jesus now reigns throughout the universe. It begins with Christ becoming human and emptied all the ‘god-stuff’ (that universal reign) and became a slave in human terms, bound in skin. When that happened, when Jesus became human, the sacrifice was great: God to human. How small it must have felt to be limited in skin, but that’s the point. That is the first sacrifice. The second sacrifice is giving up even that, in love, for others. Such giving of self is what we are called to model. Slaves to the limits of our humanity which ends in death which as we all know is a fixed moment for us. There is a point when we die. Except for Jesus this is not fixed, or so we believe. The hymn at this point moves onto exaltation of Jesus and so every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. In effect the whole of creation praises Jesus. It might be worth reading further to the next few lines that say, “For it is God who is at work in you,” because this great hymn, and all the exaltation it speaks of, and the wonder of self- emptying that leads to resurrection, this God who does all that, is at work in you. That’s the bit, surely, to hang on to. All that praise to a God who is involved in all of that redemption is in you. (Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Resources for Palm Sunday – prepared by Roddy Hamilton, on the Church of Scotland website.

Riding a colt that had never been ridden before
Every one in a while, Scripture smacks you and says, “pay attention!”  On my 11th cycle through the RCL, a little phrase in the gospel for today said, “Hey! look at me!”  It was the little aside that the disciples had been sent to find a colt for Jesus to ride, one that had never been ridden before.
Climbing on such an animal can bring all sorts of responses from said colt – bucking, racing around, trying to throw the rider off (or succeeding).  It can be a wild ride, totally unexpected, almost catastrophic in a certain sense.  And there, in the silent pause as I absorbed the thought, I realized it could not only be a metaphor for the events of Holy Week, but also about the kingdom Jesus is inaugurating in our midst – wild, unexpected, perhaps catastrophic in certain senses.  Are we willing to climb on and hold on for dear life?
And in that brief silence, I completely chose to go in a different direction with my sermon.
It was a special moment.
(Source: Thom M. Shuman,

The parade that wasn’t
Surely there is a story behind this story of Jesus arriving Jerusalem? There is the whole intrigue of secret passwords, as if there is a network of Jesus followers. Clearly, if this is so, Jesus movement was seen to be quite at odds with the Romans. We may see this as obvious but we don’t often tell the story as if there was danger to those who lifted their heads above the crowd.
Though this is what Jesus does, because the other story behind the story is the alternative parade into Jerusalem that day of Pilate arriving for Passover, Pilate who rarely came to Jerusalem because it was too hot. That would have been the bigger parade, with standard bearers and a crowd shouting because they were compelled to do so rather than because they wished to do so.
Contrast that with Jesus’ much smaller parade, but that was clearly seen as a counter- kingdom parade to the Romans’. Jesus’ entry doesn’t seem to be supported necessarily by the residents of Jerusalem. Jesus’ support consisted of outsiders, people not resident in Jerusalem and they hail Him from outside the city. Only after the mock parade and the hosannas does Jesus enter the city and go to the temple. Only there He simply looked around and turned on his heels.
The big thing about the triumphal entry is that it isn’t. Nothing happened. It’s one of the great anti-climaxes in the gospel. We have all the street theatre, and the mocking of the Roman governor, but in the end, Jesus just turns round and goes back to Bethany. People’s expectations are unmet. They are crying for some kind of revolution in the shape of the historical past but it doesn’t materialise. Perhaps this disappointment in Jesus is the beginning of the turning of the crowd.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Donkeys at dawn
Messiahs on a mission
palm branches propelled crowds crying
people parading
Jerusalem jousting
disciples departing
gateway giving way
hosannas being hurled
a salvo of shouts
and a king on a colt
starts the slippery slope
that ends the enterprise
of hosanna headlines
with a cross and crucifixion when the words weary
and silence descends
and there is nothing left to say
Welcome to the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning…
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)
* The link will take you to Roddy’s series of prayerful reflections that could be used as a continuum for a service without the usual ‘structure’ of a worship service. Some are included below, but inserted into the elements of worship.

Gathering words (from a poem, The King is coming)
Our God arrives, clothed in frail human flesh,
riding a meek donkey’s foal.
This is not the first time You have come to us, O God
The history of human affairs is the history of Your arrival among us,
As Creator,
Prophet’s voice and
Priest’s desire.
The story of each of our lives is the story of Your coming to us,
As Comforter,
And so we praise You;
Open our eyes to Your Presence, Lord;
Come to us again, Lord;
Hosanna – Save us again, Lord.
And be glorified among us.
For You are our God. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Palm Sunday Reflective Prayer
Lord Jesus may we stop…
and give You the time You need to make this choice
to turn every word about love You have ever uttered
into commitment and example
– for here the words run out,
and all that counts
is trust in a way
that gives of itself
and whose way is broken
and consequence is death
and the choice cannot be done easily
this must milk the soul
of everything it believes
So, may we stop…
to give us the time to know
this day of palms and processions is the day the kingdom changed
and all talk was finished and the word
became flesh again
not ready to be born but ready to die
So may we stop…
and give heaven time
to gather what light is left and care for You
in this moment of decision to trust love fully
So, let the palms fly
the high hosannas be sung Hear them, O Lord Jesus
it is what we know to be true in Your moment of decision
May You choose the way of love
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

A reflection for the journey through Holy Week
Here the shadow-line curves towards the cross and the dust
shapes our footprints
which hold the stories
of all those who travel this way daring to follow
beyond the questions
and towards a truth
that is restless with the way things are where death seals tombs
and bandages wrap dead
Dare we believe
this is not how it might be
there is more to wonder at than Lazarus breaking free and a Saviour weeping
Dare we believe
there is more to Judas
than forcing the hand of heaven and paying his way to hell
Is there more to it than this?
and in such a place the answer comes: Yes!
and after such a yes
what miracle shall we yet meet?
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Prayer of Confession/Prayers of who we are
This reflection (‘Calls for Allegiance) could be used, with a time of silence to follow.

Lord Jesus Christ, whose greatest moments of triumph happen
on the back of a donkey’s foal
and nailed to a bloody cross,
We gather to prepare the way for You
in our lives and in our world.

There are so many people and things that call for our allegiance
so many kings seeking to rule over us.
But, You ride into our experience as another kind of King
a serving, humble and challenging King
who calls us not to slavery, but friendship.

There are so many things that seek our energy and resources for their own sakes
so many Kingdoms seeking our souls for their own glory.
But, You ride into our experience heralding another kind of Kingdom
a Kingdom where the least are the greatest,
where the meek inherit the earth
and where children are the best example of citizenship.
a Kingdom which seeks to bring life, not drain it.

There are so many things that draw our attention.
So many realities that seek our faith and assent.
But, You ride into our experience revealing another kind of reality
a reality where death does not have the last word.
a reality where pride, selfishness and evil are defeated
by love and self-giving.
a reality which does not parade itself for all to see,
but fills every moment, every situation and every thing with life,
while waiting for us to discover it.
We reflect in silence on these words for ourselves.
And so, we cry, from our hearts:
Hosanna, Save us.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer at the Triumphal Entry
(Could be used for reflective prayers of confession/prayers of who we are)
Lord Jesus, this is not Your fight
this is not the moment for quiet revolution
Love will kill You if You hang on to it…
How often we have felt like that, O Jesus,
when love is too great a sacrifice
and the world borrows laughter
and uses mockery to weaken
and conflict to destroy what seems weak
and what seems to oppose what it wants
Lord Jesus,
It is a long way to heaven from here from this choice You make
this decision to go on from here
We want the certainty of power
we need the security of defence
we trust in the banding of nations
the axis of right
the arc of morality on our side
This is our world You protest against, O Jesus,
this world we have defined to keep us safe
and You ride through it on a donkey
This is hard, Jesus
This is a difficult thing for us
How much more difficult for you Lord Jesus.

In the breaths between each decision You make
may we dare trust You
(A silence is kept as we reflect on these words for ourselves)

May we find enough faith
to trust Your choice to love, where nothing could stop You loving
where You put no conditions on love but loved right through to the end.
Lord Jesus, may we say yes to such love
and choose the kingdom in Your name
So be it. Amen
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Prayer at the Last Supper (scroll down further)
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

A dramatic reflection for the betrayal of Jesus
Have thirty coins and either as a group or as an individual, throw the coins, one at a time, at the beginning of each line.
1 for the kingdom
2 for the saviour
3 for the messiah
4 for the revolution
5 for the women
6 for the disciples
7 for the poor
8 for the hungry
9 for the leper
10 for the forgotten
11 for the marginalised
12 for the oppressed
13 for the uprising
14 for the revolt
15 for the rebellion
16 for the exploited
17 for the destitute
18 for the mistreated
19 for the overburdened
20 for the Good Shepherd
21 for the Lamb of God
22 for the Prince of Peace
23 for the redeemer
24 for the son of man
25 for the King of Kings
26 for the dominion of God
27 for the kingdom of love
28 for the time to force God’s hand
29 for the start of the new era
30 for the betrayer.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Jesus in the garden
Now in the garden
all the light has been stripped away yet still there is Jesus
light still shining through the tears and shaped in prayer

Everything else is in shadow the words are used up
the birds have gone
the gnarled olive branches twist around the soldiers lurking among them

the betrayer
now staring at the ground trying not to be recognised

but you can recognise his shoulders hunched against the darkness

And Jesus
holds this last moment
before heaven is bound
and crushed
and crucified
Judas raises his eyes
and finds Jesus looking into him and is flooded by the deeper longer look of love

Judas’ spirit snarls
for he recognises still that unconditional look

and before the pain becomes too great
and before the moment is lost
and before heaven can choose to back away he ends it all
with the greatest irony in history

he moves on Jesus
and finishes him – with a kiss.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Reflection when Jesus is before the council
I knew a different man
from the one we follow today on the way to the cross
along the alleys of shadows

I knew Him
when He was crammed with life
when laughter erupted from Him
and stories were filled with colour
and He was ever ready for an argument

I knew Him
when He had time
to touch the untouchables and speak the unspeakable and love the unlovable

I knew Him
when the words seemed hopeful when the future seemed possible when the moment seemed prophetic

but now
the rumour is tarnished
the saviour is broken
and the promise spent silenced by a world
caught in a snarl of darkness

yet I cannot help believe
if this is the same man
He will not leave it here this is not where it will end
so come
let us follow on.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

The death of Jesus
And now silence falls
on the last work of the world
even the word of God
has run out of words
When such a silence falls
there is nothing left to say
all that is holy is soured by fear and love is put to death
What more can heaven do
The chaos before creation
has returned
the darkness before God spoke has taken hold again
the face of the deep
is dark and long
the stars have gone out and everything is void
The cross is being raised
and the son of man is bound
and all heaven can do is wait
and repeat those first words again spoken over the chaos
on that very first day
and believe they hold a promise of a second Adam
a new creation
and from the returning chaos
a new day might dawn.
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Statement of Faith for Holy Week
a: some shout hosanna
b: some shout crucify
a: some shout Jesus
b: some shout Barabbas
a: some wave palms
b: some shake their fists all: today we choose…
a: some break bread
b: some break silence
a: some proclaim Jesus
b: some deny Jesus
a: some carry the cross
b: some run from the cross all: today we choose…
a: some are angry
b: some rejoice
a: some anoint with costly perfume
b: some complain at the waste
a: some like the light
b: some prefer the shadows
today we choose…
a: some weep
b: some conspire
a: some follow
b: some hide
a: some believe
b: some betray
today we choose
a: to shout for life
b: to follow the cross
a: to break bread
b: to hold belief
a: to trust love
b: and tell the world
we choose to follow Jesus
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

I wish for you
a cross that is not padded
but one that breaks
the easy hopes we are given and finds new reason to believe

I wish for you
a crown that is not comfortable but one that challenges
the biased powers of the world and begins a new kind of kingdom

I wish for you
a robe that is not purple
but one that is torn and dirty
from sheltering the poor
and shape a new way to live together

I wish for you
bread that is not whole
but is broken and divided enough to feed the hungry and offer a new justice to all

I wish for you
wine that is not sweet
but one that is sharp
and reminds us of the sacrifice
that newly opens the gate of heaven

I wish for you
a garden before sunrise
that you may be first to see
footprints of the gardener
and exclaim anew: ‘My Lord, it is You!’
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

Prayer at the table of the Last Supper
Lord Jesus
as the light thins
and the world conspires may we tell Your story
When hope seems gone and the future broken may we tell Your story
When the hungry need to be fed and injustice is rife
may we tell Your story
For this night
it seems it is all we can do
Yet may we retell it
not just in this place
but every place we find ourselves for this story
is the hope of the world
this bread the means of a new world this wine the promise for all
this table a meeting place
for terrorist and terrorised
for war monger and peace maker
May this story
be the one we tell
that plants hope
and sows longing
into the fabric of the world
So we come as we are, O Lord Jesus with all the worry we have
the ability to change sides so easily the fear of the future
and the hurt of the past what is broken in us and what is a burden
We come as we are
and all that we have done
and may we trust this symbol of this table and the story it tells
renew us
refocus our vision
dare us to believe
call us anew
and name us
Your body
in the world
Lord Jesus
as the light thins
and the night thickens
may we be here
because there is no other place to be
and remember You
So be it Amen
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Church of Scotland)

A Prayer for Palm Sunday leading into Communion
We gather today
mindful of the many times
we have professed our readiness
to be true disciples of Jesus
to be salt of the earth
to be light in the world.
We acknowledge the daunting challenge
of this profession
in the society in which we live,
with its economic systems
that impoverish and disempower people,
and its political systems
that enable the rich to get richer
and the earth to become poorer.
We remember that Jesus
encountered in his day
systems as unjust as those
we experience in our day,
and who surely felt powerless
to change anything on his own.
We turn our hearts and minds
to his message
to his hopes and dreams
to his ardent desire
for a better society.
We focus on his struggle
his reflections
his prayer
his questions –
where to start?
how to start?
what to say?
whom to choose?
how to keep going?
how to be salt?
how to be light?
We call to mind
how Jesus urged his listeners
to put their trust
in the power of being neighbor
in the power of God’s Spirit within them
in the power of conversion
from religious thinking and practices
that made them feel inadequate
and worthless.
Our prayer today
is a prayer of resolve,
a prayer of determination
that we, each one of us,
will do whatever we can
however small
in whatever way
to bring the real dream of Jesus
to fruition
in our lives
and in our world today.
At the start of Holy Week
we focus on Jesus
human like us
a man with a dream for a better world
a man of extraordinary courage
a man on a journey to the end of his life
a man willing to die for what he believed
a man who knew
he would never see his dream fulfilled
a man who had to trust
that those who came after him
would keep his dream alive.
As we gather once more around bread and wine
we recall Jesus sharing bread and wine
with his friends
shortly before he died.
He invited them to eat and drink
as a sign of their readiness
to keep his memory alive
to give their all
for what he believed and taught.
We, too, eat and drink.
We stand up
as a sign of our readiness to be counted upon.
We give our word.
By our eating and drinking
we commit ourselves
to follow where Jesus dared to journey.
(Source: Michael Morwood, Prayers for Progressive Christians)

Liturgy for Holy Communion

Call to Worship

Here, we prepare ourselves for the week that is holy,
yet filled with unholy acts, words, thoughts.
In this week of journey, people lose their way;
in this week of betrayal, others find hope hidden in their hearts.
We will try to follow Jesus in the days to come,
sustained by the Word of grace and life.
Joining the children, we wave palm branches with joy,
while keeping nails ready if we need them.
The One who set aside glory, comes in humility;
the One who offers life, will challenge death itself.
Hosanna! Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who opens the heart of God to us.

Prayer of the Day
Creator God:
you give us days
filled with parades, bands, and balloons;
you walk with us
through days when we are overwhelmed
with pain, with doubt, with heartache.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

Rider of Humility:
trusting God,
you offer your life
so we may no longer fear death;
loving God,
you challenge the powers
of the world;
following God,
you reveal faithfulness to us.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

Wisdom’s Tongue:
you come to us
with arms full of joy,
spreading it in our path;
you take us by the hand,
to walk with us through this week.
We would empty ourselves
so we could make room for you
in our hearts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation/Prayer of Confession
Where do we hide our palm branches when the parade is over?  When do our hosannas become cries for punishment?  How do we, like those before us, turn our backs on the One who comes to us in the name of the Lord?  As we begin Holy Week, let us admit what is true about us, as we pray together, saying:
Steadfast Lover:  when things go well for us,  we can easily sing loud hosannas, but the words turn to ashes in mouths full of anger and bitterness.  We hide behind our palm branches, hoping you will not see the doubts we have about what you call us to do.  We eagerly feast on your blessings, but are reluctant to offer even crumbs to those around us.
Forgive us, Approaching God.  Now, more than ever, forgive us.  May we be as eager to lay down our fears and doubts, our sins and pride, as we are to lay don our coats for you.  May we praise your for your victory over death, as well as for the promise of resurrection to new life, the promise given to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. A silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
At his birth, Jesus comes bringing us hope.
Entering Jerusalem, he brings us assurance.
Walking to Calvary, he leads us to new life.
All this was for us – so we could bend our
knees before God in humility and praise.
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Hosanna!  Hosanna!
Blessed is the One who brings us the kingdom of God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could offer nails made out of rejection to others, help us share in their lives.  We could wave the hurting and homeless away, help us to welcome them with love and hope.  We could keep our gifts stuffed deep in our pockets, help us to give away more than we ever dare.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of this week be with you.
May God journey with you as well.
People of God, offer your hearts in these moments.
We open the closed gates of our fears to the God who comes to us.
Children of God, sing loud praises to the One who approaches.
We praise our God whose steadfast love is forever.

This is your doing, Imaginative God,
transforming the emptiness of chaos
into the creation of beauty and hope where
palms waved in summer breezes,
colts frolicked in green meadows,
children down streets in joy and wonder.
You created all this goodness, all this grace,
for those shaped in your image,
but we took the nails and wood offered by sin
to crucify your dreams for us.
You continued to invite us through
the gates of your love,
sending women and men to call us home,
but we rejected the prophets,
even as we continued to rebel against you.
So, you chose to become one of us,
not in glory or power or wealth,
but in humility, so we might be saved.

So with those who wave palm branches,
with those who stand at the back of the crowd,
we offer our thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of gracious love.
Morning by morning, creation sings its praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who has a Teacher’s tongue.
Hosanna in the highest!

This is your doing, God of our lives.
Though sharing in your holiness,
your Child chose to become human.
Setting aside glory,
Jesus came to fill us with grace.
Taking off eternity’s robes,
Jesus knew our days of loneliness and fear.
Leaving behind all majesty,
Jesus became as humble as a little child
who gazes at everything with awe and wonder.
Deciding to set down power,
Jesus went to the cross,
letting death think it had defeated him
as it gathered him in its cold embrace,
until you breathed new life into him,
the resurrecting Spirit of love being revealed for all.

As we step forward in fear and doubts to follow,
as we know how easily we would betray Jesus,
we sing of the mystery we call faith:

In steadfast love, Jesus was born;
with steadfast trust, Jesus died;
through steadfast grace, Jesus was raised from death;
for steadfast hope, Jesus will come to open the gates of eternity for all.

As you pour out your Spirit
on the bread and the cup
and your children gathered on this day,
we know that this is your doing, Holy God.
For through the bread which is broken,
you feed us,
so we might become one with the excluded,
so we might bring healing to the hurting.
And through the Cup which is blessed,
your open our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our mouths,
so we might speak out against oppression,
so we might see each person as our sister or brother,
hearing in their words your voice of love.
And when the gates of time and history are closed,
as eternity with you swings wide open,
we will lift our voices with everyone
from every time, and of every place,
forever singing of your steadfast love,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us forth in this week of holiness.
We will go to clothe those who are cold,
we will offer our hearts to those who are lonely.
Jesus walks with us through the pain of the week.
We will listen to those who cry out for help,
we will forgive those who betray us.
The Spirit comforts and strengthens us on this journey.
We will take the hands of all who stumble along the way,
we will lean on strangers when we cannot take another step.
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, 2018)
(Thom is the Transitional Pastor, Galloway Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio; Associate Member, Iona Community)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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