Sunday April 2, 2023 – Palm/Communion Sunday
Throughout these Lenten days and nights we turn to walk the inward way,
Where meeting Christ, our guide and light, we live in hope till Easter Day.
© 1993 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission. LicenSingOnline#605486
Acknowledging the Territory
As we gather in worship, we acknowledge that the land upon which we live, work and worship is the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. We offer our deep gratitude for this land, for those who have cared for and tended it before us and we commit ourselves to use and share this land wisely.
Call to Worship ~ written by Thom Shuman
We gather here today to prepare ourselves for this holiest of weeks.
We journey through praise, with joy on our lips.
We travel through betrayal and death, cradling hope deep in our hearts.
Jesus leads us through this week.
We follow, for he is the life we long for, he is the Word who sustains us.
We wave branches in anticipation, we lay our love before him, to cushion his way.
Setting aside all power, glory, and might, he comes: modeling humility and obedience for all of us.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the One who brings us the kingdom of God.
Service of Lenten Candles
During Advent we light candles each week as we prepare with joy and excitement to welcome the one born to bring God’s light into the world. During Lent we prepare ourselves with quiet contemplation for the day when that light was extinguished. The six purple candles represent the six weeks of Lent, while the white candle, our Christ Candle continues to burn reminding us who it is that we journey with during this season of Lent.
Lent calls us to a time of remembrance.
We remember the teachings and example of Jesus.
We remember the passion and sorrow of Jesus.
We remember the sacrifice of Jesus.
We remember how often we fail to live up to Jesus’ example.
As we extinguish this candle, we offer our Lenten Prayer.
Let us Pray
Today, O God, we stand between joy and sorrow. With joy we shout Hosanna and welcome Jesus. Yet even in the shouts of Hosanna we sense the tension, the fear and the anger of those whom Jesus challenges. We realize how quickly the shouts of “Hosanna” can turn to cries of “Crucify Him!” We stand between joy and sorrow O God, because we know how easy it is to be swayed by the crowd. We stand between joy and sorrow, O God, because we know how easy it is to sit back and watch from a safe distance rather than getting involved. We yearn for joy but we also yearn for a way to avoid the sorrow. O God, as we stand between joy and sorrow, we yearn for the assurance that, no matter what, you will walk this and all our journeys with us. Amen.
Gift of Music Hosanna Loud Hosanna #123
Our scripture reading today is Matthew’s retelling of that first Palm Sunday. It begins with the familiar story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, but it continues with what happen when Jesus arrived at the Temple.
Matthew 21:1-17 Good News Translation
As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. There Jesus sent two of the disciples on ahead with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied up with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. And if anyone says anything, tell him, ‘The Master needs them’; and then he will let them go at once.”
This happened in order to make come true what the prophet had said: “Tell the city of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and rides on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
So the disciples went and did what Jesus had told them to do: they brought the donkey and the colt, threw their cloaks over them, and Jesus got on. A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, “Praise to David’s Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into an uproar. “Who is he?” the people asked. “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee,” the crowds answered.
Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, “Praise to David’s Son!” So they asked Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?”
“Indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read this scripture? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.’”
Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Favorite Hymn Request Hey Now! Singing Hallelujah! MV#121
The Christ of Palm Sunday
Over the past few years, when we have celebrated Palm/Passion Sunday we have often concentrated more on the passion than on the palms. This year we focus, not on that entire week, but only on this one day. And we look at this day through the story as it is presented in the Gospel According to Matthew.
It was the beginning of the week-long celebration of Passover. This is one of the 4 pilgrimage festival in the Jewish faith. The roads would have been crowded with travelers making their own pilgrimage to Jerusalem to join in the celebration. And among those making this pilgrimage were Jesus and his disciples.
Jesus already knew the risk of going to Jerusalem. He already knew that the authorities were seeking a way to get rid of him. He had 3 choices. He could play it safe and stay away. He could sneak into Jerusalem with the crowds that were arriving to celebrate Passover. Or he could openly defy those who were trying to keep him away and refuse to back down. Jesus chose the third option.
And so, he arrived in the most visible way possible, riding a donkey, the symbol of peace. The crowds, excited to see someone arriving is such a way, shouted and cheered, covering the path with branches and robes so that the dust of the road would not fall upon Jesus. Not only did this bring an even greater visibility to Jesus, it also accentuated the stark contrast between the military power of Rome and the spiritual power of Jesus.
When we talk about this day as Palm Sunday, we talk about the joy, the excitement and the adoration. When we talk about this as Palm/Passion Sunday we talk about the price that Jesus paid for his unwillingness to back down.
But we almost never talk about what happened that day after Jesus reached Jerusalem. Both Matthew and Luke tell us that, as soon as he arrived, Jesus when straight to the Temple. The temple would have been unbelievably crowded. Many of the people there would likely have been there for the specific purpose of purchasing their Passover sacrifice, a practice that was quite normal.
But there was an issue with all this. Every pilgrim was required to bring a sacrifice to the temple. But f you brought you sacrifice with you from home, there was no guarantee that it would be accepted by the priests. So, most people bought their sacrifice within the court of the temple from the venders who were given permission to set up there, often for a fee. But you could not spend regular money in the temple so you had to exchange it for temple currency with one of the money changers who had also either been given or had paid for their spot. It was a system that was ripe for corruption. And it was this corruption that Jesus saw when he entered. So, he overturned tables and drove out the venders and their livestock.
This is one of my favorite images of Jesus. So often Christianity has tended to focus on Jesus as the meek and mild, as the lamb who quietly goes to the slaughter without ever saying a word. But in this story Jesus is furious. He is anything but meek and mild. He is passionate and determined and he refuses to accept what he sees as injustice. This is the Jesus that speaks to me.
In the story of Palm Sunday, I see the incredible strength and conviction of Jesus. His simple willingness to go to Jerusalem knowing the danger he could face there. His righteous indignation at the abuse happening in the temple. But I see this strength and conviction even more so in the week ahead.
It is not a loud aggressive strength that shouts, “Look at me and see how strong I am.” For the most part it is a quiet strength that shows itself through action. But when the situation warrants it, that strength is also ready to stand up and shout out against injustice.
This is the Jesus that I see, passion about standing up for people and against injustice. Ready to be as vocal as needed in the right circumstance. But also strong enough to bear incredible pain and sorrow, even death, because to do any less would be to give in to the powers that are causing or condoning the very injustices that he so passionately opposed.
This is the Jesus that I am willing to walk with during this difficult, frightening and sorrow-filled week ahead. It is also the Jesus that I trust to conquer death, and by so doing, show me God’s grace, forgiveness and love.
We Offer Our Gifts
There are many ways we express our faith. One of those ways is through our offering. Here at Beacon, we do not pass our offering plates. Instead, we ask you to place your offering on the offering plates in the entryway. You can also make donations to our church online or through PAR. But as we bring these gifts forward, we are reminded that our financial support is only one of the gifts we offer. Our time, our talents, our commitment and our prayers are just as important. So, we bring our offering forward, let us join in singing our offertory response.
Offertory Response # 542
We give you but your own, what-e’er the gift may be;
All that we have is yours alone, we give it gratefully.
©William Walsham How 1858. Used with permission. OneLicense.net#A-723756
We Offer Our Prayers
Communion Hymn Christ, Let Us Come with You #458
Celebration of Communion
God is with us. We are not alone.
Christ is present here. The Spirit is among us.
Let us give thanks to God. It is right that we offer God our thanks and praise.
And so, as we gather here on this Palm Sunday, remembering the joy and excitement of those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, we offer God our thanks and our praise. We give thanks for all that God has done for us. We give thanks for the gift of creation, the beauty and diversity that surround us. We give thanks for family and friends and all those who make our lives more meaningful. And we
Give thanks that God sent Christ into our world to guide and lead us and to offer us a living, breathing example of Divine love lived out in human form. And so, keeping before us the vision of a world governed by his example of love and justice for all, we join with all creation to sing our praise and glory…
Holy, holy, holy God, God of all creation! Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Praise to you throughout the ages! Blest is the One who comes to bring your peace and justice to the earth!
But as we gather here today, we also remember the great cost to Jesus of refusing to give up on your love or to give in to the pressures of those who sought to silence his call for justice, equality and love. We remember that the same crowd that welcomed him into Jerusalem would soon cry out for his death.
And so, as we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, we remember that on the night before he died, he took bread, and after offering thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, every time you eat this broken bread, remember me. We remember that he took a cup of wine and after offering thanks, gave it to them saying, each time you drink from this cup, remember me.
Through this bread and this cup, we remember. Through this bread and this cup we share with Jesus the joy, the sorrow, and the challenge of following God’s call to love and justice no matter what the cost.
Prayer of Consecration
Come to us now, Holy One, and bless these gifts of bread and wine. Send your Spirit upon them that, all who eat and drink at this table may be united with Christ, sharing, as he did, your vision of love, peace and justice for all people. Amen.
The bread of life – in the brokenness of this bread we remember the brokenness within our world and within ourselves.
The cup of blessing – in the pouring out of this cup we remember God’s love, poured out for us.
So come, let us share in this sacred time of communion.
Sharing of the Bread and the Cup
The bread of life … God’s gift to us
The cup of blessing … God’s gift to us
Prayer After Communion
Life-giving God, you have welcomed us to this table and nourished us with you Spirit. Grant that we may go out from here so filled with your love, that wherever we go in whatever we do, we may reflect the love, peace and justice of Christ to all those we meet, and in so doing draw ever closer to the vision for us. Amen.
Gift of Music He Came Riding on a Donkey #124
Sending OutAs we leave here today, we begin the slow painful walk towards the cross. We follow Jesus through both the joy and the sorrow. But even as we face the challenges of the week ahead, we have God’s promise of light beyond the darkness and life beyond the cross. We also have the promise that we are not alone on this journey. God is here, Christ leads us and the Spirt walks with us and within us, each step of the way. We go with God.
Choral Blessing #298
When you walk from here, when you walk from here
Walk with justice, walk with mercy, and with God’s humble care.
© 1991 Borealis music. All rights reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense.net#A-723756