APRIL 2, 2023
Holy God, you have fed us all out of your own generous and gracious hands. From them, we have received welcome, nourishment, hope, and consolation.
May these things grow in us, alongside the gift of faith, so that we may plant their seeds in the world around us.
Through the Holy Spirit, guide us in the days ahead to remember our place in your great and on-going story of resurrection, redemption, and restoration through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRELUDE “The Palms” Gabriel Faure’
CALL TO WORSHIP
We come to prepare for the holiest of weeks.
We will journey through praise, with joy on our lips; we will travel through betrayal and death, cradling hope deep in our hearts.
Jesus leads us through this week, and we will follow, for he is the life we long for, he is the Word who sustains us.
We wave palm branches in anticipation, we lay our love before him, to cushion his walk.
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.
PROCLAMATION OF THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM Luke 19:29-40
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.37 Now as he was approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
*PROCESSIONAL HYMN No. 197 “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”
1 Hosanna, loud hosanna,
the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple
the joyful anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
the simplest and the best.
2 From Olivet they followed
‘mid an exultant crowd,
the victor palm branch waving,
and chanting clear and loud;
the Lord of earth and heaven
rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children
should on his bidding wait.
3 “Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer;
the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him
with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence
*CALL TO CONFESSION
The Lord GOD helps us; therefore, we have not been disgraced. We know that we shall not be put to shame; our redeemer is near! If it is the Lord GOD who helps us, who will declare us guilty? With confidence in God’s redeeming love, let us confess our sin.
*PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of mercy, you sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost. We confess that we have strayed from you and turned aside from your way. We are misled by pride, for we see ourselves pure when we are stained, and great when we are small. We have failed in love, neglected justice, and ignored your truth. Have mercy, O God, and forgive our sin. Return us to paths of righteousness through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
*RESPONSE No. 471 “O Lord, Hear My Prayer”
O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call, answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.
*ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, * but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Friends, hear and believe the good news of the gospel: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
*RESPONSE No. 565 “Holy Holy Holy”
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power, God of might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest,
hosanna in the highest.
*PASSING OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST
Our peace comes from knowing how much God loves us in Jesus Christ. With God’s help, we try to love and forgive one another as Christ loves and forgives us.
“The peace of Christ be with you,”
“And also with you.”
ANTHEM “Shout Hosanna!” Russel Nagy
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION
Holy One, our strength in suffering and our hope for salvation, lift up your Word of life and pour out your Spirit of grace so that we may follow faithfully on the way to the cross, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SCRIPTURE Matthew 21:1-11
21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”[a] 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.
SERMON “REENTRY: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”
Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem
illustrator Barry Moser
So today we begin with the parade, with the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem like a coronation satirizing a parade that takes place at the main gates of the city with the coronation of Pontius Pilate lead by a garrison of Roman soldiers who come each year to Jerusalem for the high holy days of Passover – to make sure the Roman subjects, these Judeans, don’t get too celebratory, or get all hyped up on this God thing and forget who’s really in charge. Pilate arrives with military force , banners and flags, royal cloth and golden chariots – a show of Roman power. Jesus arrives on a borrowed donkey with palm leaves taken from the trees around them to decorate his journey in – a show of solidarity and a very different kind of power. An entry – and there will be several re-entries.
The tradition says that these parades occurred at the same time on different sides of the city. That is certainly possible. But I like to think that they took place at the same time, through the same gate, the donkey next to the war horses, the children dancing around the soldier’s feet, the crowds intermingled and indistinguishable. Palm Sunday does present us with two choices – will we attend the parade of empire, complete with military might and the marks of wealth and power that empire always portrays? Or will we go to the parade of Jesus, amongst the outcast and uncounted, delivering a whole different idea of power? But what is intriguing to me now is that we are far more likely to discover that these parades are not so neatly divided…they are intertwined, weaving in and out of each other in a way that is disturbingly confusing.
This is complicated by the attitude of the people following Jesus. They shout, “Hosanna – here is the Messiah!” But they do not know what they are saying. They expect, like we still expect, a hero riding into town with a red cape to save the day. They expect good to defeat evil with a single, mighty blast, or that power has come as the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun – a good guy with a gun. Only Jesus doesn’t have a gun. And he teaches that those who live by the sword, or the gun, will die by the sword, or the gun. When he is asked to show his power as the “Son of God”, he gives it away.
We still don’t appreciate the implications of that, either, for in the centuries since this parade, right up to today, we have been trying to make Jesus into Superman, with muscles and invulnerability, the conquering force of all-conquering forces, not a rejection of war, but rather the ultimate warrior.
I believe that Jesus knew how people would see him, and how they would take this title “messiah.” They would misunderstand completely, trying to make him into the next great king, in the mold of David, here to overthrow the Romans with armed force and setup a new kingdom on the earth. But his is not a kingdom, it is the kin-dom, and it is already here he teaches us. We just can’t see it, or maybe we won’t see it. It takes new eyes.
The apostle Paul, one of the first writers of the Jesus movement, wrote that we human beings see, “through a glass but dimly.” We get partials, portions of the truth, often distorted and blurry, and we too often think that we have arrived at the finality. Sometimes our most well-intentioned things, driven by partial truths, cause great suffering and chaos in the long run. The reality of Holy Week asks us to move from a paradigm where we seek and are governed by certainty to a paradigm of trust. Holy Week asks us to consider the difficult and confidence-resisting questions, like – what is Easter without Judas? How do look to Jesus as our model of trust and yet hear his words from the cross – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Without darkness, what is light?
As we head into Holy Week and the stories are told again with their familiar plots and wrote characters, there is space for us to hear that the great joy of Easter morning is born from the deepest betrayal and darkness. There is space for us to hear that God works in the gray areas, moving with us, improvising as we change directions and make decisions, some of which we think are so good at the time, some of which aren’t good to begin with…there God moves and molds and re-calibrates, seeking to let some light shine through. It is what happens when we move past the parade, and step into the work of solidarity and advocacy, which is difficult and gray and messy. That is where we encounter the God who makes all things new…though rarely in the ways we expect. I believe that this is what these young people who are leading the way on issues like gun control are going to find…complexity, doubt, paradox, conflict and, if they stay past the march, epiphany, hope, trust, life.
This week is not meant to be all parades and chocolate eggs. You are meant to hear about last meals and snuffed candles, to listen to the sound of dirges and minor keys, with blood, sweat, tears and the hammering of nails. This week ends with a tomb shut tightly and the death of a dream. It comes with mourning and heavy grief, and that is part of Easter. In fact, it’s critical to Easter, for Holy Week models for us a dedication to the refrain of life, death and resurrection that lies at the heart of Christianity. We learn, through this story being told again and again, not to expect life to last forever, to know that we cannot have new life without death and to expect, indeed to plan on, resurrection.
That is what we are seeing, by the way. You can call them marches, or dismiss them as the idle demonstrations of young people who just don’t know any better. You can think they don’t make any difference, like an itinerant rabbi with a small following leading a parade of nobodies on a donkey. But they are resurrection…after life and death, they are resurrection. Black Lives Matter, the “me-too” movement, the force of young people saying, “Enough”, these are all protest parades, pushing past the numbing agent of “thoughts and prayers” to bold action, announcing with “hosanna-like” intensity a new vision for the world. These movements say in a loud voice that the life of patriarchy, racism and the idolization of violence has had its day, we are living through it’s death now, and, though it’s been a long time coming, something new will be raised.
It will soon be Easter, and the tomb will be empty and then what? Let us enter Jerusalem and begin the journey…
Commentary and Liturgy provided by Doug Bratt, Ellen Skidmore, Mike Marsh, John Buchanan, Chris Moore, Terry Ott, the PCUSA Book of Common Worship and the PCUSA Book of Confession.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH from “A Statement of Faith: Jesus Died For Sinners””
We believe that in the death of Jesus on the cross God achieved and demonstrated once for all the costly forgiveness of our sins. Jesus Christ is the Reconciler between God and the world. He acted on behalf of sinners as one of us, fulfilling the obedience God demands of us, accepting God’s condemnation of our sinfulness. In his lonely agony on the cross Jesus felt forsaken by God and thus experienced hell itself for us. Yet the Son was never more in accord with the Father’s will. He was acting on behalf of God, manifesting the Father’s love that takes on itself the loneliness, pain, and death that result from our waywardness. In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not holding our sins against us. Each of us beholds on the cross the Savior who died in our place, so that we may no longer live for ourselves, but for him. In him is our only hope of salvation.
*HYMN No. 196 “All Glory, Laud and Honor”
All glory, laud, and honor
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring!
1 Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David’s royal Son,
who in the Lord’s name comest,
the King and blessed One. (Refrain)
2 The people of the Hebrews
with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayers and anthems
before thee we present. (Refrain)
3 To thee, before thy passion,
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. (Refrain)
4 Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King! (Refrain)
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
Friends, come to the table!
Bring your shouts of “Hosanna,”
bring your palms,
bring your hopes of a victorious king
to overcome the oppression and sorrow of this world.
Bring your cries of “Crucify him,”
bring your denial and wandering,
bring your hopes dashed by one who was crucified
because he would not validate the power of this world.
Just as Jesus gathered with his disciples here on the night before his execution,
just as he met his disciples in the breaking of the bread on that first resurrection evening,
so too we gather at this table,
bringing our best and our worst,
to this place where we will be made whole
as we meet Jesus again.
Morning by morning,
creation’s voices join in praising you,
God of every goodness.
The forests form a festal procession,
the heavens reflect your glory’s light.
Though we were formed by you,
we looked around at everything
sin and death had to offer,
and followed them through the world,
thinking they could protect us.
You gave prophets
the tongues of teachers,
to comfort our weariness
and teach us the way back to you,
but we turned our back on them.
When judgment did not
lead to redemption,
you sent Jesus to reach out in love,
to bring us home to you.
So with those who spread cloaks before you,
and those who are sustained by your love,
we join our voices, singing,
P: Holy, holy, holy, God of enduring love.
From every part of creation come glad songs.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the One who comes in humility and hope.
Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, Sustainer of the weary,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Love become human.
He emptied himself of glory,
to be filled with our broken hopes and hearts.
He chose the path of suffering love,
so that we could run through
the streets of the kingdom
waving branches of joy.
He walked the sin-cold stones
into the tomb which could not hold him,
so we could join our voices together,
‘Hosanna! Hosanna! He is risen!”
As we journey through Jerusalem and beyond,
as we struggle with death, loss, and grief
we would ponder that mystery we call faith:
P: In trust, Christ died.
In joy, Christ was raised to new life.
in hope, Christ will come again.
Here at the Table graced
with creation’s gifts,
we discover the world you intend.
Here where you love enlivens
the bread and the cup
we are given more than enough
of everything we need.
Sharing deeply in the Spirit,
we can give hope its wings,
as it carries us to serve
the broken all around us.
Strengthened by the grace
with which you feed us,
we can join together
to sustain the weary of the world.
And when the gates of joy
have been opened to us,
we will spend moment by moment,
every knee in creation bending,
singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
BREAKING OF THE BREAD
Because there is one loaf,
we, many as we are, are one body;
for it is one loaf of which we all partake.
The minister takes the loaf and breaks it in full view of the people, saying:
When we break the bread,
is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Having filled the cup, the minister lifts it in the view of the people, saying:
When we give thanks over the cup,
is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
COMMUNION OF THE PEOPLE
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
God, our help and strength, you have satisfied our hunger with this eucharistic food. Strengthen our faith, that through the death and resurrection of your Son we may be led to salvation, for he is Lord now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OF TITHES & OFFERINGS
Join in the chorus! Give honor to Jesus Christ and bring your offering of praise to him. Rejoice in the coming of our Lord. Lay your treasures at his feet.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
What can we offer that you have not already offered us? What can we do that you have not already done for us? Lord Jesus Christ, in your gifts to us, you have provided us the way to live and serve you. In both your triumph and your suffering, you deserve our praise. Through the gifts we now offer, we express our longing to serve and to follow wherever you go. Amen.
CLOSING SCRIPTURE Matthew 26:1-16
26 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
6 Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a] 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8 But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news[b] is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
ANTHEM “No Other Lamb, No Other Name” Jay Althouse