April 5, 2020 (Palm Sunday)

Excerpts from Palm Sunday Worship Service, created by congregations in the ELCA Treasure Valley Cluster

You can find the entire worship service here via YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eGHU4humn8&t=233s

 

MATTHEW 21:1-11 (Processional Gospel)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘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.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd
spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

PRAYER OF THE DAY                                                                                 Faith, Caldwell

Merciful Savior, it is our privilege and delight to be in your presence and to bring our praises and worship to you. You are our teacher and our friend; our rock and our hope; our strength and our light. We celebrate your arrival in Jerusalem; we anticipate the agony that is before you; we await your victory over death. Grant that we might walk this journey alongside you as faithful disciples, rather than as participants of the fickle crowd. Amen.

PSALM 31                                                                                                     Immanuel, Boise

Refrain: Oh Lord, be my rock and safety.

In You, O Lord I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your justice, rescue me, oh my faithful Lord, in your hands I commend my spirit.

I place my trust in you, Lord; in your hands is my destiny.

Let your face shine upon your servant, Lord, in your hands I will place my life.

REFLECTION                                                                                                        Immanuel, Boise

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, he was welcomed by a cheering crowd, waving their palm branches and shouting “Hosanna,”
which means “help,” “rescue” or “save us.”

Last week, another crowd gathered, waving not palm branches but American flags, as a Navy hospital ship entered the NY harbor.
They, too, were there to welcome what had come to give help and rescue,
to save patients who might otherwise face long delays  because of hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

That ship and another like it in Los Angeles, are both marked with the symbol of our faith—the cross. One named “Comfort” and the other named “Mercy.”

Comfort and Mercy. That’s what those crowds lining the streets of Jerusalem saw in Jesus. That’s what he had shown them from the very beginning:
From his words in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, blessed are you who mourn.”
To his feeding of those whose stomachs growled with hunger.
To his healing of those who were sick and dying.

Jesus entered fully into the suffering of those he met.  And then he went further.
Even when the shouts of “hosanna” faded away.
Even when the once-adoring crowds turned on him.
Even when that last week must have felt like a whole year to him.
Even then, he was wiling to endure the suffering that led to death on the cross, so that he might bring Comfort and Mercy to the whole world—even to us today.

That’s the kind of Savior we worship.
One who comes down, even now, in these sad and fearful days we are living in.
To meet us in our brokenness, and rescue us from our pain.
To lift us from despair to hope, from death to life.
To give us comfort and mercy.

A READING FROM PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11                                               Trinity, Nampa

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,
to the glory of God the Father.

REFLECTION

Trinity, Nampa

Holy Week begins with a procession, but this procession is not what it appears to be. It is so much more.

Some scholars say that two processions entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. Jesus’ was not the only Triumphal Entry. Every year, the Roman governor of Judea would ride up to Jerusalem from his coastal residence in the west. He wanted to be present in the city for the Passover, the Jewish festival that swelled Jerusalem’s population from its usual 50,000 to at least 200,000.

The governor would come in all of his imperial majesty to remind the Jewish pilgrims that Rome was in charge. They could commemorate an ancient victory against Egypt if they wanted to. However, real present-day resistance would be futile. Rome was watching.

As Pilate clanged and crashed his imperial way into Jerusalem from the west, Jesus approached from the east. He looked, by contrast, ragtag and absurd. His was the procession of the ridiculous, the powerless, and the explicitly vulnerable.

Jesus rode the most unthreatening and most un-military mount imaginable: a female nursing donkey with her little colt trotting along beside her. The prophet Zechariah predicted the ride of a king “on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He would be the nonviolent king who would “command peace to the nations.”

Like the contrast in the two processions central to Palm Sunday, the hymn in Philippians 2 portrays a different kind of power. In Jesus, God takes on human form. But rather than insisting on obedience or seducing them, Jesus instead literally “pours himself out,” and takes the form that perhaps is most undesirable—that of a slave: powerless.

The power of Jesus Christ is not power-over. Instead it is love, compassion, mercy and companionship alongside. The goal in all of this, it seems, is for God not to take from humanity but to bless it, to be our companion, to know what it is to be human, even when we are powerless, suffering, lonely, afraid. God not only knows us, the hymn says, God, through Jesus, can suffer with us.

PRAYERS                                                                                     Grace, Mountain Home

Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of mercy, awaken your church to new proclamations of your faithfulness. By your Spirit, give us bold and joyful words to speak, that we sustain the weary with the message of your redemption. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, quiet the earth where it trembles and shakes. Protect vulnerable ecosystems, threatened habitats, and endangered species. Prosper the work of scientists, engineers, and researchers who find ways to restore creation to health and wholeness. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, drive away fear and anger that cause us to turn against one another. Give courage to leaders who seek liberation for the oppressed. Bring peace and hope to those who are in prison and those who face execution. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, send your saving help to all who suffer abuse, insult, discrimination, or contempt. Heal the wounded. Comfort the dying and the lonely. Bring peace to those suffering chronic or terminal illness and to those separated from loved ones. Tend to all who cry out for relief especially those we name before you. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, we pray for all who will prepare and lead worship in new and different ways during this Holy Week. In all things, show us the ways that you call us to die to self, to live for you, and to give of ourselves for the sake of others. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, when we breathe our last, you raise us to eternal life. With all your witnesses in heaven and on earth, let us boldly confess the name of Jesus Christ, our resurrection and our hope. Hear us, O God,

Your mercy is great.

According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord who taught us to pray…

 

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