Prayers, Readings and Reflection for Palm Sunday

5th April 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, during Lent we have been preparing by works of love and self-sacrifice for the celebration of our Lord’s death and resurrection.

Today, in our homes, we pray in union with the Church throughout the world. Christ enters his own city to complete his work as our Saviour, to suffer, to die, and to rise again. Let us go with him in faith and love, so that, united with him in his sufferings, we may share his risen life.

Prayer for the day:

True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.

Palm Crosses

Had we been gathered together in church for a Palm Sunday service, we would have been offered a palm cross. Perhaps you still have last year’s? Or maybe you have a different kind, such as a holding cross. Have a look at your cross, or picture one in your mind.

Think of the way the cross points up, and look up in adoration to God, who loves us.

Think of the way the cross points down, and spend a few moments confessing your sins to God, knowing that he is merciful and forgiving.

Look left along the crossbeam; think of your past and the ways in which God has led you and kept you, through good times and bad. Thank him for his promised presence.

Look right along the crossbeam; think of the future and what may lie ahead; ask God to keep you along the way and to help you see his will and purpose.

Look at the centre point of the cross, remembering that Christ died for us and rose again. Thank God for drawing you into his family and ask him to speak to you and draw you closer as you read and ponder the scriptures for today.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9a

Psalm: Psalm 31: 9-16

New Testament Reading: Philippians 2: 5-11

Gospel Reading: Matthew 21: 1-11

Reflection for Palm Sunday 2020 by the Revd Ola Franklin, Vicar

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem for his final Passover celebration is very public; often we read in the gospels about Jesus avoiding publicity; but now it seems that the time for secrecy is over; Jesus is in obvious control of the situation and he chooses when and where to go public. No self-isolation on this occasion ...

Like the road to Jerusalem with its high and low points, Jesus had to face the highs and lows of people's different responses to him. There were the highs of the welcome and the praises of his disciples and the people. But, in his humility and his obedience Jesus faced the lows of rejection and death on the cross. Only after the cross came the victory of the resurrection and the true honour and praise which belong to him.

Among those making a response to what was going on were the 12 disciples; a few days later, Judas betrayed him and the others ran off when Jesus was arrested; there were the Pharisees, who were nearly always disturbed by the things Jesus said and did; and there were the hangers-on, some of whom were rather fickle and ready to turn against Jesus when it suited them.

Jerusalem would have been preparing for the Passover festival at this time, and the city was full of people from far and near - so there would have been some folk who had never met Jesus and didn't know anything about him. They were likely to have been the ones asking, "Who is this?"

In our own time and place, we’re aware that we can no longer assume people know about Jesus. So when, like the crowds in Jerusalem, people want to know “Who is this?” – we need to be ready to tell them about Jesus. But probably they’ll only be curious if they can see that we have something to be excited about.

Like the people flocking around Jesus, we too can offer the 'right' words, and the ‘proper’ songs and acts of worship without truly seeking him in our hearts; we must be careful not to miss what God has in store for us by getting too tied up with our own plans and expectations and assuming God will meet them. So often he has other ideas and other plans in store.

Are we ready, like the disciples, to obey what God asks us to do, even when it puzzles us and we can't see the final outcome? And are we ready to go out of our way to honour the Lord, laying before him not our cloaks, but our lives? When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." My prayer for this Holy Week would be that something about Jesus' presence among us – even in our currently isolated situation – will cause a stir among our friends, our neighbours and our community. When they ask what's going on, we can truly say that Jesus is among us.

Prayers

Let us pray to God, who alone makes us dwell in safety: For all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety, that they may find relief and recovery: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us. For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us. For doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us. For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us. We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God. Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessing

May the Father, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, bring us by faith to his eternal life. Amen. May Christ, who accepted the cup of sacrifice in obedience to the Father’s will, keep us steadfast as you walk with him the way of his cross. Amen. May the Spirit, who strengthens us to suffer with Christ that we may share his glory, set our minds on life and peace. Amen.