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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Palm Sunday 2012

I decided to do things a little differently this year, hence including the order of service as well as the meditations, so you can see how they fitted in!  At this particular church, the opening prayer and closing hymn of blessing are the same every week, and led by the worship leader. 

Opening Prayer led by Worship Leader


Hymn: All glory, laud and honour

Reading: John 12:12-16

Prayer over the Palms:

Hymn: Make way, make way for Christ the King

Meditation 1:
Each year there are a few days’ holidays around Passover,
when as many people as possible go to Jerusalem for the biggest festival of the Jewish year.

This year,
you're going, too.
Perhaps you go every year,
or perhaps you can only go once every few years,
if you don't have much money.
this year, you are going to Jerusalem.
Perhaps you are travelling with a large party,
perhaps there are only two of you.
But today is the day you arrive at Jerusalem.
It's hot.
You're walking along,
a bit hot and rather thirsty,
and somewhat tired of walking.
It will be good to get into Jerusalem,
and to your room at the inn.

Suddenly, though,
there is a noise in the crowd.
What is happening?
Everyone has stopped moving.
But there are cheers and shouts going on.
What are people shouting?
Listen, a minute:
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!"
What on earth are they on about?
What's going on?
People are pulling branches off the trees.
They're throwing down their cloaks.
Who is this person coming along, anyway?

It's someone riding a donkey.
How extraordinary.
Why a donkey, please?
How very undignified.
And yet everyone else is cheering him.
Oh well, why not.
"Hosanna", you shout,
joining your voice to everyone else's.
"Hosanna" .
And carried away by the emotion of the moment,
you throw your cloak into the road for the donkey to walk on.

Later, when the moment has passed,
you wonder what on earth it was all about.
Your cloak was torn by the donkey's feet.
It's dusty and spoilt from lying in the road.
Your new cloak,
that you had bought specially for the festival.
It's ruined.
And you were shouting and cheering like a mad thing.
How very odd.

Prayer (Thanksgiving)
Worship Group sang two songs, "Before Your Majesty I bow" and "You laid aside your Majesty", to lead us from the triumphal procession to the Passion.

Reading: Mark 15:1-15

Meditation 2:
Now it is two or three days later,
early in the morning.
You look out of your bedroom window,
and see that a massive crowd has gathered outside the governor's palace.
You step over, to see what all the fuss is about.
"What's happening?", you ask.

"Pilate's going to release a prisoner",
explains the knowledgeable one.
"Like every year.
This year it's going to be a chap called Barabbas,
you know, the terrorist."

"No it isn't," interrupts another person.
"There was a new prisoner bought in last night.
That teacher, the Galilean one.
You know.
They arrested him,
but I gather Pilate wants to release him."

"No way," says a third voice.
"The chief priests won't wear that.
They want him dead."

And then a hush.
Pilate appears on the balcony. A few quiet "boos",
but the crowd is fairly patient.
"Who shall I release to you?" he asks.
"Barabbas!" yell the crowd.
"We want Barabbas.
At first it is only a few voices,
but gradually more and more people start to shout for Barabbas.
"We want Barabbas, we want Barabbas!"
"Well," goes Pilate,
"Are you sure you don't want Jesus who is called the Christ?"
One or two people start to shout "Yes",
but you are aware that there are some heavies in the crowd and they soon shut up, and start the chant again:
"We want Barabbas, we want Barabbas!"

"Then what shall I do with this Jesus?" asks Pilate.
And the voices start, slowly at first,
but more and more people join in:
"Crucify him, Crucify him!"
And you find yourself shouting, too.
"Crucify him, crucify him!"

But why?
Normally you hate the thought of crucifixion.
The Romans consider it too barbarous for their own citizens.
Only people who aren't Roman citizens,
local people,
Only they get crucified.
So why are you shouting for this man to be crucified?

Prayer of penitence and assurance of forgiveness

Hymn: My song is love unknown (H&P 173)

Reading: Mark 15:21-32

Meditation 3:
So they did crucify him.

There were rumours going round all night.
You didn't get any sleep; you kept hearing things
He was with Pilate.
With Herod.
They were going to let him go.
They weren't.
And now he is up there, being put to death.
Maybe he was no better than those thieves beside him.
Who knows?
You certainly don't.
Yes, he's suffering.
God, that must hurt.
Hope it never happens to me.
Shouldn't happen to a dog, crucifixion.

All the same, what does this mean?
Didn't he say he was going to destroy the Temple, rebuild it in three days?
Now he's dying; now he's up there, can't do anything about it...
Maybe he was all a big fake, not the great Teacher.
Such a pity. He could have been the Messiah, but......
that death?
Would the Messiah really die?

Prayer (Collect for the Day)

Hymn: When I survey the wondrous Cross

Reading: Mark 15: 33-39

Forsaken by God.
Left alone, alone on the Cross to die.
And yet, and yet.
He feels alone, abandoned, forsaken.
And yet, and yet.
He suffers, suffers dreadfully.
And yet, and yet.
That cry, that cry when he died:
“It is finished! I've done it!”
A cry of triumph, of triumph over death.
Forsaken, yet triumphant.
“Surely this man was a Son of God”.

Prayers of Intercession

The Lord's Prayer

Hymn: Jesus is Lord, Creation's voice proclaims it 
(This was our wedding hymn, and it was our 33rd wedding anniversary yesterday, so I chose it, as I always do if I can at this time of year.)

Notices and Offertory

Closing hymn of blessing.