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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Palm Sunday

As this was rather different to the normal Sunday liturgy, I am including the order of service as well.  And yes, the meditations are similar to last year's!


Opening Prayer and Sentence

Hymn 89: Ride on, ride on in majesty

Reading: Luke 19:28-40

Prayer over the Palms

Hymn 78: All Glory, Laud and Honour (processional; at the end, the children leave for Sunday School, if they wish).

Meditation 1: The Procession
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 of thanksgiving:

Hymn 85:
Meekness and Majesty

Reading: Luke 22:39-62

Meditation 2: Peter
Simon Peter.
You're at the Palace,
in the servant's courtyard.
Jesus is in there somewhere.
You'ld like to rush in and rescue him,
but you don't know whereabouts they are keeping him.
Meanwhile you're cold,
and feeling sick.
You were up all night, praying with Jesus in the garden.
Well, you might have nodded off a time or two,
but basically you haven't had any sleep.
And he was upset, you heard him;
crying, he was.
Crying out to God to spare him,
not to make him have to go through with this.
But they have taken him anyway.
You followed, at a distance.
You would love to rescue him, but....
There's a fire in the courtyard,
and you creep up to it,
staying in the shadows
and listening to the maids flirting with the soldiers,
and being flirted with in their turn.
And they are talking about the arrest,
and the newest prisoner.
You prick up your ears.
A teacher, they say.
A religious nut, more like.

The servants are sneering at your master.
You'ld love to tell them about him,
about the fun you've had,
the travels,
the wonders.
But your voice won't work.
Suddenly one of the maids turns to you:
"Hey, big boy!
You were with him, weren't you? Tell us about him!"
But your voice doesn't do what you want it to.
"No way, no, not me, you've got the wrong chap!"
you hear yourself babbling.

"No, I'm sure I saw you with him," says one of the other maids.
Again, you find you saying it wasn't you.
You begin to sweat.
Why are you telling all these lies?
Can't they just shut up and leave you alone?
What's going to happen, anyway.

"Oh, come on," says another voice.
"You're from Galilee, same as him.
Your accent proves it.
You must have known him, at the very least."

And your temper explodes, and you round on the man,
cursing and swearing.
You fling out of the courtyard.
And the cock crows.
Just as He had said.
"Before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times."
Just what he had said.
Dear God,
what have I done?

Prayer of penitence and assurance of forgiveness

Hymn 84: My song is love unknown

Reading: Luke 23:13-25

Meditation 3: In the Crowd
Now it is two or three days after the entry into Jerusalem,
early in the morning.
Once again, you are a pilgrim, or holidaymaker, or whatever you care to call it.
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 (the Collect for the Day)

Hymn 99: When I survey the wondrous Cross

Reading: Luke 23:26-46

Meditation 4: On the Cross
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?

Oh yes, he's dying.
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 88: On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross

Notices and Offertory

Old Rugged Cross (reprise)

Final prayers

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