Palm Sunday Worship

April 5th, 2020

Prayer of the Day:

O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Isaiah 50:4-9a: The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens–wakens my ear to listen to those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall  not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? 

Psalm 31:9-16: Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many–terror all around!–as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in  you, O Lord; I say “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

Philippians 2:5-11: Imitating Christ’s Humility:

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.

Matthew 21:1-11: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem:

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 fulfill 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 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.”

Sermon:  From Hosanna to Crucify Him

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.This Sunday April 5th is Palm Sunday and I was preparing to watch a parade today, but all of that has been changed. As we shelter in place we won’t be waving our palm branches and marching to the hymn, “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” This isn’t how I originally planned to spend Palm Sunday and Holy Week. I don’t think you all planned it to be this way either. As I thought about my sermon for today; I thought about other Palm Sundays I’ve been part of and how they affected me.

One particularly memorable Palm Sunday was one I participated in when I was in my early 30’s. The pastor of my home church had the congregation do a play by Walter Wangerin called, “The Cry of the Whole Congregation.” In this play, members of the congregation portrayed the participants of the Holy Week drama. It started with the Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem and ended with Jesus’ crucifixion. The people who played Jesus, Peter, Caiaphas, Pilate and others were seated among the congregation and would stand up to read their parts.

 But I think the congregation had the most important part of the whole play because we portrayed the crowds that were important parts of the drama as it unfolded. We were the ones who cried “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and waved branches as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. We were also the ones who just a few days later would yell “Crucify him! Release Barabbas!” to Pilate as he sought to release Jesus from death. For me it was quite moving and telling to be the ones who cried “Hosanna!” and then in a 180 degree turn around yell, “Crucify him!” 

Many people would come up to me and tell how they would never yell “Crucify him!” if they had been part of the crowd that day. But I would look at them and sadly say that I think it would have been all too easy for me to yell “Crucify him!” with the rest of the crowd. Because if I hadn’t heard Jesus preach and teach; I wouldn’t have thought of him as being the Messiah. Jesus didn’t act or talk like the Messiah I would have been taught to expect.

The Messiah we were expecting would be someone who would have defeated our oppressors and kicked Rome out of Israel; not someone who tells us to forgive our enemies and pray for our persecutors! The Messiah would be someone who would set a king like King David upon Israel’s throne and make Israel a super power again; not someone who would allow himself to be arrested and crucified! No, this wasn’t the Messiah. This was someone who was blaspheming God’s name and deserved death. 

I wouldn’t have been able to think of God as doing something completely new; that God would come down to us in human form to live and die as one of us! And in Jesus of Nazareth God was doing exactly that! God became human, lived and felt what feel, and died as we humans die so that our broken relationship with God would be repaired. God loves us that much! 

This Palm Sunday and Holy Week as we shelter in place and not meet as a group; I believe that God is again doing something new. Although we are separated, I feel like we are more connected than before. We are concerned about our neighbors and so we check up on them by phone calls, with offers of help and with notes of encouragement. We are ready to offer any support that they may need–whether it be in terms of food or prayers needed. 

But I think the biggest way that we are showing our love for each other is the fact that we are willing NOT to meet until it is save to do so. We are willing to sacrifice the joy that we get when we worship together to protect those who are the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus; those who are elderly or with other health problems. While I don’t think that God sent this virus to us; I do believe that God can work through this pandemic to show us just what is important: family, friends, and our ability to gather and worship. I believe that when this is over and we are able to gather in worship again; our joy will be greater than before. We won’t take many of the simple things for granted soon!

A blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week to you and your families.

Pastor Sue

Prayers: 

Let us pray for the church, the world and all those in need.

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit equips the church with a rich variety of gifts. Grant that we may use them to bear witness to Christ in lives that are built on faith and love. Make us ready to live the gospel and eager to do your will, so that we may share with all your church in the joys of eternal life. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God, our refuge and strength, our present help in time of trouble, care for those who tend the needs of the sick; especially our sick: Kimberly, Audrey, Arlene, Loren, Karen, Harlan, Nathan, Madelon and those we name in our hearts. Strengthen them in body and spirit. Refresh them when weary, console them when anxious; comfort them in grief; and hearten them in discouragement, Be with us all, and give us peace at all time and in every way. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Eternal God, we thank you for the following members of Red Oak Grove and for our life together in this congregation and community. We ask for your blessings upon them and all of the Red Oak Grove community: Shannon Bentzin; Gary and Elaine Braaten; Lisa and Roxanne Burback and Dillon Erickson; Daryl and Betty Griese; Corrine Hamersma and Charlie Korsmoe; Robert and Katherine Johnson; Derek Kittelson; Jessica Patrick, Charlie, and Stella Skinner; Larry Ulland; and John, Mary and Emma Weikum. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace; especially Daryl. Keep us in joyful communion with them until we join the saints gathered before your throne in your ceaseless praise. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Lord, God, you have called your servants to adventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us, and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray: 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace. Amen.

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