Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

Palm Sunday - Start of Holy Week

28 Mar 2021, midnight

Palm Sunday -

Readings: Isaiah 50: 4-9a Philippians 2:5-11; psalm 118:1-2. 19-end (or 118:19-end)/psalm 31:9-16 (or 31:9-18), Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16. The Passion, Mark 14:1 – 15:47 or Mark 15:1-39 (40-end)

Welcome & Opening Prayer: Today is Palm Sunday the beginning of Holy week – when, each day, we call to mind the last week of Jesus’ life. Today we remember that Jesus was welcomed by the crowds in joy and with palm waving before He was turned against and crucified, later in the week.

Let’s hear about Jesus’ majestic entry into Jerusalem from John’s gospel 12v12-16 (NRSVA): The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So, they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord - the King of Israel!’ Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; for it is written: ‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ Jesus’ disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written of him, and had been done to him.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen

A word from Barbara: What are our visions of Palm Sunday? Our Gospel Reading today Mark 11:1-11 is about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem via a donkey’s colt. I have found many different headings/titles to introduce this scene, such as ‘Triumphal Entry’, The ‘Majestic Entry’. What do we see as individuals, what does this scene say to us? Some may look and see the palms and cloaks, being laid on the floor, the voices, shouting ”Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” Mark 11: 8-9; The vision of a mighty King entering Jerusalem.

As a child I always felt connected to this vision of Jesus riding on a donkey’s colt, a picture which speaks to children reaches them where they are too. If we stop and think for a moment though, there is more than one or two visions/messages in this story that I can see. For this sermon I am going to share a vision of humbleness a man, riding on a colt, not a horse with a beautiful blanket, but a colt with Jesus’ disciples’ cloaks on it’s back. For me the animal chosen by Jesus to ride has a message for us too, it says a lot about who Jesus is. Donkeys are described as loving, loyal and humble and peaceful, and there are many humble attributes with regards to the colt. We know that there was a prophecy to fulfil Zechariah 9:9, which mentions the riding of a colt. In the Bible when horses are used mostly it is mostly in connection with Kings and Wars, donkeys are more related to a symbol of peace.

So although this special time of Jesus riding into Jerusalem was significant and very important to the people then and to us now, the animal of choice also speaks about who Jesus is and how he intended to keep his connection with the people he loved and was sent to this world to save. Although Jesus is God’s son, Jesus did not feel he needed to elevate himself above the people, he wanted to be with the people.

The shouts, the kingly welcome did not entice Jesus to forget who he was and why he had come, he had come for the people, the sick, those who needed him, Matthew 9:12. He continued to be humble, a man of peace, not of war and a positive role model of his Father in heaven. That is a message for us all to remember a true example for us to strive to be, and not to fall to temptation elevating ourselves above others, but to learn to live a humble life. Phillippians 2:5-11 “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 the cross”.

God loved us so much that he gave up his Son for us, to come to earth in human form and leave with us an example of how to live and resist temptation to get caught up in positions in life where we get to the point of seeing ourselves as better than others, in our communities, jobs, churches, in our lives, when to be Christ like we should learn to be humble. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If we read The Word we will see enough examples of Jesus being humble, John 13:3-7. We can get tempted to elevate ourselves above others, others may encourage us to see ourselves as being in a position of authority where we can look down on others because we are not the same, judging people from afar even just by the way they look, we can become so preoccupied negatively with peoples’ images, whether it is colour, shape, or even how someone is dressed, we can instantly treat them as if we are better than they are. But Jesus didn’t; instead he helped lepers, spoke to people it was not seen as right to speak to, Jesus remembered who he was. Mark 1: 40-42, Luke 19:5-7, John 4:7-9.

The welcome while Jesus rode into Jerusalem was possibly the opportunity for Jesus to feel elevated above everyone, but it doesn’t appear that Jesus behaved or felt that way. Why? Because Jesus loves us and came to save us, not to show how much better than us he is, but setting an example for how we are supposed to live. We, as Jesus’ followers are here to live a particular kind of life, to be strong in Christ, yet to be humble in all we do, to love and care for others. Ephesians 4:2” With humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”. Amen

Let us pray: Lord God, ruler of heaven and earth we come before you as your humble children and as for your guidance in the way we should live our daily lives. Help us to remember on this Palm Sunday the vision of you riding on the colt into Jerusalem and to think about what message you are sending to us. Amen

Lords’ prayer: 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, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

Let us pray: 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, the path of glory. Amen

The Grace: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. AMEN

Thank you for joining us today. I hope you can join us again tomorrow as we continue our Holy Week journey.