Palm Sunday Sermon 25th March 2018

SERMON for St. Erme and Ladock   25th March  

Palm Sunday  2018

Liturgy of the Palms

                                Mark 11: 1-11

                                Ps. 118 1-2, 19-end

Liturgy of the Passion

                                                Is. 50: 4-9a  

                                                Ps. 31:9-18

                                                Phil.2: 5-11  

                                                Mark 14: 1 - 15: end

or Mark 15: 1-39

 

We could today read the whole of Mark chapters 11, 14 and 15 and so hear the record of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and the various accounts of the events close to his crucifixion.  I wonder if I could encourage you to read these for yourselves during this Holy Week.

 

Palm Sunday is exciting and hopeful; it is also ominous and foreboding, and tragic for the short-lived request from the crowds of Hosanna – Save us, and the shallow – misunderstood - welcome to the King of kings.

I wonder which of the Holy Week events moves you most, challenges or puzzles you, causes you to worship.

 

The events after Palm Sunday come thick and fast:  so much for Jesus and his disciples to cope with during what should have been a joyful Festival season – which included:

Passover, a day to remember God saving their nation in Egypt by blood being put on their doorposts;

and the week-long holiday of Unleavened Bread, a reminder of their haste when leaving slavery in Egypt – no time for the yeast to rise!

Jesus was well-prepared for this week – he knew it would be no holiday for him.

His whole life on earth and before, had this week in mind and it was in his heart and spirit.

God so loved the world that he sent his only Son;

Jesus so loved the world that he came.

 

He did not cling to his royal rights; he chose to lay aside his majesty and operate as a human being - not a robot divinely programmed, nor a superhuman untouched by difficulties and death.  But a human being, even a servant.

He had to learn obedience

He had to endure suffering

He had to deal with shame

He had to cope with antagonistic and disappointing relationships:  betrayal, denial, desertion, deceit, feeling God-forsaken

And all without calling on supernatural powers to exempt or excuse him.

 

Isaiah writes eloquently 6 or 7 hundred years before Jesus, of a perfect Servant who carries out God’s plans to the last letter.  Jesus would have known these Servant Songs well, and he draws on them as he prepares for the final countdown. 

Now His true nature is revealed – He is The perfect Servant who does not draw back when the heat is on;

nor withhold his body from agony or shrink from pain;

nor does he avoid the shame of ridicule and naked hanging on an outcast’s cross;

he is not rebellious, or revengeful; he does not pay back those who taunt and jeer;

rather, he sets his face like flint;

he is ready for Satan, his accuser, his deadly enemy;

he has met him before many times, and resisted him, and he will do again, tempting though it is to step down from the cross and save himself, or provide himself with miraculous sustenance, or attract attention by a daring feat.

 

Whatever the devil offers, Jesus draws a cross through it all.

There is no way round the cross – he has to go through with it.

And what looks like a triumph for the enemy, is snatched away 3 days later; the enemy is left holding nothing but an empty tomb.

Jesus is confident in his Father God to see him through, and he looks ahead to the joy of victory.

He will be vindicated!

But what a tough way to go. What a week!

 

 

I imagine you know most of the narrative of Holy Week; what I would like us to do is to concentrate for 3 or 4 minutes on one aspect that draws you;

let it sink deep within;

let it lead you to worship and praise;

allow yourself to cry;

allow yourself to say: 

Hosanna!  Save me! 

I welcome the coming of your kingdom;

I welcome you as my King and Saviour.

SILENCE

 

Prayer

 

Hosanna!  Save me! 

I welcome the coming of your kingdom;

I welcome you as my King and Saviour.  Amen.     

 

 

PRAYERS

 

Hosanna!  Save the world

Hosanna!  Save me.

 

Church

Father God

Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us and save us.

Give us the courage and the right approach to let other people know this too. 

We pray for all Easter Services that your Spirit will draw many to worship you.  We especially ask your blessing on the Service on Wednesday with the School Choir. 

Please may many people become aware of your loving forgiveness and the quality of your life within us.

 

World

We pray for wisdom and courage for all political leaders to ease the tensions between countries, and to be strong and united against evil.  May they give attention to the poor, and plan for a fairer distribution of resources.

Give strength to those who are stressed in their work, and may they find joy in serving others.

 

Suffering

We thank you that you understand our weaknesses and pains.  May all who suffer know your presence and peace, and be brought to wholeness of life in this world or the next. 

 

 

Families and friends

We pray for ourselves; may we be loyal to you and to others.  May we be people who make a difference wherever we are, and strengthen us in times of temptation and testing.

In silence we pray for those we know who especially need your forgiveness, your care and comfort today.

 

           

 


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