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Sunday 5th April 2020

posted 2 Apr 2020, 13:39 by Church Office   [ updated 7 Apr 2020, 08:19 by CHS Info ]
 Palm Sunday Sermon
 Palm Sunday service

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Sunday 5th April 2020

Palm Sunday

This page can also be downloaded as a printable document - click here for the readings, prayers and the text of the sermon

Today marks the beginning of Passiontide: 7 days in which we follow Christ’s last days on earth and enter into the mystery of the passion. This is a time when we reflect upon the difference between our expectations (of ourselves, the world and God) and God’s expectations—always surprising, always unexpected, creating possibilities we never dared hope for.


Matthew 21: 1-11 Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

    ‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


Matthew 27: 11-54 The Passion Reading

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.


The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”


A PROPER Palm Sunday would involve a procession down Abbeville Road; the making of a great a joyful noise; the singing of Hosannah, the waving of palm branches.  

On a PROPER Palm Sunday we would each have a brand new palm cross made of real palm leaf. 

On a PROPER Palm Sunday we would kneel together to sing the Passion Chorale.

Today, on this not quite as planned Palm Sunday we read of a not quite as planned Passover: A PROPER Passover would not involve an arrest.

A proper Passover would not involve the disciples fleeing leaving Jesus in social, spiritual, emotional & political isolation. 

A proper Passover would see the community gathered not dispersed.

A proper Passover would end in singing not in torture.

So, like ours, the disciples’ plans were going as planned.

We like to do things properly, there’s nothing wrong we that, but it can fool us into thinking that we are in control, that everything that happens is all down to us and our efforts.

The disciples did not make Passover happen; their plans were disrupted and yet, and yet Passover happened anyway.

God’s people were set free, liberated not just from slavery in Egypt but from fear: fear of death, fear of violence, fear of annihilation, fear of suffering, the fear that separates us from God and neighbour.

Passover happened, not as the disciples had planned, but it still happened.

God’s people were shown a path of freedom. 

They did not make this path by their own efforts; efforts which included the following:

competing with each another;


making promises they could not keep;

falling asleep;

falling asleep again;

falling asleep AGAIN;

getting shouted at by Jesus;

getting violent;

running away;

denying they ever knew Jesus in the first place – Jesus? Who’s he?;

The path to freedom was provided, not by their own efforts but by God’s grace.

This is the path God is leading us down this Palm Sunday.

A path we did not chose and did not make yet still the path God graciously provides to set us free.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is: this is NOT a path that avoids suffering, shields us from pain, or protects us from loss. 

It is not a path that actively invites suffering, pain or loss either but one which accepts them.

The cross is not IN the way of resurrection.  It IS the way of resurrection.

What is in the way, IS the way

In the passion gospel we heard this morning the earth shakes and the rocks split, the ground literally moves under the disciples’ feet.

At this moment the world is moving beneath our feet: across in globe lives and communities, hopes and dreams, plans and projects are being shaken.

And whilst it may appear that much is coming to an end, much is also beginning.  What is beginning, we cannot, as yet, imagine (just as the disciples found it impossible to imagine a dead man living) but, nonetheless, something new is beginning.

We can trust God on this.

For we are a people who have a couple of thousand years’ experience of this kind of thing:

We can’t stop the earth moving but we can keep looking for the path, not the planned path or the proper path, but the path of life that God is surely laying for us.



      We pray to Christ in his suffering:

For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus,

             let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For all people,

that we may come together as your community

in times of  suffering or distress

             let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For those who make laws, and administer them,

That their decisions may be grounded in justice and love for all people equally,

            let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For those who have the courage to work for others in times of disease or danger

             let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For those who are sick or afraid or in isolation,

that they may find support and encouragement,

             let us pray to the Lord.

 Lord, have mercy.

That we, may find mercy in the day of Christ,

             let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

All   Holy God,   holy and strong,   holy and immortal,    have mercy upon us.


Church Office,
2 Apr 2020, 13:39