Morning Worship - Sunday, 5 April

MORNING SERVICE

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Welcome

Welcome to morning worship at Edinburgh’s Cramond Kirk.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

This is the 6th Sunday in the season of Lent and within the Christian calendar it is known as Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is when we hear about Jesus arriving in Jerusalem and being welcomed by cheering crowds who cut palm branches from the trees and laid them on the road.

So let me begin with words from the prophet Zechariah and then a prayer for Palm Sunday.

 

Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion. Shout, daughter of Jerusalem.

See Your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding

on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey                                (Zechariah 9 : 9)

 

Let us pray

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

on the first Palm Sunday

you entered Jerusalem where you were to die.

Enter our hearts we pray

and as your disciples blessed your coming

and spread garments and branches in your way,

make us ready to lay at your feet

all that we have and are

that we too may bless your coming in the name of the Lord.

Amen

 

Let us hear the word of God

The gospel reading for Palm Sunday is taken from Matthew 21 : 1 - 11 and after the long journey from Galilee in the north, it describes the dramatic arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem.

Matthew 21: 1-11

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.[a]” 

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 that 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.”

Address

People coming out from their homes and lining the streets, clapping, cheering, singing from balconies and open windows, maybe not waving Palm branches but playing bagpipes, blowing whistles or simply banging a pot lid – and all to express their support and gratitude for everyone in the National Health Service caring for patients suffering from Covid 19.

The scenes from around the country, indeed from around the world, have been quite remarkable, a heart-warming response to a heart-wrenching situation.

If the people who lined the Mount of Olives two thousand years ago were just as enthusiastic as they welcomed Jesus, everything in the gospel account suggests there had been lots of careful planning and preparation for this moment.

As they approached the village of Bethpage two disciples are sent ahead to fetch a donkey and given careful instructions about what to do and say if they are challenged.

Matthew wants us to know something important is happening and to ensure his readers are left in no doubt, he tells us that as Jesus and his disciples made their way down the Mount of Olives, those who went ahead and those who followed shouted;

Hosanna to the Son of David

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Let me wonder however if Jerusalem is where Jesus’ journey ends – or where it really begins?

Given the impact it has had over these last two thousand years, it is remarkable to think Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching and healing probably lasted little more than two or three years.

And this too is remarkable; what he said and did not only resonated with people then, it resonates with people today, this donkey-riding king whose kingdom is based not on military might or wealth or political power-broking but on justice, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, hospitality, mercy and love.

And it is because we glimpse in Jesus a different way of living, as he comes to Jerusalem it is important to know whether his journey has reached its destination or arrived at its starting point?

We know what the coming week will bring.

We know Jesus will cause a commotion in the temple, upset the tables of the money changers, and declare God’s house to be a house of prayer.

We know Jesus will wrap a towel around his waist, wash his disciples’ dirty feet, and tell them if they want to be great then they too must follow his example.

We know in an upper room he will break bread, even with the one who is about to betray him.

We know in a garden he will pray and weep as even his closest disciples cannot stay awake.

We know he will be kissed, betrayed, deserted, denied, put on trial, tortured and crucified, his remains placed in a borrowed tomb.

And because we know these things today, we are left wondering, is this it, is that how it ends, Jesus’ life, your life, my life, the journey of life, the journey of faith, the experience of loving and of being loved, God’s presence and purpose in creation?

Far from being the journey’s end I believe this is where the journey of life and faith begins, faith that injustice will not prevail, faith that illness, suffering and death does not have the last word, faith in the victory of God’s love over all that is evil and over all that would frustrate God’s purpose.

Etched on a gravestone in the graveyard surrounding our church you will find these words:

Dry those tears and let the daisies grow

And the forget-me-nots where children wander

O’er mounds we call graves

But where we know our loved one is not

No, the truth is much grander

On Palm Sunday what is that grander truth?

Surely it is this; that as Jesus and his disciples came down the Mount of Olives far from reaching their destination, their journey – our journey - was about to begin.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ

our donkey-riding king

moving from the peace of the Galilean countryside

to Jerusalem’s busy streets

we greet you.

 

You are the servant of all

and Saviour of all

 

Riding into Jerusalem

you gave majesty a new face

and those who long for life

a new song to sing.

 

You came unto your own

but your own did not always recognise you

so forgive us when we do not recognise you

and in our dealings with one another

ignore your way

break your commandments

fail to grasp the values of your kingdom

and offer instead a betraying kiss

 

Saviour Christ

You came to Jerusalem in humility

riding on an animal of peace

You came with healing for broken lives

and wholeness for a broken world

 

Wherever conflict flares

injustice reigns

human rights are denied

and Your people cry out in hunger or in pain

may our ears be attentive to their cry

our hearts moved by their plight

and let us stand with them

steadfast together in Your love for all.

 

Lord Jesus

healer of the sick and friend of the poor

coming to serve rather than be served

hold in Your wounded and healing hands

people in trouble and pain

 

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads illness and fear across the world

we pray for doctors and nurses working in hospitals and care homes

for researchers developing tests

for engineers making ventilators

for factories manufacturing protective masks and gloves

for politicians taking difficult decisions

and for the medical scientists advising them

 

We pray for all who are fearful about their income and their work

 

We pray for people who have been taken ill

and for those people receiving intensive care

 

We pray for families unable to visit loved ones

and for anyone who is feeling anxious and alone.

 

And we thank You for everyone who has been a good neighbour

and volunteered their time and their help.

 

God of grace

in these worrying times

remind us of our need of one another

our need of You

 

Grant us patience, courage and hope

 

And as Holy week begins

turn us again to Jerusalem

that united with Christ

and with the faithful of all ages

we too may be drawn into the mystery of his passion

and as dawn breaks on Easter day

come to know the victory of Your love

through our Saviour Christ in whose name we pray

 

Our Father

Which art in heaven

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom

The power and the glory

For ever

Amen

 

Go now in the love and peace of Christ our Lord

The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love, today and evermore

Amen