Sunday Worship, 28 March 2021, Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday – 6th Sunday in Lent

watch today’s service on YouTube form 10:30am:

Notices

Sunday worship is resuming today in Riverside, St Andrew’s and West Kirk, though with restrictions on maximum numbers in place. At the moment only Riverside is taking bookings: if you want to make a booking, contact Margaret Auld at home by telephone or via the office e-mail.

There will be online services each day during Holy Week

Welcome

Now is the hour of judgement for this world; now shall the prince of this world be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw everyone to myself. John 12: 31-32

John 12: 31-32

Hymn 364 All glory laud and honour

All age time (from 0-100 years!)

This is the special week when we remember that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to cheering crowds on the Sunday, and then by Friday they were shouting for him to be put to death – which happened in a horrible way.

Over the week you might like to build a collection of symbols of the Holy Week story, with something added each day. The online service each day will suggest the symbols to add that day, and details can also be found on Facebook and the websites. A printed version can be requested for anyone not online: contact the minister and we will get it to you.

It might be as well to collect the symbols on a tray if you have one. Today’s symbol is a branch, either from the garden or made from paper and a stick.

Opening Prayer

Loving God

There are times when it is fun to shout and cheer

 when it is good to be part of a crowd.

Today we shout and cheer

 as we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem

We shout and cheer as we remember

 the way he challenged corruption

 the way he challenged discrimination

 the way he challenged ideas with which you disagree

But we also remember that the shouts of the crowds

 took on a different tone –

 baying for his blood

It’s so easy to go along with the crowd

 repeating slogans and ideas

 doing what others do

 without thinking about the implications –

 we may be encouraging discrimination

 we may be shoring up injustices

 we may be ignoring those in need

Forgive us

Help us to forgive

We want you to make our world better

 we know that you want us to help you in that work

 make us ready to do that –

 even when there is a cost to us

You want us to follow in Jesus’ way –

 we need your help to do that

 today and every day.

Through Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen

Bible reading           Mark 11: 1-11

Hymn 279 Make way

Reflection

(imagining what Jesus might have though as he rode along)

I’m not sure which of us will be happier to end this donkey ride: the donkey or me. It’s not well-padded and I keep expecting to fall off any moment. Mind you, you certainly get a different view from up here, looking over the heads of the crowd, into doorways and alleyways, seeing the faces of people hiding in both.

I’m looking at the disciples faces at the moment. There’s quite a mixture of expressions. Peter is like a wee boy presented with a plate of cakes: he’s excited, he’s totally carried away, shouting and waving his palm branches. Simon shouts with heart-felt pride in being Jewish, and hating the Romans, the Samaritans and the Jewish establishment who run Jerusalem. The women follow on behind: some look confident and sure of what we’re doing, others look concerned and nervous. I’m not sure what that look on Judas’ face means – is it genuine or put on?

All these hopes, all these dreams, all these fears. But really none of them knows what lies ahead. I’ve tried telling them, but it goes in one ear and out the other. They hear only what they want to hear, and understand what they want to understand. They will realise too late that the one who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey is riding to his death, not his enthronement.

*           *           *

Looking into the doorways and alleyways I see faces that don’t have ‘I approve’ written all over them. Anger, disgust, hatred: those are the things that I see. Some wear the clothes of priests or teachers of the Law, some wear army uniforms, some have on the clothes that ordinary people wear. Maybe they are ordinary people, or maybe they are spies paid by the authorities to look like ordinary people – noting my every movement as part of an orchestrated scheme to capture and destroy me. I have a feeling that even in my circle of family and friends there is one (or at least one) ready to betray me. There is an ‘atmosphere’ that is most uncomfortable.

I hear again that tempting voice, but it tries a different tone. Instead of confidence there is fear: beware, go back home, save yourself while there is still time; it isn’t worth the effort, people aren’t worth it; you won’t really change them or the world by a rash gesture on your part; you can achieve more alive than dead; who do you think you are claiming to be God’s Son, the Promised One; think about your poor widowed mother – is it fair to put her through this after all that she’s done for you; what about your friends, how can they cope in this big city without you; it will be your fault if they lose hope, lose faith, lose confidence in everything; you have already put enough strain on their marriages, their families, their family businesses. You’re selfish, you and your delusions of grandeur. Give up while you can, while there is still time.

*           *           *

Some people are very interested in demons, spirits or angels. I prefer focusing on people, on what I see with my eyes, and hear with my ears – though at times, when I am surrounded by hatred, prejudice and malice, I could say that it feels like a force of Evil is present. By the same token, when I see gestures of great kindness and generosity I am conscious of the power of God working in the world. My Heavenly Father may be enthroned high above this city, high above his holy Temple, but I know that his Spirit is here, and it is here with me, giving me the confidence to see through this week and the work he wants me to do.

The crowd with me may shout and cheer, they may cast palm branches and cloaks on the road, it may all seem joyful and exciting now, but as this week unfolds, as the Holy Feast of Passover draws near, things will change. It is a time for recalling pain and suffering, and blood shed, in the past on the way to salvation and freedom. For me there will be new pain and suffering, and my life will be poured out, to bring salvation and freedom – a new Passover.

I hear them singing from the Psalms as they enter the city, and I know that those words are true for me:

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.

 What can man do to me?

The LORD is my strength and my song;

 he has become my salvation.

I will not die but live,

 and proclaim what the LORD has done.

Open for me the gates of righteousness;

 I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

 From the house of the LORD we bless you.

With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession

 up to the horns of the altar.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

 his love endures for ever.


Prayers for others

Gracious God

We believe that you are a God who looks for a world with peace and justice

  wholeness and fullness of life

We see around us a world in pain and suffering crying out for them

We pray for healing in your world

We pray for all affected by the Coronavirus epidemic who have it

 who have lost someone to it

 who are working to combat it

 who are working with patients or vulnerable people

 who have lost jobs and income

 who are afraid for homes, food and money

 who are lonely and isolated

We pray too for all who experienced all those situations and feelings before Coronavirus appeared

We pray for all who cry out for peace and justice in your world

 especially for places like the Middle East and many parts of Africa

 for all who have fled from the homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Governments and those in authority in every land

We pray for your Church – the worldwide church, the wider church in Dumbarton, our own congregation

Help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

We bring our gifts of money

 take and use them, take and use us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn 365 Ride on ride on in majesty

Blessing

Secure in God’s love

 be steadfast in his service

 and the blessing of God Almighty,

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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