Sunday 10 April 2022 Palm Sunday
Welcome Jesus wept over the city and said, “If only you had known this day the way that leads to peace! But no; it is hidden from your sight.” Luke 19: 41-42
Hymn 364 All glory, laud, and honour
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
the way he challenged corruption
the way he challenged discrimination
the way he challenged ideas with which you disagree
but we also remember that later in the week
the shouts of the crowds took a different tone –
baying for his blood
It is 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
Help us to forgive
We want to make our world, your world, better
we know that you want us to join with you in that work
make us ready to do that –
even when there is a cost for us
you want us to follow in Jesus’ way –
we need your help to do that
today and every day
through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
All age time
It’s Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey at the start of the week leading up to his betrayal, arrest and execution.
Trying to get the feel of what it was like, there are some good maps and photos that you can find online using your search engine. However we can’t display them here for copyright reasons. (As it is, because we stream to the internet, every time a hymn tune is played, we usually get a message saying that we have infringed copyright– though we do have valid Copyright Licences that allow us to print the words on the screens and play the music, and we tell them that, politely).
So to avoid copyright challenges I’ve done some hand drawings and scanned them in.
There is a map of the geography around Jerusalem, stripping away three millennia of buildings, and all the rubble infill that has virtually hidden the Tyropoeon Valley (the Valley of the Cheese-makers). The valleys offered natural defences. The original settlement of David and Solomon was on the ridge between the Tyropoeon and Kidron Valleys. The Mount of Olives is to the right (or East) of the Kidron Valley.
Here is the same map with the outline of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day superimposed on it in red. The big area at the top right corner is the Temple complex. Just above it, and attached to it, is the Roman garrison fort. Herod’s palace, with three towers built to survive a siege, is at the top left hand corner, and at the bottom is the suggested site of the High Priest’s House.
Only the layout of the city is shown, but all around it there would have been villages, farms, settlements filling up the hills and valleys.
Unfortunately the results of Quirinius’ Census that we talked about a few weeks ago haven’t survived, but archaeologists reckon that the regular population of Jerusalem was about 100,000 (making it one of the larger cities of its time). At the three great Jewish festivals, especially Passover, maybe between a million and 1.5 million people would come to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. Some would be from neighbouring villages and farms, some like Jesus travelling from elsewhere in the Holy Land, and some travelling long distances from Egypt, Libya, elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean or Middle East.
The Temple was built to cope. It was huge – the second largest building in the world at the time. Unfortunately we have to rely on references to it, as the Romans flattened it in 70AD. The wall from the bottom of the Kidron Valley to the main platform was about as high as the blocks of flats opposite here. On the platforms were colonnades bigger than York Minster. And its one way system would be the envy of any modern event organiser.
It is believed that associated with the pilgrim journey to Jerusalem were the collection of Psalms we call the Songs of Ascent (Pss 120-134). Associated now with Passover, and maybe with its celebration then, were Pss 113-118, the so-called Hallel Psalms. It does seem that the disciples were thinking especially about Ps 118 on Palm Sunday.
Your homework for Holy Week is to have a look at those Psalms – 113-118, 120-134, and think about what they may have meant to Jesus and his disciples.
Hymn JP264 We have a king who rides on a donkey
Luke 19: 28-40 Jan Gothard
Donkeys are not very comfortable to sit on. Sitting side-saddle on a donkey that is going downhill from the Mount of Olives feels very unsafe. The path is narrow, the cobbles are uneven, crowds of other people are going up and down the track, pushing to get past, or not moving out of the way. I feel as though I could fall off at any moment, but I suppose skinned knees and bruised elbows are as nothing with what lies ahead.
The roads, paths and tracks leading to Jerusalem are heaving with people coming here for Passover. Those who live in places like Bethany on the Mount of Olives only have a short distance to come (though there are a lot of steps to climb. Some, like us, have travelled several days to get here, and some have trekked for weeks over sea or desert.
On the whole people seem to be in fairly good spirits, although occasionally tiredness or frustration leads to arguments and angry words. Some are singing as they travel, often the pilgrim psalms as they actually arrive here. Listening to the words, they bring me comfort and hope, in the midst of all the fear and anxiety about what lies ahead. I know what I have to do: proclaim the Good News, speak out against what is wrong, and prepare for my Sacrifice at Passover
- When I was in trouble I called to the LORD and he answered me
Save me LORD from liars and deceivers
- My help will come from the LORD
who made heaven and earth..
The LORD will guard you
he is by your side to protect you
- Let us thank the LORD
who has not let our enemies destroy us.
We have escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap
the trap is broken and we are free
- Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion
which can never be shaken, never be moved
As the mountains surround Jerusalem
so the LORD will surround his people now and for ever
- Those who wept as they went out..
will come back singing with joy
- Blessed are those who obey the LORD
who live by his commands
- From the depths of my despair I call to you LORD.
Hear my cry, O Lord, listen to my call for help
- I am content and at peace
As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms
so my heart is quiet within me.
Israel, trust in the LORD, now and for ever.
We’re at the bottom of the slope now, and I’m feeling slightly numb. It’s really busy, really congested here, trying to get up the slope and through the gate into the Holy City. The singing is a bit out of key, groups have become separated from each other, children are crying, mothers are losing their patience, some seem to delight in jostling others and pushing them to the side. On the whole there’s a carnival atmosphere, but it probably wouldn’t take much to change the tone, start a stampede, and have people crushed in the melee. I imagine the authorities are keeping a wary eye on the whole thing, and will be ready to send in the troops if it appears to get out of hand. And they don’t handle things sensitively or gently.
I can hear some of our group singing one of the Passover psalms. They’re getting carried away: cutting down branches from palm trees to wave around their heads (which is bound to upset the owners of the trees – who will probably complain to the authorities about vandals from Galilee who are wrecking the place); and now they’re spreading cloaks on the road (so they’ll be accused of dumping litter and fly-tipping). Despite all that, the words assure me that in all that lies ahead, God will be with me, and I must place my hope and trust in him:
Psalm 118: 17-29
Hymn 279 Make way make way
Prayers for others
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
those who are ill, those who worry about them,
those who care for them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are feeling lonely, down
or grieving a friend or loved one
those who don’t have enough to eat
don’t have somewhere to call home
those who are worried about family, friends, work, home,
those who long to live in peace and safety
we pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
we pray for your church
the worldwide church, the wider church in Dumbarton
our own congregation
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to 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 (3-fold Amen)
Be bold to share the life of Christ and show his love
and the blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
rest and remain with you
today, and every day, and for ever