Palm and Passion Sunday: March 28th, 2021

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Invitation to Holy Week

Dear friends in Christ,
during Lent we have been preparing
for the celebration of our Lord’s paschal mystery.
On this day our Lord Jesus Christ
entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph.
The people welcomed him with palms and shouts of praise,
but the path before him led to self-giving, suffering, and death.
Today we greet him as our King,
although we know his crown is thorns and his throne a cross.
We follow him this week from the glory of the palms
to the glory of the resurrection
by way of the dark road of suffering and death.
United with him in his suffering on the cross,
may we share his resurrection and new life.

Let us pray.
Assist us mercifully with your Spirit,
Lord God of our salvation,
that we may enter with courage, compassion, and love
into the Passion of your Son Jesus Christ,
that we may share in the joy of his resurrection,
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Hymn: All Glory, Laud, and Honour

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Almighty and everliving God,
in tender love for all our human race
you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take our flesh
and suffer death upon a cruel cross.
May we follow the example of his great humility,
and share in the glory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a (read by John MacEachern)

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear, to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Psalm 31 (Led by Barb and John MacEachern)

Have mercy on me, O Lord, *
for I am in trouble.

my eye is consumed with sorrow, *
and also my throat and my belly.

For my life is wasted with grief, *
and my years with sighing;

my strength fails me because of affliction, *
and my bones are consumed.

I have become a reproach to all my enemies *
and even to my neighbours,

a dismay to those of my acquaintance; *
when they see me in the street they avoid me.

I am forgotten like a corpse, out of mind; *
I am as useless as a broken pot.

For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; *
fear is all around;

they put their heads together against me; *
they plot to take my life.

But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord. *
I have said, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.

Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me.”

Epistle Reading: Philippians 2:5-11 (read by Barb MacEachern)

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Hymn: The Servant King

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Gospel: The Passion and Crucifixion of Christ according to Mark (The Voice translation)

Narrator When morning came, the chief priests met in council with all the Jewish leaders. They bound Jesus, led Him away, and turned Him over to the Roman governor, Pilate. After hearing them, Pilate said:
Pilate Are You the King of the Jews?
Jesus: You have said so.
Narrator The chief priests went on to accuse Jesus of many things, but Jesus simply stood quietly.
Pilate: Do You have anything to say? How do You respond to all these charges that have been made against You?
Narrator But Jesus said nothing more, and Pilate was astonished.
Now it was his custom at that feast that Pilate should release one prisoner from custody, whomever the people most desired. There was one rebel from those imprisoned for insurrection against the Roman occupation. He had committed murder during an uprising. His name was Barabbas. A crowd had gathered in front of Pilate’s judgment seat to request that Pilate follow his usual custom.
Pilate turned to them.
Pilate: Why don’t I release to you the King of the Jews?
Narrator He knew that the chief priests had delivered Jesus because they were threatened by Him, not because Jesus was a criminal.
But priests moved among the crowd and persuaded them to call for Barabbas instead.
Pilate: Then what do you want me to do with the King of the Jews?
Crowd: Crucify Him, crucify Him!
Narrator But now he called to them.
Pilate: Why? What has He done to deserve such a sentence?
Crowd (crying all the louder): Crucify Him, crucify Him!
When Pilate saw that he could not persuade the crowd to change its mind, he released Barabbas to them and had Jesus publicly whipped, Then he had Jesus led away to be crucified. The soldiers took Him into the headquarters of the governor; and the rest of the soldiers in the detachment gathered there. They put a purple robe on Him and made a crown of thorns that they forced onto His head and they began to cry out in mock salute.
Soldiers: Hail to the King of the Jews!
Narrator For a long while they beat Him on the head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down as if to honor Him. When they had finished mocking Him, they stripped off His purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they took Him away to be executed.
Along the way, they met a man from Cyrene, Simon (the father of Rufus and Alexander), who was coming in from the fields; and they ordered him to carry the heavy crossbar of the cross. And so they came at last to the execution site, a hill called Golgotha, which means the “Place of a Skull.”
The soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to dull His pain, but He refused it. And so they crucified Him, divided up His clothes, and cast lots to see who would keep the clothes they had stripped from Him.
His crucifixion began about nine o’clock in the morning. Over His head hung a sign that indicated the charge for which He was being crucified. It read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” On either side of Him were two insurgents who also had received the death penalty. And the Hebrew Scripture was completed that said, “He was considered just another criminal.”]
Those passing by on their way into or out of Jerusalem insulted and ridiculed Him.
Crowd: So You’re the One who was going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days? Well, if You’re so powerful, then why don’t You rescue Yourself? Come on down from the cross!
Chief Priests and Scribes He rescued others, but He can’t rescue Himself. Let the Anointed—the King of Israel—come down from the cross now, and we will see it and believe.
Narrator Even the insurgents who were being crucified next to Him taunted Him and reviled Him.
At noon, the day suddenly darkened for three hours across the entire land. Sometime around three o’clock Jesus called out in a loud voice.
Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
Jesus was speaking, as in the psalms, “My God, My God, why have You turned Your back on Me?”
Narrator Some of those standing nearby misunderstood Him.
Bystanders: Hey, He’s calling for Elijah.
Narrator One of them filled a sponge with wine that had turned to vinegar and lifted it to Jesus’ lips on a stick so He could drink.
Bystander: Let’s see if Elijah will come to take Him down.
NarratorThen Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and He took His last breath. At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The Roman Centurion, the soldier in charge of the executions, stood in front of Jesus, heard His words, and saw the manner of His death.
Centurion: Surely this man was the Son of God!
Narrator: Off in the distance, away from the crowds, stood some women who knew and had followed Jesus, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the younger James, Joses, and Salome. These were women who used to care for Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who had followed Jesus to Jerusalem joined them.
Evening came. The crucifixion had taken place on preparation day, Friday, before the Jewish Sabbath began at sundown. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the ruling council who was also a believer anxiously waiting for the kingdom of God, went to Pilate and boldly asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate could not believe Jesus was already dead, so he sent for the Centurion, who confirmed it. Then Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body.
Joseph had the body wrapped in a linen burial cloth he had purchased and laid Him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. Then he had a stone rolled over the opening to seal it. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching as the body was interred.

This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn: Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended

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Prayers of the People (led by Sheila Hulford)

Our Father

Hymn: Ride on Ride on in Majesty

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A Blessing for Holy Week

One foot in front of the other
that’s how we traverse this week.

We hesitate at the brink of the hill.
The valley is dark, and cold, and full of fears.
We are afraid of what we might find.
We are afraid of getting lost, of never finding our way out.
We are afraid that maybe that’s all there really is,
the final truth: the cold hard stones,
the sudden cruelty,
the sick grief in our guts.
And we want to turn away.

But He trudges on, trudges towards his bitter end.
And something tugs at us to follow him:
a soundless voice that urges “Trust me”.
Do we trust him?

Let us follow, one foot in front of the other.
In that darkness we will remember
how terrible human cruelty can be.
But we will also see, stronger still, the quiet dignity of love.

We will be led – be led by His hand –
to face our greatest fears.
We will raise our eyes to look at them
nailed up for us to see,
and know that it is okay, we are not alone,
He is there already.
And the grief and emptiness and the horrible despair inside
we will know it held in His steady hand.

He will lead us, one foot in front of the other,
to face death itself –
until we see through its terrors,
until we find ourselves,
inexplicably, on the other side,
limping, leaping, towards the rising sun,
finally free.

So take this difficult journey,
Walk by His side this week.
Trust Him.
And He will show you
the courage you are not sure you have,
the companionship you crave so deeply,
the joy you scarcely dare believe in.

And the blessing of God,
Generous Creator, compassionate Christ, strong warm Spirit
uphold you on this journey,
this coming week,
and through all your years.