Holy Week Begins – A Service of Palms, Poetry, and Song

Posted By Communications on Apr 5, 2020 | 0 comments

April 5, 2020 – Pastor Teressa Sivers
Palm Sunday Script

Welcome & Announcements

Centering Music               “Ride On”

The First Day of the Week-Sunday

A Reading from Scripture        Matthew 21:1-2, 6-11                   NRSV      

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. 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[b] 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!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

‘Blessed Is the One’ by Jan Richardson
For Palm Sunday

Blessed is the One
who comes to us
by the way of love
poured out with abandon.

Blessed is the One
who walks toward us
by the way of grace
that holds us fast.

Blessed is the One
who calls us to follow
in the way of blessing,
in the path of joy.

*Opening Hymn #278            “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”

Time with our Children and Youth  

Anthem                  “The Palms”

A Prayer for Our Journey                                    

Let us pray.  We see, God.  We see Jesus enter Jerusalem. The people’s desperation for salvation rings in our ears. “Hosanna!” they cry—Save us!  They pave the way for the salvation they dream—a warrior king mounting the throne, tossing out the interlopers, establishing once again the golden reign of David.  How far will they follow their donkey-riding king?  How far will we?  Jesus walks with us every step of our journey, celebrates in our joys, is present in our every day, seeks to help us carry our pain and heartbreak.  Can we walk with Jesus on his journey?  Can we see beyond the palms and hosannas to the path Jesus takes to embrace all our humanness?  Can we witness Jesus’ pain, Jesus’ death—and therefore be assured that Jesus knows our pain, our death—and breaks their hold over us forevermore? And can we see, in this holy journey during this holy week, that Jesus embodies your kingdom, your commonwealth each day. May it be so! Amen!

The Second Day of the Week-Monday

A Reading from Scripture               Matthew 21:12-13                 NRSV

12 Then Jesus entered the temple[c] and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
    but you are making it a den of robbers.”

It Was On the Monday…                                                                  

It was on the Monday                                                
that religion got in the way.
An outsider would have thought
that it was a pet shop’s clearance sale.
And the outsider, in some ways,
wouldn’t have been far wrong.
Only it wasn’t household pets,
it was pigeons that were being purchased.
And it wasn’t a clearance sale;
it was a rip-off stall in a holy temple
bartering birds for sacrifice.
And the price was something only the rich could afford.
No discounts to students, pensioners,
or social security claimants.
Then he,
the holiest one on earth,
went through the bizarre bazaar
like a bull in a china shop.
So the doves got liberated
and the pigeon sellers got angry.
And the police went crazy
and the poor people clapped like mad,
because he was making a sign
that God was for everybody,
not just for those who could afford God.
He turned the tables on Monday…
The day that religion got in the way.

The Third Day of the Week-Tuesday

A Reading of Scripture            Matthew 21:23-27                        NRSV      

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

It Was On the Tuesday…                                                   

It was on the Tuesday                                                      
that he let them have it.
If you had been there
you would have thought
that a union official was being taken to task
by a group of mobsters.
Or that the chairperson of a multinational corporation
was being interrogated by left-wing activists
posing as shareholders.
They wanted to know why
and they wanted to know how.
They were the respectable men,
the influential men,
the establishment.
The questions they asked
ranged from silly schoolgirl speculations
about whether you would be a bigamist in heaven
if you married twice on earth,
to what was the central rule of civilized behavior.
They knew the answers already…
or so they thought,
otherwise they would never have asked the questions.
And like most of us
they were looking for an argument
with no intentions of a change of heart.
So he flailed them with his tongue…
those who tried to look interested
but never wanted to be committed.
And that was on the Tuesday…
the day he let them…let us…have it.

*Hymn #292          “What Wondrous Love is This”

The Fourth Day of the Week—Wednesday

A Reading of Scripture            Matthew 26:6-7                            NRSV

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table.

It Was On the Wednesday…                                                      

It was on the Wednesday                                   
that they called him a wasteful person.
The place smelled like the perfume department
of a big store.
It was as if somebody had bumped an elbow against a bottle
and sent it crashing to the floor,
setting off the most expensive stink bomb on earth.
But it happened in a house,
not a shop.
And the woman who broke the bottle
was no casual afternoon shopper.
She was the poorest of the poor,
giving away the only precious thing she had.
And he sat still
while she poured the liquid all over his head…
as unnecessary as aftershave
on a full crop of hair and a bearded chin.
And those who smelled it,
and those who saw it,
and those who remembered
that he was against extravagance,
called him a wasteful person.
They forgot
that he also was the poorest of the poor.
And they who had much
and who had given him nothing,
objected to a pauper giving him everything.
Jealousy was in the air
when a poor woman’s generosity
became an embarrassment to their tight-fistedness…
That was on the Wednesday,
when they called him a wasteful person.

Call to Extravagant Generosity                                                 

Jesus’ generosity and love was so extravagant at times that people called him wasteful.  May our giving of ourselves and our gifts be modeled on his wastefulness.  Let prayerfully meditate on how we are called to give with Christ-like generosity as the music surrounds us

Offertory                       “Cherubim”

Prayer of Dedication                                                         

Bless these gifts and our lives, Grace Incarnate.  May we be accused of such wastefulness as yours.  May we be shining examples of extravagant generosity.  Amen.

The Fifth Day of the Week—Thursday

A Reading from Scripture               Matthew 26:47-50

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.  Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once Judas came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.  Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, do what you are here to do.”  Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

It Was On the Thursday…

It was on the Thursday                                      
that he became valuable.
He hadn’t anything to sell…
not since leaving his hammer and saw three years earlier.
Needless to say,
he could build a set of trestles
or hang a couple of shelves at the drop of a hat,
no bother at all.
But he wasn’t into making things.
Not now.
He was into…well…talking, I suppose.
And listening
and healing
and forgiving
and encouraging…
all the things for which there’s no pay
and the job center has no advertisements.
So his work wasn’t worth much.
Nor, indeed, was he.
For, not being well dressed
or well financed or well connected,
he wouldn’t have attracted many ticket holders
had he been put up for raffle.
But he had a novelty value…
like a side show attraction.
Put him on a stage and he might be interesting to look at.
Sell him to the circus
with the promise of some tricks
and there could be some money in it.
It was on the Thursday
that he became valuable.

The Sixth Day of the Week—Friday

A Reading of Scripture                   Matthew 27:50-54                 NRSV

50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.[r] 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[s]

It Was on the Friday…

It was on the Friday                                           
that they ended it all.
Of course,
they didn’t do it one by one.
They weren’t brave enough.
All the stones at the one time
or no stones at all.
They did it in crowds…
in crowds where you can feel safe
and lose yourself
and shout things
you would never shout on your own,
and do things
you would never do
if you felt the camera was watching you.
It was a crowd in the church that did it,
and a crowd in the civil service that did it,
and a crowd in the street that did it,
and a crowd on the hill that did it.
And he said nothing.
He took the insults,
the bruises,
the spit on the face,
the thongs on the back,
the curses in the ears.
He took the sight of his friends turning away,
running away.
And he said nothing.
He let them do their worst
until their worst was done,
as on Friday they ended it all…
and would have finished themselves
had he not cried,
“Father, forgive them…”
And began the revolution.


It is hard to believe that our wilderness journey through Lent began only five weeks ago, today (Sunday) marking the beginning of the sixth week. On Ash Wednesday, we had no idea all that we would be giving up this Lenten season, all that we would be going without during these 40 days in the wilderness.  Let’s face it, for the vast majority of us, this has been the Lentiest Lent that ever Lented! But is all seriousness, this Lent we have a deeper understanding of this wilderness the Bible speaks of: the wilderness the ancient Israelites journeyed through for 40 years, between slavery and the Promised Land; the wilderness Jesus entered, dripping with the waters of his baptism, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, for 40 days of temptation and hunger; the 40 days of wilderness we pledge ourselves to every year on Ash Wednesday. We have a deeper understanding of how chaotic the wilderness can be, how frightening and desolate and uncertain and unsettling. But I hope and pray that we also have a deeper understanding of the opportunities afforded to us, even in the wilderness, for profound encounters with God.

This week marks the holiest of weeks in the church calendar. As I said with the children and as we have experienced in this worship service liturgy, we are called in this week to remember the events of Jesus’ final week of earthly ministry. We are invited together, despite this distance, to walk with Jesus in this final week. We are called to witness Jesus’ story, to be fully present with the gospel accounts. For you see, by actively witnessing Jesus’ final days of earthly ministry we practice being aware of Jesus’ abiding presence in times of conflict and suffering, pain and struggle. How we need this assurance right now!

Within our Christian history and tradition, there is a rich practice and theology where followers actively seek time apart from society for more intentional relationship building with God. These followers spend time apart reading and studying scripture, and reading the writings of other followers, past and present. Along with scripture and writings, these followers spend time in prayer, meditation, and engage in holy walks-pilgrimages. This Holy Week, in the midst of this new and frightening wilderness, we have the unique opportunity to truly follow this holy example. In our time apart, we can engage with the daily devotions on our YouTube and Facebook pages. We can use this script to live Jesus’ story each day. We can read scripture, perhaps using the daily lectionary of readings, such as found here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=A&season=Holy%20Week. We can pray for our hurting and fearful world. We can create our own prayer walks using the suggestions found in our bulletin this week. We can worship together via Zoom on Maundy Thursday and spend time with the digital Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Be creative. Create your own Holy Week practices this year.

Embrace this opportunity afford to us in this year’s wilderness to deepen our relationship with God.

So let us begin this holy and sacred week, following the example of these ones who go apart for God. Let us begin with deep and intentional prayer for our world and ourselves, using guided meditation. Find a comfortable position. During the time of silence, close your eyes or find a restful place to focus. Take several deep breaths in and out, making sure to fully exhale, allowing any tension to release and your breath if pushed out.




Let us pray:
Loving God, we hold in our hearts and minds before you:
our family…friends…co-workers…and neighbors;
our beloved church family;
our community—especially medical staff and essential workers, such as grocery, pharmacy, utilities—at risk every day;
Our state, all those infected with COVID-19, all those awaiting results, those grieving the loss of loved ones, especially New York City;
All the states of our nation;
All leaders—local, county, state, national, and international;
All the nations of the world;
Loving God, we hold ourselves before you in this moment—heart, mind, body and soul—just as we are, with all our thoughts and feelings. And surrounded by your presence, we ask ourselves, “How is it with my soul?”                                                        

The Lord’s Prayer

Out of the silence, across the distance, we join our voices together in the words you have gifted to us, praying…

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

The Seventh Day of the Week–Saturday

Mary Magdalene and the Other Mary; ‘A Song for All Maries’         
By Christina Rossetti

Our Master lies asleep and is at rest:
His Heart has ceased to bleed, His Eyes to weep;
The sun ashamed has dropt down in the west:
Our Master lies asleep.
Now we are they who weep, and trembling keep
Vigil, with wrung heart in a sighing breast,
While slow creeps, and slow the shadows creep.
Renew Thy youth, as eagle from the nest;
O Master, who hast sown, arise to reap: –
No cock-crow yet, no flush on eastern crest:
Our Master lies asleep.

*Closing Hymn #288      “Were You There”

*Sending Forth

We do see, God!  We see the road ahead!
We will journey this week with you!
And even in the darkest moment,
the blush of Easter morn warms our hearts
and lightens our vision.
We go forth ready for the journey!
We go forth eyes focused on your commonwealth!
Let us spend a moment in meditation and music, preparing for the journey ahead.

Postlude                        “O Sacred”

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