Here is our minister’s latest reflection for this Sunday – Palm Sunday.
We hope you are finding this series of reflections useful.
Sunday 5th of April 2020
As we are no longer able to meet for worship due to the virus situation, we offer a weekly reflection. Perhaps you could sit each week and read this at the time when we would normally meet for worship. In that way we will still be together.
In the simplest of terms, Palm Sunday is an opportunity to reflect upon the final week of Jesus’ life. Jesus did not meet the image that the crowd expected, the fulfilment of the hopes of Israel that He would be their Earthly king, destroying the Roman Government.
Instead, Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem to give His life on a cross, saving mankind from sin and death. (One day, Jesus will return gloriously as a mighty warrior in battle (Revelation 19:11–16)). Palm Sunday serves as a preparation of one’s heart for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.
Lord Jesus Christ we thank you that your kingdom is not of this world,
that you rule not as a dictator but as a servant,
inspiring devotion to who and what you are.
If you dealt with us as we deserved,
Then our future would be bleak,
None of us are able to stand before you,
for day after day we break your commandments,
betray your love,
ignoring your guidance,
our faith is fickle,
our allegiance poor.
King of love have mercy on us.
Lord Jesus we come before your throne,
throwing ourselves upon your grace
and asking you to receive our worship,
despite its weakness.
To accept our service,
despite our many faults.
Rule in our hearts
and use us for your glory.
King of love all that I have I give to you,
all that I am I owe to you, take me,
my skills and my time and use them
to bring your glory to this earth.
Here I am Lord use me.
This we ask in Jesus’ name
The Lord’s Prayer (The prayer Jesus taught us).
Our Father who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those that trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen
Matthew 21:1-11 says,
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
Isaiah 53:5 It speaks of one known as the “suffering servant,” who suffers because of the sins of others. Jesus is said to fulfil this prophecy through his death on the cross.
Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”
In the Old Testament, Isaiah describes what is today known as The Suffering Servant. Isaiah is looking forward to the Saviour and describes “He endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. Because of our sins, he was wounded, beaten, because of the evil we did. He was treated harshly but endured it humbly; he never said a word.”
Today, many Palm Sunday traditions remain much the same as those celebrated in the tenth century. Some ceremonies begin with the blessing of the palms. Afterward, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields. In many churches, children serve as an integral part of the service since they enjoy the processions. Children often craft crosses from palm leaves which were used in the Sunday processional. The traditions of Palm Sunday serve as reminders of the life-changing events of Holy Week.
It was Palm Sunday and Jesus was coming into Jerusalem. There’s no denying that there is a touch of glory in the entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Jesus was welcomed as a hero. People had heard how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead even though he had been dead for more than four days. The news had spread about how he had healed people who were incurably sick, how the blind were able to see, the deaf to hear, and how he restored people to their families after he had driven out evil spirits. The news had reached the people of Jerusalem about the compassion and love of Jesus, and how he had shown mercy to tax collectors and prostitutes.
The crowd was excited that this miracle-working teacher was coming to town. They waved palm branches; they spread their coats on the road; they shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” The crowd welcomed him as they would a king. This was the man who came in the name of the Lord to intervene in the wretched circumstances of their lives and to give hope for the future. This was the man who would give them freedom from Roman oppression, bring prosperity and bring a time of peace to their troubled land.
No wonder they cheered and paved the way with palm branches and clothing. In the eyes of the crowd there was no doubt that Jesus was the promised king sent by God. But this king was different. No show of power and strength. he rode a humble donkey, an animal used to move things from one place to another.
As Jesus rode along, he didn’t smile and give royal waves to the people lining the street. His heart was heavy. Luke tells us that as Jesus got closer to the city, he wept. He knew that his enemies had begun to plot how they could get rid of him. He knew all too well that in a few days the crowds would not be shouting their praises for this new king, but they will be calling out: Crucify him! Crucify him! He wept because they wanted peace in their city, but they could not see in Jesus the source of true peace of forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. Jesus wept with grief because he could see a time when Jerusalem would be nothing but a pile of rubble and the people waving palm branches would fall under the Roman sword.
This is no ordinary king riding on a donkey. He has come to serve. He is a servant-king. On Good Friday we see the love that caused Jesus to be burdened with the sin of all humanity. He gave up his life for us.
Paul presents Jesus in the contrasting pictures of both king and servant. “Jesus always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death his death on the cross.
At the heart of Jesus’ work was the humble, selfless desire to serve. “He gave up all he had, took on the nature of a servant. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to his death. Jesus did not want to dominate, He wanted to serve. He always considered the needs of others first.
This theme of service comes through powerfully during Jesus’ whole ministry. Recall what happened at the Last Supper.
No one was prepared to wash the dust off the disciples’ feet before beginning the meal. So, Jesus, the master, tied a towel around his waist, grabbed a bowl of water and knelt before the disciples and began to wash their feet. The hands that created the universe. The person who threw stars into the black sky lighting up the night. The saviour of the world now kneels at the foot of his disciples and in humility washes their feet.
The king of glory was treated cruelly at the hands of his creation.
He was mocked, whipped, and nailed to a cross.
He died a shameful death.
He allowed all of this to happen because of his love for you and me and because of his desire that the relationship between God and humanity be restored. We are challenged to follow the pattern of Christs’ life who demonstrated love and service to others. However, it is not easy for us to be servants.
Paul says “Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves”. Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had namely lived, humility and service. The apostle is urging us to adopt an attitude of servanthood.
Jesus once said: ” If anyone wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest, and if one of you wants to be first, he must be your slave like the Son of Man who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people” (Matt 20:26).
Let us pray
Heavenly Father we pray this morning for all people who are serving the community in so many important ways. The difficult time we are passing through has brought us together as a community. NHS workers are coming out of retirement to provide care for the sick. Volunteers are carrying out many different tasks to make life more bearable during this time of isolation.
We are sad and humbled by those who have given their life as carers and doctors working in hospitals and in the Health Service trying to save lives. We give thanks for those who are developing new equipment which hopefully will reduce the number of people who are dying from the virus. Lord be with the families who have relatives currently receiving treatment; may they find peace and may you give them a healing. The families who have lost someone so dear to them we beg you may give them comfort and support.
We think particularly of people who are suffering from financial pressures unsure of their future; unsure of their income. We think of the homeless, the hungry, those who are traumatised by the experience of life as it is at this time.
Lord Jesus remind us through the Holy Spirit to pray daily for our community and our family and our friends. Guide us to think about people in other countries not known to us particularly those whose practical situation is even more difficult than the one we are experiencing in this country.
Let us work together as disciples of Christ by keeping in touch, by reading the Gospel, and praying to our Heavenly Father. May we always feel your presence may we always show your compassion may we spread Jesus’s love to all people and may we be worthy of following Jesus’s lifestyle.
This we ask in the blessed name of our saviour Jesus Christ
A Hymn of hope
Brother let me be your servant
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let me be your servant too.
We are pilgrims on the journey,
and companions on the road.
We are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ light for you
in the night-time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we see this journey through.
When we sing to God in Heaven
we shall find such harmony.
Born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
Brother let me be your servant,
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
Lord Jesus may our church be part of the house of prayer for all people. As a member we are truly part of the Church of Jesus Christ’s international Church. A church which shares in the mission of God to realise reconciliation, among all people and to be the church that the Lord intends us to be. We pray that the walls that divide us crumble. That the barriers that separate us will be cast down. That God’s dream will begin to take on form and that will give all of us a renewed life.
Beloved children of God go now in peace, never be afraid, God will go with you each hour of every day. Go now in love and show you believe; reach out to others so all the world can see. God will be there watching from above. Go now in peace. In faith and in love.
And so we say;
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all
Take 5 minutes now to listen to Gods voice.
Rev Ken Hague