Palm Sunday resources – by Rosalie Sugrue

Call to worship:

The festival of Palm Sunday is a Christian custom,
a custom that extends back almost to the year dot.
Each succeeding year the faithful give voice to hope,
not just in devout song, but in cheers of acclamation.
Waving greenery wafts whispers of liberation,

– whispers that rise to crescendos of joy,

On reflection the commemoration is peculiar …
Because we know what that first crowd didn’t know,
We know how the journey ended …
So why add our hosannas to theirs?

Is it because a divine spark resides in all humans
A spark that calls us to rejoice in the journey
A spark that says no matter how it ends
Life is more about the journey than the destination.

What can be celebrated should be celebrated, for
Hope springs eternal and death does not defeat Joy.

 

Benediction/Commission:

We go from this service
mindful of calendar-changing
events of 2,000 years ago.
We go into a world of problems,
Problems so vast we feel helpless;
Yet as individuals we make choices –

small choices;
But even small choices
make a small difference;
Collectively the difference could be great.

Help us make the right choices,
So we may live as you
would have us live.

 

See also – Palm Sunday – Customs and Traditions (compiled by RMS)

 

 

Caleb’s Donkey – by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

Caleb’s Donkey

by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

A Children’s Story for Palm Sunday

In a small village like Bethphage the purchase of a donkey was a big event.  Each harvest season old Caleb had gathered in the nuts from the almond tree that grew beside the doorway of his one room dwelling.   For almost a decade he had put a few of the coins earned from the sale of these almonds into a clay money jar, which he had kept hidden out of sight of nosey tax collectors and inquisitive neighbours, until he had enough donkeymoney saved to buy a donkey.  His purchase was a young animal, a colt only just independent of its mother.  The donkey appeared to have a placid temperament, seemingly unconcerned by all the attention it was generating.   The village children in particular were excited by the donkey’s arrival in their midst.  They chattered noisily as they gathered around the creature, patting its back, scratching behind its ears, and poking handfuls of grass towards it, which the donkey obligingly munched upon.   Their excitement was mirrored by old Caleb’s, although he didn’t show it so audibly.  At long last he would not need to struggle up the hillside, bent double by the weight of the bundle of willow sticks gathered from the valley floor, which he needed to carry up to Bethphage to fuel his cooking fire.  In fact the donkey would be able to carry many more sticks than he could manage, so he would not need to go down into the valley and climb back up to his home so often.  Then when the olives were harvested, he would not have to shoulder the baskets of ripe fruit to take to the oil press at Gethsemane, nor personally carry the jars of oil to the market place from there.  The donkey was going to make a huge difference in his life.  Living was going to become so much easier.

Read more …

Prayers for Lent – III

Being Merciful – a Prayer of Confession

We are challenged to be merciful;
to forgive others,
acknowledging our own need of forgiveness.

[For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14]

We are challenged to be merciful;
to refrain from judging;
recognising that the standards
we apply to others
also apply to ourselves.

[Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. – Matthew 7:1-2]

We are challenged to be merciful;
to respond with generosity
towards the mean of spirit,
knowing that we too have a tendency towards being selfish and self-serving.

[Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.  Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:35-36]

We are challenged to be merciful
and we confess that too often instead
we are self-righteously hard hearted.
Forgive us.

We are challenged to be gracious;
to act compassionately towards others,
acknowledging that we also

are dependent on grace.

[For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8]

We are challenged to be gracious;
to be sensitive to the feeling of others;
recognising our own need to be
always treated kindly

[And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32]

We are challenged to be gracious;
to uphold the dignity of others,
not allowing our dreams to destroy theirs,
knowing how deeply we too
desire to be successful and respected.

[Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4]

We are challenged to be gracious
and we confess that too often instead
we are self-righteously hard hearted.
Forgive us.

We are challenged to be loving
to treasure each and every person
however contemptible they seem,
acknowledging our own sinfulness
and longing to be valued.

[But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8]

We are challenged to be loving;
to support and encourage others
recognising our own need to be
cherished and nurtured.

[May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another. – Romans 15:5]

We are challenged to be loving;
to give of ourselves for the benefit of others;
knowing our dependence
on the benevolence of God
and the generosity of his creation.

[For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45]

We are challenged to be loving
and we confess that too often instead
we are self-righteously hard hearted.
Forgive us.

In being challenged to be merciful.
gracious and loving,
we acknowledge our need
to be transformed.

We, who are being formed in your image,
Merciful, Gracious, and Loving God,
recognise that we need nothing less
than the miracle of
becoming increasingly like you.

We know that only by becoming
more and more merciful,
gracious and loving,
will we become less
self-righteously hard-hearted.

We who have been challenged,
seek to be the recipients
of your mercy, grace and love.
We ask that you hear our prayer.
Amen.

 – by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

Prayers for Lent – II

Keep us Moving – a prayer for Transfiguration Sunday

Scriptural references: Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36

God who appeared as cloud and fire
to a slave people traversing desert lands in the shadow of Sinai;
God who appeared as a whispering voice
to a hunted prophet seeking safety in a cave high up on Sinai;
God who took on the limits of humanity
but who appeared in glorious divinity to disciples
experiencing anew your transforming presence as at Sinai;
it is you we address with our words of praise and our words of petition.

God guide us through our wilderness experiences.
Grant us the confidence to keep following you
when the way is gruelling, the journeying long and the destination uncertain.
Just like the Israelites we too often become fretful
and anxious and lose our faith in you.
Still our fears and keep us moving
on our journey through Lent and through life.

God comfort us when we are disheartened, afraid and alone. 
Not with big gestures that would frighten us
but in quiet moments grant us the assurance of your presence.
Just like the prophets we too often feel your demands
are too daunting and too difficult for us,
and we want to run away and hide.
Calm us, encourage us and keep us moving
on our journey through Lent and through life.

God reassure us when we face a pending crisis.
Grant us the ability to see beyond the present moment
to a future full of hope and promise.
Just like the disciples we too can be deceived into thinking that we can achieve
your goals by the easy pathways we much prefer to take.
Strengthen us, reorient us and keep us moving,
on our journey through Lent and through life.

We have come to a new Sinai, the mount of transfiguration.
We have come seeking to be transformed.
Forgive us, embolden us and change us continually
into being all that you intend us to be, all that we could possibly be.
Not bound by our weaknesses but freed by your grace.


God of cloud and fire, small voice and loud

God of majestic glory cloaked in the unremarkable commonplace
cross doveguide us and comfort us, reassure us and reorient us
so that we may continue daily our journeying with you. 
God keep us moving we pray
throughout Lent and throughout life.  Amen.

– by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

Prayers for Lent – I

Opening Prayer for a Service during Lent

From the ordinary and everyday
and the delightfully different;
from times when we’re been
happy and hopeful,
and times when we’re been
sad and discouraged;
in an attitude of faith
or in questioning uncertainty,
we come together to worship.
Open our minds to your majesty
our spirits to your glory
our souls to your loving kindness.
Bless our gathering this morning
with grace-filled transformation
on our pilgrimage together
through the holy season of Lent.  Amen.

– by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

A hymn for Lent

lent


HYMN – 
Love will be our Lenten calling (Tune: Picardy)  684 TiS

Love will be our Lenten calling,
love to shake and shatter sin,
waking every closed, cold spirit,
stirring new life deep within,
till the quickened heart remembers
what our Easter birth can mean.

Peace will be our Lenten living
as we turn for home again,
longing for the words of pardon,
stripping off old grief and pain,
till we stand, restored and joyful,
with the Church on Easter day.

Truth will be our Lenten learning:
hear the Crucified One call!
Shadowed by the Saviour’s passion,
images and idols fall,
and, in Easter’s holy splendour,
God alone is all in all.

(© Elizabeth J. Smith, 1999)

Poem and article relating to Matthew 5:38-48

Linda Cowan writes:

This poem fits with Sunday’s reading from Matthew 5: 38–48  – and also Kathleen Rushton’s article in the latest Tui Motu [“Give your cloak as well,” no. 212, February 2017, p. 22-23] which is really good!

Revolution

The enemy:
            love them
The oppressor:
            walk the mile with them
The Master:
            turn the other cheek to them

This doormat faith
seems too much to bear
in a world where those who bully
always seem to win

The enemy:
            imbalance them with love
The oppressor:
            shame the law that oppresses
The Master:
           turn the cheek as an equal

This rebellious faith
seems too much to bear
in a world where those who bully
are loved back to justice by the bullied

But this is heaven’s revolution
and we are called into it
come let us worship
love’s rebel, Jesus

~ written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Mucky Paws.