March 28, 2021

Blessed is the one who comes
Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
Palm Sunday – March 28, 2021

Invitation to Worship: Audrey Assad – “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Welcome and Statement on Lent

Lent is a time of preparation. A time when we move toward the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. A time to move intently toward God, ridding ourselves of the distance and distractions we have built into our relationships. Lent is when we are called to respond with radical generosity and spiritual discipline to God’s covenants that we may draw near to the One we seek.

Introit: Wes Cameron – “Entrance into Jerusalem”

Congregational Prayer

We give thanks to you, Lord, for you are good;
Your steadfast love endures forever!
This is the day you have made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
You are our God, and you have given us light.
You are our God, and we will give thanks to you;
For you are good, and your steadfast love endures forever. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say:
“His love endures forever.”

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
his is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.

The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.

LORD, save us!
LORD, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.

The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Ministry of Music: Noel Paul Stookey – “Building Block”

Message:  Taken from the World Church Worship Helps for 3/28/2021

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the last week of his life. The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus rode a donkey, a symbol of coming in peace. The people placed palm branches or garments on the road to welcome him. They shouted, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26).

Those images and words appear in the scripture reading today from Psalm 118. However, it was not written as a prophecy of Jesus’ triumphal entry. The connection with Jesus is subtle. Written many centuries before Jesus, this psalm of thanksgiving and praise may have been used in worship at the beginning of a new year. It is also one of seven psalms (Psalm 113–118) the Levites sang as they slaughtered lambs for the Passover Festival. In those traditions, we see symbols of Jesus as both king and lamb.

Psalm 118 is a processional psalm. Some scholars think it is the king who traditionally spoke the opening words as he and the people journeyed through the streets of Jerusalem to the temple. He directed the people in verse 2, “Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’” The king directed other groups of worshipers to respond with the same declaration. The psalm describes the king’s difficult battle and gives thanks for a victory that delivered the nation from enemies.

Arriving at the temple, the king asks for entrance but is told that only the righteous shall enter (vv. 19–20). The speaker admits being rejected by God for sin. But God provided salvation and mercy because the “rejected stone,” has become the cornerstone and ruler of the nation. The image may have come from a common proverb of the day. It speaks of something or someone who moves from a position of no value to a place of great prominence and power. A cornerstone was a key foundational feature of a strong building.

Verses 22 and 24 are favorite scripture passages for the Christian community. According to Matthew 21:42, Jesus used the image of the cornerstone to tell the people that God would take the kingdom away from them and allow those who are rejected and poor to build the kingdom.

Verse 25 is a petition to God to “Save us.” The Hebrew word for “save us” is hosanna. It is the word the people shouted as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The following verse also includes words shouted during the triumphal entry: “Blessed is one who comes in the name of the Lord.” In the original psalm, the words referred to the king who had entered the temple. Branches are mentioned, with the direction that they are to be tied to the horns of the altar. Then a hymn of praise to God completes the psalm of thanksgiving.

Were the people using their well-known Psalm 118 to praise Jesus that day so long ago, as their hoped-for king? Or did the Gospel writers use the familiar phrases to describe the excitement and expectant hope of the crowd? We have no way of knowing. What we do know is that a week that began in misplaced expectation of a new ruler ended in the crucifixion. Their hopes were dashed. The rest of the story must wait until next week.

Disciples Generous Response

Just as the crowds offered their coats and waved their palms honoring the presence of the Messiah, we, too, are expected to walk with him along the difficult road of discipleship throughout the holy week ahead of us. In that Spirit, may we freely sacrifice tokens of our true commitment and devotion through our faithful tithes and offerings as our public display honoring our King of kings.

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.

As we share our mission tithes, thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

Closing: Amy Grant – “Jesus Loves Me / They Will Know We Are Christians / Everybody Needs a Helping Hand”

Let us set our faces steadfastly toward Jerusalem.

This service was prepared by Sherry Lindgren.