Palm Sunday 2020

Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation
Palm Sunday Online Worship
April 5, 2020
Enter With Jesus

Prelude to Worship: “He Did Not Have a Home” (video by Rich Mullins)

(Note: This was one of the last performances by Rich Mullins before he died tragically in 1997. Rich wrote the song “Awesome God” among many others and was known for his frugal lifestyle and generosity.)

Theme Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11

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. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

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 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!”

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

A Palm Sunday homily from Elder Cliff Danville

The path of the disciple is the path of humility. God came down to us, not with flowing robes, no flashing lights, but as a little child, the son of peasants. The Kings of Kings choose the road of humility. He came riding into Jerusalem, not on white stallion, but on the back of a lowly donkey. And it wasn’t even his donkey but a borrowed one at that.

It began early in the morning as Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem. It was the beginning of the 8-day Passover Festival, when the Jews remembered God’s deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery. Jews from all over the world were gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate, and the city was filled to overflowing.

Jesus wasn’t the only one coming to Jerusalem for the Passover. Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, had already entered Jerusalem to occupy the Antonia Fortress & the Praetorium with a full complement of elite & battle-hardened Roman soldiers ever ready & willing to suppress any attempted uprising against Roman rule that might occur.

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch (King/ruler) of Galilee & Perea, the one who had imprisoned & beheaded John the Baptist, had also arrived with great pomp & ceremony, undoubtedly occupying the palace of his late father, Herod the Great. Such power and pageantry the people were seeing.

Jesus deliberately makes a statement for His entry into Jerusalem. He comes as a king too. But, not like the other kings. He comes as the King of Peace. On the path, he stops for a moment and sends two of his disciples into a nearby village to carry out a special errand; to fetch a colt, a young male donkey. If anyone asks tell them, ‘The Lord needs it.’

It is interesting to me that the donkey was there to assist Jesus entry into the world and to assist Jesus upon His exit from the world. Donkeys were prized possessions. They were means of transportation and they were beasts of burden. Donkeys did so many strenuous things that a man could not do by himself. So the donkey was a very valuable possession. When the owner of the donkey heard that Jesus was in need, he just gave it up. Just like that. And when he gave his donkey, he may have given the best & the most valuable possession that he had.

Horses are beautiful animals with coats that shine in the sun. They have flowing manes that ripple in the breeze, & long graceful legs that gobble up the miles. They have soft eyes, & make a sound that radiates power & strength. In Jesus time, Jews did not ride horses. Horses were reserved for chariots and for Kings to ride on. In times of war conquerors would ride in chariots or upon prancing stallions. Now this is how Pontius Pilate, and Herod Antipas would have entered Jerusalem.

On the other hand, donkeys have ugly matted hair; hair that looks like ours does when we get up in the morning & haven’t combed it. His tail is unkempt. His mane is nothing beautiful to behold. His ears are too big, too floppy. And his braying sound is just annoying and causes us to laugh. This is what Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on, not as a conqueror, but as emissary of peace.

They simply did not understand that the road Jesus had traveled was a road of humility, and it is the road that He requires His disciples to travel on. They would hail Him shouting “Hosanna! Save Us!” This was not a personal save us, but a collective deliver us from Roman oppression and reestablish the throne of David. They were ready & eager to place a crown upon His head.
Today is truly a day of celebration as Jesus enters Jerusalem symbolizing His entrance into our hearts. We hail Him not as a king of this world, but as our savior. As Jesus rode toward the city gate, what did He see when He looked into their eyes? What does He see when He looks into our eyes? Does he see people that are terrified, or people that rest in His Grace.

Let us stand united as the body of Christ knowing that we have a personal Savior who cares intimately about our lives and the lives of our loved ones. In life and in death, His Grace is sufficient for me.

Prayer of Confession and Commitment

God of Unconditional Love and Compassion, we come before you robed in various layers of self-images, roles, facades—some of which are taken on by our own ego. Some are thrust upon us by circumstances of life or the needs of others. We have become complacent with these outer layers. They serve purpose in our lives. They keep us comfortable and sometimes even seemingly protected. Yet we know that the “cloaks” we cannot shed hide our genuine selves, the place of authenticity where You, God of endless love and mercy, dwell.

Help us to see that regardless of the “cloaks” we wear, underneath we are your treasured creation. We humble ourselves and ask that your compassionate hand gently help us remove and lay down each layer—revealing who we truly are. Let us find assurance in the peace that comes from surrendering our “cloaks” to Your Divine grace and realizing that it is in this condition that Divine Love flourishes, authentic relationships grow and community is nurtured. Help us to see ourselves through your eyes—beloved and whole. May our hearts be tuned with yours, God, as we seek to enter with Jesus—vulnerable, whole and free. In the name of the one we follow, Jesus, Amen.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Put your offering aside and bring it with you when we meet again or click here to use eTithing.

Blessing: We pause to express our gratitude for God’s many gifts in our lives. Show us how to respond faithfully to those blessings. May we be liberated to share freely in return. Amen

Sending forth

Go forward with Christ in your heart this week seeking new ways to “pass the peace of Jesus” to your friends and neighbors. Stay safe!