Home Service 24th March 2024 Palm Sunday

Prayers of Approach

Jesus is king! King of creation, of all nations, of our lives! we come to worship with joy, gratitude, and respect. Hosanna to the Son of David, to God’s Anointed One! Hosanna to the king who rides a peaceable donkey! Hosanna here and in the highest!

King of kings, we gather to worship you. You are not clad in gold and jewel-encrusted crown, you are not carrying orb and sceptre, but you are the King of kings, serving, loving, caring for us.

Jesus, king extraordinary, you call us to fight with you against the world’s evils, but you also promise us peace and reconciliation. As we seek to understand you better, give us courage to follow your example, patience to keep working at self-control and peace-making, and thankful hearts for the power for good your love brings. As we come to worship you, to sit at your feet, to hear your word, to know your truth, bless us as we worship. Amen.

Hymn Make way, make way for Christ the king (R&S 141)

Readings: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Mark 11:1-11


Psalm 118 is a pilgrimage song, sung at festivals as people went up to Jerusalem to celebrate and worship in the Temple and also during the Passover meal. Jesus joins with the pilgrims entering Jerusalem for the Passover festival and Mark uses verses from the psalm to reveal who Jesus really is.

As we read of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we might form the impression of an impending triumph that then goes horribly wrong. But we also recognise the distinctiveness of Mark’s description of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and its links with the Old Testament Scriptures and see that joy and sorrow, triumph and disaster are closely juxtaposed.

Hymn You are the king of glory (R&S 271)


There was a party atmosphere as Jesus entered Jerusalem and many acts of generosity from the crowd. The cloaks that were laid on the road, where they would be trampled and ruined, had a greater value than the coats we wear today. For the poorer people especially it might be that they also served as blankets, their only protection against the cold nights. The branches had value too, they would have been cut in the autumn to celebrate the Festival of the Booths. Like the cloaks, they were given up in the excitement of celebrating Jesus.

What would you do if the king was coming here today? Would you join the crowds lining the streets, roll out the red carpet, wave flags and hang up bunting? Would you give up anything to see him? And if you did what sort of person would you be expecting to see and what would you expect of him?

Modern British constitutional monarchy, as defined by Queen Elizabeth II, has been displayed in service, tact, self-restraint, concern for suffering, and the sponsorship of good causes and peace between nations. But what sort of king were the Jewish people expecting when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that day just before Passover more than 2000 years ago? Psalm 118, which gives us a picture of a festive procession with branches up to the altar, is a psalm of victory, giving us clues as to the nature of the one who will come to save Israel. Verse 15 proclaims ‘there are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous’ and taken as a whole the psalm seems to imply that the saviour will be a mighty warrior. When the crowds shouted, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’ (v. 26), was this what they were expecting, that Jesus would lead them to a great victory over the Roman occupiers and oppressors?

With the benefit of hindsight, and in light of what actually happened we are able to interpret the psalm and read other scriptures in a way that gives a very different picture and shows a Messiah and Saviour who is much more the humble servant than the all-conquering warrior. And as the week progressed after Jesus’ dramatic entrance this is the image that comes to the fore.

On Sunday – he rode into the city. They cried, ‘Hosanna! Jesus is King!’ They showed their love and praise.
On Monday – he was in the city. People were beginning to mumble. Who was he really? Was he who he said he was?
On Tuesday – he was in the city. He spent time with friends. He angered those in charge.
On Wednesday – he was in the city. The mumblings were getting louder now. Some people were threatened by him. But he only wanted to show God’s love.
On Thursday – he was in the city. He ate with friends. He said goodbye. Soldiers arrested him. Pilate tried him and sentenced him to death.
On Friday – they took him out of the city. He carried his own cross. Simon was ordered to help him. They tied Jesus to a cross and crucified him.
On Saturday – the world was sad and silent. Everyone waited.
On Sunday – where was he? No one knew.
He wasn’t in the tomb. Amazing news –
Jesus was alive. He had beaten death.

It would probably be fair to say that we are happier with humility, romance and peaceable arts than with battle prowess, ambition, or a colourful past! Perhaps the essentials of Jesus as servant king of his people, humble on a donkey, acclaimed with peaceable palms, not the weapons of war, have gradually rubbed off on earthly monarchs down the years as they internalise the meaning of their anointing as servants of God and a nation. But in today’s world where there is still so much violence, oppression and injustice can we truly embrace this image of a humble saviour, and even more importantly, can we reflect it in our own lives?

Hymn Ride on, ride on in majesty (R&S 209)

Prayers of Intercession

We give thanks for all the good things in our lives; for times of celebration, when we share our best and give of our best. Praise be to you, Father, for blessing us so bountifully. We thank you for the one who had nothing, who rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. Praise be to you, Jesus, for giving of yourself so richly. As we enter the gates of Holy Week, may we embrace the celebration with all that we have.
Lord, open the gates of righteousness, so that through our prayer we might enter and give thanks to the Lord.
We pray for the nations of the world, praying for justice and freedom…
We pray for our own nation, praying for unity and generosity…
We pray for our community, praying for perception and openness…
We pray for our church, praying for kindness and truth…
We pray for ourselves, praying for grace and humility…
Lord, open the gates of righteousness, that we might follow the King who rides on a donkey into the kingdom of God. Amen.

Hymn All glory, laud and honour (R&S 208)


Gracious God, we thank you for bringing us together today. We bless you for being our hero and the focus of our praise. Send us out of this place with your blessing, full of love, joy and hope. Let our enthusiasm be infectious to those we meet, and may others be drawn to you – especially in this most holy of weeks. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.