Palm Sunday All Age Worship

Broadband Service: Palm Sunday 01.04.07

Hymns: All Glory Laud and Honour

Opening Prayer:

Reading: Luke 19.28-47 (Bill)

BAPTISM

Hymn: Hosanna! Hosanna!

Children’s address.

GODLY PLAY: JESUS THE KING and commentary ‘I wonder’

Song: Make Way! Make Way! (with children too)

DRAMA: (Youth Group)

Children go to work table

Address/Meditation

Children return…

Distribution of palm crosses held high as act of fresh commitment.

Song: From this moment on…(Solo cong v 3&4)

Final Prayer: with candles (Kathy)

Final Hymn: Ride on! Ride on!

Blessing:

Song: All glory, laud and honour

Opening Prayer:

Loving God,

We join this day in glad and joyful praise.

We welcome Christ once more,

As our King, our Lord and our Saviour.

We promise him our loyalty,

We bring him our love,

We bow to him in worship,

We greet him with wonder.

Loving God, come to us again through Jesus Christ this day,

Speak to us as we hear familiar words,

as we sing familiar songs,

as we recall his entry into Jerusalem long ago,

As we remember all it meant and cost.

Help us to see that it was not only in the welcome of Palm Sunday,

But in the rejection which followed,

That Jesus revealed your glory,

And so help us to offer him our service in the days ahead,

through the good times and the bad.

Amen

Reading: Luke 19.28-47

BAPTISM

Invite children to use a selection of ribbons, flags, flashy sticks for next song…

What does the word Hosanna mean?) It means ‘Save Us Now! a shout of expectant praise associated with the coming of the Messiah…

Song: Hosanna ! Hosanna!

Set ribbons to one side.

Address/input for children

1) Have you ever wondered why we cheer for other people?

Using three masks, perhaps four. ( I once saw a street artist in Newcastle, and the masks he word were so simple. They were of famous people blown up, with a mouthpiece fitted onto the back, so that the mask could be held in the teeth.) My three masks today are of :-

a) the Queen

b) Ray Quinn (of Pop Idol fame)

c) Alan Shearer(of Newcastle United)

invite the children to cheer whenever a famous character appears. Use the masks in the above order.

It will soon be obvious that they shout more for some than others, depending upon whether the character is known to them or even remotely popular in their eyes.

After each individual cheer, ask why they got so excited?

Some say, he sings or he plays football…. get them to qualify their answer. ‘Yes so do lots of other people, but what is so special about this person?’

Then come the deeper responses from children, such as,

She’s royalty!

He’s popular!

He’s a football legend!

I wonder why do we wave and cheer for famous people?

Would we do it alone?

Would we act like this simply because everyone else is?

Or because we’re told to?

Make the point,

Well I know someone, whom we Christians think was Royalty…, the King of all kings…he was so popular, the whole world has heard of him, and he was not only the legend of all legends, he was the Truth, The Way and The Life!

It may be that we can come to the conclusion that such people might not have done all that much to deserve such praise? Or perhaps they have e.g.. the queen’s sacrifice.

Let’s just look closer at the story which we heard read before the baptism…

GODLY PLAY: JESUS THE KING:

(a retelling of today’s gospel, using children instead of small wooden figures)

Choose the characters! i.e. Jesus, the crowd, the religious leaders, the stones.

We’re all on our way to Jerusalem, but who will show us the way?

This is Jerusalem! (place the palm leaves at each side of ‘Jerusalem’)

This is Jesus and his donkey! (a cut out donkey)

Here we have a crowd, they’re very excited. They have palm branches and cloaks in their hands. They’re getting ready to shout for Jesus, as their King.

…and here are the religious leaders of the day, they’re not happy!

…here are some stones. ( Two very young children can either hold up stones, or make a circle with their arms above their heads, each time I say the word ‘stones’.)

Once every year the people of God go up to Jerusalem, to celebrate the feast of the Passover, to remember how way back in history, God led them through the water to freedom, (rather like our baptism)

and how the angel of Death ‘passed over’ them, and didn’t harm them.

Each year Jesus would go up to Jerusalem with his friends and family, but this year his disciples had tried to stop him.

‘Don’t go, some people are planning to kill you there!’

But Jesus simply said, ‘I MUST GO’.

Here he is riding on a donkey, the colt (young) of a donkey.

People hoped Jesus would be their king. When Jesus was near Jerusalem, they lined up to greet him and shouted , ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!’ They put their palms and their cloaks on the road to prepare a way for Jesus and kept on shouting,

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! ‘(place cloak down) ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ (place palm down) (repeat 4 times)

To the crowd…

You can prepare the way for Jesus the King. When it’s your turn you may place your cloak and palm on the road too.

(Congregation to help them say their words, as the palms and cloaks are laid down.)

And so Jesus rode on towards Jerusalem. ( Move Jesus on, now stand beside the Religious leaders)

Some of the religious leaders were not at all happy!

‘Teacher! Tell your followers to be quiet!’ they said.

Jesus replied, ‘I tell you if they keep quiet, then the stones themselves will cry out instead!’

Jesus looked at the great city, and ….I wonder what happened next? What did Jesus do when he saw the city? He began to weep over it!

********************************************************

Take the children back into their starting positions for the beginning of the story, and walk through the story commenting on each part.

JESUS

I wonder why the people were cheering for Jesus ?

Their responses?

A He was kind and good

B He told amazing stories and did amazing things

C He was the Messiah or so everyone thought, the King who had all the answers, who would set everyone free for the enemy, the Romans!

DID YOU KNOW?

There is another answer that John gives in his gospel about a miracle that had just happened not far away in Bethany, and that was about Jesus a dead man, his friend Lazarus, from the tomb he’d been in for four days, and he’d been brought back to life! No wonder the people were going wild. Rumours spread quickly! Word gets around.

He was also coming from the direction of a place called the Mount of Olives, which was where on the Day of the Lord, the Lord was going to enter Jerusalem.(Zech 14)

By the words he spoke, he also seemed to be a bringer of peace and justice (Zech 9.9)So, like voting for some leader in politics, they, by cheering , were in effect, putting their X beside his name.

I wonder how Jesus felt when he rode into Jerusalem with all these expectations of him??

THE CROWD

I wonder who the people were who shouted,

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest’?

His friends, his followers, ordinary people? Children!

They were there to greet their KING!

Explain my trip to see the Queen go by when I was little. I waited for what seemed like two hours, and I was cold, but then someone shouted ‘She’s here!’ and I waved my flag like crazy, and yelled for the Queen and Prince Philip, who were past in seconds and that was it!

No tiara, no fur stole, no long ballroom dress.

All that fuss for an ordinary looking lady and gentleman riding past quickly in a large car, with big windows! I confess I was a little disappointed.

But then again, I had seen the QUEEN!

So I wonder if the crowd were a little disappointed when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a DONKEY?

DONKEY

Perhaps they wanted him to ride in on a warhorse or with an army of followers getting ready to do battle with the authorities…and in he came bobbing up and down on a donkey’!

Isn’t it strange that it was a young donkey, never ridden before, like some sacred sacrificial victim. like Jesus, being led to the slaughter, it is a sacred moment.

HUMILITY

THE PALM BRANCHES

Then there were the branches…yes quite often used in processions, with psalms, but I wonder if these too were symbolic…the Messiah the people were expecting was to be a BRANCH OF DAVID’S LINE! How appropriate.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS

Why did they hate Jesus so much. It is said that they were plotting to get rid of Jesus, (and also Lazarus, because as a result of his healing many people were beginning to believe Jesus was the Messiah!)

They were jealous of him, afraid of the power he used to heal people and perform miracles, furious about the parables Jesus told,

as they came over badly in them. They were angry about claims he made for himself. In their minds Jesus was a trouble maker from an insignificant town called Nazareth. The real Messiah would come from Bethlehem. (which he did). Surely it was better for this one man to die, than for the whole nation to perish if his followers got out of hand, and rose up against the Romans?

STONES

What about the stones? Jesus could have been talking about the great stones of the temple. There’s another possibility…

Creation itself would bear witness to him, if people should ever turn away from their Creator. (Through him all things came to be made, without him nothing was made that has been made!).

(Spider’s webs W Wilberforce)

TEARS

We are given three reasons why Jesus cried

1) the people would never know the peace he alone could bring

2) you people are blind, these things are hidden from your eyes

3) destruction is coming, great distress.

What issues does Jesus still cry over today…

Let’s ask ourselves…

What is it at present that is robbing me of God’s peace?

What am I blind to, which issues should be making me broken hearted in our world today?

What habits/kinds of behaviour will destroy my life, if I continue these practices? APPLY ALSO TO THE WORLD?

THE GATES OF JERUSALEM

Just imagine for a moment that WE ARE Jerusalem, and Jesus is entering into our lives.

What would we quickly want to change before he gets here and sees!

I listened to a very challenging sermon by Bishop Martin, Newcastle who was quoting a bishop of the church, over 70 years ago, as saying these words:-

Our present duty is to make a far deeper surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ than ever before. We are to make such a surrender of self to Christ over the whole area of our life, that were he to choose to come to earth to reign in his own person, neither you nor I would find it necessary to alter the principles upon which we conduct our work and our prayer and our worship.

This same bishop also went on to say,

‘now go and look in the byways and the hedges; look for Jesus in the ragged and the oppressed, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good their lives…..? Look for Jesus, and when you see him, gird yourselves with a towel and try to wash their feet!’

We must make way for him to be present in our world today, through our own lives.

But I’ll come back to this theme a little later, because we’re going to sing a song, and then we’ll watch a drama by our young people.

I wonder how would you have acted that day when Jesus rode into town on his donkey?

Would you have wanted to get in a good place to see him? Would you have shouted? How would you have shouted? What would you have taken in your hands to wave at him? I wonder how loud you would have shouted and cheered?

Practise the volume of : Hip Hip~HOORAY

Song: Make Way! Make Way! Make Way!

For the King of kings! For the King of kings!

Make Way! Make Way! Make Way!

For the King of kings! For the King of kings!

Introduce the Drama: WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? WHAT BEGAN THE DOWNWARD SLIDE INTO THE FRIDAY WHICH WE CALL ‘GOOD?

Palm Sunday Newsflash : Outside the Courthouse

RADIO JERUSALEM

D Lynam: Hello, from the broadcasting studio at Radio Jerusalem; this is Desdemona Lynam, with the lunchtime news.

A donkey and her foal went missing earlier today from the city centre of Jerusalem.

Police are looking out for two men last seen heading towards Bethpage at dawn. The owner of the donkey was reported to have said that he thought the men had made an ASS of him and if he caught up with them he would BRAY them….

Eighty people were arrested this morning for vandalising trees on the main approach road to the city. Branches were hacked off and leaves torn down by the crowds. Later the vandals were found trying to PALM them off as flags and carpets for celebrations. But what a strange thing to do with trees. We’ll just WAIVE that one!

The prophet Jesus of Nazareth, the famous preacher, rode into Jerusalem this morning…(also on a donkey, now there’s a coincidence!). He was followed by his faithful disciples. Seemingly the crowd went wild with excitement when they saw him. He was SADDLED with them I'm afraid! I think he wanted to come in unnoticed!

The Roman city council are staging the last of the gladiator finals in the arena this evening; but just wait a second…… news is coming through…… of a big disturbance in the temple precincts!

We are taking you over right now to our reporter at the scene…… Catos Adios.

Hello Catos, can you hear me, what news have you for us about the riot?

Catos: Well Desdemona - things have just about settled down now, but as you can see, we have doves flying all over the place, and many animals running wild around the temple, scurrying for their lives and knocking people over in the process. The last fifteen minutes have been absolutely chaotic. The crowds here have been quite out of control, scrambling for coins, looting market stalls and generally throwing the temple into an uproar!

D Lynam: What was it that started the riot in the first place Catos, can you tell us?

Catos: Well it seems that Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth, lost his cool, got off his donkey and onto his HIGH HORSE, so to speak, and began upsetting the tables of money-changers, and turning over the seats of the dealers; and then he began to lash out at them all.

I have here beside me a witness to it all, a well respected money-changer called Marcus Spencius. Marcus, do tell us what you heard Jesus saying?

M Spencius: I thought he was having us on at first, he called us robbers, said we’d turned his Father’s house into a den of thieves. Well that’s a lie! I’ve never been anywhere near his Dad’s house. Don’t even know the man.

Catos: Thank you Marcus Spencius, Oh and here we have Annas, the father-in law of Caiphas, High Priest of the temple this year… Annas, yours were the stalls vandalized here today, what will you be saying to the person who did this to you?

Annas; As you can see I’m extremely CROSS with him! But I’ll catch up with him no doubt, by the end of the week!

Catos: Thank you Annas, and here we have one of the temple guards, who was on duty today. Can you tell us anything about this incident?

Temple Guard: They’ve caught him red-handed, blood all over his hands!

They’ll nail him this time!

Catos: Oh dear! This is Catos Adios reporting live from the temple precincts, back to you in the studio Desdemona.

Desdemona; That’s all the news we have time for, I’m afraid, but we will give you an update on all the main headlines of the news later on. Do have a good-day. Good bye.

Thank Drama Group and comment.

The children are NOW going to make something on the tables over there to take home… Explain …

Make something which when it is waved it expresses the measure of the faith and the joy that is in our hearts as we worship

Rules

NO TALKING,because I’ll be saying a little bit more to the grown ups

NO TESTING IT OUT until the final hymn, because you’ll distract people from listening.

Address

This is a good morning to let our imaginations run riot, just like the chaos in the temple we’ve just witnessed.

WHY DID EVERYTHING GO PEAR SHAPED?

In order for us to find out why it all got so out of hand, and why in less than a week those who had shouted ‘Hosanna, Save us!’ soon were shouting ‘Crucify! Away with him!’ we’re going to hear from an actual member of that Palm Sunday crowd who did an about turn that week.

Let’s see if we can spot why?

Meditation by a member of the crowd.

Looking back, there was a definite an air of expectancy and excitement that day. No doubt about it!

This man Jesus was our inspiration and our hope for a better world. He was the fulfilment of our dreams!

We were falling over ourselves to see him, pushing and jostling one another. Our children were on our shoulders, clinging to us, and older children sat on the lower branches of the trees that lined the route. We were all laughing and waving. Such was our joy!

We shouted our ‘Hosannas’ and threw down our cloaks and palms, I suppose in adoration and in awe of him! We had heard such wonderful stories about him.

I even heard him preach once.

One thing niggled me though.

I heard our religious leaders challenge Jesus…

I didn’t actually hear what they said to him, but I know his response to them,(whatever it was) brought a thunder to their faces!

I know that what he said displeased them!

But I put it out of my mind, because most of the time they look that miserable anyway!

But I sensed there was a definite change in the atmosphere, by the end of the next day.

Everything had grown decidedly chilly.

Trouble was brewing! I just knew it.

Then, all of a sudden, everything seemed so fraught and highly charged with emotion! I began to feel it in my bones that something disastrous was about to happen!

I overheard some market traders from the temple precincts telling of their loathing for this man Jesus. They were telling us how he had lost his temper, he’d flipped and driven them out of the temple with a whip of some kind!

The elders were with them, raising their voices and shaking their fists angrily, beside themselves with fury and indignation, at those who were attempting to justify what Jesus had done.

I… stood back and …observed so to speak!

Then I heard murmurings in the crowd behind me.

‘Wasn’t this man supposed to be loving, a bearer of peace?, Not only has he lost his temper and displayed anger, but he has upset key people in our most Holy Temple, and destroyed part of it!’

‘He has shown great disrespect in the courts of the Lord!’

‘He desecrates our temple!’

He’s an imposter!

I didn’t like what they were saying, but you know, there’s a lot going on in that temple that many people don’t approve of! So I reasoned in my mind that perhaps, by his actions, Jesus was just being true to himself?

But why was he inviting such hostility? Was he mad?

Then, I heard others with more aggressive voices shouting,

‘And so what happened to our great Day of the Lord, when a king would descend, of David’s line to defeat our oppressors, and set us free from domination?

Well I had to agree with them; it hadn’t happened.

The Romans were still with us, in full control.

And you know, looking back we HAD expected to see a king in all his finery, in all his splendour and glory.

And what did we see?

A man riding upon a best of burden!

A man who acted more like a common servant than a king!

Now I still liked this man Jesus, at this point, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed there was a lot of truth in what these people were saying, but I was starting to struggle, my doubts were setting in. Who was I to argue with them?

Later in the week, I picked up whispers of a plot by our leaders to take Jesus, arrest him and try him for blasphemy.

‘Pphhhh!’ I thought, ‘ I’m keeping well out of this!’ I thought.

In fact I wasn’t sure now where I stood.

I had my family to think about… I had to look to their safety!

If I had spoken out for this man, what shame might I bring down on our heads?

What damage might be done to my property?

I’ve decided it would be best to keep my head down.

After all, the people were reasoning that if the Lord was really with Jesus, then the Lord would save him.

If He didn’t act, it would prove Jesus to be false!

It was then that I was tempted to leave the city for while, take my family with me, get out for a while, until things cooled down!

It was just at that moment when my friend hammered at my door.

He was screaming and yelling,

‘Come on! they’ve got him! He’s been brought before Pilate!

We’re rounding everyone up.

Follow me!

You’re with us aren’t you?

I mean what could I say?

I grabbed my cloak, still covered with dust from that palm strewn road.

I shook it, and hurried out.

‘Remember,’ he snarled, …shout, Crucify!’(He goes off looking ashamed)

COMMENT

Peer pressure, jealousy, insecurity, fear, doubt, disillusionment

These are just some of the emotions that came swirling together to change a crowd of joyful worshippers, into a seething mass baying for his blood.

Peer pressure

I’ve only once ever faced a situation where I felt sheer terror at voicing an opinion in front of a whole load of people. I was shaking like a leaf when I spoke, I thought that everyone there would eat me up, for speaking up. I was only 19 at the time and not at all used to public speaking amongst my peers!

(I give an example here of when I actually found the courage to speak against a very powerful student, who wanted to do away with RE in schools. I spoke, with pounding heart, of the need to tell out, so that children could grow and make their own choices. If we took that teaching away, we denied them that freedom away. No-one spoke, and he sat down!)

Jealousy

Obviously jealousy played a main part in turning the tide of human opinion.

Key players in the story saw a RIVAL, and they didn’t like being challenged.

That’s often the case isn’t it with rivals. Have we ever guilty of putting someone else in a bad light to enhance our own standing?

Have we ever embellished the truth a little to bring someone down? Have we ever made others the object of ridicule? It happens between nations as well as between peoples. It happened that Holy week.

Just think! It all could be so healthy. Side by side we could be of the greatest help to each other, in the sharing of weaknesses and strengths, in the giving of advice, knowledge and in the sharing of experience…but sadly we’re not always brought up to think that way.

Jesus could have shown them so much, but they would not have it.

Fear

Did you know that there are over 5oo different kinds of fears, if you don’t believe me, come and see this list after the service!

The definition listed here for

‘anxiety’ reads like this

‘a state of apprehension, uncertainty and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realized or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning!’

The only thing the bible says can drive out Fear is Perfect Love.

Fear can be a good thing; it gives us impulsive reactions in dangerous situations, it helps us to protect and care for ourselves. It helps us to survive.

But, as well as friend, it can also be the greatest foe in our world today.

It can take us captive and haunt our minds; it can create barriers and build huge walls; it fosters hatred. It is the greatest destructive force, it destroys human beings. The people feared the leaders, they feared standing alone, e.g. the apostle Peter, their leaders feared the Roman authority in the same way.

On Good Friday it was fear that nailed Perfect Love to the cross.

Doubt and disillusionment

There are many gospels of Mills and Boon around today, all built on human thinking and supposition all which question what we believe as the Truth. There are attacks in the media on our faith; theatrical productions portraying Jesus in a way which never would have been allowed thirty or forty years ago; objections to the wearing of symbols of our faith, even moves to eradicate the feats we celebrate.

We are feeling today the build up of pressure that the people who had cried ‘Hosanna’ felt, in the events that led up to the crucifixion of Jesus.

In our daily lives we will always find that there’s a whole host of different situations today, where we are called to stand firm in our faith and give reason for the hope that is in us.

May we and our generation prove wise, faithful and courageous and be ready to ‘recognise the time of God’s coming to us’; to stand for Jesus in all we do and say.

Amen

Children come back…

I’m going to ask the children to give out our palm crosses this morning, to anyone who would like to receive one...

Let us pray…

and an invitation to receive gifts of palm crosses.

We ask God’s blessing upon us this morning, as we receive these palms…

We remember especially Jesus’ words…

‘If anyone would be a follower of mine, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.

We receive them not for show, not with superstition in our hearts or the desire to use them to protect our homes, but we receive them to ourselves, as a symbol of our love for Jesus, and our desire to be more like him, to serve him in our world.

As we take up the palm crosses and declare ourselves to be Christians, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

From this moment on…(see Website www.sheilahamil.co.uk)

Final Prayer: (CANDLES LIT?)

Let us remember all those we know who are ill and in distress this day;

All whose faith is being tested more than they can bear.

Let us keep in mind the world, and all nations longing for peace and justice in the midst of their troubles.

We pray for those held captive.

We pray for the church of God that it may always be open to God’s guidance and His will.

We pray for that Perfect Love to chase out every fear.

Lord Jesus Christ,

You entered Jerusalem on a wave of enthusiasm, greeted by your joyful people,

shouts of praise and protestations of loyalty on every side.

Yet you knew that the bubble would soon burst, that the welcome was only skin-deep.

Lord Jesus Christ, we come today to worship you with equal gladness,

But conscious that our commitment too,

May not be as strong as it should be,

Our faith fickle if put to the test.

Help us to learn from that first Palm Sunday,

So that our hosannas may ring out, as loudly tomorrow as they do today.

Amen (Nick Fawcett)

Hymn: Ride on, ride on in Majesty

Blessing