Lent 6/Palm Sunday Christian Community: “The Crowd” • Matthew 21:1-11 • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

artwork: He Qui “Triumphant Entry”

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Lent-Easter 2021

A year ago the coronavirus converted our congregations from sanctuary-based to home-based ministries. This Lent we reflect upon our calling to be the Christian Community in new ways. May we be open to reinvention by the Holy Spirit.

Time with Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Jesus’s Ride” Jesus picked a special animal to ride into Jerusalem

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Dear Jesus – ride before us –

making a way for all people

to equally adore and serve You,

O Humble Messiah, sent by God!

Hosanna in the Highest!

Dear Jesus – ride before us –

steering us through the maze

of questions about You,

O Child of Royalty, O Prophet of Nazareth!

Hosanna in the Highest!

Dear Jesus – ride before us –

paving the way with grace

for all our days and nights,

O Everlasting Christ, our eternal hope!

Hosanna in the Highest! (LL6W)

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “All Glory, Laud and Honor” Words: Theodulph of Orleans; Tune: ST THEODOULPH. Setting: c Bärenreiter-Verlag; reprinted by permission. Descant: c 1993 Kermit G. Moldenhauer. 2019. (Chalice #91)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

This Lent we intentionally focus upon being a Christian faith community. This Palm Sunday we celebrate the excitement of being part of a group rallying together in the name of Christ. We also acknowledge that our exuberant unity may dissolve to the disappointment of sobering differences. Being a part of a group includes learning to move through the seasons of that group. How are you and your faith community? Do you feel connected and hopeful? Are you moving along with the crowd but not quite sure where you’re going? Maybe, you’re on the sidelines watching the parade go by? Whatever your experience is, God is with you as the Living Christ. Speak honestly with God and be open to a new blessing. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen,” with gratitude in your heart.

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

There are golden times in our lives together when we are giddy – joyfully connected to each other through Christ. These are magical moments that don’t last forever but can be revisited. Take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, or do a simple chore. Give your body something to do allowing a blessed memory to rise.

Recall a time when you were part of something bigger than yourself, possibly a church-related event. Who were you with? Where were you? What were you doing? Cherish the deep sense of soul-connection. If the memory is also difficult, honor that, too. Such important memories may be a “grace snap shot” from which you can harvest wisdom and blessings.

We Listen

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 (MSG)

As Jesus’ earthly ministry is concluding, he and his disciples join the masses entering Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with Jews from around the world. Everyone is filled with hope that this year God’s Messiah will arrive and liberate them from suffering.

When Jesus and his disciples neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”

This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted on a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal.”

The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is the one who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

As Jesus made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”

The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Meditation Quote about The Crowd

“I assert that the most fundamental quality of community is some degree of expanded identity – a sense of “we-ness” – a state of feeling connected or joined with another.” — Bryan Husted, 21c. sociology professor

Reflection: “The Crowd… Expands”

The Original Crowd

On Palm Sunday our spiritual imaginations place us smack dab in the middle of “The Crowd” – the throngs of people on their way into Jerusalem, many of whom were heralding Jesus’s triumphant entry into the Holy City.

Among The Crowd were Jesus’s seasoned disciples, people who’d left behind their previous work to join his travelling movement. Some of these people, male and female, became leaders of the Early Church. Also in The Crowd were Jesus’ family members, including his mother Mary, as well as other relatives. Among the travelers would have been Jesus’s aunts, uncles, and cousins.

There would have been many Jews in The Crowd cheering on the one they believed was the Messiah foretold by the Hebrew Prophets, but there would have been people from other ethnicities and religions, too. Also present were people whose lives had been radically changed because Jesus healed them or a family member — those whom Jesus touched in compassion and those who touched Jesus in faith.

There would have been people who’d been funding and hosting Jesus and his followers, including friends and co-workers in faith.  These “Behind the scenes” folks would have been in The Crowd, too.

Imagine all the different people who walked alongside Jesus riding on the borrowed donkey. each waving palms and offering cheers as Jesus entered Jerusalem.

The Growing Crowd

Years ago I saw a beautiful Advent art installation. It was a large painting made up of twenty-five panels, five-by-five. On the first day of December all the panels were turned to the backside, except for one. It showed Mary, the mother of Jesus, as we usually see her depicted. I presumed the surrounding twenty-four panels would reveal a traditional Nativity scene. Boy, I was wrong! (nhhsp)

The images were revealed, day by day, but they didn’t illustrate a scene from the past. One panel featured a modern Asian business woman in high heels carrying a briefcase walking beside a medieval farmer with a hoe over his shoulder. In another, an urban youth listening to tunes on her iPod, danced past an elderly man from the ancient Middle East carrying an alabaster jar. For twenty-five days a new panel was turned over revealing a beautiful image of diverse humanity moving in the same direction.

On Christmas Eve the final panel was revealed – an ordinary baby boy with black hair and brown skin. This smiling infant was Jesus of Nazareth, our eternal Christ. Everyone in the crowd was moving toward infant Jesus Christ!

Imagine such a work of art for Palm Sunday. Imagine the Christian Community – diverse in genders, cultures, and ages over two thousand years and into the future. All of us moving in the same direction toward an unrevealed panel — the panel of Easter Sunday’s empty tomb.

We are a part of the joyful Crowd! Let us join in waving greenery and singing “Hosanna!” Let us honor the One who comes in the Name of the Lord. “Hosanna in the Highest!”  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Sermon: “What Jesus Sees” The Living Christ looks into The Crowd with hope

Special Music: “Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord” Music by Stephen Schwartz, from the musical Godspell. Performed by Hallelujah Broadway. Recorded in the Church of St Simon & St Jude in Prague in 2010. Featuring vocal talents of Anthony Kearns, Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and guest star Linda Eder.

We Pray

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

What does Jesus Christ mean to you? What has God, through Christ, given you which causes your soul to rejoice? Let us rejoice TOGETHER! “Blessed is the One who comes in the name of God! Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!”Amen. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Rejoice, You Pure in Heart” Words: Edward Plumptre; Tune: MARION. Performed by Grace Community Church – Sun Valley, California. 2017. (Chalice #15)

Benediction

We may not have the joy of being physically together,

but we do have the wondrous blessing

of being spiritually united through Jesus Christ.

Let us cherish being a part of The Crowd this Holy Week,

all moving together toward Easter morn.

“Blessed is the One who comes in God’s name!”

“Hosanna in highest heaven!” Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

(LL6W) Living Liturgies: 6th Sunday of Lent/Palm Sunday “Women Series I” Kathryn M Schreiber, ©2018. Revised for use in 2021.

(MSG) The Message (translation of the Bible). Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M Schreiber, 2021.

(nhhsp) This original work of art appeared at the Newman Hall – Holy Spirit Parish near the University of California-Berkeley campus in the early 1990’s.

2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: artwork: He Qui “Triumphant Entry”

Online Publishing Date: March 23, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

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