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A Service for Passion Sunday...

(Written by Revds. Phil and Lythan Nevard
for the U.R.C. congregations at St. George's and Durham Street, Hartlepool)


Our service today is going to invite you to put on the sandles of one of Jesus' disciples and follow him on his journey to the cross. You may remain in your seat to follow that journey, or you may come with me as I visit some of the stations of that journey around our church building.

(invite anyone who wants to to come and join you at the table)

We gather here to worship, as Jesus once gathered his disciples in the upper room. It was a momentous night. The disciples were nervous and excited, argumentative and proud, fearful and expectant. They came to that table as they were, with all of their weaknesses and strengths and with all their hopes and fears. We too come to the table as we are, with all of our strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears.

They came for the customary celebration of a passover meal. We come for our customary celebration of the Lord's Day. We pray that we, like the disciples, will be fed beyond our wildest expectation. We pray that we, like them, will be fed today with the living bread.

(Distribution of bread as organ plays)

Hymn 453 Let us talents and tongues employ


Today is Passion Sunday. It is a Sunday where we have the chance to stand back before Holy week and view the whole of the story leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection. During Holy week we will follow Jesus on the journey he made, day by day. Next Sunday we will shout Hosanna with the crowds and wave our palms as Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey, on Maunday Thursday we will experience the last supper, on Good Friday we will gather at the foot of the cross...

Today, we will follow the whole journey through.


It began with a meal, and continued with an argument...

(Ask the whole congregation to help you portray the scene. As you walk with the disciples from the table, ask them to conduct loud arguments with their neighbours as to who is the greatest - along the lines of "anything you can do I can do better". Playing the part of Jesus, you will shout in a loud voice, "Quiet! Stop your constant arguing and bickering!"

The disciples had not understood what Jesus had done for them at the meal. The kingdom of God is a place for those who will serve. It is not a place of honour and privilege.

Reading: Luke 22:25-27

A Prayer...

Loving God, we are sorry that we are so concerned about ourselves; we are sorry when we see others as competition rather than as people to be served; we are sorry when we get carried away with our own importance. Help us to understand that as Christians we should be Christ-like, and that to be Christ-like we must always be ready to serve one another. Amen

Anthem: I give you a new commandment (Peter Aston)

Notices, Offertory, dedication


Jesus led them to the garden of Gethsemane on the mount of Olives. He asked them to keep watch while he went to pray. But as he prayed they fell asleep.

Reading: Mark 14:35-36

Jesus came back and found them all asleep. (Wake them all up!) Couldn't you keep watch just one hour? Stay here and pray for strength to face the coming hour. Jesus went off once more, to pray.

Reading: Mark 14:36

Jesus came back and found them all asleep again. (Wake them all up!) They were so ashamed they didn't know what to say. Jesus went away a third time to pray.

Reading: Mark 14:36

And he came back a third time to find them a sleep. (Wake them all up!) Are you still sleeping? Enough, for it is now time, I am going to be betrayed.


Jesus was right, for they could already see a group of men with torches travelling from the city up the Mount of Olives. (point to back corner of church). Soon Jesus and his disciples were surrounded by a mob with swords and clubs. Judas stepped forward and greeted Jesus with a kiss. At once the soldiers grabbed Jesus and were dragging him off towards the city. In the confusion, the disciples fled and hid themselves. They were terrified.

(get them all to run off and hide around the church)

Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss. It was the normal greeting of his day - just like the handshake of today in our society.  In church we greet one another with a handshake and the words "peace be with you". It is the opposite of the greeting that Judas gave to Jesus. Let us greet one another now with those words of peace. "Peace be with you."

Hymn: 218 When my love for God grows weak (vss 1-4)


(Gather the scattered disciples around an imaginary fire. While you are talking, indicate which is Peter by a hand on the head or shoulder).

Peter had fled with the others. But now he followed at a distance to the courtyard of the high priest's house. A crowd had gathered and a fire had been laid. Peter warmed his hands at the fire, but he could not warm his heart and his soul - they were cold and lifeless. He wanted to melt into the crowd and to drown his sorrows, but he stuck out a mile - a rough-hewn Galilean fisherman here in Jerusalem - and a maid was inquisitive. "You're not from round these parts are you?" she asked. Peter buried his head in his coat and tried to ignore her. But the woman persisted: "You must be one of those who travelled around with Jesus - that man over there waiting to go into the High Priest's House.  I recognise your accent. You're one of his followers aren't you? AREN'T YOU!"

Peter lost his temper. "Leave me alone, I never even knew him."

At that moment, he heard the sound of a cockrel crowing...

Reading: Luke 60b-62

A prayer...

Loving God, forgive us when we deny you in so many ways. Forgive us when we deny you in our speech, when we find it embarassing to call ourselves your followers. Forgive us when we deny you by our actions, when our lives do not match the words of our prayers and our songs. As you forgave Peter and sent him out in service, so forgive us and send us out to serve you in the world. Amen

Hymn 227 Where you there when they crucified my Lord? (vs.1)


Jesus is questioned by -

1) The Sanhedrin -  

Tell us, are you the Messiah?
And Jesus said - If I tell you, you will not believe me and if I ask you a question you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated on the right of the Almighty God.
Are you, then the Son of God?
And Jesus said - you say that I am.
We don’t need any witnesses! We ourselves have heard what he said!
And they beat him up.

2) Pilate - (one person dressed up in a blanket. The Sanhedrin players come too. )

We caught this man misleading our people, telling them not to pay taxes to the Emperor and claiming that he himself is the Messiah, a king.
Are you the King of the Jews?
Jesus replied, So you say.
I find no reason to condemn this man.
But he’s causing trouble among people throughout Judea. He began in Galilee and now he has come here.
He’s from Galilee? Then he needs to go to Herod.

3) Herod - (one person with a crown on. Again the Sanhedrin come along.)

Herod was in Jerusalem at that time and was very pleased to see Jesus.
He had been hoping to see him for a long time and hoped he would perform a miracle.
He asked many questions but Jesus said - NOTHING.
The Chief Priests and teachers made all sorts of accusations against Jesus. But Jesus said - NOTHING.
Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus and treated him with contempt. But Jesus said - NOTHING.
Herod sent him back to Pilate. On that very day Pilate and Herod became friends. Before this they had been enemies.

Hymn: 227 Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (vss 2-4)


The crowds call for Barabbas
3 large cards with slogans on
1: Barabbas! Barabbas!
2: Crucify him! Crucify him!
3: Kill him! Kill him!

Three people to hold them up at the relevant time - i.e. when touched on the shoulder.  Pilate could come and stand behind them, though saying nothing.

At every Passover festival Pilate would set free any one prisoner the people asked for. At that time there was a man called Barabbas, in prison for riot and murder. When the time came to release a prisoner, Pilate asked the crowd - Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?

But the crowd, stirred up by the Chief Priests shouted
1: Barabbas! Barabbas!

Pilate asked them - What then, do you want me to do with the King of the Jews?
2: Crucify him! Crucify him!

Pilate asked But what crime has he committed. But they just shouted all the louder
3: Kill him! Kill him!

Pilate wanted to please the crowd so he set Barabbas free for them. Then he had Jesus whipped and handed over to be crucified....

Hymn 220 O sacred head sore wounded (vss.1-3)


During a hymn place a cross on the communion table. If the children are following round they can sit or kneel in front of it.

 When Jesus was crucified many were there and some of them were SOLDIERS
What did they say? What did they say?
They told Simon to carry the cross
And Jesus said nothing. So broken and bruised and beaten was he.

When Jesus was crucified many were there and some of them were WOMEN
What did they say? What did they say?
They cried and wept and shouted to Jesus.
And Jesus said ‘Don’t cry for me but for yourselves and your children’

When Jesus was crucified many were there and some of them were JEWISH LEADERS
What did they say? What did they say?
They jeered ‘He saved others, if he is the Messiah whom God has chosen, let him save himself!’
And Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’.

When Jesus was crucified many were there and some of them were SOLDIERS
What did they say? What did they say?
They said, Save yourself if you are the King of the Jews!
And Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’.

When Jesus was crucified many were there and two of them were CRIMINALS
What did they say? What did they say?
One said - aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!
The other said ‘We deserve punishment but he has done no wrong. Remember me, Jesus when you come as King.’
And Jesus said ‘I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me’

When Jesus was crucified many were there. And some of them were you and me.
Where do we stand?
What do we say?
What have we done to bring Jesus to the cross?....

And Jesus says ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’
And through Jesus we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Amen

Hymn 223 There is a green hill far away


Jesus said ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’.....

Jesus said ‘Into your hands I commend my Spirit’.....

Jesus said ‘It is finished’.....

But this is not the end. This is the new beginning.

We serve a crucified Lord.
We serve a risen Lord.
As we have followed Jesus to his cross,
let us now take up our crosses and follow him.

The blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Be with us all this day and for evermore.

Sung Amen