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Prayers and Bits for Palm Sunday 1998


Readings:

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 The stone which the builders rejected
Luke 19:28-40  Sing hosanna to the King of Kings!
Phillipians 2:5-11  At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow

Hymns:

(RS = Rejoice and Sing; SF = Songs of Fellowship; MP = Mission Praise Combined)

RS208  All glory laud and honour  MP9
RS211  Draw nigh to thy Jerusalem O Lord  
RS523  Give me joy in my heart keep me praising  MP167
RS209  Ride on! ride on in majesty  SF485  MP580
RS230  The glory of our Lord was seen
MP658 The Lord is my strength and my song
RS210  We have a King who rides a donkey
RS681  Ye gates lift up your heads on high
RS271  You are the King of glory  SF627  MP790
RS261  At the name of Jesus  SF32  MP41
RS207  My song is love unknown  SF400  MP478
RS377  This is the day, this is the day SF553  MP691
SF480  Rejoice! Rejoice!  MP572
SF490  See him come, the king upon a donkey (best for soloist or small group in my opinion)

Call to Worship:

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
HOSANNA! HOSANNA!
Peace in heaven
AND GLORY TO GOD!
Hosanna! HOSANNA! HOSANNA!


Prayer of Approach:

We have come to worship God. As on that day, the crowds gathered to sing his praise, so we gather to sing. As on that day, the people prayed prayers of thanksgiving for God's saving grace, so we gather to pray. As on that day, the crowds strained to catch a glimpse of his face, so we gather to catch a glimpse of God, to experience for ourselves his grace.

We will not let our words and our lives turn ugly. As those voices that sang praises later turned into voices that cursed him, so we recognize in our lives the times when our words have let God down. As those hands that waved palms later became hands clenched as fists, so we recognize in our lives anger and hatred.

And we remember the words of Jesus from the cross, he kept on saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Often we do not know what we are doing, but so often we are so very aware of the ways in which our lives are letting God down. Yet Jesus' words come to us just the same - he offers each one of us forgiveness, a fresh start with him.

We come to worship God. Hosanna ! Hosanna !

Theme Introduction: (based on an idea from Keys for Kids)

If you were an animal, what kind would you be - a dog? cat? lion? why?
Who would be a donkey?

It's the best kind of animal to be if you want to serve Jesus - why?

1)He was available, where God wanted him to be
2)He was willing to be untied. There may be something in your life that needs to be loosened eg. afraid of singing out loud, reading in church, saying amen loudly.
3)He let Jesus control him - never been ridden before but didn't try to push Jesus off.

Jesus doesn't really want us to be donkeys, (even if some of us sound like them!) but be his servants, waving palm branches and singing his praises - always available, free from hang-ups, with Jesus in control of our lives.

Prayer after distribution of Palms:

I hold this cross made of palm, it is so fragile. It is made from the palms waved in praise, how fragile is my praise, my faith ?

There are other crosses. I see one made of silver, standing proud, polished and gleaming. It reflects the glory of the empty cross, a testimony to the victory of resurrection.

I see a wooden one. It reminds me of the harshness, the roughness, the cruelty of that heavy cross which Jesus carried, and on which he died.

But today I hold this palm cross. I will keep it throughout the coming year, I will keep it in my home, not here in the church, because it will remind me how fragile my Sunday praise can be when I am immersed in the stuff of everyday life. I will keep it with me, and I pray, Lord that you will speak to me through it.

Prayers of Intercession:

(The voices of hope which cried, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" were soon overcome by the voices of fear, "Crucify! Crucify!"  The prayer recognises those places in our lives where fear so often overcomes hope.)

In hope the world cries hosanna to Christ;
In fear, it condemns him to death.

We pray for the nations, where the voices of fear shout loudest:
      When conflict is easier than settlement,
      When hatred is easier than reconciliation,
      When division is easier than unity,
      When the comfort of the few is more important than the survival of the many,
      When the welfare of the rich is more pressing than the liberation of the poor.

(Silence)

In hope the world cries hosanna to Christ;
In fear, it condemns him to death.

We pray for communities where the voices of fear shout loudest:
      When people are excluded for the colour of their skin,
      When people are exploited because they do not have a choice,
      When people are despised because their lifestyle is not "normal",
      When people are trapped, too afraid to speak out,
      When people are abused, and cannot escape.

(Silence)

In hope the world cries hosanna to Christ;
In fear, it condemns him to death.

We pray for our lives where the voices of fear shout loudest:
      When we dare not speak for Christ, lest we be ridiculed,
      When we dare nor speak for Truth, lest we be disadvantaged,
      When we dare not speak for Justice, lest it cost us anything,
      When we dare not speak at all, lest we get involved.

In hope the world cries hosanna to Christ;
In fear, it condemns him to death.

We pray that in the nations, in all communities, in our lives, the voice of hope
will drown the voice of fear; the voice of truth will silence the voice of deceit;
the voice of joy will banish the voice of despair.

Hosannah to Christ our Lord!  Amen.