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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 recognise 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 recognise 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 !

Prayer at the giving out 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.