CELEBRATION OF HOLY COMMUNION
Palm Sunday + Beginning of Holy Week
Palm/Passion Sunday is, by design, a day of drama and paradox, of triumph and tragedy. As the service begins, a crowd gathers, waving branches and shouting “Hosanna” (Hebrew for “save us”), and wanting to crown Jesus as king. But as the story of Christ’s passion unfolds, the shouts of praise turn into demands for his death. Jesus is handed over to be mocked, tortured, and killed; the crown he receives is one of thorns.
For a number of reasons, it is important to preserve the paradox of Palm/ Passion Sunday, celebrating this liturgy in its fullness. First, the service is established on the theological principle that Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot be separated. It insists that we not avoid the cross—God’s way of glory leads through the grave. Indeed, there is a clear path through this service, connecting Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem with his triumphal entry into the new Jerusalem, where the white-robed multitudes will again take up their palms, shouting: “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10). Second, since many people are unable to attend the midweek worship services of Holy Week, the Palm/Passion liturgy ensures that they will hear the whole story of Jesus’ dying and rising—not skipping from “hosanna” to “hallelujah.” Third, this pattern of worship at the beginning of Holy Week has ancient origins, dating to at least the fourth century and reflecting the theological, pastoral, and liturgical wisdom of the early church.
PRELUDE: Were You There- American spiritual, setting by Calvin Taylor
*CALL TO WORSHIP & PRAYER OF THE DAY (Zech. 9:9)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
We praise you, O God,
for your redemption of the world through Jesus Christ,
who entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph
and was proclaimed Messiah and king
by those who spread garments and branches along his way.
Let these branches be signs of his victory,
and grant that we who carry them
may follow him in the way of the cross,
that, dying and rising with him,
we may enter into your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.
PROCLAMATION OF THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM (Luke 19:28–40)
Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
CHILDREN BLESSING OF PALMS
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
We praise you, O God, for redeeming the world through our Savior Jesus Christ. Today he entered the holy city in triumph and was proclaimed messiah and king by those who spread garments and branches along his way. Bless these branches and those who carry them. Grant us grace to follow our Lord in the way of the cross, so that, joined to his death and resurrection, we enter into life with you; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PROCESSION INTO THE CHURCH, HYMN # 196 All Glory, Laud, and Honor
The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
The people may exchange with one another, by words and gesture, signs of peace
OFFERING OF MUSIC: Beneath the Cross of Jesus- Frederick Charles Maker (1881); setting by Sandra Tucker
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Eternal God, whose word silences the shouts of the mighty: Quiet within us every voice but your own. Speak to us through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ that by the power of your Holy Spirit we may receive grace to show Christ’s love in lives given to your service. Amen.
FIRST READING: Isaiah 50:4-9a
The image of the servant of the Lord is one of the notable motifs in the book of Isaiah. Today’s reading describes the mission of the servant, whom early Christians associated with Jesus. Like Jesus, the servant does not strike back at his detractors but trusts in God’s steadfast love.
4The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
5The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.
6I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
7The Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
9It is the Lord GOD who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
GOSPEL: Luke 23:1-49
Through the teachings and events of the passion story we see and hear the great contradictions that characterize the coming of God’s reign. The leader serves, the empty disciples are able to fill others, proud Peter is revealed in his cowardice, and Jesus—the innocent bringer of life—is arrested, beaten, executed, and buried.
1Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. 2They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” 3Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” 5But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”
6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 9He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 12That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.
13Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”
18Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19(This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
26As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
44It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
HYMN # 221 O Sacred Head Now Wounded
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH: UNALTERED NICENE CREED (AD 325)
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Trusting in Christ’s Passover from death to new life, we pray for the church, those in need, and all of God’s creation.
A brief silence.
God, most holy and humble, plant in your church Christ’s spirit of humility. Remove any barriers preventing us from seeing his saving work on the cross. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You reveal your will for all creation through stones, seas, mountains, and meadows. In the splendor of what you have made, show us your care for everything, both great and small. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Rescue those who suffer torture, and free those held captive by others. Bring to light the hidden systems that perpetuate injustice among your people. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Pour courage and hope into people who feel like they are wasting away in distress and grief (especially). Restore their trust in you, even as you meet their every need. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Open our hearts and minds to receive the words that you speak. Give us words to encourage the weary and to sustain one another in word and deed. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
Gather your saints into the new covenant that Christ has established for all creation. This week we commemorate Peter Gonzalez; Hunna; Fructuosus; Kateri Tekakwitha; Idesbald; Marie-Anne Blondin; Leo IX; and George Frideric Handel. When we fall into sin, continually renew us until Christ dwells with us again in fullness. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Attend to the needs of the whole world with your saving grace and lead us all into new life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
OFFERING (Ps. 116:12–13)
What shall we offer for all God’s goodness to us?
Let us lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
During this time of the offering, you are encouraged to take a moment to be in prayer with God and reflect on what it means to be a student or disciple of Jesus Christ. The Gospel understanding of discipleship is a way of being in the world that affects every relationship. Disciples shape one another according to the action of the Spirit in their lives. The energy of the disciples flows from faith in what is unseen yet believed. At its very core, discipleship is a call to love so radical that it never gives up on God, one’s neighbor, or one’s self. How is God calling you to use your gifts, talents, time and resources to love radically, especially as a part of this worshipping community?
Offerings will be collected by the ushers in the Narthex (the great entrance hall) following worship. If you would like to make an offering using your smartphone or tablet, go to www.SouthminsterChurch.org and click on the Donate link.
Children bring in elements and help set the communion table
*PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Generous God, you feed us with the harvest of the land, and you provide for our every need. Receive our gifts of money, imagination, and labor, and transform them into a feast that welcomes all, in Jesus Christ, our host and our guest. Amen.
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE (John 6:35)
Jesus said: I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is truly right and our greatest joy
to give you thanks and praise,
O Lord our God, creator and ruler of the universe.
In your wisdom, you made all things
and sustain them by your power.
You made us in your image,
setting us in your world to love and serve you
and to live in peace with your whole creation.
From generation to generation you have guided us,
sending prophets to turn us from wayward paths
into the way of righteousness.
Out of your great love for the world
you sent your only Son among us to redeem us
and to be the way to eternal life.
Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with the choirs of heaven
and with all the faithful of every time and place,
who forever sing to the glory of your name:
ALL SING # 559
You are holy, O God of majesty,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
As one of us, he knew our joys and sorrows,
and our struggles with temptation.
He was like us in every way except sin.
In him we see what you created us to be.
he suffered willingly for our sin.
he accepted death for the guilty.
On the cross, he offered himself, a perfect sacrifice,
for the life of the world.
By his suffering and death,
he freed us from sin and death.
Risen from the grave,
he leads us to the joy of new life.
Remembering all your mighty and merciful acts,
we take this bread and this wine
from the gifts, you have given us,
and celebrate with joy the redemption won for us in Jesus Christ.
Accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy offering of ourselves,
that our lives may proclaim the One crucified and risen.
ALL SING # 560
pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon these your gifts of bread and wine,
that the bread we break and the cup we bless
may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.
By your Spirit unite us with the living Christ
and with all who are baptized in his name,
that we may be one in ministry in every place.
As this bread is Christ’s body for us,
send us out to be the body of Christ in the world.
Lead us, O God, in the way of Christ.
Give us courage to take up our cross
and, in full reliance upon your grace, to follow him.
Help us to love you above all else
and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,
demonstrating that love in deed and word
in the power of your Spirit.
Give us strength to serve you faithfully
until the promised day of resurrection,
when, with the redeemed of all the ages,
we will feast with you at your table in glory.
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
with the Holy Spirit in the holy church,
now and forever.
ALL SING # 551
As our Savior Christ has taught us,
we are bold to pray:
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory, forever.
BREAKING OF THE BREAD
Christ has prepared the feast.
Come to the table where all are welcomed home.
Breaking of bread, and pouring of the cup
Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.
All are welcome to the Lord’s Table. As a matter of hospitality, all communion bread is gluten-free and the wine is non-alcoholic. Please come to the Table by the center aisle, receive a piece of bread, dip it into the cup, commune, and then return to your pew by the outer aisles. If you are not able to comfortably come forward for communion, a server will come to you.
PRAYERS AFTER COMMUNION & BLESSING
Tender and merciful one, at your feast, you fed us who brought nothing,
turning our emptiness into joy. Filled with your abundant grace, send us now to be ministers of reconciliation, mending broken hearts, working for justice,
and striving for peace among all people, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Eternal God, whose glory is revealed in the crucified and risen Lord, bless those who go forth to share your word and sacrament with our sisters and brothers who are sick, homebound, or imprisoned. In your love and care, nourish and strengthen those to whom we bring this communion in the body and blood of your Son, that we may all feast upon your abundant love made known in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God, who fills the creation with abundance, Christ, who spreads his arms in forgiveness, Holy Spirit, who draws ever near to us, + bless you and bring you to life everlasting. Amen.
HYMN # 200 A Cheering, Chanting, Dizzy Crowd
POSTLUDE: When Jesus Wept- William Billings; setting by William Ringham
NOTES: Order of service and content is in accord with the Presbyterian Church’s Directory for Worship. Prayers are from the Sundays and Seasons (Year C), Glory to God Hymnal on-line, and the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (2018).
MUSIC CONTRIBUTORS: The Melodious Minsters
COMMEMORATIONS THIS WEEK:
14 Peter Gonzalez (1190– 1246)
15 Hunna (d. 679)
16 Fructuosus (d. 665)
17 Kateri Tekakwitha (1656– 1680)
18 Idesbald (1100– 1167)
Marie-Anne Blondin (1809-1890)
19 Leo IX (1002– 1054)
20 George Frideric Handel (1685– 1759)
Presbyterian Church. Book of Common Worship . Presbyterian Publishing. Kindle Edition.