Worship for Sunday 28th March 2021, by Rev. Sue Williams

A Liturgy for Palm Sunday

Please have to hand, if possible, a Palm Cross.

Welcome to Palm Sunday, a morning normally spent in church shouting and singing “Hosanna”, feeling a little excited that Lent is nearly over and Easter is around the corner, and a little bit self conscious that we’re being encouraged to wave palm crosses or palm leaves as we sing.  For the second year running, Palm Sunday is again very different from that.  I’m not sure we’d even made it to Zoom on Palm Sunday last year, although we had started the weekly written resource – I know because I did it!  So sit in your favourite chair, enter into the experience and maybe give your Palm Cross a little wave as you sing “Hosanna!”.

Call to Worship

As to a stable, eager to glimpse the light that made princes of shepherds and servants of kings, we come.

As on a hillside, craving crumbs of comfort, stomachs empty, hearts fit to burst, we come.

Caught in the clamour of a chaotic palm parade

heralding the entrance of a prophet’s promise, we come.

Lured by the paradox of the Saviour of the world upon a common beast, amid the fanfare of a fickle few, we come.

Unable to resist the call of the carpenter creating commotion  as carefully as he did tables and chairs, we come.

‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!’


StF 263: Hosanna in the highest

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest,

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest,

Lord, we lift up your name, with our hearts full of praise, 

Be exalted, O Lord, my God,

Hosanna in the highest! 


Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!

Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!

Lord, we lift up your name, with our hearts full of praise, 

Be exalted, O Lord our God,

Hosanna in the highest! 


Let us pray:

The road you chose, that led to Jerusalem,
was not an easy one, but it was a necessary journey,

from humble birth to a shameful death— exalted, rejected, the eternal mystery of the cross.

There are other roads, built by human hands,
that offer temporary comforts,

but only this one has its destination
in the heart of God,
and only this one is safe for us to follow.

 How quickly cries of ‘Hosanna!’ turn to ‘Crucify!’
when Jesus refuses to be moulded into that which we would have him be.

Forgive us, dear Lord,
who sing ‘Hosanna!’ as you draw near,
yet in our daily lives reveal ourselves no better than those who caused your pain.

May this be the song of our hearts this passion-tide, as we lay our lives before you:
‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!’

John Birch, faith& worship.com


A Psalm

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

ALL: Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;

ALL: The LORD has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

This is the day the LORD has made;

ALL: let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

ALL: From the house of the LORD we bless you

The LORD is God and he has made his light shine upon us.

ALL: With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the altar.

You are my God, and I will give you thanks you are my God, and I will exalt you.

ALL: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

(words from Psalm 118)


StF 262: All Glory Laud and Honour

All glory, laud, and honour

to you, Redeemer, King,

to whom the lips of children

made sweet hosannas ring.

You are the King of Israel

and David’s royal Son,

who in the Lord’s name comest,

the King and Blessed One.


The company of angels

is praising you on high;

and we with all creation

in chorus make reply.

The people of the Hebrews

with palms before you went;

our praise and prayer and anthems

before you we present.


To you before your Passion

they sang their hymns of praise;

to you, now high exalted,

our melody we raise.

As you received their praises,

accept the prayers we bring,

for you delight in goodness,

O good and gracious King!


All glory, laud, and honour

to you, Redeemer, King,

to whom the lips of children

made sweet hosannas ring.


Mark 11:1-11

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


It seems strange to be thinking of being in a crowd, after this year.   But while we have been staying apart, we know only too well there have been crowds of protest during the year and only last Saturday the Kill The Bill protest, which started peacefully as a demonstration against the controversial Police and Crime Bill, turned into a riot as darkness fell.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever been part of?  Was it quiet or noisy?  Was it a celebration or a protest?  Was it planned or instantaneous?  Were you a participant or an observer?

The biggest crowd I have ever been close to was back in 2000.  We’d been to see ‘The Image of Christ’ exhibition at the National Gallery and for a few hours had been unaware of the protests going on around London.  As we turned a corner we found ourselves facing the backs of protestors, shouting, jeering, and saw the broken windows in shops left in their wake.  Although the crowd was growing quiet, it felt threatening.

I wonder what the crowds, on what we call Palm Sunday, made of what was going on?  They had not gathered to watch a parade but to be part of a procession into Jerusalem as pilgrims for the Passover Festival.  It turned out to be a different sort of year for them too, suddenly it was not like previous years when they had made the same journey.  Yes the Psalms they sung were the same, the people they walked with were possibly the same, but there was something different –  in the midst of the crowd there was a man, riding a donkey.   People were throwing their cloaks on the ground in front of him; palm branches were being waved.   Some might have heard of Jesus or seen him before, for others it was a first encounter.   Here is one possible description by a follower of Jesus, written by David J. Woodman (March 2009 © Permission to use in worship given).

It was wonderful. After the long walk to Jerusalem, to stand on the Mount of Olives gazing over the whole city; the walls on the opposite side of the valley, the temple, the home and centre of our faith in the one God.

 Jesus had arranged for two of the disciples to go into a nearby village and borrow a donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem on. As he started out down into the valley, crowds were coming out of Jerusalem straight for us, lining the road, throwing palms and their shawls and cloaks onto the road for him to walk on. The din was enormous, shouts of joy, of praises to God echoed all around. It was as if everyone had come out to welcome Jesus.

 It was exciting; would he be crowned as king in Jerusalem? It almost seemed like it. Though he’d said he was never to be called a king, he was a servant of God. Many prophets and a few kings had ridden on a donkey into Jerusalem as a sign of peace.

To anyone who had listened to him and thought about his words and teachings, it was obvious what he was saying by these symbols.  No-one cared about that just then, it was a time of unleashed joy and hope brightening the lives of those who suffered under Roman rule. The event had seemed to take over and heralded more than it should have.   Then we were frightened. Here was Jesus riding into Jerusalem very publicly, so all would know, and at the beginning of the Passover week.  The Temple leaders had made their feelings known many times over recent months;  their anger was seething, but they had never stopped him.

We had tried to dissuade Jesus from coming into Jerusalem publicly this time; however he just ignored our protestations, saying we do not know God’s mind. He also said that no prophet ever died but in Jerusalem ….

It was a heady mixture; exciting, noisy, wonderful and a terrible foreboding deep in our hearts.  Would the worst happen …?   But we did not say anything to each other.  

With the heading to the reading ‘Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, it’s easy to make Palm Sunday a celebratory remembrance of the joy of the entry into Jerusalem, but as verse 11 reminds us, 11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.  It’s almost as if the procession has come to nothing and as always, wherever a crowd has been, there’s just the mess left, trodden palm leaves and the odd discarded coat and lost sandal perhaps.  But the undercurrent of challenge and deliberate provocation should never be far from our thoughts.  Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey cannot be separated from Jesus leaving Jerusalem carrying a cross. 


StF 265: Ride on, Ride on in Majesty

Ride on, ride on in majesty!

Hark! all the tribes hosanna cry;

Your humble beast pursues its road

with palms and scattered garments strowed.


Ride on, ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die:

O Christ, your triumphs now begin

o’er captive death and conquered sin.


Ride on, ride on in majesty!

The winged squadrons of the sky

look down with sad and wondering eyes

to see the approaching sacrifice.


Ride on, ride on in majesty!

Your last and fiercest strife is nigh;

the Father on his sapphire throne

expects his own anointed Son.


Ride on, ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die;

bow your meek head to mortal pain,

then take, O God, your power and reign.


Prayers for others:

Jesus, you set your face towards Jerusalem

and walked alongside those who suffer.

Be our vision, that we too may walk the way of compassion and extend a hand to those we meet.

Lord, hear our prayer,

and in your love, answer.

Jesus, you said, “The first shall be last and the last first.”

Be our vision, that we too may work towards your realm – when the marginalized and oppressed will be raised up and know that they are indeed beloved children of the Holy.

Lord, hear our prayer,

and in your love, answer.

Jesus, you took the time to pray and to be silent.

Be our vision, that through our prayers, meditation and reflection, we may draw closer to you and find our way on this journey of faith.

Lord, hear our prayer,

and in your love, answer.

Lord, you entered Jerusalem with peace in your heart.

Be our vision, that we too can live as people of peace in the face of the world’s many conflicts.

May we hold your vision of justice and peace ever before us.

Lord, hear our prayer,

and in your love, answer.


Bless us, O Blessed One,

as we enter into the days ahead of us.

We will need your power and presence to sustain us

as we move through these difficult days together.

Spirit of Love and Life, stay close.

~ adapted from a prayer written by Annabel Shilson-Thomas (UK). Posted on RevGalBlogPals. https://revgalblogpals.org/2008/03/16/palm-sunday-prayer/

Our Father, who art in heaven….

 If you have received a palm cross this year, or if you have one from a previous year, take hold of it as we pray:

 This Holy Week, help me to focus on the Good News of salvation in Christ;
fill my heart and mind with its meaning.

Help me to keep faith with Jesus, to walk with him along the painful path of true love.

I want to acknowledge our part in the sin that put him on the Cross. I want to feel the pulsating joy of your resurrection victory over evil and death.


As I hold this palm cross I offer you my praise:
you paid the price
and prepared the way for me through your eternal love.

Taken from Open with God ©Christine Odell (Sheasby)


StF 662: Have you heard God’s voice 

Have you heard God’s voice; has your heart been stirred?

Are you still prepared to follow?

Have you made a choice to remain and serve,

though the way be rough and narrow?


Refrain (except the last time)

Will you walk the path that will cost you much

and embrace the pain and sorrow?

Will you trust in One who entrusts to you

the disciples of tomorrow?


Will you use your voice; will you not sit down

when the multitudes are silent?

Will you make a choice to stand your ground

when the crowds are turning violent?


In your city streets will you be God’s heart?

Will you listen to the voiceless?

Will you stop and eat, and when friendships start,

will you share your faith with the faithless?


Will you watch the news with the eyes of faith

and believe it could be different?

Will you share your views using words of grace?

Will you leave a thoughtful imprint?


We will walk the path that will cost us much

and embrace the pain and sorrow.

We will trust in One who entrusts to us

the disciples of tomorrow.

Jacqueline G. Jones



Go into Holy Week

Walking in the footsteps of Christ.

The blessing of God of light, Creator, Guide and Inspirer, rest and remain with you now and forevermore.  Amen.