Liturgy, Palm Sunday, Reflectionary

Palm Sunday Responsive Prayer

Holy One, bless your servants:

the ones missing palms and parades
and processions and passion,
and the ones who wish
we could line the aisle with cloaks.

Holy One, bless your servants:

the directors of congregational dramas,
whose scripts are unused this year,
and the musicians praying for Zoom-synced voices
to make sweet hosannas ring.

Holy One, bless your servants:

the brave hearts, home with children, 
who need more elbow room,
and the weary spirits, home alone, 
who long to be part of a crowd.

Holy One, bless your servants:

the preachers and worship leaders,
live from the living room,
and the digitally displaced,
wishing dearly for some sense of being church.

Hear us shout together,
even though we are apart:


Blessed is the one
who comes
in the name of the Lord!

Bless us today
as you blessed the world long ago.
In the name of Jesus,
Son of David, we pray.

You are welcome to use the prayer and image (inspired by the Palm Sunday lectionary texts).

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Prayers for Pastors

Give us a sense (a Holy Week prayer for pastors)

We’re working hard, Lord,
working hard to give people
a sense of you in this holiest of weeks.

We are working hard
to bring alive the story
of celebration
and anxiety,
of branches strewn in the road,
of abundant love poured out,
and unavoidable death,
and the courage to face it.

We strive to summon up
the drama of the moment.
The joy of triumphal entry.
The foreboding
of the days that followed.
The fragrance of perfume.
The taste of supper.
The clamor of angry shouts.

We strive.

Holy One,
in the midst of this
we hold concerns
for sisters in Christ
who wait at bedsides,
who undergo treatment,
who grieve terrible losses.

O God! give us a sense
that you are with us.
Give us a sense of you.



Palm Sunday

Jesus Christ Superstar

This is the first Palm Sunday in my ministry that will include a
sermon. Every year I've planned some sort of dramatic reading,
sometimes interspersed with music, always taking us right to the cross.
For some reason that didn't seem like the right thing to do this year,
and now I must determine what to preach about and how to make it, well,
oddly palpable. I would hope we could end the day feeling we wish to
shout ourselves, yet feeling an awareness that people just like us
turned and shouted "Crucify him," too.

My favorite telling of the entry into Jerusalem is in Luke's gospel, the words that made it into "Jesus Christ Superstar" in this form:

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting
If ev'ry tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing

Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar

I just don't find Matthew is giving me anything that captivating, nothing as oddly palpable as the notion that so much is going on even the stones would like to shout about it, nothing as human and anti-climactic as the end of the story in Mark, when Jesus and the disciples look around and then head back to Bethany.

What's on my mind is turning around the song we've been singing all through Lent, "I Want Jesus to Go With Me." Do we really want to go with Jesus? Do we understand where that path leads? I think I need to read a bit more about this portion of Matthew and continue seeking the "hook."

I know that for me, following Jesus right now means doing a kind of ministry that leaves me feeling a bit wistful, as I will move on while the church continues into the next phase of its life together with a new pastor soon to arrive. I'm happy for her, for all of them, but wishing I could have the chance to sink in deep myself. Yet to follow Jesus, to go down the road from which he beckons to me, I have to leave.

That said, I want to resist the urge to make this sermon in any overt way about me!

Because this is all about Jesus, about the irresistible urge to follow him, wherever the road may lead.