Sunday 5th April 2020

An act of worship at home for Palm Sunday 5th April 2020

Reading          Matthew 21:1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’


Many many years ago, when I was a small boy at Junior School in the 1960s, the Queen made a visit to Southend-on-sea. She was coming to open the brand-new Civic Centre, at the time a very impressive piece of high rise modern architecture built to house the Council offices. There was a lot of excitement and as my school was very near the route the Queen would be travelling the head teacher decided the whole school would stand at the side of the road waving little handmade Union Jacks. We stood waiting for a long time and my memory is of a cold winters day and I was wearing shorts! Anyway, it seemed to be a very long wait but as we waited the excitement rose as the time got nearer to when we would finally see the Queen.

Then, at last, the moment arrived and the Queen’s car drove past… but there was one small problem which perhaps I should have mentioned. The road we were all standing beside was the main road into Southend, the Arterial Road, and it’s a dual carriageway. I couldn’t see much through the crowds that had gathered and all I remember of the split second her car was in view was of a very large black shiny car speeding past. I think I imagined more than saw a dim figure seated in the back. “Was that it?” I thought. Was that what we’d been waiting for?

The reading for today is of another monarch travelling past cheering crowds as they travel along another main road to reach their destination. But this was a monarch with a difference, “a king coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey”.

The thought of being in a crowd is a strange one at this time of social distancing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be gathering together to welcome our Lord, in song and prayer, and waving palm crosses to remind us just where this particular journey would end? But perhaps this Palm Sunday offers us a different gift, a wonderful reminder, that Jesus does come to us as Lord, humbly, graciously, lovingly. When we are unable to go to church to worship and praise and celebrate together we are reminded that Jesus comes to each and every one of us, every day, where we are. Humbly, graciously, lovingly coming to us with the promise of true life.

Many of the crowd who welcomed Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on that day failed to see the truth. They wanted a liberator who, through sheer brute force, would free them from Roman oppression, as if that would solve all their problems. What they got was a liberator who through his love and self-sacrifice had the power to free them at the deepest level from everything in their lives that weighed them down, if only they could see.

The same is true for you, and for me. Jesus comes to us where we are, perhaps alone at home, he comes to us humbly, full of love for us, wanting to set us free and give us new life.


Lord, thank you that as we come to you in prayer we are reminded that you come to us, humbly and full of love for us.

Thank you that every day you come to us where we are, with all that is happening in our lives and in our world.

And Lord, in a moment’s stillness, as once more we come to sit at your feet,
may we allow your presence within us to bring with it your gentle gift of peace to our hearts and minds.

Lord God, hold us and hold all your children of this world, hold us close, especially at this time.

As Jesus on entering Jerusalem that day must have been fearful for what the coming days would bring, just as so many of God’s children are worried today.

And so Lord, in your presence, we offer you our prayers –
For those who are feeling lonely and who are cut off from family and friends – help us to reach out to those we know with a phone call, an email, letter or prayer.
For those who are unwell or in pain – we pray an easing of pain and for healing and wholeness.
For those who put their own health at risk by caring or providing for others – may they know your strength and out heartfelt thanks.
In the name of Christ, Amen.

Hymn – 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,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessèd One.

The company of angels
in 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 prayers and anthems
before you we present.

To you before your Passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you now high exalted
our humble voices raise.
As you received their praises;
accept the praise we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
oh good and gracious King.

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