Rev John began the service in a way that I’m sure all people reading this service would want to share and so I am including that part in full.
Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)
Exaltation and joy... Passover sacrifice and betrayal ... death and life: such is the terrain of Holy Week. Such are waters that sweep us through the holy mystery of our faith. Now is the time to count the cost of discipleship. Now is the time to follow Jesus.
When they came to Bethpage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them, “Go into the village. As soon as you enter it you will find tied up a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it.’”
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and Jesus sat on it. Many
people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields.
Bind the festival procession with palm branches. Open the gates of righteousness for us so we can come in and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it.
Enter the gates of righteousness with shouts of thanksgiving. Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
The stone the builders rejected is now the foundation stone.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our sight!
The Lord is God, and God has given us light as a lamp to our feet.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Hymn TIS 333: “All glory, praise and honour” With this hymn we joined with the people of that time, confessing our belief and honouring Jesus.
In this Prayer Rev. John led us, alerting to us to a crucial point about this event:
But never let us forget where this week ends. For the one who emptied himself for our sake,
took the form of a servant and was betrayed and denied by his disciples and closest friends.
Prayer of Confession
“…Forgive our wayward feet and our fickle hearts: when we are consumed with doubt,
when we succumb to our weakness, when we give in to the impulse of betrayal, when we
turn away in denial, when we confuse expedience with virtue…”
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
God has opened the gates of righteousness and Christ has beckoned us to walk through.
Sing with the children; throw your clothes upon the road, for the one who comes in the
name of the Lord offers us salvation in his name. Thanks, be to God!
I found these first parts of the service especially moving and so wanted to share them but I have been left with less space to conclude. I will do my best.
We shared the peace and for me it seemed perhaps even more significant
than at other times. Even the offering which is a more practical expression of our faith seemed to hold extra meaning:
Like broken vessels, we need God’s healing. Like those who are dead, we need the stirring of God’s Spirit within us. As we extend our hearts to those in need, we find God’s healing and experience God’s Spirit making us whole. In our giving this day, may we bear witness to the one who delivers us from evil, strengthens us to stand, and makes us whole again.
Many parts of the service had significance such as the hymns, the men’s singing and the children’s talk but I want to include Rev. John’s message as he took us on a journey of memory, recalling for us the many times we entered the life of Jesus as part of the crowd.
During Holy Week; in Bethlehem; during Passover when Jesus was just a boy teaching in the Temple, we were there. We were there in the crowd, there at his baptism and witnessing the miracles and we were there lauding Jesus as the Messiah. Some of us stayed during that terrible time. But if we were transported back to that time when Jesus rode into Jerusalem we couldn't be celebrating with the rest of the crowd:
“We couldn't. We know the rest of the story. Why would anyone want him to die? Why don't his twelve good friends find a hidden way out of the city and take him back to Bethany? He could go back to Bethany and be safe in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus! He could live to a ripe old age and stay here to love us! We cannot live without that love!…
Yet, Jesus is He Who is Always There. The forever of the resurrection is the hope on which our faith is based. But, we’re not there yet... The cross and then the crown. We must find it within ourselves to remain beside the donkey and the man and be with him in the temple and the garden and on Golgotha.
This is the Jesus whom we must face. The bleeding and bruised Good Shepherd who has carried all of his sheep on his shoulders since time began. We must not let him go on alone. Amen”
This evocative message underpinned the celebratory singing of the next hymn, so well known to us all.
Hymn TIS 348: “Ride on, ride on in majesty”
Laurel led us in the Prayers of the People, extending the message Rev. John had preached into the world about us. When we look at the world’s problems it must be through the perspective of the sacrifice Jesus made to show us the way.
Hymn TIS 357: “When his time was over the palms lay where they fell”
On the back of a donkey, Jesus came to bless us.
With a love that did not count the cost, Jesus came to heal us.
From hopelessness and despair, Jesus came to free us.
With the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus came to save us
May your life declare the lordship of Jesus Christ, to
the glory of God! Amen!
Hymn 776: “Aaronic Blessing,”