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Sunday Service 24th March - Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday



Call to worship

Hymn 366: Come into the streets with me


Time for all


Hymn 365: Ride on, ride on in majesty 


Reading:    Matthew 21: 1-18 Gil



Hymn 559: There is a Redeemer



Prayer of Dedication


Hymn 36: God is our refuge and our strength 




Welcome to our meditation for 24th March; Palm Sunday.

We are at the beginning of Holy Week, the week where we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But who is this man that we celebrate him?

We will think about that after our reading and prayer from Gil.







‘Who is he?’ This is the question the people asked as Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, causing an uproar in the city.


Or maybe even better, ‘Who does this man think he is?’


This wasn’t any old question.

This wasn’t any old time.

It was Passover; normally Jerusalem would hold about 40,000 people, in Passover it would hold nearly quarter of a million people, for this most important festival that they had.

Before slavery in Egypt the Jews were a series of family clans roughly held together.

After Passover, after being released to go into the wilderness and through that into the Promised Land they started the journey to become a nation.

During this time they would be thinking of how God had saved them from foreign oppressors,

how God provided a leader to guide them to greatness,

of how God promised that he would never leave them.


They would imagine great dreams of how God, one day, would provide a leader who would free them from the mighty yoke of the Roman Empire and make them great again.


It is the Passover where religious thoughts are heightened.

People are sensitive to God working.

Maybe God will do something,

maybe they will see God at work,

maybe they will see God work in their lives.


And then there is chaos.

People ripping leaves off the palm branches and waving them about,

there is shouting and screaming,

did someone shout out, ‘Praise to David’s son.’?

What is that meant to mean?

Is he declaring himself as king?

Is it safe to be on the streets? If this is some kind of insurrection then maybe the Roman garrison will attack the crowd.


You are surrounded by people who are anxious, fearful, uncertain.

You are pulled along by the crowd who are heading towards the temple.

Then there is more shouting, angry voices,

birds and animals flying all over the place running in all directions.

There are priests arguing with someone.

There are joyous shouts from people healed.

Someone shouts out again, ‘Praise to David’s son.’

And then it all goes quiet.


The crowd has gone, the priests are gone, the Roman army never appeared.

Is that the end of it?

Or the beginning of something ominous?

A war with the Romans maybe, or maybe some kind of power change at the Temple.


Who is he?

Who does he think he is?


You hear someone else ask the question and overhear their question being answered, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’


Well that explains a lot.

Nazareth is notorious for its rebellious people.

Understandable really.

So much money had been funnelled into Jerusalem, a new aqueduct bringing fresh water, a new palace for Herod, an upgrading of the Temple.

Lots of money being spent, lots of people being employed, safety on the streets with all those Roman guards. The place was civilized.


But in Nazareth...well the people there were a bit more old fashioned.

They refused to work in the new city of Caesarea Philippi,

said it was full of gentiles,

they would be desecrated by the food and the worship of Roman gods.

They lived off the fish they could catch but life was pretty much subsistence level.

Not very educated.

Full of unhappy people jealous of the wealth of the south.

Always causing trouble.


And now some of them have come down south during the festival and gotten a bit rowdy.


But a prophet?

That’s not like the usual people disillusioned with the political powers.

And this prophet...

This prophet had a reputation.

Word was that 5,000 men had met in Galilee, enough to raise an army against Herod who had killed his cousin John the Baptist.

Everybody thought that they would attack Philippi and start a war, but then the men just disappeared.

Word was that the Scribes and the Pharisees had tried many times to humiliate him, and he was clever enough to deflect their attacks.

Word was, and this is hard to believe, that he had raised someone from the dead.

Now if that isn’t an act of God, then what is?

What should we do with someone like this?

There is no doubt that he is forcing the issue.

People are going to die over this man.

He talks of a kingdom, and kingdoms mean armies. Armies mean war.

The Romans won’t take it lying down; they will fight for their territory.

But if we win, if we kill more of them than they can of us, then maybe we will be a free country again.


They claim he is a prophet though: maybe it is a religious revolution, not only getting rid of the Romans, getting rid of the religious leaders as well, a complete gutting out of the religious class. They won’t take that lightly, they will fight to the death to maintain their power, their beliefs.

Yes, people will die over this man.


So who is this man?

Who does this man think he is?


I would suggest those questions are still bopping around in our head just now.

As children we are taught rote answers to rote questions.


Who is this man?

Well Jesus of course.


Who does this man think he is?

Well the Son of God of course.


Who is this man to me?

Well that’s the biggie.


Do we believe this is the one who forgives us?

If so do we live a life that has been forgiven?

Do we live a life free from the guilt and shame of the past?

Do we live a life open to the lessons of our mistakes and willing to grown and change because of those lessons?

If not then how can we live the forgiven life?

Do we have the wisdom to reflect on the life we have lived, and have the courage to rely on the strength Jesus offers us to change?


Do we believe that this is the one who heals us?

The one who has taken all those emotional wounds that we feel so deeply but no one can see, that he takes them and they are just gone.

The one who offers us a new life, each day a new beginning, each day full of new opportunities.

The one who frees us from hiding in the shadows, frees us from being scared to be who we want to be, free from the criticisms and slights of others, free to respond to anger and envy with love and compassion.

If not then how can we live the healed life?

Do we have the confidence to let go of our resentments and hurts and give them to this man, and accept the heart of vulnerability that he offers us?


Do we believe that this is the one who offers us life, and life in all its fullness?

The one who offers us a life where we can rejoice with those who are doing well,

we can celebrate with them, even if our life isn’t going so well, because we trust that he gives us all that we need, and that is enough?


The one who offers us a life where we can mourn with those who are going through tremendous grief, even when we want to avoid their hurt because it has an emotional effect on us, because we trust that in the darkest night we can still be thankful for the blessings God has given us?

If not, then how can we live a life in all its fullness?

Do we have the faith to let go of our life, to empty our hearts of all the dreams we have, so that we can accept all the vision God has for us?




It has been over 2,000 years since a carpenter from Nazareth entered Jerusalem one Passover on a donkey and caused a riot in the Temple.


But the questions still niggle away and the whispers of those questions are still asking to be answered.


Who is this man?

Who does this man think he is?

Who is this man to me?


My life, your life, our lives, and how we live those lives, will be dependent on the answers.





Let us pray


Amidst the fluttering of palms, the cheer of crowds, the clop of hooves on stone,

the flap of robes, the noise and smells of the overcrowded city,

comes the One,

Jesus of Nazareth,

teacher, healer, leader,

for just such a moment as this.


Faces turned, full of expectation, full of uncertainty, full of questions, quizzical,

wondering, who is this?


Heavenly Father


A week begins in these fleeting moments,

when power will be challenged,

authority wielded, populism stirred, crowds turned, whips cracked, crosses lifted,

but not yet,

not quite yet...


There is more teaching, more challenging, more praying, yet to come,

but the candles are now growing short,

time is hastening,

and Jesus’ journey is nearing its end.

Or maybe our journey with Jesus is just beginning.


Journey with us,

Heavenly Father

as we journey with you into this holy week.

May we be open to the insights that will be generously hidden along the way.

May we be open to the guidance that will seek to influence how we react.

May we be open to the compassion that seeks to comfort us as we change.


This we ask in Jesus name.



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