We meet for Palm Sunday worship online, socially distant but with an emotional and spiritual connection. The Bible message today is about something of the nature of peace, and it’s linked to Misunderstanding Palm Sunday which I wrote and published here a few days ago.
We start our worship with Song 365: He is the Lord, and he reigns on high
Reading: Palm Sunday Poem
They waved palm branches as He passed
And hailed Him as their King;
Yet, they knew not of the sorrow
The coming week would bring.
The glad acclaim would soon give way
To jeers and mockery;
In Pilate’s court He’d be condemned
To a cross on Calvary.
But Jesus knew He was the price
In God’s redemptive plan,
The Sacrificial Lamb come down
To die for sins of man.
The centuries have passed and still
He seeks those lost in sin,
Pleading with unyielding hearts
To repent and follow Him.
On this day we shout our praise,
O, let us not delay;
The palm-strewn path of long ago
Still leads to Him today.
Song 225: Jesus comes! Let all adore him!
Jesus comes! Let all adore him!
Lord of mercy, love and truth.
Now prepare the way before him,
Make the rugged places smooth;
Through the desert mark his road,
Make a highway for our God.
Jesus comes! Reward is with him,
Let the valleys all be raised,
God’s great glory now revealing
As the mountains are abased.
Lift thy voice and greet the Lord,
Cry to Zion: see thy God!
Jesus comes! The Christ is marching
Through the places waste and wild;
He his Kingdom is enlarging
Where no verdure ever smiled.
Soon the desert will be glad
And with beauty shall be clad.
Jesus comes! Where thorns have flourished
Trees shall now be seen to grow,
Stablished by the Lord and nourished,
Strong and fair and fruitful too.
They shall rise on every side,
Spread their branches far and wide.
Jesus comes! From barren mountains
Rivers shall begin to flow,
There the Lord will open fountains
And supply the plains below;
As he passes, every land
Shall acclaim his powerful hand.
Prayer: Gracious God, the energy and emotion of a parade can generate joy. Yet the joy of your parade into Jerusalem turned so quickly to pain signalling the sacrifice of your own self. Let this day remind me that while emotions can be fickle, your faithfulness and love remain true. May I see in the giving of your life the power to give myself for others simply for love. When life’s struggle sears my soul or sacrifice strips me of hope, strengthen me with your spirit that strode into Jerusalem to face death even as palm branches were strewn before your path and the crowd cried “Hosanna in the highest.” Prayer source: explorefaith.org
Instead of the Band this Sunday, I give you…
We’ll now take up the Offering and listen to the Announcements: For those of you who give a weekly (or other regular) offering to your church, please save these up as they will be much needed in due course. Additionally, there may be those of you who would like to make a donation to a charity of your choice. Please check your local church for arrangements during this bewildering time, and don’t forget to check back here and the Wallsend Corps Facebook Page.
Song 196: Ride on, ride on in majesty
Bible Reading: Luke 19:28-44
Instead of the Songsters this Sunday, I give you…
Bible Message (Major John Ager)
Palm Sunday is traditionally the day in the Christian calendar when we think about peace, and especially the peace that Jesus came to bring. Jesus rode into Jerusalem fulfilling the words of the prophet Zechariah:
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Similarly, both Isaiah and Micah looked forward to a day when the nations would beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and look to God and walk in his ways.
Jesus came bringing a message of peace, but the people were so accustomed to war and strife that they rejected it. The people expected him to lead them in military victory over their enemies and vanquish their oppressors. Instead, Jesus offered something far more profound, peace to the human heart.
So Jesus and the crowd were at cross-purposes! They misunderstood that Jesus had come for a CROSS PURPOSE! That was not their purpose, that was the last thing on their minds.
They didn’t understand, their minds were closed to the real purpose of his coming. So when it became apparent that Jesus wasn’t going to fulfil their short-sighted ambitions, they turned against him and he was crucified on Good Friday.
In Luke’s account of these events we see that Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. Indeed, it was the very nationalism that motivated the people on Palm Sunday that ultimately led to their downfall years later.
In today’s world, we need to be so careful that national pride doesn’t become narrow prejudice. Nationalism and prejudice are so often at the roots of conflict, and they take root first in the human heart.
It’s a troubled world out there, and God needs Christian soldiers who bring his message of peace to others. All manner of conflict starts with us. It comes from within, and that’s the very place Jesus wants to come and bring peace.
On this Palm Sunday we need to recognise that true peace can only be built on a right relationship with God. That’s both the foundation and source of all peace; peace with ourselves, peace with others, and peace with God.
The whole of the Bible testifies to this truth. Psalm 29, for instance, starts by calling us to worship: Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.
The Psalmist speaks of God’s greatness, which inspires our worship, and concludes with a wonderful promise of peace when we’re in a right relationship with him: The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Similarly, Isaiah speaks of promised peace given to the one who seeks after God: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Our human nature often wants to run away from the very thing that can bring our peace. Jesus said, if you had only known on this day what would bring you peace.
We have freedom as individuals, but there’s part of us that desires us to act selfishly, to do what we want rather than what God wants. This tendency to think we know best and do what we want is very powerful, unfortunately it separates us from God.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem to announce the possibility of reconciliation with God and the resulting peace it brings. As we approach Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter, we see very clearly the cost of peace-making. The cost for Jesus was the way of the cross; he died that we might live.
Peace is not something that just happens, it requires action. The very word for peace is active rather than passive. ‘Shalom’ carries the idea of wholeness, well-being and harmony, rather than merely the absence of strife or tension. It’s what God wants for each and every one of us.
It’s astonishing that with the cross looming before him, Jesus was able to speak of peace, and that through the events of Holy Week he was able to demonstrate such confidence and poise. With his betrayal, his agony in the garden, his trial and death so near, he promised peace; peace that the world cannot give, a peace that passes all understanding.
He promised those who follow him an inner confidence and serenity that can overcome any situation life can throw across our path. Our security in the world can be very fragile, but our spiritual security is of an altogether different nature. It comes from God himself; it’s strong and we can rely on it.
It was won for us on the cross. Peace and security can be ours as we enthrone Jesus at the very centre of our lives. Not at cross-purposes with him, but embracing the CROSS PURPOSE for our lives.
See also: Misunderstanding Palm Sunday
Song 608: Make me a channel of your peace
Sung by Katherine Jenkins
For a time of Reflection, Response and Prayer, please read Song 275:
Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain,
Life and salvation his empire shall bring
Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.
Come let us sing: Praise to our King,
Jesus our King, Jesus our King;
This is our song, who to Jesus belong:
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.
All men shall dwell in his marvellous light,
Races long severed his love shall unite,
Justice and truth from his sceptre shall spring,
Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King.
All shall be well in his Kingdom of peace,
Freedom shall flourish and wisdom increase,
Foe shall be friend when his triumph we sing,
Sword shall be sickle when Jesus is King.
Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin,
Doubt shall not darken his witness within,
Hell hath no terrors and death hath no sting;
Love is victorious when Jesus is King.
Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray,
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day
When this new song thy creation shall sing,
Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.
We finish with Song 135: All glory, laud, and honour
This, this is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable friend,
Whose love is as great as his power,
And knows neither measure nor end.
’Tis Jesus, the first and the last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe Home;
We’ll praise him for all that is past,
And trust him for all that’s to come. Amen.
God bless you all, Major John Ager.