Home Service 13

Home Service for Sunday 28 March 2021 ~ Palm Sunday ~ compiled by Peter Ratcliffe

Some years ago my wife Louise and I were having lunch in a quiet corner in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall in London before going on elsewhere. Although it was quiet, we were aware of a large group of people beginning to assemble just a few feet away. Some were dressed in bright colours, some carried a variety of percussion instruments, others seemed to be practising a dance. They were all quietly organising themselves when suddenly our peaceful lunch was shattered as the gathered crowd turned into a Brazilian Street Band. With loud whistles, chanting, banging of drums and an array of colourful dance routines, a procession of roughly 50 folk began snaking its way around the huge foyer area. Every eye was turned, conversations were halted, people made way, others including children were invited to join in. It went on for about 10 minutes inside before going outside along the South Bank of the Thames and eventually over Waterloo bridge. Apparently, it was all in celebration of World Dance Day! I imagine that a similar commotion was stirred up on Palm Sunday as Jesus entered Jerusalem. A King riding into town! But Jesus was no ordinary king. For Palm Sunday 2021, I discovered a poem by Michael Gherling which offers many reflections on the
question ‘What kind of King are You? Sections of the poem can be used for prayer and reflection but let us begin with a song for Palm Sunday.

Song

Hosannah, hosannah, hosannah in the highest (rpt)
Lord we lift up your name, with hearts full of praise.
Be exalted O Lord my God,
Hosannah in the highest.
Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings (rpt)
Lord we lift up your name, with hearts full of praise.
Be exalted O Lord my God,
Glory to the King of Kings!

All four gospels have an account of Palm Sunday. This is Mark’s account.
Reading: Mark 11:1-10
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them,  ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’  They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Here’s another song appropriate for Palm Sunday:

Song

You are the King of Glory,
You are the Prince of Peace,
You are the Lord of Heaven and earth
You’re the Son of righteousness.
Angels bow down before You,
Worship and adore,
For You have the words of eternal life
You are Jesus Christ the Lord!
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hosanna to the King of Kings!
Glory in the highest Heaven
For Jesus the Messiah reigns!

Poem: ‘What Kind of King are You?’ by Michael Gehrling

What kind of king are you?
What kind of king
rides on a donkey
a donkey that might be borrowed,
or might be hijacked?
What kind of king
builds a castle
with a wide open door for children to enter
but a needle-eye sized hole for the rich?

What kind of king
rides on a donkey
into the city where
his assassins are waiting?

What kind of king
enters his assassins’ city
with a ragtag commotion for all to see
and not one security guard?

What kind of king
lets his subjects treat him like a
military liberator but doesn’t
come with a single sword or weapon?

What kind of king
lets his followers send a
public message to the competing powers
with no intent of answering a single challenge?
What kind of King are you?

What kind of King
can send two followers
to fetch a donkey
and know exactly what they’ll need to say?

What kind of king
can tell a blind beggar
“your faith has made you well.”
And actually make him see?
What kind of king
can weep at the funeral of his friend
only to say, “Lazarus, come out!”
and watch him come back to life.

What kind of king
can sit at the dinner table
with his subjects and be subject to them
and wash their feet?
What kind of king
can carry his own cross
can serve his assassin and
help in his own execution?

What kind of king can die
so that his assassins can live?

What kind of King are you?
A King who came not to be served
but to serve and to give
his life as a ransom
for many.
A King who keeps his promises
A King who I can trust
A King who can save
A King I want to follow
And so I come to you, King Jesus
not to be served by you
but to serve you
and to give my life to you.
So take my cloak
use it to clothe the naked
or use it for your donkey to step on.
I don’t care
so long as you’re the one taking it.
Because you’re the only one who
will give me a new garment in return,
a white robe made of saints righteous deeds,
a garment that fits so well it’ll be
a new self, your self.
Use me, King Jesus,
all of me.
As you see fit.
Make me a knight or a bishop or a rook,
or make me an expendable pawn.
I don’t care what piece I am.
So long as yours is the hand that’s moving me.
Because yours is
the mighty hand with an outstretched arm.
Yours is the hand that rules with an iron sceptre,
and that knit me together in my mother’s womb.
So let me follow you, King Jesus

all the way to Golgotha.
Let me walk next to you
and put palm branches at your feet
and shout “Hosanna!” with the children.
And if the child in me shouting “Hosanna!”
grows up to an adult shouting “Crucify!”
bring me back to the water where I can be born again.
Let me sit at the table with you
and take bread and wine from your hands
and let me lay my head on your chest.
And if thirty pieces of the world’s silver
are ever enough to draw me away
Wash my feet and make me clean again
Let me pray with you at Gethsemane
and learn from you how to be vulnerable with the Father
let me see your tears and sweat and grief.
And if my prayers give way to sleep
wake me again
with the waters of regeneration.
Let me walk with you to the cross.
Let me be Simon of Cyrene,
and learn to carry your cross with you.
And if my Simon of Cyrene becomes Simon Peter
and I walk away from your cross to deny you
lead me back to these waters where I can still die with you.
And live.
And all along this long rough road
let my song be:
Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!
<<<<<<>>>>>>

From the events of Palm Sunday, let us use Graham Kendrick’s song, ‘The Servant King’ to help us to follow our Saviour to the cross on Good Friday.
Song

From heaven you came helpless babe
Entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, The Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to The Servant King

There in the garden of tears
My heavy load he chose to bear
His heart with sorrow was torn
‘Yet not My will but Yours,’ He said.
Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered
So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving
<<<<<<>>>>>>

May God bless you richly as you continue serving Him.