Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, Rev. Karen Hollis.
Welcome to week three of CCG Home Church! This worship service can be done either self-directed at home or along with the video worship experience on Sunday morning at 10am. This week we are celebrating not only Palm Sunday, but the week of Christ’s passion. The service contains 7 scenes from the last week of Jesus’ life. After each reading there is a meditation, poem or prayer experience. At a time when our days seem to blend one into the other, let us explore these last days of Jesus’ life, each with its own flavour . . . I wonder what we will find within them. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are welcome here . . . the sacred space opened through this order of worship is available to you and holds us in a common space whether you are self-guided or participating online.
Christ meets us where we are . . . and we are One in Christ.
Preparing the Space: I invite you to find or clear a space in your home that is relatively free of distraction. Maybe place a tablecloth down and light a candle; perhaps place with the candle an object or two that help you open to God’s presence (item from nature, Bible, object with personal significance, cross).
Sit quietly for a moment perhaps with feet on the floor, taking a couple of deep breaths and bring yourself into this moment. Open yourself to the presence of God who is with us and within us . . . as you intentionally open yourself to God, open yourself also to what you need as you turn to worship.
Gathering & Opening Prayer: Karen Hollis
Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem Matthew 21:1-11
One: 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 fulfill 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.
All: 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!"
One: When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?"
All: The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."
One: Let us pray . . .
All: Gather us in, O God, like a crowd welcoming you into our midst, waving branches and shouting Hosanna! Gather us in, O God, as we turn our attention and our intention to you. Though we are gathered in our homes, our hearts gather as one, as we worship in a new way as one body. Bless us in this remarkable container of worship, that words we hear and silence we share may sustain us to be the body of Christ even in these times. In his name, we pray. Amen.
Truth & Courage: Corinne Carlson
Jesus Cleansing the Temple Mark 11:15-19
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves, and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?
But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.
And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
From Embers by Richard Wagamese
Me: What do I need to live at my best?
Old Woman: Truth and courage.
Me: Not purpose and strength?
Old Woman: Truth and courage ARE purpose and strength.
They are the roots of everything powerful. Everything spiritual.
When you keep your truth in front of you and have the courage
to keep moving toward it, through anything that arises, you live
at your best.
Me: Even if I stumble?
Old Woman: Especially then.
I began to walk more gracefully after that
Questions for silent reflection:
What truth is in front of Jesus as he turned over the tables?
For whom does he exercise his courage?
Extravagant Giving: Lisa Griffith
Mary Anointing Jesus John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
Mary’s gift was extravagant, yes. But how is it possible to ever give enough thanks to someone who returned life to a beloved sister or brother? It is not difficult to understand how Jesus’ compassion and awesome power would touch Mary’s heart, and inspire her generosity.
Gabriola has a culture of generosity. We have a saying: “Gabriola will provide”. In these unprecedented days, our island continues to provide generously, both with the beauty of our environment, and through well-established social networks. Our Church is an important part of that network. We continue to be the church, not just in name, but as people supporting each other and our community. Recipients of food hampers are delighted to see home-made baking in their packages, and self-isolation is relieved with technological direction to access Zoom. Personal shopping and delivery help to keep people safe, regular phone contact connects friends, and our online Home Church worship offers spiritual comfort. Here on Gabriola, ministry continues.
In light of Mary’s response, we wonder about our own hearts and our own giving. It seems that ‘giving’ needs to be motivated by a loving heart in order for gifts to have any lasting value. So how can our hearts be broken open to one another and to the world God loves? Will this Pandemic remind the worldwide spiritual community of our common humanity? Now is a good time to look at how each of us steward our resources. Thanks to all who continue to spread spirit-lifting ‘sparks’ through the community during this season by sharing in many different ways. Thank you also to those who continue to give donations to the ministry of the church, making it possible for the church to support PHC, and offer Home Church. (For information on how to give, see this week’s email announcements).
Engage your heart to discern where your skills, gifts, and financial resources can do the most good. Consider giving extravagantly in this time of great need. ~ Lisa Griffith
Last Supper John 13:1-15
Now before the festival of the Passover . . . during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." . . . After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
Prayers of the People: Susan Brockley
Prayers: God of steadfast love; hear our prayer
Thank you, God, for those who are doing their best to protect, heal and support us at this time: all the first responders, doctors, nurses, lab techs, cleaners, grocery store employees and other essential workers. Please bless and protect them. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
Thank you, God, for those in authority who are using the best available scientific information and for those who are using the powers of law to protect us and mitigate the damage caused by COVID-19. Please bless and protect them. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
Thank you for all who strive to bring comfort and support to others by shopping for them, running errands for them, and keeping in touch. Please bless and protect them. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
Thank you for all who are working online to bring us cheer, comfort and information. We thank you especially for Hilary and Karen and all who contribute to our Facebook Page and our Midweek Madness. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
God, we ask that all who are in special need at this time will be aware of your presence with them. May all those in hospitals, in care homes, or dealing with illness know the comfort of your presence. We name those known to us, silently or aloud. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
We ask that you will guide, direct and support all who find themselves in difficult circumstances at this time – those who are pregnant and close to giving birth, those who are far from home and unable to return. We name those known to us, silently or aloud. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
We ask your help for the poor, the needy, prisoners, those living in crowded conditions, those without shelter and those who are not sure where their next meal is coming from. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who suffer from mental illness, perhaps exacerbated by these unfamiliar circumstances. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who are dying. “Almighty God, … comfort them with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (BAS p. 559, adapted) God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
We pray that we will be faithful to you in these times, O God. May we find the right ways to continue to serve you as we have been called to do. God of steadfast love, hear our prayer.
God, you know our needs better than we do ourselves. We trust you. Amen ~ Susan Brockley
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.
Prayer of Confession: Karen Hollis
The Garden of Gethsemane Mark 14:32-42
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’
Examen for These Days Set Apart Adapted from the Society of Jesus
Sit comfortably with either a paper and pencil for jotting down thoughts or with eyes closed.
1. Become aware of God’s presence and look back on these days
of solitude with the company of the Holy Spirit.
2. Bring your awareness to gifts you have received during these days. Perhaps connection through a phone call . . . a walk in nature . . . spaciousness in your schedule . . .
3. Bring into your awareness what has been most challenging about these days. Perhaps images on the news …feelings of loneliness waiting without a defined end. What is most difficult to stay present to? Acknowledge these places and invite God’s presence.
4. In the company of the Holy Spirit, turn your awareness to tomorrow, be aware of emotions that arise with your thoughts. Ask for God’s help to guide you through tomorrow and for the Holy Spirit to be with you.
God is here with us today, as God was yesterday and will be tomorrow. God is our companion along the journey of these days and the journey of life and will not let us go . . . through what is life-giving and what is most challenging. God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Beyond Us: Mona Smart
The Crucifixion Luke 23:33-43
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Not at Our Beck and Call by Walter Brueggemann
We call out your name in as many ways as we can.
We fix your role towards us in the ways we need.
We approach your from the particular angle of our life.
We do all that, not because you need to be identified,
but because of our deep need, our deep wound,
our deep hope.
And then, we are astonished that while our names for you serve for a moment,
you break beyond them in your freedom,
you show yourself yet fresh beyond our grasp.
We are – by your freedom and your hiddenness –
made sure yet again that you are God . . .
beyond us, for us, but beyond us,
not at our beck and call,
but always in your own way.
We stammer about your identity,
only to learn that it is in our own unsettling
before you that wants naming.
Beyond all our explaining and capturing and fixing you . . .
we give you praise, we thank you for your fleshed presence in suffering love, and for our names that you give us. Amen.
Silence for Reflection
Darkness: Karen Hollis
Burial of Jesus Matthew 27:57-61
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
Heavy by Mary Oliver
That time when you can not, and would not,
I thought I could not put it down.”
go any closer to grief So I went practicing.
without dying Have you noticed?
I went closer, Have you heard
and I did not die. the laughter
Surely God that comes, now and again,
had his hand in this, out of my startled mouth?
as well as friends. How I linger
Still, I was bent, to admire, admire, admire
and my laughter, the things of this world
as the poet said, that are kind, and maybe
was nowhere to be found. also troubled -
Then said my friend Daniel, roses in the wind,
(brave even among lions), the sea geese on the steep waves,
“It’s not the weight you carry a love to which there is no reply?
but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it
There are reasons why we celebrate the birth of Jesus near the longest night of the year . . . and why holy week is celebrated as the days lengthen through the spring. While the tradition of the church wants us to experience and explore the darkness that exists within the narrative of the liturgical year, the intent was never to drown in it. That’s why at the darkest time of the year, we celebrate the light of Christ coming into the world, and after the spring equinox, when the grass is growing and we can hear the birds again, we are asked to sit with death. There is no sugar coating Good Friday. Death is death. I remember going to art museums as a child and walking through rooms and rooms of paintings depicting Jesus on the cross. They were so difficult to look at. At a young age I wasn’t able to see the bigger picture of things like artistic style or the theology that motivated the composition of the painting. All I could see was suffering . . . perhaps Jesus’ suffering as well as my own.
When I was choosing the scriptures for this service, I almost left out the last line of this Matthew text: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.” But then I realized they are the witnesses to the world turned upside down . . . they are the ones who observe the darkness. They are the ones who honour the moment with their attention. In time they will need to go home . . . and make supper. They will need to find a way to continue doing the things of life while the darkness remains with them.
I feel like a witness to the world turned upside down, as I live these days that are set apart from other days . . . perhaps you do too. Hearing the death toll rise around the world with the promise of more to come . . . it feels heavy. There is no sugar coating it. But perhaps Mary Oliver put her finger on something important . . . perhaps it is how we carry it . . . and here we are with plenty of time during these days to practice. Thanks be to God. ~ Rev. Karen
Thanks to all who helped make this worship service happen! And a special thanks to all of the ways people are serving each other during this season!
Blessing: Iona Abbey Worship Book
If you are with another person, you’re invited to bless each other, taking every other line.
One: The Creator’s blessing be yours on your road, on your journey, guiding you, cherishing you.
First name A-M:
The Son’s blessing be yours, wine and water, bread and stories, feeding you, challenging you.
First name N-Z:
The Spirit’s blessing be yours, wind and fire, joy and wisdom, comforting you, disturbing you.
All: The Angel’s blessing be yours, on your house, on your living, guarding you, encouraging you. Let us walk together, a community on a journey sustained in God’s blessing. Amen!
One: Let us go now in peace to love and serve the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.