Palm Sunday today and Holy Week is just starting and under current circumstances it'll be hard to tell the difference between today and any other day.
Usually we give out Palm crosses, but this year we're not allowed to, partly as they could transmit the virus, but there's also the question of delivering them when we're being encouraged to stay at home.
A recent update from the C of E website asks us to be 'visibly' staying at home. That doesn't mean that we can't go out for exercise as individuals, it does mean that we shouldn't be out on church work giving the impression that the church still makes demands on us at this time.
Sadly, because of this, we won't be able to ring the bell at the moment.
But - don't feel disconnected - some of our hymns have a familiar face behind them - thanks Gareth.
As an alternative to palm crosses, you could make one out of a strip of paper - if you have a yucca it will make a good substitute (I'll post a link to a video that shows how to make them) or colour one (like in the second video below - I've attached some pictures).
A third alternative is to get a branch of elder or willow - not to make into a cross (although a long enough willow will do it), but to wave as the people did when Jesus rode in to Jerusalem. Put these branches in a vase or jar of water where they will put out roots so will live for quite a while.
Whatever you do, I invite you to use some red somehow.
Red is the colour of the altar hangings for Palm Sunday, it's also the colour for Pentecost, so we will re-visit our palms then.
Hope you're keeping well and safe.
To make a palm cross
Looking for recordings of All Glory Laud and Honour I came across this. It's a virtual choir who have recorded from their homes during the current Lockdown.
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Psalm 118 1-2 19-end
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, ‘His mercy endures for ever.’
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Come, O Lord, and save us we pray. Come, Lord, send us now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God; he has given us light; link the pilgrims with cords right to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God and I will thank you; you are my God and I will exalt you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures for ever.
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Matthew 21: 1-11
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. 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!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!”. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”
Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem looks at first like the great climax to the ministry of Jesus. In any other story this would be the moment he's going to rescue the people, call on an army of angels, use miracles to fight the battle and establish the kingdom. He'd put everything right, but we know that this triumphal climax is going to go terribly wrong.
At least, it goes wrong in terms of the immediate present that the people have in mind, not in terms of the eternal Kingdom that God has in mind.
It sounds a bit like 2020 - it's all going horribly wrong, at least the immediate present, but how will we do Holy Week without the usual props of the Church's liturgy?
This is from the Church of England's web site:Living through a prolonged ‘Holy Saturday’We have already become ‘a different sort of church’ in unprecedented ways. The very place in which the body of Christ finds its identity, offers prayer, and receives solace in time of crisis—that is, the church building—is not available to us, and, as in the early days of our faith, public gatherings of Christians outside the home are forbidden. Nevertheless, we are finding ways to join in prayer and intention; to cry ‘Abba, Father’; and to recognise we are all buried with Christ by baptism into his death, that we might walk in newness of life.
The present situation does not negate the joy we have been granted in the resurrection, but it will be lived out this year in different ways.
Holy Week and Easter, in particular, will give us opportunities to reflect on all of these matters. In the annual commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we explore who we are and our relationship to the God who loves us. We are enabled to realise, quite counter-culturally, that everything that we have that is good is a gift, and not a right. Unlike God, we, as humans do not always have the answers.
We can reflect that, even in the hardest of times, even in the prolonged ‘Holy Saturday’ of emptiness in which we find ourselves, there is always hope. God, whose nature is mercy, sent his Son, who experienced the fullness of our own human suffering and makes all things new. We are still called upon to serve those within and beyond the church, and to care for the vulnerable. Our historic structures still place us at the heart of the community and indeed of public life.
In these dark times, when it is not possible to recall the death and resurrection of Christ in our church buildings, we have the opportunity to mark Holy Week at home. We can discover how what we are now experiencing may contribute to our own ongoing journey as God’s people. The homes in which we now mainly find ourselves offer us a place in which our faith can be discovered afresh, where we can find ‘the Church within’. We hope that all the faithful will experience the genuine, unreserved joy of Easter.
If you have any palm cross alternative, you might want to wave it and sing to this.
You are the King of Glory
You are the King of GloryAll Hallows, Lady Bay Sunday service. You are the King of Glory by Mavis Ford
Please pray for:
especially as all the usual channels for reaching out are closed to us.
For those without the means to keep in touch.
For all those seeking new ways to be church and to celebrate Easter, especially Paul, our Bishop and Archbishops Justin and John and all those around them working towards helping people of God to celebrate this special season.
For our leaders in the decisions they have to make where there is no precedent to inform them.
For businesses that have had to close and where people are suffering financial hardship.
For those who were already lonely and those who have fallen through the net of the care that neighbours are showing.
For any who have had medical care delayed and continue to suffer.
For people with allergies or common colds, for those who are most vulnerable.
For the opportunities we have to reveal God’s love for others and that we can know God is with us right now when we really need him.
Keep us, good Lord,under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lord God, you are always with me.
You are with me in the day and in the night.
You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill.
You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am worried.
Today I am feeling (name how you are feeling) because (reasons you are feeling this way).
Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything today.
Reign in me
Reign in me All Hallows, Lady Bay Sunday service. Reign In Me by Chris Bowater
May God bless us,that in us may be found love and humility,
obedience and thanksgiving,
discipline, gentleness and peace. Amen.
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