Monday, March 22, 2021

Liturgy of the palms for a season of pandemic (March 28, 2021

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 11:1-11

Call to Worship

Give thanks!

God’s love is constant and devoted to us.

Let us say over and over:

God’s hope is unfailing in caring for us,

through health care workers and researchers,

through teachers reopening classrooms,

and therapists available around the clock.

Give thanks, O give thanks!

Justice is the gate God opens to all.

Let us say over and over:

God hears the cries of those who are forgotten:

those who sleep rough in forgotten streets,

those who are most vulnerable around us,

those who have no family to care for them.

Give thanks, O give thanks, people of God!

God comes to bring us new life.

Let us say this over and over:

God takes the stone tossed aside by us

to build the foundation of salvation,

a foundation made out of grace’s gravel,

the sand of hope shaken out of Jesus’ shoes,

and mixed with the waters of life.

Prayer of the Day

After a year of weariness,

we struggle to put one foot

in front of the other, if 

we manage to pull ourselves

out of bed each morning. 

But you take us by the hand,

Steadfast Love,

as we walk through

the streets of your community

of grace and wonder,

listening to the songbirds.


After a year of endless stories

of those who refuse to be cautious,

who could care less about others,

we try to keep our ears

from being stuffed with cotton,

Word of hope for all,

so we might learn how to listen,

to the hearts which are ignored

by everyone, everywhere.


After a year of staying in place,

it is no wonder we want to run away

for the days of exhaustion,

the overwhelming worries,

the fears that are velcroed to us,

so model for us,

Peace of the weary,

how to dare to bear the injustices

of all those blamed by far too many

for these days in which we find ourselves.


Steadfast Love, Word of hope, Spirit of peace,

God in Community, Holy in One,

hear us as we lift our prayer to you,

(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation

After a year of struggling to follow Jesus faithfully, we know how we have worn down others by our angry words, how we have wearied loved ones with poor choices.  Yet, we also recognize, that in every moment of every day, God has been with us with that love which never gives up, that grace which is always offered freely to us.  So, let us come with our prayers, to God's heart, so we may enter forgiveness and life anew.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

   We have been so busy this last year, focused on  ourselves, Enduring Love, that we have forgotten to imagine what was on Jesus' mind in those days.  We long to shout for joy on a day like this, smiling as we remember waving our palms, even as we look at our empty hands.   We harden our faces, not in discipleship, but to turn away those who are still struggling in these days.

   Yet, because he was fully human like us, God whose compassion never fades, we can be more like Jesus, if we dare.  So, as we begin our journey through another Holy Week of worshiping apart, yet strangely more together than we imagine, help us to always choose humility over hubris, weakness over strength, tenderness over bullying, and to seek to stay faithful as we can in these days.  We pray this in the name of our Teacher, Jesus.  Amen.


Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon

God dares us to think like Jesus, because God knows that if we do, we will find the strength to live through these days, to walk with others, to offer our lives in love and service to all.

God hears our prayers, listens to our hearts, fills us with forgiveness, and walks with us in these moments and in all the ones to come.  Thanks be to God for such incredible mercy!  Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We have discovered, in this year of pandemic, that we have more than we ever imagined, and discover we are given opportunities we never saw before to be your grace, your hope, your love in the lives of those around us, as we care for all your children in these days. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.


Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God who opens the gates of justice be with you.

May God be with you as well.

Let us empty ourselves of our pride and power,

so that God can fill our hearts with humility.

Let us learn the songs of praise God would teach us,

so that we rejoice in God’s steadfast love morning by morning.


You sent Word and Spirit to gather up chaos,

as they said, “God has need of it,”

as you transformed it into creation,

   colts to carry kings and servants,

   palms to sway in breezes and wave in hands,

   stones to be used as foundations for homes,

      as well as for kin-doms.

You shaped humanity in your image,

inviting us to enter through the gate of love,

   but we longed to be filled with power and privilege,

   and so blessed sin and death as they came to us.

Those women and men we call prophets

came morning to awaken us to your call

to be sustained by your love,

   yet we continued to give new names

   to the temptations which delighted us.

So, you sent Jesus to us,

not in power and wealth,

but as one who was simply a Teacher

of steadfast love and unfailing hope.


With those who put down their hearts in welcome,

with those who clutch doubts behind their backs,

we join in songs of praise:


Holy, holy, holy are you, Stonemason of salvation.

All creation joins in recognizing this moment of grace.

Hosanna in the highest!


Blessed is the One who is peace and glory for us.

Hosanna in the highest!

Setting aside privilege and power, Holy God,

your Child, our Brother, chose to be made

in our image, so we might see you face to face.

He could have bossed us around,

telling us what to do,

   but chose to teach us compassion

   because that was what was in his heart.

He could have turned his back on us,

or kept his earbuds lodged in tight,

   but chose to listen to our stories,

   to listen to our hearts breaking.

He could have hardened his face

in judgment for our foolish choices,

   but turned it towards what awaited him

   in that place where people would reject him,

   friends would betray and deny him,

   the powers would condemn him, and

   death would claim victory over him

until you raised him to resurrection life.


As we seek to follow in the coming days,

as we remember all he said and did,

we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, willing to suffer for others;

Jesus was raised, exalted by God for his faithfulness;

Jesus will come, so we may once again cry,

   ‘blessed is the One who comes in peace and glory!’

Here at this Table, the weary are sustained,

the broken are offered healing,

the ignored are welcomed as family,

and the simple gifts of the bread and cup

are transformed into the treasures of your heart

as you pour out your Spirit in these moments.

As the bread whose brokenness reminds us

of the One who was willing to suffer for all,

may we be reminded that the Lord needs us

   to worship with the outcast as well as the privileged,

   to work with the hopeless as well as the arrogant,

   in every place we can, we every word we speak.

As the cup of grace is offered to us, may we remember

the One emptied himself for those around him,

and that he needs us to do everything we are asked,

as we bend our knees to reach down

   to seek justice for the oppressed,

   to cradle the heart-broken

   to hear the stories of 80-year-olds

      who are reliving their childhoods.


And when we are gathered by the One

who will come in peace and glory

to bring us to the Table of grace,

we will sing of that name above all other names,

forever praising you for your steadfast love,

God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.



Now we will set aside our palm branches,

to go and serve at God’s side

in a broken and fearful world.

Now we will pick up our cloaks

and follow Jesus wherever he leads,

to learn from those the world ignores,

to be touched by the grace within them.

Now we will sing songs of wonder,

as we work alongside the Spirit,

sustaining the weary with peace and hope.


© 2021 Thom M. Shuman