Sunday, April 03, 2022

Liturgy of the Palms for April 10, 2022

 Texts: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 19:28-40

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.
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.
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.

Prayer of the Day
When we are so weary
we cannot seem to put
one foot in front of the other,
you take us by the hand,
Steadfast Love,
so we can join you
on a morning walk
to hear the songbirds.

When we would rather
stuff our ears with cotton
than listen to one more
whine, one more argument,
Word of hope for all,
you teach us how to listen
to the hearts which are ignored
by everyone, everywhere.

When we long to run away
from all the worries, the fears,
the insults flung in our faces,
Peace of the weary,
you model for us
how to be willing to care
for those who suffer injustices
which we cannot begin to imagine.

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
Wearied by our poor choices, worn down by our foolish words, we struggle to be faithful followers of Jesus.  Yet, it is precisely in such moments that God comes, with that love which never gives up, that grace which is always offered freely to us.  So, let us come with our prayers, to the gate of God’s heart, so we may enter forgiveness and life anew.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We are so busy thinking about ourselves, God of constant love, that we cannot begin to ponder what was in Jesus’ mind.  We shout for joy on a day like this, smiling as we wave our palms, yet quickly toss them aside as we go out into the world.  We harden our faces, not in discipleship, but to turn away those who come looking for help from us.
   Yet, because he was fully human like us, God of unfailing compassion, we too can be more like Jesus.  So, as we begin our journey through Holy Week and beyond, may we choose humility over pride, weakness over strength, compassion over bully, and seek to do whatever we are called to do, without any promise of reward.  We pray this in the name of our Teacher, Jesus.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God dares us to think like Jesus, knowing that if we do, we will discover the gifts we can offer, the words of hope we can share, the grace we can use to bless those around us.
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 are pretty sure we have nothing to offer to others, but when we begin to think like Jesus, we see the blessings we have, those who need your grace, your hope, your love in their lives, and join in bringing need and grace together.  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 God can fill our hearts with humility.
Let us learn the songs of praise God would teach us,
so 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.

© Thom M. Shuman