Liturgy of the Palms
Matthew 21:1-11 . . . Jesus comes to the holy city of Jerusalem and is hailed as the promised Sone of David
Most of us like the comfortable and the familiar. Jesus, however, sometimes sends us ahead of him to places we have never been before. MaryAnn McKibben Dana, popular speaker, preacher, conference leader, and writer, preaches from Matthew 21:1-11. In today’s Palm/Passion Sunday passage, Jesus sends the disciples to the village ahead instead of the one they had already visited. Dana says, “It takes faith to follow Jesus. It takes blind faith to go ahead of Jesus into the unknown. It takes irrepressible faith to walk down a road your feet have never walked before. It takes intrepid faith to look back over your shoulder and see Jesus…” urging you ahead. Dana reminds us that it is not the crowd that followed Jesus, but the crowd that “prepared the way of the Lord” that made a difference. Are you a follower or are you preparing the way of the Lord?
Liturgy of Passion
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Isaiah 50:4-9 . . . the servant who speaks for the Lord and suffers persecution, but still trust in God’s help and vindication
Psalm 31:9-16. . . trusting in the Lord’s mercy and protection
Philippians 2:5-11 . . . From one of the earliest Christian hymns we hear how Christ Jesus accepted the condition of a servant, was obedient even to the point of death, and was then given the name above every name.
Matthew 27: 11-54 . . . the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, his final sufferings and death.
Richard W. Voelz is an Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. His sermon for this week draws on the eyewitness account of Egeria, an early pilgrim to Jerusalem, who marveled at the devotion of the all-day Palm Sunday procession from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. What can we learn from those pilgrims?
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Ezekiel 37:1-14 . . . The prophet has a vision of the bones of a dead and hopeless people being restored to new life in their homeland.
Psalm 130 (Tree of Life Version). . . waiting on God for forgiveness and redemption
Romans 8:6-11 . . . Paul draws a contrast between minds dominated by fleshly and worldly things and those in whom Christ lives and are set on Spirit.
John 11:1-45 . . . the story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead.
“Can you smell that?” asks Scott Spencer’s wife. “No dear,” he replies, not to fret her, but because he genuinely doesn’t smell it. Spencer, author and New Testament scholar, says of today’s passage, John 11:1-45, “It features co-mingled scents of life and death, powerful odors, from the most pleasant to the most putrid.” By the end of the passage, “The spring-like fragrance of fresh life deodorizes the whole scene.” But, in the four days between Lazarus’ death and being raised from the dead, Mary and Martha say to Jesus, “If only you had been here.” Have you ever uttered that phrase?…”If only…?” Spencer offers an alternative way to think. Listen as he prods us to consider the “what now…” of Lazarus’ resurrection and the “what now…” in our lives.
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
1 SAMUEL 16:1-13 . . . the Lord sends Samuel to anoint David
PSALM 23 . . . The Lord is shepherd and guide. God is present in the time of danger and generous and merciful
EPHESIANS 5:8-14 . . . disciples are called to be a people of the light, forsaking all the works of darkness
JOHN 9:1-41 . . . the story of Jesus’ healing of a man born blind. Jesus brings light into a dark world
“There’s something holy and important about paying attention to our surroundings and to the people near us,” says Rev. Dr. Kristin Adkins Whitesides, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Winchester, Virginia. She invites us to journey with the blind man who is healed by Jesus in John 9:1-41. He must figure out what his life would mean now that he was no longer blind. Those around him must also figure out what their lives meant in response to his healing. Who is truly blind?
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Exodus 17:1-7 . . . the people are at the point of rebellion because they are without water in the wilderness
Psalm 95 . . . A Call to Worship and Obedience
Romans 5:1-11 . . . Paul bids disciples to rejoice in the reconciliation and hope which are theirs because of the sacrifices of Christ on behalf of sinners.
John 4:5-42 . . . the story of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well.
Reverend Amy Starr Redwine, pastor and head of staff at First Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia says, “A long tradition of Biblical interpretation concludes that the woman at the well must be a prostitute. Many of us come to this text, John 4:5-42, preconditioned to see the shame the woman carries as surely as she carries her water jar.” According to Redwine, despite what we may have been taught, this text is not about shame. Instead, Redwine invites us to consider “what might happen if we engage one another as human beings created by God, inherently valuable and worthy of love and respect.”
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.
Genesis 12: 1-4 . . . the story of God’ call of Abraham (Abram) to leave his own country and become the father of a great nation.
Psalm 121 . . . A song of trust in the Lord, the unsleeping guardian of Israel.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 . . . Paul describes Abraham as an individual who through faith found a right relationship with God. He is the father of all who trust in the Lord.
John 3:1-17 . . . Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, comes during the night to talk with Jesus.
“Have you been born again?” Jim Somerville, pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church and Co-Founder of A Sermon for Every Sunday, was asked this question by his brother’s neighbor. It was brought about by today’s passage, John 3:1-17, the “born again” passage. Listen as Somerville explores the question, “Am I born again?
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan: Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 . . . the story of the creation of the first man and woman I the Garden of Eden and their disobedience and consequent loss of innocence
Psalm 32 . . . thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sin
Romans 5:12-19 . . . Paul tells how the history of human sinfulness and death has been transformed by the free gift of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 4:1-11 . . . the story of the temptations of Jesus by the devil.
Ryan Ahlgrim is the pastor of First Mennonite Church in Richmond, Virginia. His sermon for this week is called “Tempted Like Jesus.”
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Exodus 24:12-18 . . . Moses is called up to Mount Sinai, and the glory of the Lord appears.
Psalm 99 . . . The holy and mighty Lord reigns on high. God spoke to Israel’s leaders from a pillar of cloud and his forgiven them their misdeeds.
2 Peter 1:16-21 . . . the apostle Peter as he recalls his vision of Jesus in majesty on the holy mountain and the heavenly voice that announced this was Go’s beloved Son.
Matthew 17:1-9 . . . the story of Jesus’ transfiguration
Today is Transfiguration Sunday, a turning point, from the season of Epiphany, characterized by light and revelation, to the season of Lent, a season of repentance as we journey to the cross with Jesus. Listen as Rev. Dr. Kristin Adkins Whitesides, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Winchester, Virginia, preaches about the mystical event of the Transfiguration and what it means for the disciples and for us.
O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
SIRACH 15:15-20 . . . an instruction in the responsibility of human beings for their own actions.
PSALM 119:1-8. . . The psalmist takes great delight in the Lord’s statutes and seeks to keep all God’s commandments.
1 CORINTHIAN 3:1-9 . . . Paul admonishes the Corinthians for their bickering and divisions
MATTHEW 5:21-37 . . . Jesus’ concern with the heart of human behavior.
Michael Renninger, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, in Richmond Virginia, invites us to consider how answering God’s call with “as you wish” can change our lives
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
ISAIAH 58:1-12 . . . a denunciation of the injustices of those who only act at their religion. There is a promise of the Lord’s favor for those who genuinely repent and care for the needy.
PSALM 112:1-10 . . . Blessed are those who are right with the Lord, who are just and generous with those in need.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-16 . . . Paul teaches the Corinthians that the wisdom of God is very different from the wisdom in which humans pride themselves
MATTHEW 5:13-20. . . disciples are like salt and as light to the world. They are to live even more righteously than the pious scribes and Pharisees.
Listen as Phillip Martin, pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia sheds light on today’s passage from today’s Gospel lesson. He says, “While your light is important, Jesus is not speaking about individual lights here. He is speaking to his disciples as a group…their power as a collective.” This concept can be quite challenging to our individualistic society. Could we learn something from our early Christian predecessors about how to light and flavor our world today
Collect . . .
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplication of your people, and in your time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
MICAH 6:1-8 . . . God contends with the people of God, reminding them of the saving acts done for them in the good that God expects
PSALM 15 . . . Friends of God
1 CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 . . . Paul directs the Corinthians’ attention to God’s way of using what is weak and lowly – even what the world regards as foolish – to accomplish the divine purpose
MATTHEW 5:1-12 . . . the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount, words of both comfort and challenge
Carla Pratt Keyes, pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, finds a beautiful connection between being with cancer and the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, where Jesus looks around at a whole host of “others” and says, “Blessed are you.”