Saturday, March 31, 2012

Worship for Palm Sunday - 2012

Saturday after Lent 5
March 31, 2012

The Lord be with you

Like last week, this coming Sunday has two names. When I grew up we all called it Palm Sunday. The liturgically precise name was the Latin Palmarum. It was also known as the Sixth Sunday in Lent. With the introduction of Lutheran Worship in 1982, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod joined the contemporary Liturgical Renewal movement. The trend in this movement is to drop Latin names for Sundays, so out went Palmarum. (These Latin names were typically tied to the Introit and Psalm of the Day, so dropping the Latin names allowed for more flexibility with these two “propers.”) The Liturgical Renewal movement is also keen on a different name for the day, the Sunday of the Passion. While the name was listed in a secondary way in Lutheran Worship, the worship resources began to treat Sunday of the Passion as the primary option. Our most recent hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (2006), continues to list Sunday of the Passion in a secondary fashion. It is, once again, getting easier to find Palm Sunday resources.

No matter what name you call this Sunday, it is always the beginning of Holy Week. This is the pinnacle of the Church Year. Christians around the globe will have special services all week long. Lamb of God will be no exception.

At Lamb of God, we use the Palm Sunday option for this coming Sunday. There is plenty of passion in that day alone. This also allows the special mid-week services to bring their own story forward, without having Palm Sunday steal some of their thunder.

For Palm Sunday we will use a specially designed service which begins with the Palm Sunday processional. During the processional Pastor will read the Palm Sunday account from John’s Gospel, the only account to specifically mention palm branches. The congregation will follow this up by singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” (LSB 443). After the Invocation, Confession of Sins, and Absolution, the congregation will sin “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (LSB 442) as our hymn of praise. The other scriptures that will be read are Psalm 118:19-29, Zechariah 9:9-12, Philippians 2:5-11, and John 12:20-43. The sermon, based on the Palm Sunday processional reading, is titled “Victory Parade.” The Sermon hymn is “Ride On, Rice On in Majesty.” This will also be the choir special as the congregation will switch on and off with the choir. This will be a communion service. Our distribution hymns will be: “What Is This Bread” (LSB 629), “Draw Near and Take the Body of Our Lord” (LSB 637), and “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638). Other hymns we will be singing are: “We Give Thee But Thine Own” (1st verse only) and “Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus” (LSB 531, verses 1 & 2). Our closing hymn will point us to the rest of Holy Week. It is “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” (LSB 437).

We will continue our regular prayer pattern in our public prayers Sunday. That means we will remember, in our prayers, the Evangelical Lutheran Church - Synod of France (EEL-SF) (Église Évangélique Luthèrienne - Synode de France), and their President, Rev. Jean Thiébaut Haessig. We will remember Alan Ludwig, our missionary in Siberia, Russia, and his wife Patricia. We will remember the persecuted believers in India, and our sister congregations: Peace, Goldsboro, NC; Cross of Christ, Greensboro, NC; Ebenezer, Greensboro, NC; Grace, Greensboro, NC; Island Lutheran, Hilton Head Island, SC. We remember the orphans in Haiti that our youth are seeking to help. We also will continue to remember those who are trapped by the modern practice of slavery, and those who have fallen victim to our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of sexual immorality.

The video below of the hymn, “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” Words and music, but no one is singing.

Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. This Sunday we will continue in Matthew. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Zechariah 9:9-12: This is the Old Testament passage, referred to by the Evangelists, which points to the Palm Sunday entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. As Palm Sunday is the theme of the Sermon, I’ll not say much. However, notice verse 11. This speaks of the “blood of my covenant.” I expect the people in Zechariah thought either of a animal sacrifice or circumcision. However, the blood referred to is the blood of Jesus. This was the purpose for which Jesus entered Jerusalem.

Philippians 2:5-11: This is a key passage about who Jesus is. Paul writes about what Lutherans call our Lord’s “state of humiliation” and “state of exaltation.” Verses 6-8 speak of how Jesus, who is Divine, humbled himself and became a man, even dying for us. Verses 9-11 speaks of how he was raised and exalted, resuming his rightful place. This leads to every tongue confessing Jesus as Lord, which is what the Father wants and so brings glory to the Father. The whole section begins with Paul telling us to emulate Jesus. In America we often want to skip the humiliation part and skip straight to the exaltation part. Isn’t that what Adam and Eve wanted also?

John 12:(12-19) 20-43: Verses 12-19 are the Palm Sunday processional reading. It is the story of Jesus arrival into Jerusalem, received by the masses as the “King of Israel.” It also recounts the determination of the leadership of the Jewish people to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. Lazarus was included because many people were coming to believe in Jesus because of Lazarus. Verses 20-43 recount some of the things that transpired prior to Maundy Thursday. Verse 42 ends the reading on a very interesting note: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” “The Pharisees” needs to be understood as that segment that did not believe in Jesus, for some of the Pharisees did believe, like Nicodemus. The unbelieving segment apparently help the power positions. The believing Jews faces the same problem many of us do in reference to our witness. How often do we make the same decision they made? In the reading some Greeks come to see Jesus. The text doesn’t actually say whether or not Jesus met them. When Jesus is told they are seeking him, he talks about a grain of wheat which “falls into the earth and dies.” The result is that it bears much fruit. The idea is that, when Jesus dies and is buried, he will bear much fruit, that is, the Greeks, and everyone else, will be able to receive grace and salvation in His name. In verse 27, Jesus is in prayer. He says, “What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? Bu for this purpose I have come to this hour.” Here Jesus plainly says to the Father that his impending crucifixion was his intended purpose Those who believe Jesus intended to set up a physical kingdom, but failed in his goal and came up with a back-up plan (salvation by grace through faith), are contradicted by the world of Christ himself. More could be said about these verses, but this will have to do.

• Thank you to everyone who help clean the church, not just Saturday, but throughout the week.
• Our Holy Week Schedule is:

    Maundy Thursday
    Communion services at 12:15 & 7:00 PM
    Good Friday
    Prayer Vigil from noon to 3:00 PM
    Tenebrae service at 7:00 PM
    Holy Saturday
    Stations of the Cross service at noon
    Joint Easter Vigil (Good Shepherd, Greenville) at 8:00 PM
    Easter Sunday
    Breakfast at 9:00 AM
    Communion service at 10:30 AM
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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