Palm Sunday, which this year is 5th of April, is the Sunday in the Church calendar when we retrace Jesus’ last part of his journey to Jerusalem; a journey which concludes with what is referred to as ‘The Triumphal Entry’.
While it is an episode recorded by each of the four Gospel writers,at this time, we can follow events at Matthew 21: 1-11.
The highlight is when Jesus enters the city, riding on a little donkey, the crowds see the prophecy of Zechariah come alive, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey – on a colt, the foal of a donkey”.
Spontaneously, they begin to shout and cheer. They praise God, wave palm branches and spread them on the road, some even take their cloaks off and lay them on the ground in welcome and honour.
The crowd is jubilant and calls out, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”.
The ordinary people of Jerusalem had no idea what is happening. The crowd tell them excitedly, “This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. This is the Messiah.
Now, while all attention is focussed on Jesus coming into the city and the ecstatic reaction of the crowds, let’s take a few steps back.
Preparations began by Jesus sending two unnamed disciples ahead to collect a donkey with her colt and bring them to him. If the disciples were challenged by the owner they were to say, “the Lord needs them”, and the owner will allow them to go.
Now, just as we have no idea about the identity of the two disciples, the owner is also unnamed.
Yet, it was by the willing participation of these anonymous individuals that Jesus’ final journey into Jerusalem came about. Those people were never acknowledged by name but the small part they played had a huge impact, far more than they realised.
It is the same today. As God’s people, the Lord needs us. We are invited; we are called to do what we can, in whatever way that may be, to help in these strange, stressful and challenging times in which we now live.
Often it is the small actions, the kind gestures, that can have the greatest impact. We all have a part to play, regardless of our situation.
We can encourage those who are down; we can help lift up the spirits of those who are feeling overwhelmed by the avalanche of statistics and news that fill our newspapers and TV programmes.
We can support those who are struggling at home and missing visits from family and friends.
We can give thanks for the many untold acts of kindness and of unselfish goodness that many have been moved to perform for others.
And don’t let us forget that underpinning all that is prayer. We pray for one another. We support and we encourage each other in prayer.
While we may not be able to physically join together these days, as the people of Jerusalem did 2,000 years ago on what would become the first ‘Palm Sunday’, we can all join together in prayer.
The two disciples were to say to the owner of the donkey and her colt, “the Lord needs them”, let us remember, that as God’s People, we are all needed.
Let us pray.
God bless each one.
In keeping with the emphasis on prayer, for the last two weeks, thousands of people across Scotland have answered the call to pray at the same time in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:
“Many people have commented how helpful it is to have this time of prayer when we can join together with Christians from all round the country and from different denominations and share similar words expressing our concerns at this time”
We are again invited to pray in solidarity with others at 7pm this Sunday, 5th April, Palm Sunday.
A prayer for this time
Living God, for the precious gift of life that you have given to us,
We give you thanks.
For the enduring presence of your love in this world,
We give you thanks.
For the knowledge that you are with us at the close of the day,
We give you thanks.
On this day, we hear the Gospel words that speak of hope,
We hear the cry: Hosanna!
We hear the Gospel words that speak of promise,
We hear the cry: Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
On this day, we journey in hope as we trust in your promise.
Lord, as we journey into the Holy Week to come,
We are conscious that we share in the life of the world.
We are conscious of the presence of those who are near to us,
And of those from whom we are apart.
Whether near, or far, embrace us all in your love.
Lord, we are conscious of others,
Whose life and work is woven into the fabric of our society,
And upon whom we now depend.
We pray for them:
For delivery drivers and posties,
For refuse collectors and cleaners,
For police officers and care workers,
Protect them and keep them safe.
For nurses and doctors,
For scientists and surgeons,
For midwives and ambulance drivers,
Protect them and watch over them.
For those who govern on our behalf,
For those who make decisions that impact upon us all,
For all who shape our common life,
Protect them and increase their wisdom and understanding.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
And grant us faith to journey into the week to come,
Assured of the presence of the crucified and risen Lord,
Jesus Christ. Amen."