Welcome to your online worship for Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.
This Sunday begin our journey into Holy Week which will lead us to our celebration of Easter next Sunday. This is a Sunday that serves a double duty. It helps us mark Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which we mark with palm crosses, and also the Sunday we read of Jesus Passion, including his unjust trial and up to his death on the cross.
For those who are attending services in-person, we will be holding liturgies on Maundy Thursday (7pm) and Good Friday (10am), in which we will be reflecting more deeply on the events of Jesus last earthly days, but for many this Sunday is their preparation for the celebration of Easter!
Today’s Opening Sentence
“Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” – Philippians 2.8–9
Today’s Reading – Matthew 27:11-54
Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’ ” The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”1
Your Online Message and Prayers
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Reflection questions for the week:
- What has helped you mark your journey through Lent this year?
- After three years of upheaval in our lives from the pandemic, we have all seen and experienced things we didn’t expect, including witnessing suffering of those who are most vulnerable. How has your view of our human structures changed? How has your faith changed and grown?
- The injustice of the trial and punishment of Jesus is almost too terrible to look at. It was almost too easy for an innocent person to be judged so harshly and for the crowds to be swayed in favour of the act of injustice. How careful are you to not be swayed by those with earthly power?
- God will act mightily by resurrecting Jesus, but it is hard to see God’s plan at work when everything seems to be going against Jesus and the proclaiming of Gospel Message in our reading. Where do you find your strength and faith as we face difficult times and the trials of this life?
This week music is provided by Ryan Van Dijk, our Music Director and our choir. Thank you Ryan and our choir!
A continued reminder that if you are at all uncomfortable being in-person for worship, or if you are not feeling well, please join us here online.
Thank you again for joining with your parish family in our online worship today.
Find out how you can support our ministry and good work in the community here.
God Bless you and have a blessed week. Be well!
The Rev’d Canon Rob Park
- Scripture quotation is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.