April 2, 2023 - Palm Sunday

For the week of April 2-8 – Palm Sunday

Morning prayer: Today, God, we rejoice with Christians everywhere that there was at least one day when Jesus received the recognition He deserved. We rejoice, knowing that His triumphal entry means that truth cannot remain hidden and that good hearts everywhere recognize truth when it appears. We persist in hope with people on many continents, in many circumstances who are waiting for the day when their truth can be told. We persevere with them in faith knowing that the same God who could have commanded the rocks to shout truth in Jerusalem will not allow truth to be suppressed and good people to be crushed forever. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #278 Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

  1. Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang,
    through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
    To Jesus, who had blessed them close folded to His breast,
    the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.
  2. From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
    the victor palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
    The Lord of earth and heaven rode on in lowly state,
    nor scorned that little children should on His bidding wait.
  3. "Hosanna in the highest!" that ancient song we sing,
    for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven our King.
    O may we ever praise Him with heart and life and voice,
    and in His blissful presence eternally rejoice!

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

118 Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, because His faithful love lasts forever.
2 Let Israel say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”

19 Open the gates of righteousness for me so I can come in and give thanks to the Lord!
20 This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it.

21 I thank You because You answered me, because You were my saving help.
22 The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone!
23 This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight!
24 This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!

25 Lord, please save us! Lord, please let us succeed!

26 The one who enters in the Lord’s name is blessed; we bless all of you from the Lord’s house.
27 The Lord is God! He has shined a light on us!
So lead the festival offering with ropes all the way to the horns of the altar.[
28 You are my God—I will give thanks to You! You are my God—I will lift You up high!
29 Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, because His faithful love lasts forever.

Children’s message Palms Exodus 15:26-27

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give heed to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

Children’s Message 

It is Palm Sunday! The Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. We celebrate by waving palm leaves just as those first people did to announce and celebrate the coming of Jesus.

The palm tree is mentioned throughout Scripture and primarily when palm trees are spoken of they are the date palm. These trees were treasured because all of the tree is useful. It bears fruit for food, the wood was used in construction and the leaves can be woven into mats, roofs, and brooms.

They are also a sign of provision. It takes a lot of water to grow a palm tree and when Moses spoke to the Israelites in the verses we heard today, it signified God’s care for them. What Moses is describing to them is what we call an oasis, a place of care. All they would need would be supplied there: water, food, shade, and safety.

Just like the palm tree, Jesus is our oasis in the world. He offers us hope that we are not alone and without care and He is the source of our salvation. He is the embodiment of God’s care for us because Jesus restores our relationship with God.


April 2nd Ryan Bombard was baptized.  Praise God for Ryan’s faithful decision.  The confirmation class and all of those present who have been baptized were reminded of the baptismal vows and encouraged to affirm their baptisms.  Confirmation class:  Carly Megargell, Erin Bombard, Ryan Bombard, Caroline Comstock, Owen Cover, Conner Mills.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightToday we are reminded of our own vows to the Lord, and to this church; vows to support Lightstreet United Methodist Church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. 

Offering prayer: Holy God, sovereign over power and pain, glorious triumph and deep disappointment, we enter this Holy Week bringing our tithes and offerings to Your altar and leaving them here in the hope You will use them to make the world a more loving and compassionate place. We are reminded through the scripture that You sent two of Your disciples out to make the world ready for Your coming: “Go into the village . . . find the donkey . . . tell them the lord has need.” Remind us that Your kingdom breaks into the world not as a spectacle for us to witness but as a parade where we are called to make a working contribution. We pray in the name of the One who comes not just for the parade, but for the cross at the end of it. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn: #277 Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

  1. Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
    things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here:
    scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea, stories of Jesus, tell them to me.
  2. First let me hear how the children stood round His knee,
    and I shall fancy His blessing resting on me;
    words full of kindness, deeds full of grace, all in the lovelight of Jesus' face.
  3. Into the city I'd follow the children's band,
    waving a branch of the palm tree high in my hand;
    one of His heralds, yes, I would sing loudest hosannas, "Jesus is King!"

Scripture Matthew 21:1-11 (CEB)

21 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. 2 He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to Me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that their master needs them.” He sent them off right away. 4 Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, 5 Say to Daughter Zion,Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then He sat on them.

8 Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds in front of Him and behind Him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Message     Which Parade?                  Rev. Ron French

Have you ever noticed that life is full of humbling experiences? A humbler man never lived that Jesus of Nazareth. And that is the essence of the Good News for today. On the one hand, we see that no greater man ever lived than He. He was the very Word of God come down from the Father. He was the Life, the Light, the Truth, and the Way. And yet, no one ever emptied Himself more completely of pride and arrogance that did Jesus Christ.

Consider the donkey on which He rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. You or I would have chosen a handsome stallion on which to ride into the city. After all, we are careful about the type of car we drive, aren’t we? The world will not respect a beat up old Chevy like it will a new BMW or Lexus. At least, that is what we tell ourselves. Jesus chose a beat-up old Chevy to drive into Jerusalem.

That is how I imagine that lowly donkey. Certainly that humble beast was not a symbol of pride and prestige.

Jesus’ entrance into the Holy City is consistent with everything He lived and taught. Remember how offended Simon Peter was when Jesus sought to wash his feet? That was a job for a servant – not for a distinguished rabbi. The idea that greatness is related to servant-hood was a principle that the disciples had a difficult time grasping. The washing of the disciple’s feet took place at the Last Supper. The Gospel of Luke tells us that on the way to the sacred meal the disciples had been arguing amongst themselves which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom. The disciples thought of greatness in terms of worldly success. And to achieve success was to have others serve you. They were not prepared, then, to handle Jesus’ teaching that “whoever wants to be first must be servant to all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45) That was a radical teaching for the disciples, just as it is a radical teaching for many of us. Yet there is an important truth here for our lives.

I read somewhere that 97% of all people who are offered a new pen to try, will write their own name. I think that’s very understandable. After all, the only time many of us use a pen is when we sign our names to something. Nevertheless, such a statistic does seem symbolic. It is very difficult for many of us to see beyond our own needs and our own circumstances. So it is essential this morning that we see this humble Galilean, Jesus, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. His concern is not for His welfare, but for ours. Here He is humbling Himself to be sacrificed like a farm animal on the cross of Calvary. No crown – no throne – no comfortable palace – He gave it all up for sinful humanity. This has always endeared Jesus to people at the bottom of society.

John W. Gardner, in his book, Excellence, includes a letter written by Sarah Gooder, a young girl working in the local coal mines of England in 1842. Here is what Sarah wrote: “I am Sarah Gooder, I am eight years old. I’m a coal carrier in the Gawber Mine. It does not tire me but I have to work without light and I’m scared. I go at four and sometimes half past three in the morning, and come out at five and half past in the evening. I never go to sleep. Sometimes I sing when I’ve light, but not in the dark; I dare not sing then. I don’t like being in the (coal) pit. I am very sleepy when I go in the morning. I go to Sunday school and learn to read. They teach me to pray. I have heard tell of Jesus many times. I don’t know why He came to earth. I don’t know why He died, but He had stones for His head to rest on.”

That my sisters and brothers is how people in civilized England lived around the middle of the 19th century – An eight year old girl working fourteen hours a day in the coal mines. Did you notice what impressed Sarah Gooder about Jesus?

“He had stones for His head to rest on.” No soft pillow in a luxurious mansion for Him. He cared enough to come down to where Sarah was! Do you have that much greatness within you – to see the needs of the least and the lowly and respond to them? Or are you one of those petty, little people who can see only his or her own needs?

Humility is the key to greatness. And this is important for us to see in the society in which we live. Servant-hood is the path to true greatness. Some of the greatest people who ever lived have viewed themselves as servants, and they have blessed our world.

There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer sometime back about a fourteen year old Jewish girl at the end of World War II.

She was discovered lost, alone, and barely alive lying on the platform of an abandoned railroad station. It was the day the Russian army liberated the Nazi controlled labor camp where she had been held captive. Though she was now free, she was half-starved and too exhausted to pick herself up off the platform. She thought she would die there. But a young priest came to her. He offered her tea, two slices of bread and some cheese. “Where do you want to go?” he asked her. “Krakow,” was all she could manage to say. “I’m going there too,” he said. “Let me help you up.” He tried to lift her to her feet but she collapsed. So he picked her up and literally carried her for two miles to a train to Krakow. “What is your name?” the priest asked. “Edith Zirer,” she replied. “My name is Karol,” replied her rescuer. When they arrived in Krakow, they were separated and they never saw each other again until the year 2000. That year, in Jerusalem, at the Holocaust memorial, Edith Zirer, with tears in her eyes, clasped the hands of a Polish priest named Karol, whom the world grew to know as Pope John Paul II. The Pope had performed that quiet act of service of lifting up and carrying this poor Holocaust survivor and had forgotten it, but Edith had not. Before the whole world she declared, “He came like an angel out of nowhere and gave me life. He saved me. There’s no other word for it. It’s thanks to him that I’m here today.” Then Edith Zirer quoted a verse from the Talmud which says, “To save one is to save the world.”

Sometimes when we think of the Pope we associate him with the pomp and circumstance of his lofty office. We forget that many modern popes, including the current one, have had the heart of a servant. Brothers and sisters all greatness grows out of humility and service.

Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Part of this was undoubtedly to fulfill ancient prophecy. When Solomon was anointed king, he rode into the city on a mule, to the shouts and praises of the people. (I Kings 1:43-45) Zachariah prophesied the Messiah would arrive the same way “gentle and riding on a donkey.”  (Zechariah 9:9) Jesus knew about the prophecy when He chose a donkey for His mode of transportation that day. But this action was also completely in His character. “He humbled Himself,” writes the Apostle Paul, “and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

According to theologian Mark Borg, there were two parades into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. In the first we see Jesus riding on a donkey, accompanied by His followers coming from the north into Jerusalem. But that parade wasn’t the largest or the most spectacular coming into Jerusalem that day. Also entering Jerusalem at Passover, coming from the west, was the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Like the Roman governors of Judea before him, Pilate lived in Caesarea by the sea. In other words, Pilate spent most of his time at his beach house. But with crowds of devout Jews flowing into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, Pilate put on a display of force.  After all, Passover commemorates the Jew’s deliverance from the rule of Pharaoh in Egypt. Pilate didn’t want them to get any ideas about a similar liberation from Rome. When Pilate entered Jerusalem with his army, his aim was to prevent any possibility of a violent rebellion against Roman rule. No one likes the foot of a foreign power on their necks and, to make matters worse, Rome imposed high taxes on subject nations. So there was always the threat that zealots would stir up the Jewish population to try and throw off the yoke of Rome.

The Roman army that accompanied Pilate included “Calvary on horses, foot soldiers, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting off the metal and gold. There was also the sound of “marching feet, the cracking of leather, the clinking of bridles, and the beating of drums.” All of this would have had a sobering effect on all those who saw the parade. No one shouted “Hosanna!” as Pilate rode his imposing horse into Jerusalem leading a regiment of his most trusted soldiers, hoping to strike fear into the resentful onlookers. And if things did get out of hand Pilate had several battalions of Rome’s finest garrisoned on the west side of Jerusalem ready to flood into the city to crush any hint of rebellion.

So, there was Pilate – willing, without exception, to take the life of anyone who dared question his authority, and there was Jesus – willing without exception to lay down his life for the least and the lowest. No contrast could be starker. And we are left to choose. Will we go with Pilate the merciless who would crush others to gain his own way? Or will we go with Jesus the merciful who will lay down His life for others? It is a choice we make more often than we think in the way we treat those we come into contact each and every day.

I hope and pray that on this day we call Palm Sunday you will choose Jesus’ parade. And you can do this by opening your heart and praying, “Lord, give me the ability to love others as much as Jesus loves me. Help me to live a life of service as He lived a life of humble service even though He was Lord of all creation. Help me to make whatever changes that you would have take place in my life that I might also be a person committed to the service of others. Amen.” So which parade will it be for you?

Hymn #280 All Glory, Laud and Honor

All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

  1. Thou art the King of Israel, Thou David's royal Son,
    who in the Lord's name comest, the King and Blessed One. (Refrain)
  2. The company of angels are praising Thee on high,
    and we with all creation in chorus make reply. (Refrain)
  3. The people of the Hebrews with psalms before Thee went;
    our prayer and praise and anthems before Thee we present. (Refrain)
  4. To Thee, before Thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise;
    to Thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. (Refrain)
  5. Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring,
    who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. (Refrain)

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.