April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday - Worship and Devotions

4/5 Mailed Palm Sunday Home Worship

Welcome & Announcements:

Good morning church! Below is the Worship service. There will be copies of this service and Church at Work on the main doors of the church and Lighthouse this morning.

Just a few announcements:

I will offer again a ZOOM gathering at 9:00 am Sunday and 6pm Sunday evening. Zoom is a way to be connected via computer or telephone. You can call the phone number listed- it is toll free. This will be time of sharing joys and concerns and having prayer time. If there is a problem, call my cell at 570-317-0422 and I will try to assist.

9:00 am Zoom Meeting

Dial by your location 1 929 436 2866 (toll free)

6pm Zoom Meeting

Dial by your location 1 929 436 2866 US (toll free)

Holy Week:

This marks the beginning of Holy Week. If you drive past the Lighthouse, you will notice the cross out front. Each day there will be decorations coinciding with the lessons you received in your newsletter with a suggested daily prayer for that day. If you did not get a copy of that, please let me know.

Also, in the newsletter is a suggested Love Feast for Holy Thursday.

For Good Friday, it is being mailed with the Palm Sunday message this week.

Finally, regarding your Easter flowers. Scott and I will be delivering them to your home early Easter morning. We figure that is the safest way, as he and I will be the only ones driving around, and we will wear gloves to place them at your doorstep.

Today we begin with a Scripture Lesson:

Opening Scripture Lesson: Matthew 21: 1-10 Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Opening hymn: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

I invite you to wave or simply hold the piece of palm you received this week in your newsletter. Let it take you to a place where you can praise Jesus as you sing or read these words:

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!

Prayer for the Day:

God of glory blessed is your Son, Christ Jesus, who came as one of us to show us a better way. He awakens our ears to hear your word. He awakens our minds to be inspired by your wisdom. He awakens our hearts to receive your peace. And he awakens our hands and feet to be instruments of your justice and righteousness.

God, as we rejoice on this day for your Son, our king, waving the palms and offering praises to the one who shows us a better way, may we also be mindful of the pain and betrayal Jesus will suffer this holy week. He will be arrested, he will be tried, he will be betrayed, he will suffer, and he will die.

As we recall those events, may we hold onto the teachings that he died for, the lessons that bring us closer to you and leads us to the joy of your salvation. And may we, like him, follow that path even when it becomes painful and difficult, to obey your will.

Holy God, as we offer our praise and adoration, as we offer our joys and our concerns, may your presence through the Spirit flow through us into your world as we proclaim and live the better way, a way of love and grace through your Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray saying… 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass 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 invitation

We want to thank all of you for your continued gifts that are helping us do ministry in different ways during these times.

Some of you are experiencing economic hardships related to the pandemic and your offering may be diminished. Our prayers are with you as you struggle to make ends meet. To the rest, if you can send in your offering, we invite you to do so as ministry continues. There are still needs to be met through the services we support such as local food banks, health care ministries, and of course the staff of this congregation who are still working around the clock to check in with members, disinfect buildings, and discern and provide worship possibilities. Lightstreet United Methodist Church, 1640 Main Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815. The option of electronic transfer of funds is available. Contact our church treasurer, Amy Dent (aedent@pa.metrocast.net; 570-458-4299). She will guide you through the process to authorize your bank to transfer funds into the church account.

Offering prayer:

Holy God, as long ago they laid cloaks on Jesus’ path, so we place our gifts on your altar to help make a way for Jesus to enter hearts. Grant us the courage to stand with Christ when the road is hard, and the way is risky. We pray it the name of the Messiah and King! Amen.

Second Scripture Lesson: Matthew 26:6-13The Anointing at Bethany

6 Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8 But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Message: Jesus believes in Possibility. He Trusted in Faith more than he Trusted his Concerns.

As we are experiencing our 3rd Sunday of worship without congregating together, it is amazing the possibilities we have to still hear the Word of God. Some of you received a worship service by mail, so you can read this text from paper. Others of you are reading the service by email or Facebook. And for those of you who have the capability and know how, you were able to click on videos of music, scripture readings, and even children’s time. If we are going through this trying time, thank God for the possibilities that can still keep us connected and lean on our faith.

Today we are going to talk about Jesus’ beliefs in possibilities. What he believes can be, and not necessarily the negative of what can be, because as we will see, Jesus trusts faith more than concerns. And that’s an important lesson for us to learn these days. To have such faith that the possibilities that can be, will outweigh our worries.

Here’s the contexts of our passages today, Jesus and his disciples have arrived at Jerusalem to celebrate the Holy Festival of Passover, the Jewish remembrance of when God set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt.

As our service started out, Jesus came riding on a colt, to fulfill the Zechariah prophecy in chapter 9:9 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus fulfills this text and what do the crowds do but they gather up palms and they wave them shouting. Hosanna, which means, Save us now! They knew of his healings; they knew of his teachings. He was known to be their hope and the One to save them…now!

It appears the possibilities are, people will believe Jesus is the Messiah, the new king, or they won’t. On this day, they believe. But a shift began to change their minds. Because while they were open to one who could heal and teach kindness, they were not prepared for all that he had to offer.

For instance, we know that during the next few days, Jesus went to the Temple, and one of those days, he overturned tables. And so, this is the time when the same crowds that welcomed him with waving palms, see Jesus get physically angry, and the end result, a number of them lose money.

Then we know that on another day while in the Temple, Jesus taught in parables, he spoke of the wicked tenants, warning the people against religious leaders that pull them away from God, and he also predicted the destruction of the Temple.

Here are the possibilities: The Healer could be their Savior, but he would ask them to stop selling and buying in the Temple area. Further, he claims the Temple will be destroyed, and those that work for the Temple are not good people.

If the people follow this king, things will change, they will lose money, they will lose their Temple, a number will lose jobs. Yes, they could be healed and helped. But they also would be encouraged to help each other, and how could they if they are not making money?

Do they want to face those kinds of changes or rather remain as they are, as they are used to. Those are the possibilities of the people of Jesus day. You and I know what they chose, Jesus is not who they thought he was, and for his betrayal of their hopes, in a few days they will now yell “crucify him!”.

What happened? He disappointed them. He did not fulfill their expectations of him. He was not a warrior in the sense they hoped. He was not calling and rallying the people together, forming an army. No, he was challenging them, challenging them in a new way, truth, and life which they didn’t like. Therefore, they got rid of him.

However, what were the possibilities that Jesus held?

Why did Jesus do what he did in the Temple? The reason he overturned the tables was because they were exchanging money, Roman drachmas for Jewish shekels. Now you have to remember that Roman coins were not allowed in the Temple, the image of Caesar on money was a violation of the second commandment, it was a form of idolatry. But the other problem was this, it turns out that some of the Temple authorities were making the Temple a place of profit, rather than a place of prayer. Jesus was upset because his Father’s house was being desecrated.

He wanted the people to learn the right way to honor and bring glory to God, in the Temple. Therefore, he offered teachings to support his actions. He spoke in parables about tenants that rejected the landowner’s son, a wedding banquet open to all, he taught about paying taxes, the resurrection, and the greatest commandment to love God and love one another.

The possibilities for Jesus was, the people would receive his messages and they would become followers, as God wanted them to.

But the other possibility, they would not believe nor trust Jesus. Which is what Jesus recognizes and so in Matthew 23:37 we read Jesus saying, 37 ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The possibility for the transformation of God’s people has changed. Jesus now shifts his hope in what God can and will do. So right before we come to the second text of Matthew 26, we read, When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. ’Jesus declared what will be to his disciples.

Then we come to this story of this woman and Jesus. Now you need to know that in all four gospels this story is told and there are some differences. In Mark, John, and Matthew, Jesus and the disciples are in Bethany, a town outside of Jerusalem. In Mark and Matthew, they are in Simon the Leper’s house. In Luke they are in Simon the Pharisee’s home. And in John they are in the house of Mary and Martha. The woman who is involved with Jesus has no name in Mark and Matthew. But in Luke she is a woman of the city (i.e. a sinner) and in John she is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

The actions of this woman differ in the gospels too. In Mark and Matthew, she pours perfume on his head. In John she anoints Jesus’ feet with the perfume. While in Luke she anoints his feet with her tears. Remember Luke has the woman known as a sinner, so this is a story of repentance for her. But for the others, the story is pre-burial. Jesus is going to die, and she is preparing him, and helping the others prepare that they will not always have him. Her actions are an extravagant act of devotion. But the disciples say it is a waste, not understanding what she is doing, claiming they have concern for the poor, which Jesus often preached about.

Yet, the lesson to learn is: a true disciple must learn that devotion to Christ, the Son of God, is first and foremost, because when we have God as our center, all possibilities are filled with faith, and our concerns are overcome.

You see that is the possibility that Jesus believes in, and trusts, keeping God as the center. So that as the days continue for Jesus, they are days that he knows as the cross gets closer, and the disciples further away from him, God is right there, and Jesus promises to do the same for us, through the Last Supper.

And even in those terrifying moments when Jesus is in the garden and his disciples cannot stay awake to support him, Jesus turns to God and prays, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Matt 26:39

Jesus teaches us one last lesson before the cross, a lesson that the woman who anointed him trusted herself, we can always have faith in God, as faith in God should be our center, our core, what we lavish and relish, what we focus on, especially in those times of concerns.

Last week my father offered an online Bible study, where we center on a painting or piece of artwork appropriate for the Lenten season. And for that week, he had us look at this painting of Christ by Salvador Dali, painted in 1951.

The painting actually comes from a dream Dali had where God told him to paint the crucifixion like that. In fact, God gave him the vision. And two things stand out. One is the fact that the point of view is from God, above, but not distant. God was present with Jesus, there was a closeness, as the faith of Jesus conveyed. The other point that stands out is what is beyond the cross. Blue skies, peaceful water, the resurrection, what Jesus was looking at as he hung on the cross. Breath taking, isn’t it?

Friends, even in our time of containment, there are possibilities. Possibilities to stay connected to family and friends. But may we calm our hearts, our minds, and souls to make certain we stay connected to God and our faith that trusts in God’s closeness, love, and healing beyond our worries and concerns.

Our Closing Song is The Way (New Horizon):

Through every battle Through every heartbreak Through every circumstance
I believe that You are my fortress Oh, You are my portion And You are my hiding place, oh

Chorus: I believe You are The way, the truth, the life
I believe You are The way, the truth, the life

I believe Through every blessing Through every promise Through every breath I take
I believe that You are Provider Oh, You are Protector You are the One I love, oh

Chorus:

And it's a new horizon and I'm set on You
And You meet me here today with mercies that are new
All my fears and doubts, they can all come too
Because they can't stay long when I'm here with You
It's a new horizon and I'm set on You
And You meet me here today with mercies that are new
All my fears and doubts They can all come too
Because they can't stay long when

Chorus:

Sending Forth:

L: The way has been prepared. Open your hearts this day to receive the Savior.
P: We open wide our hearts and spirits to receive the possibilities of Jesus the Christ. AMEN.

 

 
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