Our tradition on Palm/Passion Sunday has been to have a dramatic reading of Jesus’ hero’s welcome, palm-strewn entrance into Jerusalem, followed by one of the gospel-writer’s Passion accounts.  We did that this year via our weekly interactive-online Zoom service.  What follows is the service script in its entirety.

Order of Service
Palm/Passion Sunday
5 April, 2020

Congregational Church of Hollis, U.C.C.


* Greeting:
  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from the One who demonstrated the best and endured the worst that human beings can offer.  From our different paths in life, and in our different homes and places as we worship, each one is welcome at this gathering.   I pray each one will experience the presence of God as we become a gathered community at prayer.
Today, we will be celebrating communion together, in our separate places.
I encourage you to join in the observance –hopefully, you’ll have some bread and juice or wine prepared.  But if not, then you’ve got a little time during one of the hymns to go and get some so that you can participate with us.

People of God, grief and joy are about to be mixed.  In our liturgical observance, this Sunday ushers in the most poignant week in the Church calendar.  It begins with shouts of praise as Jesus of Nazareth, hero of the common people, enters the Holy City.  Yet in so doing, he marches without wavering toward his death.  As we read Matthew’s accounts of the events of Jesus’ last week, we will remember the highs and the lows, and prepare ourselves for the week ahead, where we are invited to journey with Jesus through his final hours.   Unless you printed off the templates that were sent with the link to this sercice, most of us don’t have palms of our own to wave this morning as we do when we gather in the meetinghouse. But I invite you to join the festive atmosphere imaginatively as we hear Matthew’s account of the hero’s reception Jesus received as he concluded his pilgrimage to the Holy City Jerusalem a few days before his final Passover celebration.

Call to Worship: Matthew 21:1-11
 Narrator: Tanya
Voice of Jesus:
  Jenna Zullo
Voice of Prophet: Tom Hildreth
Crowd: Kevin , Ann, Izcar

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying 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. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4This 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.” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The 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!” 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Friends, this man—both human and divine—Jesus is the reason for our being here today.  He is the object of our worship.  Here, we welcome him into our community and into our hearts anew, as we recall the story of his life—its triumph, its tragedy, and its promise.

HYMN  “All glory, laud and honor”  * Wave your palms!!* (provided in email blast with Zoom link)
All glory, laud and honor to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!
The people of the Hebrews with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayers and anthems before thee we present.

Thou art the King of Israel, thou David’s royal son,
who in the Lord’s name comest, the true and blessed One;
to thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise.
 

Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King.
All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Reedemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

 

PRAYER OF APPROACH AND CONFESSION
What excitement, what joy, Lord Jesus, when you rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, like the King that you are, acclaimed by the crowds and cheered by your people.

Today we too acknowledge you, glorifying the God who came as one of us.
Our hesitant voices are given new strength to proclaim what God did and is still doing to save and help us and the whole creation, yet still we need forgiveness.
God, forgive us that we, who want so much to cry “Hosanna” also whisper “Crucify” in the way we live.
Forgive us, for we are easily led, and even more easily turned, by the world.
Enable us to remain sure in our faith, to be glad of the reminders this week will bring.
Blessed be the One who came, who comes, and who will go on coming in the name of the Lord.
  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Friends, hear the Good News:  The One who came to us as one of us to show us the way to true glory and whose humiliation by human hate and sin was still not strong enough to vanquish divine love:  Christ Jesus has revealed that there is nothing we have done, nor that we have left undone, that can ultimately separate us from God’s love.  All glory, laud and honor be to God our Creator, our Savior, and our Sustainer!

GLORIA PATRI:   Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost!  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be—world without end!  Amen.  Amen.

DRAMATIC READING OF MATTHEW’S PASSION ACCOUNT

                  Parts
Narrator: Jessica Marchant
Judas: Keith Hamer
Disciples: Ann Siglin
Jesus: Jenna Zullo
Peter: Tonda Davies
Pilate: Tom Hildreth
High Priest, Chief Priests: Paul Edmunds
Bystanders: Peggy Gilmour
Accusers, Congregation: Diane Fallier
Servant Girl, Pilate’s Wife: Izcar Desueza
Soldiers: Keith Hamer, Kevin Duquette
Centurion: Kevin Duquette

                                           The Passion According to Matthew

NARRATOR:  Hear the Matthew’s Gospel account of Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ:

One of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,

JUDAS:         “What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?”

NARRATOR:  They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying,

DISCIPLES:  “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

NARRATOR:  He said,

JESUS:          “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

NARRATOR:  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said,

JESUS:          “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

NARRATOR:  And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another,

DISCIPLES:  “Surely not I, Lord?”

NARRATOR:  He answered,

JESUS:          “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

NARRATOR:  Judas, who betrayed him, said,

JUDAS:          “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

NARRATOR:  He replied,

JESUS:          “You have said so.”

NARRATOR:  While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said,

JESUS:          “Take, eat; this is my body.”

NARRATOR:  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying,

JESUS:          “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

NARRATOR:  When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,

JESUS:          “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

`I will strike the shepherd, 
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

NARRATOR:  Peter said to him,

PETER:         “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”

NARRATOR:  Jesus said to him,

JESUS:          “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

NARRATOR:  Peter said to him,

PETER:        “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

NARRATOR:  And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,

JESUS:          “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

NARRATOR:  He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them,

JESUS:          “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

NARRATOR:  And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,

JESUS:          “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

NARRATOR:  Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,

JESUS:          “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

NARRATOR:  Again he went away for the second time and prayed,

JESUS:          “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

NARRATOR:  Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,

JESUS:          “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

NARRATOR:  While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

JUDAS:         “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

NARRATOR:  At once he came up to Jesus and said,

JUDAS:         “Greetings, Rabbi!”

NARRATOR:  and kissed him. Jesus said to him,

JESUS:          “Friend, do what you are here to do.”

NARRATOR:  Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,

JESUS:          “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

NARRATOR:  At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,

JESUS:          “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

NARRATOR:  Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,

ACCUSERS Tanya:  “This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'”

NARRATOR:  The high priest stood up and said,

HIGH PRIEST (Kevin):  “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?”

NARRATOR:  But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him,

HIGH PRIEST (Kevin):  “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

NARRATOR:  Jesus said to him,

JESUS:          “You have said so. But I tell you,

From now on you will see the Son of Man
 seated at the right hand of Power
 and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

NARRATOR:  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,

HIGH PRIEST (Kevin):  “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

NARRATOR:  They answered,

CHIEF PRIESTS (Paul):  “He deserves death.”

NARRATOR:  Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying,

CHIEF PRIESTS (Paul):  “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”

NARRATOR:  Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said,

SERVANT GIRL Izcar:  “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

NARRATOR:  But he denied it before all of them, saying,

PETER Tonda:       “I do not know what you are talking about.”

NARRATOR:  When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders,

SERVANT GIRL Jacqueline:  This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

NARRATOR:  Again he denied it with an oath,

PETER:        “I do not know the man.”

NARRATOR:  After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

BYSTANDER Peggy: Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

NARRATOR:  Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath,

PETER Tonda:       “I do not know the man!”

NARRATOR:  At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said:

JESUS:          “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

NARRATOR:  And he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said,

JUDAS Thom:         “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

NARRATOR:  But they said,

CHIEF PRIESTS (Paul):  “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

NARRATOR:  Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”

NARRATOR:  After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him,

PILATE (Tom Hildreth):              “Are you the King of the Jews?”

NARRATOR:   Jesus said,

JESUS:          “You say so.”

NARRATOR:  But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him,

PILATE:       “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?”

NARRATOR:  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,

PILATE:       “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

NARRATOR:  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,

PILATE’S WIFE (Peggy):  “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

NARRATOR:  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,

PILATE:       “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”

NARRATOR:  And they said,

CONGREGATION:  “Barabbas.”

NARRATOR:  Pilate said to them,

PILATE:       “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

NARRATOR:  All of them said,

CONGREGATION:  “Let him be crucified!”

NARRATOR:  Then he asked,

PILATE:       “Why, what evil has he done?”

NARRATOR:  But they shouted all the more,

CONGREGATION:  “Let him be crucified!”

NARRATOR:  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,

PILATE:       “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

NARRATOR:  Then the people as a whole answered,

CONGREGATION:  “His blood be on us and on our children!”

NARRATOR:  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,

SOLDIERS:              “Hail, King of the Jews!”

NARRATOR:  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.

Move computer screen to show cross.

NARRATOR:  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,

BYSTANDERS:  “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.”

NARRATOR:  In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  “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.'”

NARRATOR:  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,

JESUS:          “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”     {Pronounced: Ay’-loi, Ay’-loi;  lah’-mah  sa’-back-ton’-ee}

NARRATOR:  that is,

JESUS:          “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

NARRATOR:  When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

BYSTANDERS (Peggy):  “This man is calling for Elijah.”

NARRATOR:  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,

BYSTANDERS (Peggy):  “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

NARRATOR:  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,

CENTURION (Kevin):  “Truly this man was God’s Son!

NARRATOR:  Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.’  Therefore, command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

NARRATOR:  Pilate said to them,

PILATE:       “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

NARRATOR:  So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

 

{At the conclusion of the reading/account, the following response:}
Hear the Word of the Lord in the Passion of Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God.


HYMN  #187         “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”  vs. 1 & 3

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thy only crown,
how art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish which once was bright as morn!

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend;
for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever; and, should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love to thee!

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

A SIMPLE SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION
(Pause to invite those who have not already prepared elements to do so.  Be assured that even an English muffin can become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea become a remembrance of God’s redeeming love.)

Invitation  (by Maren Tirabassi, adapted)
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.

On the first day of Holy Week long ago,
people throughout Judea arrived
at the dusty gates of Jerusalem,
primed with “Hosanna” in their hearts
and Jesus asked to borrow a donkey.

On the Thursday that followed,
Jesus rented or was given
John Mark’s mother’s Upper Room
to celebrate the Passover with the disciples.

On the afternoon of the resurrection,
Jesus was invited into a house in Emmaus
and used the bread of that hospitality
to break and bless.

Lend Christ your table, your bread, your cup and your heart,
for, as the disciples told the person who loaned the donkey,
“The Lord has need of it.”

Prayer of Consecration
We are one bread, one body, one cup of blessing. Though we are many throughout the earth and this church community is scattered, we are one in Christ.   In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements which we set aside today to be a sacrament.  Let us ask God’s blessing upon them.

Gentle Redeemer, there is no lockdown on your blessing and no quarantine on grace.  Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon every table where your child shelters in place, that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and this Cup poured out to give hope to all.
Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.

 Words of Remembering
We remember that Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, and they were the first “remote” worship resources. Our online service has a long heritage.
The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Sharing of the Elements
Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
{The bread is eaten by all participating.}
Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
We are one in Christ in the cup we share.  {The cup is drunk by all participating.}

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship, we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives. May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world, and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope even in the midst of pandemic.  Wrap your hopeful presence around all whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing, and let us become your compassion and safe refuge.  Amen

HYMN #200 “Were You There?” vs. 1 & 2

OUR COMMON COMMISSION
Let us now go forth into the world in peace, being of good courage, holding fast to that which is good, rendering to no one evil for evil, strengthening the faint-hearted, supporting the weak, helping the afflicted, honoring all persons, loving and serving the Lord, and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

BENEDICTION

THREE-FOLD AMEN

© 2020 The Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC