Saturday, January 23, 2016

Palm Sunday (March 20): In and Out of Season

Bible Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11, John 12:9-12, 16-19, Luke 19:29-40
About the images:
Upper Left:
This comes from A free site well worth a visit but not always up to date particularly for those of us a day or so ahead of most of the world. Use the site search engine if you find the site is a bit behind.
Upper Right:
This is a photo of mine which I have fiddled with a bit. It makes a useful background. Please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.

Lower Left:  Jesus followers were a mixed bunch!  This image is of Gamla where the Zealots hailed from - a hill top fort-like town overlooking the Sea of Galilee where many of their arms were manufactured. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at

Listening Song or Film Clip: Hosanna

From the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar

Listening Song: Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, Birdwing Music, 1994.  This fits really well with the gospel reading (pictured at left).

Kid's Story: Paradise of Saints/Who Am I?
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 54 (pictured at right). This prettu much goes with all the readings but is based to some degree in the Old Testament reading.

Youth: Fashions and Fads
Bring some odd very dated clothes from your youth (I took witches britches and my husband's platform shoes from the late 60's/early 70's). Talk about how things go in and out of fashion. Discuss which celebrities are "in" at the moment. Talk about Jesus' popularity on Palm Sunday compared with later on in the week. Challenge them to follow Jesus whether he is in or out of fashion and not to let him go out of style. Pick an example of a place where people follow Jesus where it is not popular to do so. There is a great picture taken by John Leongard of the Polish people celebrating Easter in 1982 (when public faith gatherings were still banned) in Life Classic Photographs, 1988, ISBN 0821217143, page 70 (pictured at right).

Drama: Palm Sunday Interviews
The complete drama is below however the answers for each character are not written word for word; instead the general idea only is given so that a real interview feeling is realised. Interviewer's questions are in bold print.

Today we are at the scene of a major rally. Something really big is happening here. I haven't seen so many people gathered in the streets for a long, long time. Let's ask a few of the crowd just what this is all about.

Rally Follower:
Excuse me, Sir/Madam/Miss, would you mind telling our viewers what you're doing out here on the street waving around that large palm branch?

Swept along with the branch wavers. Joined in for the thrill of it all.
What's this all about then? Why are all these people here?

Don't really know and don't really care - as long as its lots of fun and I feel involved. Think the bloke on a donkey is supposed to be a king or something.
On a donkey!!!! What happens if he's not? Won't you feel a little silly?

Hadn't really thought about that. I'm not really sure......trails off.
Friend of Lazarus:
Excuse me Sir/Madam/Miss, why are you attending this demo?

I saw Lazarus rise from the dead and I'm really excited about Jesus power. It was a fair dinkum miracle and gives everybody great hope for even bigger and better things to come. At last someone has come that can solve all our problems and fix everything up for us.
But have you heard the rumour that there is a price on his head?

Oh no, that's not possible is it? There can't be. That would change everything if anything happened to him. It's not possible.
Mugwump: [the person who sits on the fence with his mug (face) on one side and his wump on the other]
Excuse me, why are you attending this major gathering?

Just come to have a look.
How do you feel about becoming an integral part of this rally?

No way. We've all been warned. If we take part, there is a strong possibility that the chief priests will take down our names and then there's no telling what will happen.
What do you think of Jesus, the man on the donkey?

No comment. Don't get me involved.
There's a man who people seem to be making rather a fuss of?
Excuse me, Sir, can I have a word with you? Why do you seem to be attracting a bit of the attention away from Jesus?
Tells about his resurrection.
I've heard rumours that there's a price on your head.
Yes, the Pharisees have done that etc etc.
Well, you seem to be the meat in the sandwich, don't you?

Yes, it's very confusing. I'm losing the point of my miracle if I'm only going to die anyway.
Yes , if you follow Jesus then you may pay the ultimate cost. Do you think a man who they say is a King, yet rides on a donkey, is going to be of much use to you?

Ah I see one of the our town's leading Pharisees over there. Tell me, Your Grace......

Today's a great success.....How do you feel about the number of people who h
ave turned up today?
Not particularly pleased. Crowds are pretty fickle and easily swayed.
Do you think you're losing it with the common man... you know, losing control?
No not at all....Jesus and Lazarus are obviously trouble makers whose activities will be nipped in the bud.
Ah, so you have plans to get rid of these two, have you?

No comment except to say that we have ways and means of ending little disturbances like these!
Ah, I see one of Jesus' very good friends - a disciple. Could you please tell me ...... Do you feel that this day has been a real success?

Yes, heaps of people (very enthusiastic)
Well then, what's with the donkey. Hardly a kingly mode of transport is it?

Not sure about the donkey - but knows that Jesus is going to fix the world still .....only not sure how He's going to do it. Maybe the donkey is an ancient sign of a miracle worker.
Well folks, there you have it. These are the facts. There is far more to this rally today than meets the eye. It is a far more complex situation than we first anticipated. Is this Jesus the man we thought he was? He can perform astounding miracles: yet he came in to our city riding on a donkey - a small, unbroken colt, in fact. Has He given people false hopes - a man on a donkey doesn't look too promising. Is it time to restore order with the Pharisees or could you follow this mysterious man? Is Jesus the conquering King who will save the world? Can He solve all our problems? Can He save us from ourselves? What you will all have to decide is - has He really got something to offer? Could you, and would you, follow this man? Thankyou for watching.
c. Ann Scull and Rosemary Broadstock. Permission granted for use in worship.

Discussion: On the above drama.
Explain how we can all be like those who were interviewed at different times in our lives. Number everybody off from one to eight, ask people to get into the eight groups and then give each group one of the characters in the dram to discuss using the following questions:
1. Who is this person today?
2. What role can we play in their faith journey?

Story: Jesus, the Leader
Found in Ruth Daugherty, "Issues of Leadership in the 21st Century.' in Viewpoint, Summer, 1991,2.

Meditation: Three Stone Meditations
Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 92 (pictured at right).  

Prayer: You Called Us Your Disciples
Found in Stages on the Way
by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 59 (pictured at left).  This goes well with the gospel reading.


Prayers and Poems: gloria
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 148 (pictured at right).

Response Activity: Holy Passion
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 59ff (pictured at left).  This works well with the gospel reading.  

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 54ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.

Story Plus Other Stuff: Roxsanne Makes Good
Found in Wally the Dodgy Trolley and other Stories of Faith and Humour by Ian Johnson, Scripture Union Australia, Lidcombe, 2000, ISBN 0949720984, page 37.

Resources for Palm/Passion Sunday
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 124-135. 

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