April 5, 2020 Service

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LIFE AND WORK OF THE CHURCH

Morris United Church  —  (204) 746-2422

Website:  www.morrisunitedchurch.ca

  Email: morrisuc@mymts.net

Secretary & Church Reservations:  

Debbie Swift:  (204) 712-6669

debbieswift27@gmail.com

Envelope Secretary:

Sharon Eadie      (204) 746-2100

Cards:

Marlene Buhler     (204) 746-2706

Custodian:

Grant Klassen       (204) 758-3210

Property:

Brian Pettapiece (204) 955-6583

Lutheran Church of the Cross

Box 90, Morris, MB   R0G 1K0

Phone:  204-746-2422

Email:  morriscrosslutheran@gmail.com

Chairperson:

  Larry Skoglund     (204) 746-8780

Envelope Secretary:

  Virginia Janzen      (204) 746-8495

 

Pastor Leslie Poulin

204-799-5629 [cell]

204-746-7474 [home]

Email:lestoil@mymts.net

ORDER OF WORSHIP FOR PALM/PASSION SUNDAY APRIL 5, 2020  

BEFORE WE WORSHIP, WE REFLECT…     

Today, we encounter the paradox that defines our faith: Jesus Christ is glorified king and humiliated servant. We too are full of paradox: like Peter, we fervently desire to follow Christ, but find ourselves afraid, denying God. We wave palms in celebration today as Christ comes into our midst, and we follow with trepidation as his path leads to death on the cross. Amid it all we are invited into this paradoxical promise of life through Christ’s broken body and outpoured love in a meal of bread and wine. We begin this week that stands at the center of the church year, anticipating the completion of God’s astounding work.      We began the journey of Lent with the story of a garden, a tree, and broken relationships. Now on the last Sunday of Lent we arrive at a different garden – the garden of Gethsemane; and a symbolic tree – the cross, the tree of Calvary. Today Jesus himself is the story: Jesus the faithful servant, God’s anointed one – the Messiah, the Christ – God with us. The one who was rejected and crucified. Yet even this did not cause God to abandon us. Instead God took this terrible act of hatred and jealousy and transformed it into a gift of forgiveness and reconciliation. This is the cornerstone experience of our faith. No matter what happens or what we do, we can come openly and honestly to God, trusting in God’s grace and forgiveness as manifest in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest!

PROCESSIONAL GOSPEL:  Matthew 21:1-11

BLESSING OF PALMS

We praise you, O God, for redeeming the world through our Savior Jesus Christ.  Today he entered the holy city in triumph and was proclaimed messiah and king by those who spread garments and branches along his way.  Bless these branches and those who carry them.  Grant us grace to follow our Lord in the way of the cross, so that, joined to his death and resurrection, we enter into life with you; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Let us go forth in peace, in the name of Christ. Amen.

CENTERING PRAYER:

Jesus, we come this day filled with excitement and enthusiasm, like all those who gathered at the side of the road to cheer and wave palms that day in Jerusalem so long ago. Our lives are full of “busyness” and rushing from here to there, with little time to think about who you really are and what you have done, just like all those who waved the palms and in so short a time, shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Help us to be aware of the parts of ourselves that need to die: our greed, our laziness, our jealousy, our misplaced anger, our unwillingness to forgive. Help us to find the new life that is possible for each of us, just as it was possible for you. Amen.

Our gifts for Mission & Service support projects that foster reconciliation.

Twenty-eight years ago, when it was founded, Faith United Church in Kingston, Ontario, bought land near Highway 15 with the vision of creating a church building. Meeting in a local high school, they eventually decided to put their energy into being a caring community rather than into a building. Then, during the last year, Faith United began a time of discernment around the land. The members of the congregation felt inspired to walk a path of peace and offer the land as a place of healing. The church and the Indigenous peoples of Kingston are currently in conversation as they collaborate on how to create a space where all can find healing. Talking over tea and shared meals, they are exchanging ideas on how to come together in friendship. Currently they are considering creating a garden for reflection and reconciliation that contains Indigenous sacred medicine plants. Thanks to a grant from the Justice and Reconciliation Fund, supported by your gifts for Mission & Service, the Indigenous peoples of Kingston and Faith United Church members are able to move forward. “We open our eyes now,” the Elders and congregation members shared in a report on the initiative. “We aren’t blinded by hopefulness and naïveté: we know our vision for this piece of land is grand in size and workload. We also know that when we walk together in a good way, when we root the process in ceremony and healing, we are acknowledging we aren’t walking this path alone. Together we can. Together we will. One step along the path of peace.” May it be so! If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

Gracious and Holy God, give us wisdom to recognize you; intelligence to understand you; diligence to seek you; patience to wait for you; eyes to see you; a heart to meditate on you and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

First Reading:  Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Second Reading:  Philippians 2:5-11

Gospel:  Matthew 27:11-54

SERMON:

   There was a company in Calgary, when I lived there during university, called, Scheme a Dream.  If you were throwing a party, or just wanted to embarrass someone at their work place, this company had the means to do just about anything!

   One day, as I was walking downtown, this woman came up to me and said, “How would you like to make a buck?  I’ll give you a dollar if you come and sing Happy Birthday to someone.”  Since I had nothing better to do, I took the dollar and said I would sing.  Among those of us who had taken the bribe was a guy with a very big, friendly, drooling dog.  There was also someone in a gorilla outfit.

   When the woman figured she had enough people we headed up to an office, found some poor, unsuspecting young man sitting at his desk, and surrounded him.  He wasn’t sure what to make of this situation – especially with the gorilla standing right in front of him – until we sang happy birthday.  Then we all learned that this fellow’s girlfriend had arranged the whole thing!  He had a good laugh and then, looking at all of us, and the drooling dog, said, “Who are you?!”

   “Who is this?” the crowds asked.  This was not a common sight, to see someone riding into the city on a donkey, with people shouting “hosanna!” and waving branches.  Some were not sure what to do.  Should they join in, or keep walking, but in the other direction?

  “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”  Oh, that’s nice.  Yet this information would not get them any further in their understanding than if we had told that young man, whose birthday it was, who we were.  For unless there was some inkling of a previous encounter, he may know our names, but he still would not have known who we were.  Similarly, with Jesus.  Unless people had heard of his miracles, his reputation for putting the scribes and pharisees in their place, unless they knew of Lazarus or had heard of the feeding of the thousands, this fellow coming into town riding on a donkey, the traditional animal of peace, would be no more impressive than if you or I were riding the donkey.

   And yet, we get caught up in the excitement of the moment.  It may be that there is a bit of a bribe, an enticement for joining the crowd; it could be curiosity, or it could be that we have certain expectations that we want lived out, and so in hope that these expectations will be met, we follow.  While we claim to be Christian, while we claim to be disciples, while we claim to know who Jesus really is, we are often no better than those who asked, “Who is this?” for we struggle in our faith, and sometimes we are unsure just who Jesus is in our lives.  We are no better than the crowds who shouted, “Hosanna!”, meaning, “Save us now!”, and then within days were shouting, “Crucify him!”  Oh yes, we pray, we ask, we seek, we hope that our expectations will be met, but when we forget that God can also answer us with “no”, or when we forget that God’s expectations and our expectations often do not match, we may become angry, hurt, frightened and curse God out of our pain and confusion.  We are no better than the disciples who, knowing who Jesus was, deserted him as he was taken as prisoner in the garden, and only in hindsight, after the horror of the crucifixion was over, and Christ resurrected, saw in this moment the fulfillment of scripture and the plan of God.

   Who is this, riding into the city on a donkey?  It is the son of God, who is the source of love, who is forgiveness, who is acceptance, who is stronger than death, who is the giver of new life.  It is Jesus, who, although condemned and crucified, deserted and who felt abandoned by God, is also the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel–God with us, the resurrected one, the Spirit giver, the one who loves and accepts us in spite of ourselves.

   I have often wondered what thoughts went through Jesus’ mind as he rode through Jerusalem, receiving praise, yet also knowing this was the road to death.  Looking out at the many faces, looking into their eyes and knowing their lives, their fears, their hopes.  Knowing that in order to have hope that they would first be disappointed.  In order to have new life they would have to die in their human expectations and rise to the fullness of life in the risen Christ.  To be a bearer of peace can be overwhelming.  It can mean death.

   “Who is this?”  It is fitting, as we face Holy Week and the Cross, to ask this question about Jesus for ourselves.  Ask ourselves what our expectations are, and then ask, in faith and humility, that God’s will, not ours, be done.  Amen.

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION:

Surprising God, you come to our lives in ways we do not expect.

We ask for success;

you teach us acceptance.

We ask to be loved;

you ask us to love.

We ask for ease;

you challenge us.

We ask for ourselves;

you remind us of the needs of others.

We ask for a triumphant Messiah;

you come as one obedient to death.

We glorify the winner;

you glorify the loser who died on the criminal’s cross.

Walk among us, Surprising God. And be especially with those in our world who are crucified because we do not see, nor act according to your love.

Compassionate God, as this world struggles to cope with this pandemic, help us to stay apart physically, yet connected emotionally.  May we not forget to use our technology to stay in touch with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We continue to pray, and ask your protection for, all those essential medical staff and service workers who continue to serve the public, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk.  We thank you for their dedication.  We pray also for our family members, friends and community members who are struggling in body, mind and spirit – some with long-term, potentially fatal, illnesses.  We uphold to you the family of Annie Grossman; Rita Covernton; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Don; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Scott Brown; Diane Dreger; Elizabeth & David; Sandy and Ron.  You have made a covenant with us. Let us live in covenant with you.  Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER  

BENEDICTION:

The holy mystery we call God is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge for times of trouble.  Go, embraced by the Source of life, love and hope; following in the way of Jesus, just and compassionate; encouraged by the Spirit of grace and wisdom. Amen.