"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

St. Helen’s COVID-19 Response – April 2020

Eastertide Reflections: Food for the Soul
The Ven. Susan Churchill-Lackey
Week of Easter Three

“Utimago est animi voltus sic indices oculi” The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpretation. Cicero 106-43 B.C.  The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light… Matthew 6:22. The eyes are the windows to the soul. William Shakespeare.

Before COVID 19, the wearing of masks was limited to those at risk of contagion, primarily the medical profession, or those subjected to toxic or dangerous substances. Now, even people not working with COVID patients are encouraged to cover their faces in public.  The news reports about shortages of masks, stockpiling, price gouging and political machinations about the same, have troubled and angered us. We want our front line workers to be protected. For the rest of us, although the benefits of home crafted masks is a topic of discussion, there’s a strong sense of ‘something is better than nothing’. Seamstresses in the thousands worldwide have been quietly busy making gowns and masks and so help protect us all. Their work is appreciated! What if, unbeknownst to us, we are a carrier and carelessness, or apathy, on our part results in the transmission of the virus to some innocent soul?

In any case, often all we see peering over the edge of a mask are people’s eyes. They reveal much, both light and darkness.  Some are obviously tired, others worried. Some expose frustration or annoyance.  Sometimes we can read anxiety or illness in other’s eyes, sometimes lies. Some eyes are simply sad. There isn’t an abundance of laughter expressed in many, but there is lots of caring, concern and love.

When Jesus looked upon those who were fearful, ill or grieving, hungry for food or hungry for God, he responded with ‘compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ Matthew 9:36

What do your eyes say?

A Service for the Third Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Canon Peter Lackey and the Ven. Susan Churchill-Lackey provide a service for the third Sunday of Easter. The contemporary music group, Emmaus, provides an offering of the song “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash

Eastertide Reflections: Food for the Soul
The Rev. Kay Richardson
Honourary Assistant at St. Helen’s
Week of Easter Two:  A Journey in Easter

There is no doubt that this is an Easter Season that no one is going to forget, ever. For Brian and me, this current journey began in Florida. It began slowly, with isolated cases of the pandemic at first. Then it began to snowball. The government of Canada called all Canadians home so we left Florida on March 17, and arrived home on the 19th. I have never been so glad to come home in all my life! What a relief to be in Canada!

At first we were in quarantine for two weeks. Now we can walk outside and shop for groceries and other essentials, which is not much difference, really. In the midst of all this, Easter arrived. Usually I find a sharp contrast between the dark and somber tone of Lent and the bright lightness of Easter. This year, however, I found myself mostly in the upper room with those disciples.

In our readings for Easter I and II, that is where we find ourselves; there in the upper room with the disciples. We experience with them the coming of the Risen Christ in their midst. “Peace be with you,” he says. And later, he shows Thomas his wounds.  In the gospel of John, in the very next chapter, we find that the disciples have gone home again and have returned to their fishing. And there, on the Sea of Galilee, they encounter the Risen Christ. And he helps them with their fishing and nourishes them with breakfast and with his presence.

Staying with the disciples in the upper room in uncertainty and fear, and then at home, returning to their normal, has reminded me of our own situation. No matter where we find ourselves, here in the upper room or at home (which in my case turns out to be the same place), here is Jesus in our midst. Up until this year I have tended to picture those disciples being sent out into the world rather quickly. But right now, I am seeing them as slowly coming to a realization that there is something new in their lives. First they are sequestered in fear and anxiety. Then they go home to take up their lives where they left off. That is where we are right now.

Soon it will be time for our society to begin to open up again. Yes, we will all try to get back to normal. And yet, there will now be a different normal. We cannot go back. We must go forward. For some of us this will mean finding a new job. For some, it will be going back to work or school. For some of us it will mean remaining cautious about going out until there is a vaccine. For many there will be hardship. Yet, wherever we are, we can be sure that we will find the risen Christ with us wherever we are, in our joys and in our struggles. Alleluia! He is risen!

Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio c 1601

St. Helen’s Anglican Church Orleans, Ontario
The Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Liturgy for Use at Home

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
May his grace and peace be with us.
May he fill our hearts with joy.

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouths shall proclaim your praise.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He gave us new life and hope by raising Jesus from the dead.
Rejoice then, even in your distress.
We shall be counted worthy when Christ appears.
God has claimed us as his own.
He called us from our darkness into the light of his day.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Collect of the Day: Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings: Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Homily: Peter+

Thomas was a realist. If it was too good to be true, then it probably wasn’t. ‘Sir we would like to send you $14 million from an obscure uncle who died without any heirs but you. All you need to do is send us all your banking information, and we will deposit the money into your account.’…Right!! There are even more scams out there now with this pandemic upon us…humans can be quite inhumane at times. Do be careful…and realistic.

But God is always bigger than our own perspective. While we can occasionally see the next step in front of us, we often ‘cannot see the forest for the trees’. God sees the whole picture – for us and for the world. And God chose to enter and transform our world through Jesus. Almost beyond our imagination.

“Peace be with you” says Jesus, impossibly risen from the dead. You could have heard a pin drop. And this time Thomas was there. “See for yourself, Thomas, touch me…”   “My Lord and my God!” And Thomas’ new reality now included a Risen Saviour, never to be doubted again. Legend has it that Thomas made his way to what is now India and helped spread the gospel of Christ crucified and risen to that whole subcontinent. Not bad for a realist!

All Thomas needed to believe was to meet his old friend face to face. What did it take in your life for you to believe? What might it take for you, if you doubt?  Ask. “Unless I see for myself” said Tom… Now he’s a believer!…a realistic believer: Alleluia, Christ IS risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Intercessions

In joy and hope let us pray to the source of all life, saying, “Hear us, Lord of glory!”

We pray to find fresh strength in the Easter Gospel, that our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his holy and life-giving resurrection, let us pray to the Lord.  Hear us, Lord of glory!

In this time of global pandemic, that our Lord will keep us ardent in our faith and confident that the end to this suffering and isolation will come, let us pray to the Lord. Hear us, Lord of glory!

We pray for peace in the world.  For the countries hardest hit by COVID 19, remembering also the Congo, fighting Ebola, and all souls in refugee camps worldwide. We pray for the church throughout the world, for people of every faith and those who hold no religious beliefs,  that we may all grow in our compassion for the whole human family. In the world cycle of prayer we remember Christian communities in Ireland, the United States, Australia, Nigeria, England, Scotland, West Indies, South Sudan, Tanzania and in Canada, the Dioceses of Montreal and Moosonee. We pray for our Primate, The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls and our Archbishop, The Most Rev. Anne Germond.  In our Diocese we pray for Good Shepherd, Barrhaven, Stephen Silverthorne, priest and St. George’s, Clayton, Patricia Blythe, priest and for the Diocese of Jerusalem.  We pray for our retiring Bishop John Chapman, Assisting Bishop Michael Bird, and for Bishop-elect, Shane Parker.  Let us pray to the Lord.   Hear us, Lord of glory!

That he may grant us humility and common sense to obey the Public Health and laws of this land during this time and to be subject to one another in Christian love, let us pray to the Lord. 

Hear us, Lord of glory!

We pray for protection for those who work in essential services, ministering to all of us. We pray for all political, industrial and social leaders and for all who work in the field of medicine. We pray for farmers and all involved in food production and delivery, let us pray to the Lord.

Hear us, Lord of glory!

We remember those are severely tested during isolation, those who live alone, families, the elderly, youth, and all in challenged relationships. We pray for all who have limited food and money, who have lost their jobs, who are among our most vulnerable, in institutions and those on the streets.  We pray for those who are not taking this present crisis seriously and are putting others at risk.  Let us pray to the Lord.  Hear us, Lord of glory!

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick, in body, mind or spirit, to the weak, and the dying, that they may be comforted and strengthened. We pray for the souls of all who have died and those who mourn. Let us pray to the Lord. 

Hear us, Lord of glory!

We pray for ourselves and our own parish family…That our Risen Saviour may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people, that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection, in hope and confidence, let us pray to the Lord.  Hear us, Lord of glory! Amen

Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen

Doxology: Glory to God whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen

Blessing: May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip us with everything good that we may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight and to his glory and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay faithful. Stay strong; as we rejoice in the Risen Lord. Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

St. Helen’s Anglican Church
Eastertide Reflections: Food for the Soul
The Ven. Susan Churchill-Lackey

Week of Easter One

The meanings of ‘pressure’ include “continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it’’ and “the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something.” Now in our 5th week of sheltering in place and thus protecting others from COVID 19, many of us have felt pressures of various kinds in addition to simply coping with this present reality.

I cannot help but think of the disciples, locked away in the Upper Room, grief-stricken, exhausted, fearful and anxious about the future.  And the Risen Lord comes into their midst with the message, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Whether you are quarantined with family or live alone, the challenges of the living arrangement may take a toll.  Relationships, both healthy and otherwise, may be under a magnifying glass.  We are worried that those we love will get sick. There are stressors about money, food and work.  There are disappointments to accept. One person’s ability or methodology of managing life right now may be polar opposite to our own.  Another person’s anxiety or attitude may seem over the top to us, or be expressed in what we are inclined to judge as damaging, either to the individual or to others. 

The demand to ‘do good’, to learn a new skill, to use this time constructively, to measure up to someone else proves to be both a social media bullying nightmare and the stuff of good-old-fashioned gossip.  There are some who have already ordered their haloes, others who continue to paint with guilt(spelling is correct!), some who complain of ‘boredom’, many arm-chair quarterbacks and still others who think that COVID 19 won’t impact them.  And there are many people just doing their best to stay centred and healthy and faithful. 

Pressure is typically measured in units of force per unit of surface area. Instruments used to measure and display pressure in an integral unit are called pressure meters or pressure gauges or vacuum gauges.  Check yours and if the pressure seems high, choose to say ‘no’, or let go, or reach out, or pray for peace and patience or simmer down.  We are indeed, all in this together!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

An Easter Message
for St. Helen’s Anglican Church

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen, Indeed!

Due to COVID 19, the church is closed until further notice.  All events and meetings into June are cancelled or postponed. We know that you are missing our Church family, and our worship together, as indeed you are missing friends and family members from whom you are isolated.  We will follow the guidelines of our Bishop as to when we will be able to gather again. We will continue to offer devotional resources for you on the web site, but the Daily Lenten Devotional, “Heart and Soul” ends on Easter.

Please follow all Public Health precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, especially, if at all possible, stay home.  Don’t go ‘visiting’. Pray for and reach out by ‘phone, facebook, or e-mail to friends, family and our church family, especially those with children at home, those who suffer from mental or physical health issues,  and those who live alone. If you know of people who are not ‘on-line’ please share this information with them.

The church e-mail and telephone line is monitored.  Under the direction of Maggie Lorimer, Pastoral Care Team Coordinator, the clergy and Team are still striving to be in contact with all parishioners.  If you have not had a call it is likely that we do not have your correct contact information.  You can leave it for us to retrieve by e-mailing the church at st.helen@on.aibn.com.  Thank you to the Team for their dedication and to the leaders of our various interest groups for continuing to reach out to their members. A reminder that the Prayer Chain is still operative so feel free to send prayer requests. 

Thank you to Ian Kelly for his expertise managing our web site; to Derek Reid for his coordination of the taped liturgies we have offered; to our Financial Ministries for their ongoing work; to Terry and Eileen Leversedge for the Easter material from ‘Seasons of the Spirit’ sent to all families and to Kathy Pearce, Rector’s Warden, for her support and to Glen McIntyre, People’s Warden, for his support and his ongoing oversight of the parish and property.

Friday, April 10, 2020
Good Friday: The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion  
Prayers for Use at Home

All we like sheep have gone astray;  
have turned every one to his own way.
And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Christ the Lord became obedient unto death.  
Even death on a cross.

Before God, remember now your sins, in thought and word and deed; how you have not loved the Lord with your whole heart; how you have not loved your neighbours as yourself.  Pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness and know that God forgives the sins of all who are penitent and offers us perfect grace and peace.

The Collect Almighty God, look graciously, we pray, on your children around the world, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Read The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ (John18:1-19:42)

See “Heart and Soul” for Good Friday for the Meditation
The Solemn Intercession  Book of Alternative Services p. 309 or online,  anglican.ca, Liturgical Texts online p. 309

In the Shadow of the Cross
Book of Alternative Services p. 316, adapted

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
And praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
by virtue of your cross joy has come to the whole world.
May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.
Let your ways be known upon the earth, your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
If we have died with him, we shall live with him;
If we endure, we shall also reign with him.

O Saviour of the world,
by your cross and precious blood you have redeemed us.
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen

Closing Prayer
Book of Alternative Services p. 320, adapted

Send down your abundant blessing, Lord, upon your people
who have devoutly recalled the death of your Son
in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
Grant us pardon; bring us comfort in these troubled times.
May our faith grow stronger and our eternal salvation be assured.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Triduum – A Homily for Maunday Thursday and Good Friday

Stories of the Via Dolorosa Monday – Wednesday Holy Week 2020
Meditations on the Stations of the Cross for St. Helen’s Anglican Church

Wednesday in Holy Week Stations 10-14

Today we continue to travel on the Via Dolorosa, as illustrated by the Stations of the Cross. Online, there are thousands of collections depicting the different scenes or describing the route as it looks today; stmarkshope.weebly.com offers one artist’s compelling rendition

Station 10 and Jesus is stripped of his garments. There is no dignity in crucifixion. He is stripped naked, of any pride, of any protection.  He is defenceless. His seamless tunic, dirt streaked, blood stained, wrenched from his body.  And the soldiers gamble for his personal effects…perhaps there is something worth selling, to add to their pay.

Station 11 shows Jesus nailed to the Cross. Two others also, were led away to be put to death with him.  When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left… the mocking title above his head read, “The King of the Jews”, in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek..  Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.(Luke 23:32-34)

Station 12 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Jesus cried out with a loud voice “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”My God, my God, have your forsaken me?  (Matthew 27:46) And when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said “I am thirsty”. A jar full of sour wine was standing there.  So they put a sponge full of wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  In a final act of harshness, they pieced his side with a spear…to make sure. An awesome silence hangs over the world, just as it did “in the beginning”.  It is the silence of death.  And in the temple, the holy curtain was torn in two from top to bottom.

Station 13 Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross then laid in his mother’s arms.  She cradles him. There are no more tears left. Just that aching grief, the lonely emptiness of loss. An event not recorded in the scriptures but familiar to us in the great paintings and sculptures of la Pieta. The raw emotion of the scene is familiar to any who has lost a loved one.

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea was given permission by Pilate to take away the body. They wrapped it with spices in linen cloths according to the burial custom of the Jews. “Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.  And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.  And they rolled a great stone to seal the door of the tomb. Station 14

We have come to the end of the Via Dolorosa but our Holy Week observances continue. We travel back in time to before this moment, as we remember Jesus’ last hours with his beloved friends and then all is brought to a closure, of sorts, in the Good Friday Celebration. Later, after the silence, after the darkness, the dawn of a new life.

Tuesday in Holy Week Stations 5-9

Today we continue to travel on the Via Dolorosa, as illustrated by the Stations of the Cross. Online, there are thousands of collections depicting the different scenes or describing the route as it looks today; stmarkshope.weebly.com offers one artist’s compelling rendition

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of Simon, the theme of Station 5.

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him, compelled him to, carry it behind Jesus”. (Luke 23:26) Jesus’ steps falter. He can’t do it alone. And out of the crowd a bystander is conscripted to help this condemned man. He doesn’t have a choice and yet he must have wondered “Why me?” “Why him?”

Station 6 shows a woman wiping the face of Jesus.  We call her Veronica, although neither her name, nor her story appears in any verse of scripture.  A person of legend, her compassion for our Lord stirs our own. In his expression, that of all who ever suffered violence, abuse, cruelty, rejection. His face streaming with blood and spit and tears, gently wiped clean. This is the story that generated the mystery, or the legend, of the Shroud of Turin…an artefact that has been, over the years, the source of both inspiration and of doubt. But the story itself…does it not speak of an action we hope we would have taken, had we been there?

At Station 7 Jesus stumbles and falls to the ground a second time. Every fibre of his body wracked with pain. Face down he stares at the earth beneath him, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. 

Station 8 depicts Jesus meeting the women of Jerusalem.

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:27-28)

Station 9 Jesus falls a third time. He collapses under the weight of the cross. His strength ebbing…broken, pathetic…and still to come, the final uphill climb, to the crucifixion ground.

And so we continue the journey, tomorrow…

Monday in Holy Week  Stations 1-4

From the earliest days of the church, followers of Jesus told the story of his life, passion, his death and resurrection.  Over the centuries, pilgrims came to Jerusalem and they were eager to visit the sites particularly associated with our Lord.  Eventually, following in Jesus’ footsteps along the way of the cross, the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering, became a highly valued part of any Christian’s devotional journey.  But not all could travel to the Holy Land and so the stations, as we know them today, came into being. Today we embark on this path, hearing stories from the Via, as illustrated by the Stations of the Cross, as we contemplate the mystery of Jesus’ gift of himself to us. As we journey together, in spirit, along the way of the Cross, may you experience the presence of our Lord and open your heart to a faith renewed.  stmarkshope.weebly.com offers an artist’s compelling rendition of the Stations and there are thousands of collections on-line.

At Station 1 Jesus is condemned to death. They took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters and Pilate questioned him.  What have you done? Are you the King of the Jews? What is truth? And, although he could not find a case against him, he bowed to the mass hysteria and released for the crowd the bandit Barabbas. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. Soldiers wove a crown of thorns and crushed it on his head and they dressed him in a purple robe.  They mocked him, insulted him, tortured him. The crowd screamed “Crucify him”. 

Station 2 depicts Jesus carrying the Cross. He went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. The tree, freshly hewn, heavy and cumbersome.  The cross of Christ. It was no piece of fashionable jewellery or artwork or a liturgical furnishing.  It was an instrument of death that would choke off the Word whose first wail was heard in Bethlehem’s manger. It represents the weight of all our crosses, all human suffering, sin and sadness.

Jesus falls several times along the Way.  Station 3 depicts the first time. He is not Superman.  He does not leap tall buildings and even now, he does not give in to the temptation that Satan had placed before him at the end of his desert sojourn; throw yourself down and God will send angels to rescue you. No. He falls, one with all of us who throughout history have fallen under the weight of illness, of despair, of dreams unfulfilled, of injustice, of broken relationships, of grief, of pain. Jesus falls under the burden of humanity’s daily horrors, large and small.

At Station 4 Jesus meets his mother. All his life his mother Mary had taught him the meaning of the words “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord…”  On this dusty, blood-spattered path to Calvary, she might well remember again the words Jesus spoke when he was just twelve “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Now they look into each other’s tear-filled eyes. Mary knows the sorrow in every parent’s heart who has lost a child to tragedy or violence. To watch the pain of those we love is harder than to bear our own.  She would give anything, everything, that he might live…but only God can give that gift.And so we continue on the Via Dolorosa, tomorrow…

Palm and Passion Sunday April 5, 2020

A Liturgy for Use at Home

If you are alone, you can follow the service as it is printed.  If you share your ‘self- isolation’ with family members, divide the liturgy so that each person participates.  You will want a Bible on hand, or click the link below for The Passion. “Heart and Soul” for April 5 is also available under Lenten Devotional.

During Lent we have been preparing for the celebration of our Lord’s paschal mystery. On this day our Lord Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph. The people welcomed him with palms and shouts of praise, but the path before him led to self-giving, suffering, and death. Today we greet him as our King, although we know his crown is thorns and his throne a cross. Even though we cannot gather in community, we follow him this week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection by way of the dark road of suffering and death. United with him in his suffering on the cross, may we share his resurrection and new life.

Prayer: Assist us mercifully with your help, Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy into the celebration of those mighty acts whereby you give us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Palm Sunday Gospel for Year A Matthew 21:1-11  Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “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.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!”

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

Collect: Almighty and everliving God, in tender love for all our human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take our flesh and suffer death upon a cruel cross. May we follow the example of his great humility, and share in the glory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Meditation: On that notorious day in Jerusalem, there was noise and excitement, and perhaps an undercurrent of mass hysteria, as men, women and children lined up along the parade route, welcoming Jesus with the shout “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Perhaps, they dared to wonder, perhaps He really was the Messiah, the anointed one, who would, as promised, free them from Roman occupation and oppression, and bring them back to some earlier glory, as in King David’s reign.  Those  glad ‘hosannas’ quickly turn to jeers of ‘crucify’, as the rejoicing that begins this observance gives way to the solemnity of the reading of the Passion, passion meaning the suffering of our Lord. 

Although each Gospel version of the events is a little different, every one includes the betrayal, denial, trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The path takes us along the Via Dolorosa…the Way of Grief, or the Way of Suffering.  It may be that we will find new meaning in the journey this year as the pandemic takes its toll.

It is not many steps from the eastern gate to Golgotha…and yet, how far it is from King to Crucified? The Passion recounts the journey. And around the world, Christians in every time zone, in every life circumstance, of every race, culture, nation and language will be doing the same.  We will tell the story of how “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16.  These are truly powerful words of comfort in these troubled days.

Our worship does not end today, there is no dismissal; we complete our service in silence.  But our worship continues throughout the week as we persevere in prayer, as we mark the events of that week, as we walk with Christ through the valley of the shadow of death. And then our pilgrimage takes us onward to God’s Friday and then, yes, to what awaits us on Easter morn.

Read The Passion, according to Matthew

(Click the link or go to biblegateway.com  Search Matthew 26:14 – 27:66, version NRSV or in your own Bible)

Prayers of Intercession: As this is the first Sunday of the month, when we regularly offer Healing Ministry so we will pray for healing today:   O Lord, hear us as we lift up to you all who are in need of healing: For our world caught in pandemic, anguished, and grieving. We pray for all who have COVID 19 or are coping with other physical or mental illnesses; for health and wholeness for Public Health, medical staff, caregivers and front line workers of all kinds.  We remember the vulnerable, of every age. We pray for the marginalized, who have no safe shelter and those who have no money. And Lord we ask for the blessing of Your Peace upon all who are worried or fearful. We pray also for our own needs and concerns…Lord, hear our prayer. Amen

Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen

Doxology: Glory to God whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen

Silence