Jesus Our King
Many churches hold a Palm Sunday procession through the streets led by a donkey if possible. A suitable hymn to sing is "All glory laud and honour to thee, Redeemer King."Call to Worship:
Let us join our voices with the crowds and cry "Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord."
Invitation to Confession:
Jesus, when we go with the crowd instead of standing alone,
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, when we stand stubbornly alone refusing to acknowledge the majority point of view,
Christ, have mercy.
Jesus, when we don't know which way to turn and forget to ask you for guidance,
Lord, have mercy.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples  and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.' "  They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,  some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?"  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"  Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
The Messiah wasn't as the people expected, but he was a king nonetheless. This is the story of a small boy who takes part in the very first Palm Sunday procession.
Jesus our King
When I was ten years old I went with my father to see a great event. I was the oldest of us children and nearly a man, so my father and I went alone. On the way we stopped to cut branches from a palm tree close by. I asked my father why we were doing that. He smiled and told me that the palm branch was a symbol of our country. Anyone who waved a palm branch was telling the world that our country was special and that we were immensely proud to be Jewish.
I waved that palm branch as if I'd never stop. I was proud to be part of a proud nation. But what happened next was even better. My father took me right to the city wall. I'd never been so far in my life before. There were crowds of people there and the air was buzzing with excitement. Everyone was waving palm branches. I was too small to see over the heads of all the people, so I wriggled and pushed and squirmed my way right to the front of the crowd. I was about to ask what was happening when a great cry went up.
"There he is! The Messiah! He's coming at last!"
I thought my heart would burst with excitement. This was the day my whole family had been waiting for ever since I could remember, and according to my mother, they'd been waiting way back in my grandfather's time and in my great-grandfather's time. Now it was here, and I was going to see it! The Messiah was coming to save us from those vicious Romans who treated us all like dirt as they strutted about our beloved country and told us what to do.
As we waited by the East gate I listened for the sound of trumpets and horses hooves and the great army of soldiers I was sure the Messiah would bring with him. But all I heard were the shouts and cries of people like us.
Then the great crowd with him drew nearer. I strained to see the new king on his mighty charger, dressed in his battle armour, but I couldn't see anything through the crowds surrounding him. They were waving flowers and branches of palm, and laying a kind of carpet of palm leaves on the ground for him to ride over.
Then I heard the strangest and most unexpected of sounds. I heard the sound of a donkey braying. I was stunned. What was a donkey doing in such a magnificent procession? I didn't have to wait long to find out, for just at that moment the crowd parted and a man came through the East gate, riding on a donkey.
"Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he comes in the name of the Lord!" shouted the people, and I joined in with them, singing my heart out.
Just then, the man on the donkey turned and looked at me and smiled. It was an amazing moment, and although I'm now nearly old enough to die, I've never forgotten that moment. It felt as though the ground was opening up and I was melting in the love which poured from that man to me.
I forgot then all about soldiers and armour and shining white chargers. This was truly a king, but a king like no other. One who was humble and riding upon an ass, but who was so full of majesty that I never wanted to leave his side. I knew then that he would save his people, but perhaps not quite in the way I expected.
I heard later that the Romans and some of our own priests who were hand-in-glove with the Romans had killed that Messiah. But I never forgot him.
And now, here's a very strange thing. I'm an old man now, and as I wait for my own death, I know that I'm going to meet the Messiah again. Isn't that odd? But I know he's waiting for me, and I know he'll look at me again with all that love pouring from him onto me. And although I know I'm going to die, I just can't wait for that moment.
Today complete the Easter garden. First ask the children to compose suitable prayers - one for placing the crosses, one for placing the tomb.
Wire the figures to the crosses using plastic bag ties and insert the crosses into the moss-covered hill. Invite the children to say the special prayer they have written. Place the tomb in position, with the stone beside the entrance. Invite the children to say the other special prayer they have written.
When the garden is complete, explain that the figure of Jesus will be taken down from the cross on Good Friday and laid in the tomb. If you have a children's event over Easter weekend, this can be incorporated into the event.
By Easter Sunday morning, make sure that the figure of Jesus has disappeared and the stone is rolled away from the tomb. The children could make and dress some pipe cleaner angels today, which would be placed in the tomb at the weekend ready for Easter morning.
Use the flowers to talk about resurrection by pointing out that although they die each year, if they're planted outside the polyanthus will bloom again ready for next Easter,
Diary Time: For details, click here.
Talk about processions and important events. The children might remember the Golden Jubilee, or the Queen Mother's funeral or a local carnival. Talk about the pomp and ceremony and the clothes and ask the children why Jesus didn't enter the city in that way? Ask them what sort of a Saviour they think he was then, and what sort of a Saviour they think he is now. Ask them if Jesus has ever helped them in any way, and invite them to write down or draw an account of that time.
Jesus our King, help us to understand the wealth you bring. Help us to let go of any attachment we have to the world's wealth and instead to seek for your gifts and your riches. May we learn humility just as you showed humility when you rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Jesus our King, we pray for our world, battered and ravaged by us human beings. Forgive us that we haven't cared enough for our world and other people and help us to begin to put right some of wrongs we have allowed to happen in our name.
Jesus our King, as the ordinary people cheered and danced and recognised you as their Messiah, so may ordinary people today cheer and dance and recognise you as their messiah. Help us so to present your message to other people that they are inspired to meet you for themselves.
Jesus our King, as you brought hope and good cheer to the people on that first Palm Sunday, so bring hope and cheer to those of our families and friends who are sick, that they might begin to feel much better. We name them before you...
May the Messiah who rode through the streets of Jerusalem
as a king in humility,
teach us how to serve with dignity
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you now,
be in your homes and in your families
and with all those whom you love
and for whom you pray,
now and always.