Liturgy of the Palms
Holy Eucharist, Rite II
March 28, 2021
The Liturgy of the Palms
All stand, having placed about them signs of life, hope, growth, or renewal from their homes or garden, such as flowers in bloom, houseplants, a small tree, or a basket of fruit.
Celebrant: Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
LEM: Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.
Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy into the week in which we contemplate those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Gospel Mark 11:1-11
Celebrant: The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.
LEM: Glory to you, Lord Christ.
1When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and 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. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” 4
They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the coming kingdom of David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11Then 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.
Celebrant: The Gospel of the Lord.
LEM: Praise to you, Lord Christ.
Celebrant: Let us pray.
It is right to praise you, Almighty God, for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed King of kings by the people, who spread garments and branches of palm along his way. Bless these flowers and fruits of the earth, that they may be for us signs of his victory and your grace. Grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Celebrant: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
LEM: Hosanna in the highest.
Processional Hymn: All glory Laud and Honor The Hymnal 1982, # 154
Refrain: All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King!
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel, thou David’s royal Son,
who in the Lord’s Name comest, the King and Blesséd One. Refrain.
The company of angels is praising thee on high;
And we with all creation in chorus make reply: Refrain.
The people of the Hebrews with palms before thee went;
Our praise and prayers and anthems before thee we present. Refrain.
To thee before thy passion they sang their hymns of praise;
To thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. Refrain.
Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King! Refrain.
The Old Testament Lesson Isaiah 50:4-9a
4The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
5The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I did not turn backward.
6I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
7The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
9It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?
LEM: The Word of the Lord.
Celebrant: Thanks be to God.
Psalm of the Day Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
1O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his mercy endures forever!
2Let Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”
9Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
20This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
The New Testament Lesson Philippians 2:5-11
5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
LEM: The Word of the Lord.
Celebrant: Thanks be to God.
Gradual Hymn: Ride on! ride on in majesty! The Hymnal 1982, # 156
Ride on! ride on in majesty! Hark! all the tribes hosanna cry;
thy humble beast pursues his road with palms and scattered garments strowed.
Ride on! ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die;
O Christ, thy triumphs now begin o’er captive death and conquered sin.
Ride on! Ride on in majesty! The angel armies of the sky
look down with sad and wondering eyes to see th’approaching sacrifice.
Ride on! Ride on in majesty! Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father on his sapphire throne expects his own anointed Son.
Ride on! Ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die:
bow thy meek head to mortal pain, then tak, O God, thy power, and reign
The Sermon: You Will Find Tied There a Colt
(The printed sermon text may differ from the spoken sermon)
I have never quite known what to make of donkeys. They always seem to me like the first run of something, a coyote to the stronger, more disciplined wolf, or a cheetah to the stronger, more successful lion. There’s just no way to dress one up to make it look as good as a horse, though beauty in things equine is oft in the eye of the beholder, and many a jenny has found her jack to be plenty ready to help her foal. Those in the know tell me that donkeys are the stronger and hardier of the two, the more sure-footed, and the more affectionate. They can learn as well as can dolphins and dogs, and form strong and lasting friendships. They are less likely than horses to collapse under pressure, for much the same reason that they are the more stubborn: they need to know why they should do something, as well as how to do it. Once they’re convinced, they won’t forget. Their memories can stretch back more than a quarter of a century.
So the chances are that the donkey colt on whose back Jesus rode into Jerusalem would’ve remembered him for years, and the shouts of “Hosanna!” that went with him, and the people lining the roads and laying down cloaks and leafy branches before him. Those were more likely impediments than aids for the journey, but the colt would’ve learned, even at that young age – donkey colts are males less than four years old – that people often do things that are meant to help, but really don’t. He would’ve also learned that people can be fickle, and to be careful about trusting their intentions. Not for nothing did Orwell make the one donkey in Animal Farm at once wise and wary, both of the farmer that abused them and the pigs who led the revolution that overthrew him, only to turn into even more devious versions of that old farmer in their turn. Old Benjamin, for that was his name, had lived a long time and seen much – including that there was nothing new under the sun, not even wide-eyed dreamers or those who preyed upon their dreams. Donkeys, like elephants, never forget. In the Bible, they represent very much the anti-horse, the beast of burden instead of the steed of war, the thing a common person rides or walks with out in the country or into town, not the gallant mount for the monarch or the doomed bearer of the soldier into battle.
So they let him have it – the people of Jerusalem, that is, let Jesus borrow the young donkey for his glory ride, his triumph that was not a triumph, his ironic echo of Zechariah 9: “Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious, humble and riding a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). Some of them, surely, knew what that passage meant. They knew that when the king rides into town on a donkey colt as a symbol of peace, having won back them yet another war to end all wars, all will be well. They knew it, or at least they hoped so. In the paradise that that king was to bring into being, the Lord would protect his people, sparing them the burden, and the Lord would save them. In that place, “Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women” (Zech. 9:17).
The leaders in Jerusalem knew it, too – and knew what it meant. Jesus, the sharp-tongued, sin-forgiving healer from Galilee, was not coming into the city as a warrior, or anything like one. He was coming as a bringer of peace, a reminder of the Lord’s protection, and an avatar of the Lord’s salvation. He was also coming – and no way to avoid it, now – as what you might call the people’s king, someone who had clearly won the hearts and minds of the people, and from them earned the right to rule. He wanted to do the job, they wanted him to do the job, and he would’ve no doubt rocked at it. So why not just let him?
The thought never seems to have occurred to them, any more than it ever does to unpopular, incompetent, or malevolent rulers when one shows up who is better than they are. Seeing such a leader’s goodness excites their malice, and seeing how the people love that leader calls forth their envy and pride, and they vow to humble and break him, or her. It’s not just Jesus and the priests, et al., in the temple in Jerusalem. The dominant families of Rome did it all the time – indeed, saw the popularity and competence of anyone who could rule well as their most dangerous enemy and rival. Many a general rode to the city in triumphal procession – on a horse, not a donkey – only to be wind up knifed in the back by week’s end by those jealous of all he had done, and all that he still could do. Et tu, Brute? asked Julius Caesar, rhetorically, of the man who he had thought one of his staunchest supporters, much as Jesus will ask Judas Iscariot this coming Thursday, “Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Oh, yes – yes, indeed.
Palm Sunday has always been a service of contrasts – triumph, and tragedy. It’s customary to recite the entire Passion Gospel, from Betrayal to the Nails, but I find it best to split them up, save the agony and bloody sweat for Good Friday. Today we concentrate on a man on a young donkey riding in representing power and peace – and the power to make peace last, which is what most people have always wanted from their rulers but so rarely been able to have. They wanted – and who does not? – for those who had to power to rule to have the will and grace to rule well, the desire and the strength to heal them and set them free from all that ails people, even today: sin, pain, grief, sorrow, anxiety, abuse, & despair.
It is the same with us. We, like the people of Jesus’s misgoverned and misled world, know what we need to be saved from, and where that salvation comes from. Despite, or because of, what happens in Jerusalem at the end of this week, we remember that this day the people of that city welcomed Jesus of Nazareth – the healer, the prophet, the guy from the country, whom some had heard of and some even met – with open arms, open minds, open hearts, their garments strewn in the ground, and branches of palm stretched before them as he made his way into the city in which he would breathe his last. So, from branches of palm to a crown of thorns, what a journey that will be.
He will find, as will we, this week that it is all too common for those we trust to let us down, to weaken into sickness or to despair, or to give into all manner of evil and wrong. Disciple after disciple will fade away. Some will deny him. One will betray him. Most will flee – and this is after he gives them the great words of teaching and comfort on which we’ll focus on Maundy Thursday, from John 17 and before. No matter what happens to Jesus in the hours and days to come, God’s spirit will be with them, God’s grace be upon them, God’s salvation never far away, and God’s glory ultimately revealed.
This week also leads us from human hope to human despair. The great hopes that people had that this man would finally come into the city where their leaders, such as they were, ruled, and once and for all remove them, replacing them with those who could do the job better, and who could act without malevolence, selfishness, narcissism, incompetence, and other forms of greed, arrogance, and wrong, and finally let the will of God be done on earth, as it is in heaven- for which they in their city, and we in our various places, desperately long. But that was not the path that Jesus chose, nor was it the path that salvation was to follow for them, and for people of all times. So, instead, they would see a good man who rode into town in triumph brought low by wicked people – people who were selfish, self-serving, manipulative, mendacious, treacherous, and steeped in all manner of other evil, or weakness, which often are two sides of the same coin.
We will see by next Sunday that all that evil could not keep him down, but it certainly could put him down. It serves for me every year as a reminder of how bad people can be, but also calls me to think about how good we can be, if we choose to be, as God’s grace is always there to help us choose. There is no way to contemplate the events of Holy Week, when death and evil seem triumphant at every turn, without reminding ourselves of how often that is true, and how often it is unnecessary that it be true. People always have the choice to act in and for truth, and against lies; to stand up to power when it is misused, abused, and does wrong; to defend the poor and the weak; to feed the hungry, clothe those without closing, and give a home to those who do not have one; to be kind to the lonely and the castoff; to set the prisoners free; and to bring healing by whatever means we might. Human beings are capable of great good, which we should always keep in mind, especially this week, when we see that we are so readily capable of the other.
In that spirit, I want to read again this year, as I did last year, Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness:”
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Be at peace this Palm Sunday in your homes, surrounded by the signs of life and the renewal of hope, which are always there, if we look. Look outside; spring is just beginning. Trees bloom, birds sing, plants send forth their shoots, and the world rejoices now that spring in here. Life, God’s great gift, goes on. It will sustain us this week, and at all times. It will remind us to be full of love and kindness, to be people of healing and grace, serve the common good and not ourselves. It will call us to the humble service, and wise memory, of the donkey, a creature free weakness, evil, temptation, and despair. It will have us look carefully at each instance where life is renewed, giving thanks for that renewal with all that we are, and all that we have. On this day, let us go to Jerusalem rejoicing: our once-and-future king is here again. This time, maybe, will we welcome him for real? Amen.
There is no passing of plates or reception of gifts.
The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.
The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Prayers of the People
The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.
I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.
I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.
I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.
I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.
I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.
I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.
The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.
The People stand.
Celebrant: The peace of the Lord be always with you,
LEM: And also with you.
The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance.
The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving
Celebrant: The Lord be with you,
LEM: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
LEM: We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
LEM: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds
God of might and compassion, Lord of all that is, unto you be glory and praise..
LEM: Glory to you for ever and ever.
By your word all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, stars, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.
LEM: By your will they were created and have their being.
From water, earth, and sky you brought us into being, blessing us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us masters of creation, and creators in our turn. But we abused your trust, misused your gifts, turned against one another, and wandered far from you.
LEM: Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.
Time after time, you called us to return. Through prophets and sages you revealed your righteous will, and wrote your law upon our hearts – to no avail. Then, in the fullness of time, you sent your only begotten Son, of woman born, to open to us the way of life and salvation, the way of freedom and peace.
LEM: By his blood, he reconciled us. By his wounds, we are healed.
And by him we praise you, joining with the heavenly host, with prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and with all who have looked to you in hope, to proclaim your glory:
The LEM continues
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The Celebrant continues
And now, Father, we who have been redeemed by him and made a new people by water and the Spirit, bring before you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Celebrant and People hold the elements in their various vessels. The Celebrant continues
On the night he was betrayed, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”
After supper, he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me.”
Remembering his work of redemption, and offering this sacrifice of thanksgiving:
LEM We celebrate his death and resurrection as we await the day of his coming.
The Celebrant continues
Lord God of our Fathers and Mothers: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God of Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.
LEM: Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread.
Accept these prayers and praises, O Lord, through Jesus Christ our great High Priest, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor, glory, and worship, from generation to generation. AMEN.
Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,
The LEM prays
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence. The Celebrant continues
Celebrant: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
LEM: Therefore, let us keep the feast.
Celebrant: The Gifts of God for the People of God.
The People consume their gifts. After Communion, the Celebrant says
Let us pray. The Celebrant prays
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing and Dismissal
The Celebrant says
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord be with you, this day and always, and give you peace.
The LEM says
Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
Withdrawal Hymn: Stand Up, Stand UP for Jesus The Hymnal 1982, #561
Stand up, stand up, for Jesus,
ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,
it must not suffer loss:
from victory unto victory
his army shall be lead,
till every foe is vanquished
and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up, for Jesus;
the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict
in this his glorious day:
ye that are his now serve him
against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger,
and strength to strength oppose.
The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.
We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD
12621 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
email@example.com * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge
firstname.lastname@example.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001
Linda Lee, Parish Administrator
email@example.com * 301-622-5860 ext. 1003
Beresford Coker, Musical Director
Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant
Lee Mericle, Senior Warden
Rosanne Tingley, Junior Warden
For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:
The table for readings in Year B (Lent) may be found here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=B&season=Lent
 Sermon text © 2021 Christopher Wilkins. All rights reserved.
Resources (available for free online)
These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.
- Book of Common Prayer, www.bcponline.org
- Enriching Our Worship 1, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf
- Enriching Our Worship 2, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-2/enrichingourworship2.pdf
- Hymnal 1982: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/EH1982
- Hymnal 1940: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/HPEC1940
- Lift Every Voice and Sing II: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/LEVS1993
- Wonder, Love, and Praise: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/WLP1997
This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.
- The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/
Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.