Prayer as We Gather: We all love a parade, Lord, but sometimes we forget why we’re marching. On this Palm Sunday, draw us in the Spirit’s tether to the tasks you have to fulfill for our time, as when Jesus sent two disciples to fetch the donkey that would carry him to Jerusalem and crucifixion: “Go, untie, bring.” Simple enough. But that simple obedience set in motion Holy Week’s ineffable misery and mystery. On this Palm Sunday, we join the parade of Jesus’ followers wise or simple who through their own toils, conflicts, and sufferings have learned who he is. We want to learn, too. Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 11 and the writings of Albert Schweitzer)
Call to Worship:
Give thanks to God, because God is good.
God’s love never quits.
Thank you, God, for responding to me;
You’ve truly become my deliverance!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone!
This is God’s work: We rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!
This is the very day God acted –
Let’s celebrate and be festive! (Psalm 118, The Message)
Morning Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for allowing us the same advantages of education you granted prophet Isaiah, for the same purpose, “ to respond to the weary with a word that will awaken them.” May we see ourselves as attorneys well prepared to argue your case before a cynical world. Open our ears to your summons, so we don’t cut and run or hide our face from the insults sure to come when we are found faithful to our crucified Lord. Grant us tender hearts to defend the voiceless poor and a stony courage that speaks truth to power. When we stand together, “who could condemn us or bring judgment against us?” Thanks be to God for bidding us take up the cross and follow the Galilean carpenter who taught us to pray, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Isaiah 50)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, for completely abandoning Jesus’ servant attitude, so poignantly sketched by apostle Paul: “He emptied himself by taking the form of a slave, becoming like human beings.” Tortured on the Roman state’s favorite mode of capital punishment du jour, his broken form draped in lurid humiliation for all the leering world to see, Jesus endured the cross. We, on the other hand, with our addiction to accumulation and our preoccupation with image, are far too full of ourselves to consider even briefly any disciplined self-emptying. Have mercy on our Facebook profile-obsessed psyches, we pray. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Phillipians 2)
Assurance of Pardon: Take heart, distracted accolade seekers: There is no statute of limitations on spiritual attitude adjustment. This very day, this priceless moment, you may “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” The attitude-adoption process is as wide open as Jesus’ loving arms, waiting for you to accept his embrace and emulate his life. God knows our hearts, sees our every weakness, our desperate hunger to be recognized, yet God still stands ready and eager to honor our turning toward the way of the cross. After all, as Paul faithfully notes, it was in response to Jesus’ obedience that “God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names.” Thanks be to God, our Creator still honors obedience, as you will see if only you’re willing to give it a try.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Philippians 2)