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A CELEBRATION OF THE GOOD NEWS
Palm Sunday


Rev. Kristi Denham
Congregational Church of Belmont
March 20, 2016

Prelude                                                                      Jeffrey Jones

Choral Introit  ‘Procession and Hymn for Palm Sunday’
setting by Craig Courtney                 
Youth & Sanctuary Choirs

Kendall:     We welcome you all... As it says in our bulletin, “We are a Progressive Christian Church, respecting diversity in our midst and beyond our doors as we seek to learn and serve the teachings of the Christ.”

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. As it says in our Quiet Meditation, “According the Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and was greeted with a triumphal celebration. The followers of Jesus were expecting him to take over the city. As he entered from one side of the city, Pilate and his army were entering from the other in order to maintain order in the city during the High Holy Days. The irony of this contrast is often lost on us but the power of the prophet, Jesus, acting out his destiny is celebrated to this day.”

I invite you now to take a moment to turn and greet your neighbor…

Do we have any visitors today?

Do we have any birthdays to celebrate?

Are there any announcements?
Response: God, be with us as we do the work of the church. 

Now, would all who are able, please stand and join me in the
Call to Worship based on Psalm 118.
One:   O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good;
         God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Many: Let Israel say, “God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
One:   Open to me the gates of righteousness,
         that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
Many: This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
One:   I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
Many: The stone that the builders rejected
         has become the chief cornerstone.
One:   This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Many: This is the day that the Lord has made;
         let us rejoice and be glad in it.
One:   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Many: We bless you from the house of the Lord.
One:   The Lord is God, and God has given us light.
Many: Bind the festal procession with branches,
         up to the horns of the altar.

One:   You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
         you are my God, I will extol you.
Many: O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good,
         for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Please join me in singing…
*Hymn of Praise   This is the Day!                               84

WE PRAY
Emma:       I invite you now to take a few minutes to relax fully in your seat, realize that you are filled with life from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Simply breathe in the gift of this day. We call it a time of Silent Prayer for Centering. Let us pray…(Count to 100, then say Amen.)

Sometimes in the silence we notice some unfinished business, some relationship that needs attention, something we wish we had done differently, a mistake, a missing of the mark we set for ourselves or feel God set for us. This can make us to feel disconnected from God, which is not good. God has already forgiven us, but we may need to tell God our concerns in order to learn from them and let them go. So I invite us once again into the silence to simply name and let go of anything that might make us feel unworthy of God's love. It is our time of Prayer of Confession. Once more, let us pray… (Count to 50, then say, Amen.)

Now, I invite you to take into your heart, your mind, your whole being, this Assurance of God’s Grace: There is no where you can go and nothing you can do that can separate you from God. God's love is unconditional and always longing to fill our lives with peace and faith and meaning. Please let yourself receive this Assurance of God's grace! Amen.

Robin: Continuing in an attitude I prayer I invite us to share our Joys and Concerns with one another…(Pass the microphone to whoever has a prayer to share.)

Please join me again in prayer:
Loving God, we offer all that we have shared this morning into your loving care. We ask that you might strengthen us in times of need. We know that you celebrate with us in good times as well.

We ask this day not only for our own needs but for the needs of the hungry and the homeless in our community and around the world. Help us to know how we can help and then give us the courage and the strength to do what we can to bring your love and justice into our world.

We pray for our world's leaders, that they might be ever more determined to work for peace. We ask to be inspired by your words and the songs we sing to remember that we are never alone and together we can do so many good things. We pray together now the prayer that Jesus taught us:

The Prayer Jesus Taught Us 
Our Father, Our Mother, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy names. 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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

WE HEAR
Anthem       ‘Call of Wisdom’ by Will Todd     Youth & Sanctuary Choirs

Robin: Time with Adults                                              Robin Linares
We start our Time with Adults by sharing your name.  Since there are so many of you, we will do this all together instead of individually.  On the count of 3, please state your name.  1, 2, 3.

Next it is the time for the bells.  Do I have a volunteer to ring the bells? Thank you.

We are here on Palm Sunday, considering Jesus and his followers as they came to Jerusalem. In the past weeks we have been hearing a lot about Who do we follow and why. Today, I would like to take the opportunity to speak about that question from a different perspective. This is me, a kid, talking to you, the adults, about why you might want to follow the example of the kids around you. Sometimes when things are not going as planned, you should ask yourself. “What would my kids do?”

First up, Playing. Kids like to have fun. Everyday. My favorites are imaginary games and soccer. What do you do for fun?

We are also good at relaxing or as I like to say Chillin’ (wasup Y’all?) My favorite way to relax is with a good book. My brother prefers a funny video. What is your favorite way to chill? 

We can make friends really easily. I know it is hard to believe, but I can be pretty shy sometimes. But when I meet a new person, I usually try to be myself and find things we have in common. How do you make new friends?

We know not to be a bully. I personally like to watch the news every night.  I see examples of adults bullying each other every day. Crazy, right!  I am not going to name any names because it is too unpleasant, sorta like some people in the news a lot. How do you stand up for someone when they’ve  been bullied?

Be happy about the little things like getting some time off to go to the beach with the family or making a picture or dying Easter eggs. Do what you do best to make the world an awesome world. It is never too late!

I leave you 5 tasks to do when you leave.

  1. Cheer someone up that needs cheering up.
  2. Do something that inspires you
  3. Do something that will help the world. One example is planting a tree
  4. Make a new friend.
  5. Give your kids a raise in allowance. They deserve it! Thought I’d sneek that in! (:

Thank you for listening! That ends our time with adults today.

Kaitlyn: Our Scripture Reading this morning is taken from the Gospel According to Luke. It is Luke’s version of the story told first in Mark and again in Matthew. The followers of Jesus were expecting him to take over the city. As he entered from one side of the city, Pilate and his army were entering from the other in order to maintain order in the city during the Passover week. Listen for understanding to the Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 19, verses 28 to 40:

Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it.'"

So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They said, "The Lord needs it." Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
    "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
     Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!"

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."

Here ends our reading for this morning.

Josette Thornhill:What Choice Would You Have Made?
        
Imagine living in a place where all of your beliefs are considered wrong, your traditions unacceptable. When Israel was part of the Roman Empire, Romans came and occupied Israel. There they treated Jews like outsiders because they wouldn’t worship the Roman gods.

On the day after Palm Sunday, Passover began, and Jews from all of Israel came to a temple in Jerusalem to celebrate. When gathered together, the Jews began to protest Roman rule. Thousands and thousands more came, and this worried the Roman government. So they sent several legions of soldiers led by Pontius Pilate, a regional leader. While the legions entered Jerusalem, so did Jesus.

We are here today to celebrate Palm Sunday, which got its name because the people of Jerusalem threw down palm leaves when Jesus arrived. They did this out of joy, for a prophecy had told them that Jesus would ride a donkey into the city to conquer the Romans and free the Jews. They all believed that he would be king of Israel. But, what they did not anticipate was that Jesus would be arrested and crucified. He never became king like they expected him to.

So, if you were in Jerusalem at this time but had known that Jesus wouldn’t become king, would you throw down palm leaves? Would you follow Jesus even if he wasn’t doing what you expected him to or thought was the right decision?
           
What does it mean to “follow” someone? When you like someone’s views or beliefs are you following them? In order to follow a religion do you have to believe in every single thing the Bible says?

I personally believe that following Jesus means having faith that He knows what’s best for us, and putting our trust in Him. In a way, faith itself is following something. We follow a religion because it feels right and good and true, even if we can never be certain that it is or if we don’t agree with everything the religion says or does. We have faith in our religion and in God. Sometimes faith is even following something blindly, and believing that everything will work out.

-Continued-