MARCH 24, 2024






God Most High, gracious, and glorious,

blessed is the one who comes in your name.

Lead us now on the road to the cross.
May we follow with faithfulness and joy,

shouting hosanna in the highest heaven;

through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.



PRELUDE                  “Hosanna in the Highest”                David Paxton



29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 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. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”


32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.


36 As he[JESUS] rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.37 Now as he was 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, 38 saying,

“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”


39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”


ANTHEM                   “The King of Glory”


*PROCESSIONAL HYMN No. 197              “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”              vs. 1 & 3

1 Hosanna, loud hosanna, 
the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple
the joyful anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
the simplest and the best.

3 “Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer;
the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him
with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence
eternally rejoice. 



Like the people who greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem and later pronounced, “Crucify him,” we are fickle people who often deny Christ in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Remembering the events of Jesus’ last week helps us see ourselves for what we are: sinners in need of a savior, a savior—praise God—we have in Christ.  In honesty and hope, we confess now our sins to God.



Loving God,
you rode a donkey and came in peace,
humbled yourself and gave yourself for us.
We confess our lack of humility.
As you entered Jerusalem,
the crowds shouted, “Hosanna: Save us now!”
On Good Friday they shouted, “Crucify!”
We confess our praise is often empty.
We sing Hosanna but cry Crucify.
As the crowd laid their palms in front of you
you took the way of God: you took no glory for yourself.
We confess that we want to be accepted and take the easy way.
We do not stay true to your will.
Forgive us, Lord, and help us to follow in the way of obedience. Amen.




*RESPONSE No. 471             “O Lord, Hear My Prayer”

O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call, answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.



Hear the Word of the Lord from Psalm 118:
Let those who fear the Lord say,
His steadfast love endures for ever.
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
In Christ, God answers us and sets us free!
In Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God.


*RESPONSE No. 565                        “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power, God of might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest,
hosanna in the highest.



Christ is our peace.

He has reconciled us to God in one body by the cross.

We meet in his name and share his peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.





Please join me in the unison prayer…

Eternal God,
whose word silences the shouts of the mighty:
Quiet within us every voice but your own.
Speak to us through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ
that, by the power of your Holy Spirit,
we may receive grace to show Christ’s love
in lives given to your service. Amen.


SCRIPTURE               Mark 15:1-15(-39)

15As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.


6Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom.9Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.


16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.


21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days,30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.


33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”




This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!!


SERMON                   “These are the people in your neighborhood”

I wonder how many people in the crowd who shouted for Barabbas had also been in the crowd that shouted “Hosanna” a week before.

Crowds had followed Jesus throughout his ministry. Crowds pushed their way into the little house in Capernaum so that the only way a paralyzed man could get to Jesus was to be let down from the roof. Everywhere he went crowds badgered Jesus for more healings, more miracles, more, more, more; often he had to flee out into the middle of the Sea of Galilee in a boat to get some respite. And when he did there would be another crowd waiting when he landed. These were the crowds that the establishment Jews feared would riot if they arrested Jesus in public.

And yet it was the crowd that chose Barabbas over Jesus when asked which one should live and which one would die. This crowd that shouted “Hosanna!” one week shouted, “Crucify him!” the next.

Who is in this crowd?


There are six kinds of people in the crowd.

There are the rabble: surplus urban population, mostly idle, discontented, ripe for trouble and entertained by the excitement of a public execution. They care nothing for the purity of Judaism or the charge of blasphemy, but recognize the bandit Barabbas as a kindred spirit.

There are the passionate patriots, who had expected Jesus to free Judea from the Romans and restore Israel to the greatness foretold in the prophets. When they see Jesus bleeding and bound, they are filled with such a sense of disappointment and betrayal of hope that crucifixion feels like justice to them.

There are the religious purists, whom Jesus has outraged from the beginning and for whom this scene is a vindication of the rightness of their cause.

There are a few members of the upper classes, wealthy business people and landowners, who don’t particularly care one way or another who gets crucified but for goodness sake get it over with so that things can get back to normal before the Romans impose martial law. They got caught in the crowd by accident; they have better things to do than waste their time like this.

There are the ordinary folk, Joe Six-Pack (excuse me – Yosef wine-flask) and his wife Naomi and the kids up to the city for the festival. They saw Jesus once and thought he had some good things to say, and hadn’t he healed some people? They shouted with all the others when Jesus came into town, because after all it was a holiday, it was an exciting time, it was fun to wave the branches and call for the promises of God to be fulfilled. But obviously he must have done something wrong, because there he was under arrest with the priests and the governor and everybody saying he was a criminal. So Joe yells a little, too, so as not to be different, but he feels a little uncomfortable and wishes they’d gone another way when they set out that morning.

And there are some who knew Jesus. Susannah and Ben hadn’t been with him last night when he was arrested, but Ben’s brother Ezra had heard from Samuel who was Bartholomew’s wife’s cousin and so, of course, as soon as it was light, they hurried down to the governor’s palace to find out what was going on. They heard Pilate ask, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” And they waited fearfully for the answer, knowing Jesus’ popularity, praying for the people to choose Jesus. Ben clenches his fist and grinds his teeth helplessly when they yelled for Barabbas; Susannah can feel him tense and tugs on his arm to remind him of the danger. And when Pilate asks, “What do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” the mob begins to chant “Crucify him!” and she gasps and tears spurt from her eyes. Ben hisses at her to stop; she swallows and holds her breath. The crowd begins to move, pushing them roughly along; Susannah trips over the edge of her shawl and almost goes down; they inch slowly to the edge of the square and duck into a dooryard. “What are we going to do?” cries Susannah, “what are we going to do?” And Ben replies, “Nothing. There is nothing we can do. We will go to Ezra’s and wait. Maybe they’ve found out by now what’s happened to Peter and John and the others.”


There were six kinds of people in the crowd.

And there were some who were absent altogether.

Some had already left town.

The crowd in Jerusalem that day was made up of ordinary people, people like you, people like me. There are people who get carried away by the heat of the moment, people who conspire for their enemies’ downfall, people who don’t care one way or another about the battle unless it gets in their way, people who go along with the majority, people who are afraid to speak up… Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes saying nothing is the right thing to do. Ben and Susannah were right. There was nothing they could do. They were faithful to the extent of their knowledge and abilities.

My point is, that there were people like us in the crowd. And some of us shouted, “Crucify him,” along with the rest. It takes courage and a clear vision to know when to stand against the crowd.

Sometimes it is not possible to fight the crowd. But it is never necessary to follow the crowd.



Commentary and Liturgy provided by Alison Bucklin, Doug Bratt, Ellen Skidmore, Mike Marsh, John Buchanan, Chris Moore, Terry Ott, the PCUSA Book of Common Worship and the PCUSA Book of Confession.



I am empowered by God and led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I will be a living witness through prayer, preaching, teaching, and outreach to all people.  I will encourage and challenge all to grow spiritually, to care for others, to share the Good News, and to do so with a loving, joyful heart.


 *HYMN No. 196                   “All Glory, Laud and Honor”

All glory, laud, and honor
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring!

1 Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David’s royal Son,
who in the Lord’s name comest,
the King and blessed One. (Refrain)

2 The people of the Hebrews
with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayers and anthems
before thee we present. (Refrain)

3 To thee, before thy passion,
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. (Refrain)

4 Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King! (Refrain)



Steadfast Love:
you hand us the palm branches,
so we can wave them in hope;
you steady us in the days
when pain is stuck
to the bottom of our lives,
when fear is our constant companion.
We empty ourselves
so you might fill us with joy.

Humble Healer:
When our mouths turn numb
and we cannot speak our dreams,
you tenderly caress our cheeks,
leaning over to hear our faltering words.
When our arms have grown weak
from the burdens we carry,
you take them from us,
and strengthen us with your mercy.
We empty ourselves
so you might fill us with grace.

Voice of Wisdom:
when death hovers so close
we can feel it’s cold breath,
you come to us,
the warm breath of resurrection
pushing aside our fears.
When we hesitate to walk into
the unknown stretching before us,
you tightly clasp our hands
and teach us the first step.
We empty ourselves
so you might fill us with peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .


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 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.




On this Palm Sunday, we’ve had our opportunity to cheer and clap, wave our palms and shout “Hosanna!”  Now, we have an opportunity to give a portion of what’s been given to us, so others might also come to recognize Jesus as the Christ.  Let’s give with grateful hearts, eager to share the joy of following God’s Beloved.




*RESPONSE N0. 605                        “Praise to God the Father”

Praise to God the Father;
praise to God the Son;
praise to God the Spirit:
praise to the Three-in-One.
Sing praise, sing praise to the Lord on high.
Praise to God Almighty;
praise to the Holy One.


The crowds offered you their coats to walk on,
they waved palm branches, honoring your presence.
Today we honour you, Lord,
with our faithful tithes and offerings.
We lay these gifts before you,
humble tokens of our love,
a public display of affection for our King of kings.


CLOSING SCRIPTURE                                Matthew 26:1-16

26 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”


Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a] a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news[b] is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.


ANTHEM                   “Thy Will Be Done”              Craig Courtney

Our cup was filled with darkness.

Our cup was filled with death.

Christ took our cup and drank it, and gave us life, and gave us hope,

Gave us Himself.


My Father, let this cup pass from me.

Yet not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.


In blackest night we hear Him in dark Gethsemane.

Pleading with the Father for one more way,

For one more hope, for one more day.


That they took our Savior, and led Him to a tree;

And there they broke His body, poured out His life,

Put Him to death to rise again!


My Father, let this cup pass from me.

Yet not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.