Worship Elements: Palm Sunday 2019

February 17th, 2019

Palm/Passion Sunday

COLOR: Purple
PALM SUNDAY READINGS: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40
PASSION SUNDAY READINGS: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14–23:56 or Luke 23:1-49


Palm/Passion Sunday offers the choice of focusing on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem or on the entire passion story. In recent years, the trend has been to use the entire passion story. This often means that the story of the triumphal entry is ignored or underplayed. These liturgies will focus on the themes present in the triumphal entry, acknowledging the tension of celebrating this joyful
occasion with the knowledge of what comes next. This presents the opportunity to ask, What is so good about the passion of Christ? If you desire a liturgy that encompasses the entire passion story, you may wish to draw elements from Holy Thursday and Good Friday.


Call to Worship (Palm Sunday)

Honor and praise.
Honor, praise, and glory.
Honor, praise, and glory are yours
Almighty God, now and forever.
In celebration, we join the crowds of old,
waving branches, giving honor to the Messiah.
Yet, our celebration is bittersweet,
for our story doesn’t end here.
We know the pain of what lies ahead.
Today anticipates the rest of the story—
a story of betrayal and death,
a story of hope and resurrection.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 118, Luke 19)

Save us Lord!
Praise the Lord!
To you who triumphed over death,
we sing our praise.
Your steadfast love endures forever.
As we face your death
and recall the week of your suffering,
may we do so with a joy
that anticipates the celebration
of your resurrection;
may we do so with the confidence
to turn to you
in both life and death. Amen.


Prayer of Confession (Luke 19)

Lord Jesus,
we are a fickle people,
quick to turn away.
We are quick to flock to you when all is well,
but we are prone to scatter
when there is opposition or criticism.
Too often we have kept silent before you,
afraid to proclaim your praise.
It is easy to join the crowd
as you ride triumphantly into Jerusalem—
singing our joys and expectations,
dancing our hopes and dreams.
It is far more difficult to stand by you
as the crowd cries for your crucifixion.
Forgive our weakness
when we turn away.
Strengthen us for the journey ahead
as we relive your suffering and death,
that we might stay beside you to the end.
Give us the courage to shout our hosannas,
not only today, but each and every day. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Psalm 118)

The Lord is our strength and might.
Jesus is our salvation.
In Jesus our sins are forgiven.
In Jesus our cries are answered,
our salvation is at hand.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Passing the Peace of Christ (Psalm 118)

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
May the peace of Christ fill you this day.
Christ is the source of our joy and gladness.
Please share a joyful sign of Christ’s peace
with those near you.

Response to the Word (Psalm 118, Luke 19)

Blessed is the one who comes in the name
of the Lord.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word made flesh.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!
Open your eyes to see the kingdom
God is creating in our midst.


Invitation to the Offering (Luke 19)

Join in the chorus! Give honor to Jesus Christ and bring your offering of praise to him. Rejoice in the coming of our Lord. Lay your treasures at his feet.

Offering Prayer

What can we offer
that you have not already offered us?
What can we do
that you have not already done for us?
Lord Jesus Christ,
in your gifts to us,
you have provided us the way
to live and serve you.
In both your triumph and your suffering,
you deserve our praise.
Through the gifts we now offer,
we express our longing to serve
and to follow wherever you go. Amen.


Benediction (Palm Sunday)

Passing from joy into sorrow and on to elation,
we come to Christ this holy week.
Today is only a part of the story.
Jesus’ triumph leads to his death,
his death to his resurrection.
May the journey of this week lead you
into the fullness of Christ’s love.


Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 118)

Shout out! Don’t keep silent.
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let the children say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let the elderly say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let the women say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let the men say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let all who believe say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 118, Luke 19)

Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the one who comes
for us all!
Peace in heaven.
Peace on earth.
And glory in the highest heaven!
Glory always to Jesus!
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord!

From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. 

About the Author

Bryan Schneider-Thomas

Bryan Schneider-Thomas is a pastor in The United Methodist Church, and serves churches as a consultant in art and read more…
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