READING: Mark 11:1-10; Mark 14:1- 15:47; Philippians 2:5-11
SERMON : "An Extravagant Love"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
Sources, if any, are as indicated in the text.
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand)
* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P And also with you.
L Today we recall the events of the first Holy Week so many
P We remember how it started with Jesus entering the Holy City
and we recall how it ended with his death outside Jerusalem's
L This is how it began: --- (A Reading from Mark 11:1-10)
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and
Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus called two of his
disciples and 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 to me. If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing
this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it
back here immediately.'"
They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside
in the street. As they were untying it, some bystanders
said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?"
They told them what Jesus had said; and the bystanders
allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to
Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others
spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.
Then those who went ahead and those who followed were
shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the
name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our
ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
L Lord God, as did the people of Jerusalem before us, we cry
to you, saying:
P Hosanna - blessed is the one who comes in the name of the
Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!
* HYMN: "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" (processings around the Sanctuary) - VU 123
PRAYER OF INVOCATION:
Let us praye -- help us, O Lord, to welcome your blessed son into
our midst today with the same joy and hope that the people of Jerusalem
received him with so long ago. May he abide with us and we with him.
Help us to praise and adore both him and you, not just for a day, but
for always. Amen.
PALM SUNDAY DOXOLOGY (Tune: Praise God From Whom...)
Praise to our God, wave high the palm
Praise to Christ Jesus God's own Son,
Praise to the Spirit we now sing
For in our hearts hosannas ring.
PALM - PASSION LITANY
L The people welcomed Jesus into their midst. Their hosannas
rang out, they called upon him as a saviour, a mighty king.
P They hoped that the he would cast the oppressors out of their
land and bring the nation glory and honour.
L It was a special moment - a time of celebration, a time of
anticipation, a time when people felt that they would receive
a new life.
P It was to offer this to us that Jesus came.
But God's ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts.
L Our worship today recognizes this fact and we rejoice in it.
P Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
* HYMN: "The Day He Came Riding Into Town" (tune - "When Johnny
Comes Marching Home")
The day he came riding into town (hurrah! hurrah!),
His people tore the branches down (hurrah! hurrah!).
They cheered his name with voices loud,
And everyone joined the chanting crowd,
"May the king be blessed; he comes in the name of God!"
The day he came riding into town (hurrah! hurrah!),
He threw the sellers' tables down (hurrah! hurrah!).
"God's house should be a place of prayer
But you've made a haunt of pirates there!"
And he speaks with fire who comes in the name of God!
The day he came riding into town (hurrah! hurrah!),
It caused the men of power to frown (hurrah! hurrah!).
"We have our laws! We have our ways!
We need no king to rule our days!
We denounce his right to come in the name of God!"
The day he came riding into town (hurrah! hurrah!),
He offered love and not a crown (hurrah! hurrah!).
His song of peace could not be heard
For they wanted a throne and not a word,
And the word was "life", new life in the name of God.
* Children Go To Classes Now
LET US PRAY
Lord God - bless us now as we hear the story of the passion of
your Son. Bless the words that we hear that they may live in us.
We ask it in his name Amen.
READING: MARK 14:01-21
It was two days before the Passover and the festival of
Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were
looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him;
for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a
riot among the people."
While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the
leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an
alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she
broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.
But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why
was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment
could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii,
and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her.
But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her?
She has performed a good service for me. For you always
have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them
whenever you wish; but you will not always have me with
you. She has done what she could; she has anointed my
body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you,
wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world,
what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to
the chief priests in order to betray Jesus to them. When
they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to
give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover
lamb is sacrificed, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where
do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to
eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples,
saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a
jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he
enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks,
Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with
my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs,
furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So
the disciples set out and went to the city, and found
everything as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when
they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said,
"Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is
eating with me." The disciples began to be distressed and
to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" Jesus
said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping
bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as
it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son
of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that
one not to have been born."
HYMN: "Ride On, Ride On In Majesty" - VU 127
READING: Mark 14:22-42
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and
after blessing it he broke it, and gave it to his
disciples, and said, "Take, this is my body." Then Jesus
took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them,
and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is
my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of
the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom
When they had sung the Passover hymn, they went out to the
Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, "You will all
become deserters; for it is written, 'I will strike the
shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I
am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter
said to him, "Even though all become deserters, I will
not." Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this day,
this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will
deny me three times." But Peter said vehemently, "Even
though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And all
of them said the same.
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and Jesus said to
his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And He took with
him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed
and agitated. And said to them, "I am deeply grieved,
even to death; remain here, and keep awake." And going a
little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed
that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible;
remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what
you want." Then Jesus came and found his disciples
sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray
that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit
indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again
Jesus went away and prayed, saying the same words. And
once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes
were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him.
He came a third time and said to them, "Are you still
sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come;
the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get
up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand."
HYMN: "Go To Dark Gethsemane" - VU 133
READING: Mark 14:43-72
Immediately, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of
the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with
swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and
the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign,
saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and
lead him away under guard." So when he came, he went up
to Jesus at once and said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. Then
they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those
who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the
high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to
them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest
me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with
you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But
let the scriptures be fulfilled." All of them deserted
him and fled.
A certain young man was following Jesus, wearing nothing
but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left
the linen cloth and ran off naked.
They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief
priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled.
Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the
courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the
guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief
priests and the whole council were looking for testimony
against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none.
For many gave false testimony against him, and their
testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false
testimony against him, saying, "We heard him say, 'I will
destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three
days I will build another, not made with hands.'" But
even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then
the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus,
"Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against
you?" But Jesus was silent and did not answer. Again the
high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of
the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and you will see the
Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, and
coming with the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest
tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need
witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your
decision?" All of them condemned Jesus as deserving
death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and
to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards
also took him and beat him.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the
servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw
Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, "You
also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth." But Peter
denied it, saying, "I do not know or understand what you
are talking about." And he went out into the forecourt.
Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing
him, began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is
one of them." But again Peter denied it. Then after a
little while the bystanders again said to Peter,
"Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean."
But Peter began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not
know this man you are talking about." At that moment the
cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered
that Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice,
you will deny me three times." And he broke down and
* HYMN: "Bitter Was The Night" - VU 132
READING: Mark 15:1-47
As 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. Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of
the Jews?" Jesus answered him, "You say so." Then the
chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked
him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they
bring against you." But Jesus made no further reply, so
that Pilate was amazed.
Now at the festival Pilate used to release a prisoner for
them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called
Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed
murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and
began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his
custom. Then he answered them, "Do you want me to release
for you the King of the Jews?" For he realized that it
was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed
Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the
crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate spoke to them again, "Then what do you wish me to
do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" They
shouted back, "Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Why,
what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more,
"Crucify him!" So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he
handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace
(that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called
together the whole cohort. And they clothed Jesus in a
purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown,
they put it on him. And they began saluting him, "Hail,
King of the Jews!" They struck his head with a reed, spat
upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking
him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own
clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They 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.
Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha
(which means the place of a skull). And they offered him
wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they
crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting
lots to decide what each should take.
It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified
him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The
King of the Jews." With him they crucified two bandits,
one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by
derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who
would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save
yourself, and come down from the cross!" In 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. Let 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
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until
three in the afternoon. At 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?" When
some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is
calling for Elijah." And 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." Then Jesus gave a loud cry and
breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn
in two, from top to bottom Now 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!"
There were also women looking on from a distance; among
them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the
younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow
him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there
were many other women who had come up with him to
When evening had come, and since it was the day of
Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph
of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was
also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God,
went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and
summoning the centurion, he asked him whether Jesus had
been dead for some time. When he learned from the
centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.
Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the
body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb
that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone
against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the
mother of Jesus saw where the body was laid."
HYMN: "Where You There?" (Verses 1-5) - VU 144
* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings
Flow - VU 541) and Responsive Prayer of Dedication
L We thank you Father for Jesus Christ,
P Who for our sake became poor that we might be rich.
We thank you that he gave himself up to death
so that w might rise to life.
L Accept our gifts of thanksgiving now O Lord.
P Use both them and us so that they might bring blessings unto
your name. We ask it in the name of Jesus Amen.
SERMON: "AN EXTRAVAGANT LOVE"
Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the
words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts - grow
thou in us and show us your ways and inspire us to live by
your truth. Amen
The 14th chapter of Mark begins the Passion narrative.
Sandwiched between verses 1-2 and 10-11 is this beautiful little
story of the anointing of Jesus. This story is one of the few
that is told in all four Gospels.
Jesus had already made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was
staying outside the city at Bethany (the hometown of Martha,
Mary and Lazarus) during this festival time because so many
pilgrims had come that the city could not accommodate all of
them. While he was at dinner a woman came in, unbidden. She
proceeded to break open a jar of costly perfume and pour this
over Jesus' head in front of all the other guests .
Some began to murmur about the cost and the waste. Why, this
perfume cost enough to feed over five thousand people. And so
the other guests begin to scold and berate the woman. Jesus,
however, does not see the woman's act quite the same way the
"Let her alone. Why upset her so? She has done something
very beautiful and loving for me. YOU always have the
poor with YOU and any time YOU want to YOU can do
something good for them.
The reference to the poor here may be found in Deuteronomy 15:11.
All good Jews would know of this commandment, "There will always
be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be
open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in
Be open-handed towards your brothers and sisters.
This is what the love of God is all about.
This is what the passion narrative is all about.
It's about open hands
- about having a generous spirit,
- about showing forgiveness without expecting anything in return,
- about giving to others without counting the cost and without
considering the worthiness of those to whom you give...
Contrast the extravagance of this woman's deed of love with the
extravagance of love shown by Jesus going to the Cross.
Love that is "measured" or "counted" needs to take a long look at
Jesus said that wherever the Gospel was preached in all the
world, that this woman's deed would be told in remembrance of
her. And so it has been.
We have been given an example of love's extravagance in order to
- the example of the woman who anointed Jesus for his burial -
- and the example of Jesus himself - who gave everything he had
out of love - to us.
Praise be to God - Amen.
PRAYING WITH THE SCRIPTURES: from Philippians 2:5-11
L Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
P Who, being in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
L And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
P Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name.
L That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
P And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Eternal Father - grant unto us a humility like of Christ Jesus -
and grant that we may ever obey and serve him by showing love for
one another as he has shown love to us. Put in our minds and our
hearts his eternal example and guide us in the way of peace -
Lord hear our prayer....
Lord God - help us be ones who care for those who suffer -to
remember that those who are afflicted are often innocent of wrong
doing and that those who are persecuted are often without guilt
or sin. Help us to have a heart of compassion, a tongue that
utters words of forgiveness, and hands that perform works of
healing.... Lord hear our prayer....
Assist us, O God, to be more expressive in our relationship with
you - to show forth your boundless generosity through our own
caring - Lord hear our prayer
Grant us, O Lord, courage in our obedience to you and strength in
our service. Make us ever mindful of the sin that leads to
death and of the righteousness that leads to life. And help us
trust - O God - not in ourselves - but rather in you. Hear the
prayers of our hearts and grant that we may always render to you
the praise and honour due to your name.............. Lord hear
All these things we ask, most gracious God, in the name of our
crucified redeemer - the one who taught us to pray to you saying
- OUR FATHER......
HYMN: "How Great Though Art" - VU 238
COMMISSIONING In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go
forth into the world - to fulfil our calling as
the people of God, the Body of Christ.
Go in Peace - and may God be gracious unto you according the
riches of his mercy in Christ Jesus - may his love flow forth
abundantly upon you - and may his eternal faithfulness give you
strength for each and every day - Amen
THREE-FOLD AMEN AND CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.