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Sermon and Liturgy (2) for Palm - Passion Sunday - Year C
Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-8; Psalm 31; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 23:1-49
"Nothing Deserving Death"

READING:  Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-8; Psalm 31; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 23:1-49
SERMON :  "Nothing Deserving Death"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-le06su.y-c 926000

   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.

       The following section of today's liturgy - the blessing of
       the Palms - will be held in a public park near the Roman
       Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and United Church worship
       facilities in Golden BC and conducted by the priests and
       pastors of those congregations.  The worshippers will then
       process back with the palms to their respective churches for
       the Passion Liturgy.

L  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
P  Hosanna in the Highest.

L  Dear friends in Christ, during Lent we have been preparing for the
   celebration of our Lord's Paschal mystery.   On this day our Lord
   Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph.  The
   people welcomed Him with palms and shouts of praise, but the path
   before Him led to self-giving, suffering and death.  Today we greet
   Him as our king, although we know His crown is thorns and His throne a
   cross.  We follow Him this week from the glory of the palms to the
   glory of the resurrection by the dark road of suffering and death. 
   Unite us with Him in His suffering on the cross; may we share His
   resurrection and new life.  Let us pray.
P  Assist us mercifully with your help, Lord God of our Salvation, that
   we may enter with joy into the celebration of those mighty acts
   whereby you give us life and immortality through Jesus Christ our
   Lord.  Amen

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 21:1-11
L  The Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

   As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of
   Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village
   ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her
   colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says
   anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send
   them right away."  

   This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say
   to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and
   riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" 

   The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought
   the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on
   them.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while
   others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The
   crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
   "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Blessed is he who comes in the name
   of the Lord!"  "Hosanna in the highest!" 

   When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked,
   "Who is this?"  The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from
   Nazareth in Galilee."

   * GOSPEL RESPONSE   - Sung by The Madrigal Singers

L  God be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Let us give thanks to God our Creator.
P  It is right to give you our thanks and praise.
L  It is right to praise You, almighty God, for the way of love by which
   You have redeemed us through your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour.  The
   Hebrews acclaimed Jesus the Messiah and King with palm branches in
   their hands, crying 'Hosanna in the highest'.  May we also, carrying
   these palm crosses and branches, go forth to meet Christ and follow
   him in the way that leads to eternal life, who lives and reigns in
   glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen

L  Let us go forth in the peace of Christ.
P  In the name of Christ.  Amen

HYMN:  "This is The Day"

P  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.


       Procession from gathering spot to individual churches. 
       Enter into Church waving palm crosses and branches, do a
       circuit, and then invite all to continue in worship by

* PROCESSIONAL HYMN:  "All Glory, Laud and Honour"                 - VU 122

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  The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how
   to sustain the weary with a word.  Morning by morning he wakens -
   wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
P  The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious.  
   I did not turn backward.
L  I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who
   pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insulting and
P  The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced.
L  Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I shall not be put
   to shame.
P  He who vindicates me is near. 
   Who then will bring charges against me?
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of The Lord!

L  Let us pray...  Lord Jesus, you are our good and gracious king.  
   We acclaim you this day.
P  Holy One, speak to us again as we read 
   of the suffering and death of Jesus your servant.
   May we hear your Word above the shouts of the crowd
   and hearing, may we follow faithfully, even to the cross.
L  Help us to bear witness to you by following his example of suffering 
   and make us worthy to share in his resurrection.
P  Help us to understand your way 
   and to glorify your name by all that we say and do.  Amen.

       The short reading of the Passion Narrative is used today. 
       It commences after the story of the last supper, Jesus'
       arrest, and Peter's denial of him at the house of the High
       Priest (Luke 22:14-71).

   (NIV)  Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. {2} And
   they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting
   our nation.  He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be
   Christ, a king." {3} So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the
   Jews?"  "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. {4} Then Pilate
   announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a
   charge against this man." {5} But they insisted, "He stirs up the
   people all over Judea by his teaching.  He started in Galilee and has
   come all the way here." {6} On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man
   was a Galilean. {7} When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's
   jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that

   When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time
   he had been wanting to see him.  From what he had heard about him, he
   hoped to see him perform some miracle. {9} He plied him with many
   questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. {10} The chief priests and
   the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.
   {11} Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.  Dressing
   him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. {12} That day
   Herod and Pilate became friends--before this they had been enemies. 

RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 31; VU 758, Part II & III with Refrain

   Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people,
   {14} and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was
   inciting the people to rebellion.  I have examined him in your
   presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. {15}
   Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has
   done nothing to deserve death. {16} Therefore, I will punish him and
   then release him." {17}  {18} With one voice they cried out, "Away
   with this man!  Release Barabbas to us!" {19} (Barabbas had been
   thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
   {20} Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. {21} But
   they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" {22} For the third
   time he spoke to them: "Why?  What crime has this man committed?  I
   have found in him no grounds for the death penalty.  Therefore I will
   have him punished and then release him." {23} But with loud shouts
   they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts
   prevailed. {24} So Pilate decided to grant their demand. {25} He
   released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and
   murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. 


   As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his
   way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry
   it behind Jesus. {27} A large number of people followed him, including
   women who mourned and wailed for him. {28} Jesus turned and said to
   them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves
   and for your children. {29} For the time will come when you will say,
   'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the
   breasts that never nursed!' {30} Then "'they will say to the
   mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' {31} For if
   men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it
   is dry?" {32} Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with
   him to be executed. {33} When they came to the place called the Skull,
   there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right,
   the other on his left. {34} Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for
   they do not know what they are doing."  And they divided up his
   clothes by casting lots. 

* HYMN:  "Ride On!  Ride On in Majesty"                            - VU 127

   The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They
   said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of
   God, the Chosen One." {36} The soldiers also came up and mocked him. 
   They offered him wine vinegar {37} and said, "If you are the king of
   the Jews, save yourself." {38} There was a written notice above him,
   which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. {39} One of the criminals
   who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ?  Save
   yourself and us!" {40} But the other criminal rebuked him.  "Don't you
   fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? {41} We
   are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But
   this man has done nothing wrong." {42} Then he said, "Jesus, remember
   me when you come into your kingdom." {43} Jesus answered him, "I tell
   you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." {44} It was now
   about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the
   ninth hour, {45} for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the
   temple was torn in two. {46} Jesus called out with a loud voice,
   "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."  When he had said this,
   he breathed his last. {47} The centurion, seeing what had happened,
   praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." {48} When all
   the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place,
   they beat their breasts and went away. {49} But all those who knew
   him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a
   distance, watching these things.

L  This is the Gospel of our Crucified Redeemer
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

* HYMN:  "Were You There"                                          - VU 144

SERMON:  "Nothing Deserving Death"

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
   thoughts we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

       The following is almost, but not quite complete.  Given the 
       length of the readings this is close to the final version.
Notable in Luke's account of the Passion is the whole sequence of
statements concerning the innocence of Jesus.
   repeated by Pilate at the both appearances 
   imputed that Herod believed that he had done nothing deserving death
   and finally stated once again by thief on the cross
Jesus was an innocent one.  He did nothing deserving death
   - and this statement is more than a legal statement - that in civil
law Jesus did nothing wrong,
   that he was innocent of any crimes against Rome - against the criminal
code of his day.
   - it is also a theological statement - that Jesus did not deserve to die
       that he was innocent of any offenses against God
       that he did not deserve the sentence of death that sin brings upon   
           us all
       that he was truly the unblemished lamb of sacrifice
       the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

It says in Isaiah 53 in the last of what are called the Songs of The
Suffering Servant

   Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we
   considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But
   he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our
   iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and
   by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.   He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he
   did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
   and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open
   his mouth.  

The church has always considered this a prophecy concerning Jesus.   
A prophecy fulfilled in his passion.

Isaiah continues:

   By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of
   his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living;
   for the transgression of my people he was stricken.  He was
   assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,
   though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Today we have heard the story of how the lamb of God was sacrificed so we
might live, much as the unblemished lambs in the Covenant with Moses were
sacrificed so that Angel of Death might pass-over the children of Israel.

A new and everlasting covenant,
one in which no more blood need be shed for the forgiveness of sins,
one in which the justice of God is satisfied
and all people are invited to receive mercy.

He did nothing to deserve death, nothing against God 
- and nothing against human law.
He was innocent. 

And this was the reason he came....  
Out of love for us - to make the sacrifice that we could not make.
God, like Abraham, did not withhold his own son,
but rather gave him as a ransom for many.

Imagine a parent who saw the chance to save the life of their child
- is there anything he or she would not do?
Imagine a brother who saw the chance to save the lives of his siblings 
- is there anything he or she would not do?

So it is for us.   The innocent one gave himself to make us innocent.
The pure one gave himself to make us pure.
The holy one gave himself to make us holy.

All we are asked to do is to receive him into our lives by faith, 
to enter into the covenant of mercy and love that he instituted through
his life, his death, and his resurrection  - that covenant that is
ratified in his blood and sealed by his resurrection.

Praise be to God's name - and to the name of his Son, Christ Jesus, 
the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Amen.

** Let us pause in silent prayer and meditation for a minute and then
continue with our final reading and our prayers and offerings.

A READING FROM PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11                                          
   (NIV)  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: {6}
   Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
   something to be grasped, {7} but made himself nothing, taking the very
   nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. {8} And being found
   in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to
   death-- even death on a cross! {9} Therefore God exalted him to the
   highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, {10}
   that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on
   earth and under the earth, {11} and every tongue confess that Jesus
   Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

L  This is the Word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.

Lord - hear the prayers we offer to you now in our hearts:
- our prayers of thanksgiving for the way you have blessed us physically
and spiritually.....
Lord, hear our prayer...
- Hear our prayers of gratitude for how you came among us in Christ Jesus
to save and redeem us....
Lord, hear our prayer....
- Here our prayers of adoration for how you embrace us despite our sin and
forgive us - and how you call us to do the same for others...
Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord Jesus - you suffered and died for us that we might be reconciled to
the Father, and that we and our world might be made whole.  We pray O Lord
for wholeness   in spirit and in body - for ourselves and for those we
hold before you now in our hearts and with the words of our lips...
....Lord Hear Our Prayer.... 

We thank you God for hearing us - and for answering us.  We thank you in
the name of Jesus - who gave himself for us and who taught us to pray to
you as one family, saying.... OUR FATHER


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) & Prayer of

   We thank you Father for thy son Jesus Christ, who for our sake
   became poor that we might be rich.  We thank you for the fact that
   he gave himself up to death so that we might rise to life.  Accept
   our gifts of thanksgiving now O Lord, and use them so that they
   might bring blessings unto your name.  Amen.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "He Came Riding On A Donkey"                    - VU 124

* COMMISSIONING (unison):  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 - love and care for one another in Christ's name;  
- and during this Holy Week may God bless you with the faith, the wisdom,
the strength, the humility, and the patience of our Lord Jesus Christ 
- and may the cup that he poured and the bread he broke provide
nourishment for your body and your soul 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

THREE FOLD AMEN & SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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