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Although we cannot meet together at the moment, we would like to keep you up to date with each Sunday’s theme with our “Virtual Pew Slip”:

The Collect (Special Prayer) for this Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Bible Readings (New Revised Standard Version)

Philippians 2:5-11

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him  and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 21:1-11

1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
2 ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.
3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.“
And he will send them immediately.’
4 This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,  Look, your king is coming to you,
 humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt,  and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
 ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11 The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’


A thought from Father Tim

It seems to me that Jesus hardly ever drew attention to himself – ‘showed off’ in the sense we would understand it: “look at me – look at what I have done!…” In fact several times in the Gospels, after he has done some wonderful miracle of healing, he tells the person whose life he has changed, “don’t tell anyone…”.

The exception to the rule that Jesus normally kept in the background, though he did such life-changing things to so many, is Palm Sunday.  In the last week of his earthly life, he decides to go back to the one place where he is guaranteed to be treated by some as a hero, and by others as a villain.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus seems to know so clearly that God’s future for him  was about to dramatically unfold – the future he had told his disciples about quite often and they had never really understood.

Perhaps he is consciously remembering and imitating the prophecy of Zechariah, Chapter 9, verse 9, that Matthew quotes in our Gospel reading:  “Look, your King is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey”.  At this point Jesus throws off the “invisibility cloak” he likes to wear a lot of the time, and definitely says “look at me!”.

And of course, the crowd does look – and gets caught up in the moment (maybe a bit like those of us who lined the streets for Keith Flint’s funeral Service a year ago). The crowd looks, and the crowd gets it, at least to some extent: very few people, even if that are acclaimed “the Son of David” as Jesus was, would look awesome and imposing riding anywhere on a stocky donkey, and even less so on its foal!

It’s like when we see important, powerful people just being normal, mixing, having time for us; there is a tremendous power in humility. Our present Pope seems to me so often to show this quality, and people are blessed by it, deeply blessed.

When this rowdy lot accompanying him into the city tell others that this is “the prophet Jesus”, they are saying ‘we hear God through his words – he’s someone who speaks to us on behalf of God’.

And, when they cry out “Hosanna”, they are using a word that occurs very infrequently in the Bible, coming from the Hebrew meaning “save us, we pray.”

If you read on just one verse more from where our Gospel reading finishes, you will hear that after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem,  Jesus goes into  the temple, over-turning the tables and seats of those who bought and sold, “cleansing” it so that it could once again be a house of prayer.  Sometimes his saving work in us involves such drama and conflict, and this is reflected in the Church’s journey of Holy Week which begins with Palm Sunday.

This year, as we seek to follow Jesus day by day from now, to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day, we shall feel keenly the loss of our ability to gather together in our beloved Church buildings; we shall miss the familiar hymns and ceremonies, but we can still make the journey, just in a different way – a real “Holy Week at Home”:

The Diocese of Chelmsford has a dedicated web page that I encourage you to visit: it has all sorts of resources to help us:

https://www.chelmsford.anglican.org/holyweekathome

As ever, please do continue to keep in touch with each other and please let me know if you or anyone you know needs practical help or specific prayer: my telephone number is: 01376 349267, and my email address:  fr.tim@stpeters-bocking.net

May we this week heed Jesus’ Palm Sunday call to us: “Look at me!”. May we understand and experience afresh his power to save – to give new life and hope. In these strange days, in this present darkness, may we see and feel his warming light! 

Amen.

Fr. Tim


Some Prayers for Palm Sunday:

Lord Jesus, entering Jerusalem in humility and the power of love:

help us to know your joy and saving presence in our lives. 

Lord Jesus, entering the temple and making it again a place of prayer:

help us to know that fellowship with the Father that can never be broken. 

Lord Jesus looking with the eyes of love on the pain and sufferings of this world:

help us in simple ways to share your love by deeds of kindness encouragement.

Lord Jesus, working through all who serve others, particularly in our hospitals and places of care:

help them to bring wholeness and peace, and comfort to the dying and the bereaved.

Lord Jesus, be with us all: help us to look at you afresh, to journey with you through this Holy Week, and, through the darkness, come at last to the joy of the Resurrection.   Amen.


Our Choirmaster David’s choice of music for the week:

Lord, let me know mine end (Maurice Greene)The words are from Psalm 39. If you want to follow the words, they are from verses 5-8, 13 & 15.  Maurice Greene (1696-1755) was very much over shadowed by Handel, but his music deserves to be heard more widely. The choir singing the anthem is from Peterborough Cathedral