(Adapted from the Form proposed for use in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, April 2020)

Perhaps the most memorable part of the Palm Sunday liturgy is the Commemoration of our Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem. To help us celebrate, the Church invites us to carry palm branches as we gather for prayer today. Even so, we remember that liturgy is not a recreation of a past event. Rather, it is an anamnesis, an active remembering of the past so that we might live those realities today.

If circumstances allow, a procession around the house might be appropriate, with all responding “Hosanna in the highest.”

Children may like to make banners or streamers, or palm branches out of construction paper or Bristol-board to wave during the procession, and play tambourines or other percussion instruments.

If you have not picked up a fresh palm cross, you may use the palms from last year if you still have them, or pussy-willows, or other tree branches.

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 way of the dark road of suffering and death.

United with him in his suffering on the cross, may we share his resurrection and new life.

Let us pray.

Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation: that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts whereby thou hast given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Holy God,

Holy and Mighty,

Holy Immortal One,

Have mercy upon us.

Prayer: Almighty God, whose dearly-beloved Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Procession

We, too, welcome Jesus, the Son of David, who comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel. Holding our palm branches, let us acclaim Christ, the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. R. Hosanna in the highest.

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious:
   because his mercy endureth for ever!

R. Hosanna in the highest.
Let Israel now confess that he is gracious:
   And that his mercy endureth for ever.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
Open to me the gates of righteousness:
   that I may go into them and give thanks unto the Lord.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
This is the gate of the Lord:
   the righteous shall enter into it.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
I will thank thee, for thou hast heard me:
   and art become my salvation.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
The same stone which the builders refused:
   is become the head stone in the corner.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
This is the Lord’s doing:
   and it is marvellous in our eyes.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
This is the day which the Lord hath made:
   we will rejoice and be glad in it.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
Help us now, O Lord:  [i.e., “Hosanna!”]
   O Lord, send us now prosperity.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord:
   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
The Lord is God, and he hath given us light:
   Set in order the procession with branches,
   yea, even up to the horns of the altar.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
Thou art my God, and I will thank thee:
   thou art my God, and I will praise thee.
R. Hosanna in the highest.
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious:
   for his mercy endureth for ever.

R. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


OT Lesson: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee. (Zechariah 9.9-12)

Gradual: (Ps 24) The earth is the Lord’s, and all that therein is: the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein. V. For he hath founded it upon the seas: and established it upon the floods.

Epistle: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.5-10)

Tract: (Ps 24) Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord: or who shall stand in his holy place? Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart: and hath not lift up his mind unto vanity. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord: and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

The Holy Gospel: At that time: when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. (St Matthew 21.1-11)


HomilyYour own reflections on the readings, or on Holy Week in general, may be used.

Some starter questions might be:

  1. What images, words, or phrases do you associate with Palm Sunday?

b) The Palm Sunday liturgy shows the fickleness of humanity. One minute we shout

someone’s praises, and soon after we yell, “Crucify him!” When in your life have you

been inconsistent in your actions or beliefs?

c) What is your prayer as you begin this Holy Week?

[The Rector’s Reflection/Homily can also be used here. See the end of this post for Father Kevin’s Reflections.]


Profession of Faith (the Apostles’ Creed)

I believe in God,

the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, dead, and buried:

He descended into hell;

The third day he rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,

And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;

The holy Catholic Church;

The Communion of Saints;

The Forgiveness of sins;

The Resurrection of the body,

And the Life everlasting. Amen.


Confident that Christ hears our prayer, let us offer our petitions with open hearts:

For Geoffrey our Bishop, and all church leaders: May they continue to lead boldly, offering prophetic witness to the Gospel.

For Elizabeth our Queen, and all in positions of civil leadership: May they work tirelessly for peace and justice to ensure the common good for all.

For our church family, for all families and communities, especially those longing for intimacy and communion: May they know the tenderness and joy of God’s compassion and love.

For our own needs this day, and for the needs of those known to us: …

For all who have died: May they rest in peace and rise in Christ.

O God, the Source of all life, who hast filled the earth with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works, that rejoicing in thy whole creation we may learn to serve thee with gladness, for the sake of him through whom all things were made, even thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gathering these prayers together, as well as those we hold in the silence of our hearts, we pray as our Saviour taught us:

Our Father.

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Sion:
   then were we like unto them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter:
   and our tongue with joy.
Then said they among the nations:
   ‘The Lord hath done great things for them.’
Yea, the Lord hath done great things for us already:
   whereof we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord:

   as the rivers in the South.  [i.e., the Negev]
They that sow in tears:
   shall reap in joy.
He that now goeth on his way weeping,
   and beareth forth his seed:
shall doubtless come again with joy,
   and bring his sheaves with him.


Prayer Over the People:Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the ways of thy servants towards the attainment of eternal salvation: that, amidst all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy most gracious and ready help; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

My Song Is Love Unknown   Hymnal #596

My song is love unknown, my Saviour’s love to me;

Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.

O who am I, that for my sake

My Lord should take frail flesh, and die?

He came from his blest throne, salvation to bestow;

But men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know.

But O my Friend, my Friend indeed,

Who at my need his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew his way, and his sweet praises sing;

Resounding all the day hosannas to their King.

Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,

And for his death they thirst and cry.                                    

Why, what hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?

He made the lame to run, he gave the blind their sight.

Sweet injuries!  Yet they at these

themselves displease, and ’gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have my dear Lord made away;

A murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay.

Yet cheerful he to suffering goes,

That he his foes from thence might free.

In life no house, no home, my Lord on earth might have;

In death no friendly tomb, but what a stranger gave.

What may I say? Heaven was his home;

But mine the tomb wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine;

never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine!

This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise

I all my days could gladly spend.

–Samuel Crossman 1624-83

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Reflections from the Rector

“Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna literally means “Save us now!” Today Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, an event generally known as His “Triumphal Entry.”  But, if this was a triumphal entry, why did they crucify Him by the end of the week? What goes wrong? At the beginning of Holy Week, we stand with Jesus before the gates of a city. Once we have entered, we shall be swept up in events we cannot control, as we walk with Him to Calvary and the tomb. Can we see in this ride into Jerusalem the real triumph to which it was leading?

But Christ’s entry was not the only parade the city saw that day.  On the Sunday before Passover, in the year 30 AD, Roman historians record that Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, led a procession of centurions and cavalry into Jerusalem. Imagine the spectacle of that entry!  From the western gate of the city (the opposite side from which Jesus enters), Pilate leads Roman soldiers on horseback and on foot, as trumpets blare and drummers drum, each soldier clad in leather armour polished to a high gloss, hammered bronze helmets with brightly coloured crests gleaming in the sunlight, at their sides swords crafted from the finest steel, and each carrying a long spear, or a bow with a quiver of arrows across his back, and a red and gold shield on the opposite arm. This was the power of the mighty Roman Empire.

It was standard practice for the governor of a foreign territory to be in its capital for religious celebrations, and Pilate knew he needed to be in Jerusalem for Passover. The Romans were well aware that this festival celebrated the liberation of the Jews from another empire.  Uprisings were always in the air since Rome had occupied this land some 80 years ago.  The last major revolt followed the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC. It started in Sepphoris, about five miles from our Lord’s hometown of Nazareth.  Before it was over, both the city of Sepphoris and the town of Emmaus had been destroyed by the Roman army. After putting down the rebellion there, the Romans marched on Jerusalem and, retaking that city, crucified over two thousand Jews who had taken part in the uprising. The Romans had made their intolerance for rebellion well known. Thus Pilate’s entry into Jerusalem was meant to send a clear message, especially to those who might even now be plotting against the Empire—a reminder of what had happened the last time.

But if Pilate’s procession was meant as a show of military strength, Christ’s procession was meant to show just the opposite.  He instructs his disciples to go into the city where they will find a donkey tied. Then He quotes from Zechariah, chapter 9.  But there is more to this passage than just a description of His means of transport. The prophet reassures the people of Judah that God has not forsaken them:

But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The message the people heard, then, was, “God is going to deliver the nation from the oppressor”—Rome! But the king they seek will come to them, not on a war-horse, but as one who comes in peace, on a slow-moving donkey.

The two processions could not have been more different in the messages they sought to convey.  Pilate, leading Roman legionaries, asserts the fearsome power of the Empire that crushes all who oppose it. Jesus, riding on a donkey, embodies the peace—the shalom—that God brings to His people. Those who watch must make a choice: either serve the gods of this world—wealth, might and power; or serve a King of a very different sort.And although many of the common people initially sided with Jesus, they did so for all the wrong reasons.  They thought He would deliver them from the oppressive systems under which they lived, and drive out on the Romans. But He is not going to do any of those things. And that is why they turn on Him by the end of the week. From an immediate worldly standpoint, He is going to make life harder for them, not easier, so when He is brought by Pilate before the angry mobs, they want rid of Him. This Jesus of Nazareth, to their minds, never did what they wanted Him to do. 

Today’s Lessons prepare us for the tortuous and torturous journey we are about to take with Our Lord as we enter Holy Week. Like the disciples, our senses and hopes are disoriented. The Messiah we expected, triumphant and glorious, displays his triumph and glory in the paradox of suffering. This is the one to whom St Paul refers, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Is this really our Messiah, our Saviour? The “glory of the world” rides on a great white stallion, with courtiers and heralds preparing his way with swords drawn and spears held high. Jesus rides on a donkey!

A contrast of kingdoms is before us today. So ask yourself, “If I had been in Jerusalem that day, which procession would I choose to follow?” That is the choice we make each day.  To choose power and might, or love and humble service.  To choose “the way things are done,” or “the way God intends them to be.” Two parades. Two value systems. Two destinies. Which will you choose? Which king will you follow?

And this is possibly the reason for Matthew’s reference to two animals instead of just one. The prophet Zechariah really has only one animal in mind (“a donkey which is a colt, the foal of a beast of burden”), but Matthew, alone among the four Evangelists, relates that two animals were brought to Jesus. How could He ride both at the same time? Might there, perhaps, be a deeper, symbolic meaning? Could it be that He rode the donkeyand that Matthew then invites the reader to ride the colt alongside Him? That it is we, who stand alongside this path with palms in our hands crying “Hosanna,” who are suddenly beckoned by our Lord to forsake the sidelines and mount the colt beside Him, to ride with Him through the gates into Jerusalem, to ride with Him to the place where our lives will be given over to death along with His, to ride with Him to the grave where our old selves will be buried with Him through baptism, to ride with Him to the new life of resurrection into which also we were baptized?

We shout “Hosanna! Save us!” And He does in this Holy Week. What then do we do? Do we, like Judas, continually betray Him for thirty pieces of silver—seeking material things instead of His Kingdom of righteousness and selfless love? Do we abandon Him, like the disciples, going about our daily lives as if He never did ride into Jerusalem or die on that cross? Or, like Peter, denying we even know Him? Do we spit on His Name by our thoughts or words? Even though He is trying to save us, we persistently shout, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” And over and over, we nail the Son of God to the cross, by the way we live. Yet, in spite of it all, Christ is still willing to suffer, ascend that cross, and die for you and for me. This week demonstrates just how much God desires to change all the bad within us – our fear, our sin, our guilt, our untruthfulness and duplicity. “Hosanna! Save us!” And He does. But that salvation requires such an upheaval and revolution in our hearts that we may want to run the other way.

Which parade will you join? The palms we waved earlier will be transformed into a cross, but the Cross itself will bloom forth with the glory of Easter. Let the palm crosses remind us that Christ our King endured the cross for our salvation, and that He is the only true source of joy and meaning in our lives. Only when we place Christ at the centre of our lives will we find true peace and salvation. We stand at the gates. Are we willing to enter, learning the mind of Christ?  If we walk with Him into the city, to the cross and the tomb, joy and salvation await us at the end of the journey.

Hosanna! Amen.

A blessed Holy Week to you all.

—Fr Kevin+