5th April 2020
A short act of worship for use in people’s homes while churches are closed.
Today we come into the presence of God with so much pressing in on us. We come, unsettled at having to worship in a different way. But we come.
So draw near to us dear Lord, come close to us now. Come open us to your loving
Spirit. Amen 
Hymn 265 STF – Ride on Ride on in Majesty
(listen at https://youtu.be/Kio3aRZ84SM)
1 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes hosanna cry; Your humble beast pursues its road with palms and scattered garments strowed.
2 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die: O Christ, your triumphs now begin o'er captive death and conquered sin.
3 Ride on, ride on in majesty! The winged squadrons of the sky look down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice.
4 Ride on, ride on in majesty! Your last and fiercest strife is nigh; the Father on his sapphire throne expects his own anointed Son.
5 Ride on, ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die; bow your meek head to mortal pain, then take, O God, your power and reign.
God of the gateway, we worship you today, recognising that you are worthy of all we can offer. Open something in us, free us to worship you in spirit and truth.
Jesus Christ who, by your death and resurrection, opened the gates to salvation for all, we worship you today, recognising that we need you. We can’t make it on our own after all.
Holy Spirit, mediator and energiser, come amongst us, come amongst our friends
and family, that gates may be opened and lives transformed by your power and to the glory of God. Amen 
We say the Lord’s prayer
Reading Matthew 21:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “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.[a]” 4 This took place to fulfill 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[b] 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.”
Reflection on the reading
‘Open to me the gates of righteousness’, cries the psalmist… and as I hear those words, especially on Palm Sunday, certain images come to my mind…We have gates to keep things in and we have gates to keep things out and the opening and closing of gates plays a part in our lives in all sorts of ways…
The old city of Jerusalem is today surrounded by a wall which contains 8 gates… Gates in walls are always important because they are places of entry and exit and places of encounter… With only a few days of his life on earth remaining, Jesus rides into the city of Jerusalem…On that occasion, as Matthew tells us, Jesus approached the city gates on a humble donkey and as he did so the resounding cries of Psalm 118 ringing loud in our ears...
- ‘Open to me the gates of righteousness’,
- ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’, - ‘Hosanna’!
That word Hosanna probably meant ‘Save us’ initially, but it becomes mixed up with a shout of praise as well – it is a cry which recognises two things; a need for help and that Jesus is the one who can meet that need. Matthew tells us it is a very large crowd and again images come to my mind… a picture of the whole world crowded around a gate crying out for help, for life, for goodness, for salvation...
Looking at the story as Matthew tells it to us; we see that the crowds did three things: Firstly, they cut branches from trees and used them to welcome Jesus. The waving of branches was an integral part of the ancient Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, referred to as the psalm we heard declares, ‘Bind up the festal procession with branches…’ Matthew’s original readers will have made the connection between branches and worship and recognise that this man riding humbly on a donkey is one to be worshipped.
Worship can be a gate-opening experience! When we offer ourselves to God in worship something happens which speaks of the presence and the glory of God and can open the gates of people’s hearts.
Secondly the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna, Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’. They recognised that Jesus was the one they needed. Sometimes the gates which have to be opened are the gates with which we fence ourselves off from any sort of need. The culture of today can lead us to think we must be strong, we must be perfect, we must be self-sufficient and able to cope with anything.
But the truth is that we are not supposed to live like that – we are supposed to live in relationship with a God who will supply all our needs – if we recognise that we have them. Shouting ‘Hosanna’ today is one way to open those gates and let God into our lives.
Thirdly, the crowd answered questions & pointed others to Jesus too. When the whole city, in turmoil, asks ‘Who is this?’ the crowds replied ‘This is Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee’.
Put like that it sounds easy, but we're not always very good at doing it... at answering questions openly, being willing to say ‘It's Jesus who makes the difference in my life.
Come and meet him.’ That too can open gates for our friends and neighbours. On this Palm Sunday, let’s open the gates we find in ourselves and open gates for others too so that the King of glory can enter in! 
Loving Lord we pray for those who share our lives…
We pray for those who are struggling with all that is going on around them…
We hold before you those who we rely upon…
We pray for those who are putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others…
Through your Holy Spirit open within us the gates that hold us back from fully serving you, may we be released, and empowered, and guided in the way of Jesus.
Dear Lord, as we enter this Holy Week, our normal routine cast aside, may we seek to journey with you. Thursday we will grapple to understand. Friday we will mourn what we have lost. Saturday will come and go, but on Sunday may your purpose become clear. Amen 
Hymn 272 STF From Heaven you came
(listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAdWs-ZyEk)
From heaven you came helpless babe, entered our world, your glory veiled Not to be served but to serve, and give Your life that we might live.
This is our God, The Servant King, he calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to The Servant King
There in the garden of tears my heavy load he chose to bear; His heart with sorrow was torn, 'Yet not My will but Yours, ' He said.
Come see His hands and His feet, the scars that speak of sacrifice, Hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered.
So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, Each other's needs to prefer for it is Christ we're serving.
Go into Holy Week, clinging to hope amongst the darkness.
Go with joy, knowing that resurrection is around the corner.
Go with peace, and seek a better world. Amen. 
1 Prayer by Wayne Grewcock
2 Prayer by Jill Baker
3 Reflection by Jill Baker
4 Intercessions by Wayne Grewcock
5 Blessing by Tim Baker
Bible Text is from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Vine at Home is compiled and produced by twelvebaskets
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