April 1, 2012
Props: Palms for the children
I am going to need everyone's help in telling the story this morning. Do you have the palm frond you were given when you entered the sanctuary this morning? Who doesn't have one to hold? (Pass out palms as needed.) Now, I'm going to ask you to please keep the palms in your laps until I get to the part in the story where the crowd greets Jesus, waving palm branches. Then you wave your palms in the air, too. OK? Great.
Passover is a very important holiday in the Jewish faith. It remembers a time when the Jews escaped from slavery in Egypt. Jews all over the world celebrate Passover, but the most special place in the world to be during Passover is in the city of Jerusalem. Even when Jesus was teaching and preaching, Jerusalem was extra crowded at Passover.
Jesus, too, wanted to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem with his disciples. They were all walking from Jericho to Jerusalem. As they got closer to the city, Jesus sent two of the disciples to borrow a colt for him to ride. The disciples threw their coats on the back of the colt, and Jesus rode the rest of the way, surrounded by his very best friends in the world. Jerusalem is a walled city, with several gates allowing people to come and go. As Jesus and his parade of disciples came near one of the gates, some of the other people coming to Jerusalem recognized them. They threw their coats on the ground to make a smooth path for Jesus. They spread leafy branches on the road, too, and waved palm branches in the air to welcome Jesus. (Encourage the children to wave their palms.) The crowd greeted Jesus as if he were a king! They even cheered him, shouting,
Let's shout that together. Hosanna! Hosanna!
Good! The crowd also shouted, Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Let's shout that, too. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!
Now the whole congregation together: Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!
Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem with the crowd cheering his arrival. It was a thrilling day! A few days later, he shared the Passover meal with his disciples. But then later that night, he was arrested, and the next day he was brought to trial. The judge, Caesar, asked the crowd what he should do with their teacher, Jesus. And the same crowd that cheered him a few days before shouted again, only this time their words were not cheerful. They were ugly and mean. Crucify him!, they shouted. Crucify him!
The next day was a Friday, and on that day Jesus was put to death. This was a sad, sad day. But this day, this Friday, was not the end of the story! Three days later Sunday came, and Easter, and resurrection, New Life and hope. Hope for the world. Hope for us all. We'll talk about all that next week!
Let's pray. Dear God, We thank-you for great festivals which help us remember our past as people of faith. Help us to live as faithful people each and every day. Amen.