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Palm Sunday

A Reflection for Palm Sunday - by Revd Fiona Pennie

The Gospel reading today is from Matthew chapter 21 verses 1 to 11. NRSV


When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately. This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,


‘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.’


The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;  they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!’


When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’



Palm Sunday, the day when we remember Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem. 


I would like to explore this passage, trying to imagine how it would have been like for people at that time. 


The disciples following Jesus instructions and taking the donkeys


The followers of Jesus shouting “Hosanna”, 


The people on the streets watching and wondering “Who is this?”


Bruce and I had the immense privilege of travelling to the Holy land in November last year. I hope the pictures help you imagine yourselves in that place all those years ago.



The Disciples

Bethphage was a small village on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. It lay just as you crest the hill that is known as The Mount of Olives.

In those days it would have been just a few houses from where you could see into the down into Kidron Valley and up to the Temple in Jersualem. This is the view today with the walls of the old city still visible, and the golden “Dome of the Rock” indicating where the Temple would have been. It is about here where the disciples did as he instructed and found the donkey.


‘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



I wonder if that had been you or I would we have done as Jesus asked?

Would we have trusted him enough to go and find the donkey?

Would we have been brave enough to say on being questioned “The Lord needs them.”


I wonder when Jesus asks us now to step out of our comfort zones and trust him, do we?


Can you think of a time in your life where you have as the saying goes “stepped out of the boat”, trusted Jesus and done something a bit scary? How did it feel, exciting exhilarating, terrifying?


As we live through this time of quarantine because of Covid19, society is saying do something different, stay at home, don’t gather even to see your loved ones. In this time we are having to “do church” in a new way. I invite you to try something new. 


Perhaps join in one of the on line services



Or set up a worship space at home, a small table or corner of a bookcase.

You may want to cover it with a cloth and add items that will help you focus and prayer. Perhaps a cross, a bible, a small vase of flowers, a candle, photographs of loved ones.

Write down all that comes to mind as you pray, people, places, events, bible verses and as these days pass I pray that you will encounter God in your own space.



The Followers

It is good to be part of a crowd isn’t it? Bishop David (Manchester) in his sermon, broadcast nationally today on the Church of England website, spoke of when he had enjoyed the thrill of being part of a football crowd, gathered with folk all focussed on the same thing. Being part of a supportive crowd helps us to shout louder, to get carried away, to experience something very special together. So too for the followers of Jesus on this day as they cried Hosanna.

The Bishop also spoke of being part of the crowd who gathered the day after the Manchester Arena bombing and the sense of support and being upheld by peoples prayers as he helped the world reflect on the atrocity that had happened. 

There were crowds everywhere on our trip too; this is a queue of folk still waiting to go into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just before it closed. The sense of joining with so many people to follow in Jesus footsteps from all over the world was amazing.


What would it have been like being part of the crowd on that Palm Sunday? Yes excited about what might happen, but I wonder did they really understand what they were saying

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!’


We know now what happened in the following days, where the crowd changed their chant from “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”.


I wonder when we meet on Sundays and speak and listen to our familiar liturgy do we really understand what we are saying and hearing?

If the crowd became hostile to our faith here and now, would we stand and still declare our faith? 

In this time of quarantine and isolation where we are unable to gather and experience God together, I invite you to join with me and use this solitary time to understand who Jesus is, to go deeper spiritually, and to grow in faith. As someone said to me this week, to use this time of isolation as a time of pilgrimage.  I am using the App “Pray as you go” to help me, what will you use?


The People


As we experience this time of lock down and hear of the tragic loss of life, those known to us, and strangers people working on the frontline to help us; bus drivers, doctors, teachers and nurses.  











In today's turmoil we and many others are asking the questions, what is happening and where is God in all this?


As the world reflects on the loss of life and the devastation to economies around the world, it seems that we are being woken up from our complacency. This turning upside down of our normal way of life is helping us to reconnect with the values that underpin how we live and to turn again to the things we can hold on to in this time of “darkness”.  As many people of all faiths and none speak of this time as being a dark time I am reminded that ‘Jesus is the light of the world’.

I always wondered why we had the Liturgy of the Passion on Palm Sunday…(we hadn’t got there yet)..but this year, as I listened, I had a deeper understanding of the darkness that gripped those who loved and followed Jesus, those who gathered at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. As you get to know me better you will quickly pick up on a few of my favourite sayings that help me when life becomes stormy. One of them is a saying from Mother Julian of Norwich “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.  I often follow it with my own reflection “We don’t necessarily know what well looks like, but I do know that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ John 3 v16



May you encounter God, the loving Father, through the Living Word, his son Jesus, by the power of His Holy Spirit. 



There is a sense that the whole world is “in turmoil”, just as the city felt in turmoil with the noise and jostling as Jesus came into the city. The gates to the city and the streets are, to this day, still very narrow and a sudden increase in people and noise would have led to confusion and questions; 


“What is going on?


‘Who is this?’

From Your Friends at Walton Team Ministry
palm sunday.jpg

Hosanna to the son of David.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.


Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father. Amen

A Cross in The Window

Please follow the link below to find useful resources to help you worship at home this Palm Sunday.

mums palm.jpg
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