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Sermons & News

How To Make A Palm Cross

Sermon for Palm Sunday

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord

The cry which arises as Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a cry filled with expectation a cry filled with excitement. Jesus approaches fulfilling the words of prophecy, Zechariah when speaking of the coming of the ruler of God’s people proclaims “rejoice greatly o daughter Zion, shout aloud o daughter Jerusalem, look your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Triumphant and victorious but with humility.

Here we see the complexity of Christ’s entry into the Holy City. The scene is carefully set and prepared, earlier arrangements made for the colt to be available were crucial, this symbolism could not be left to chance or mere convenience, a statement was being made which was so ingrained into the messianic awareness and expectation of the people that it would immediately be recognized by them with an immediate response.

Jesus arrives and the response is made how many were there how many provided the traditional offering of laying down their coats and the palm branches from the fields we do not know but enough clearly to create a disturbance sufficiently strong to attract attention.

This is a key element of the story the attracting of attention, who is this that is approaching, a teacher of the law clearly, a man who knows his scriptures and a man who recognizes the messianic expectation and hopes of the prophets of Israel through the centuries, is this the one of whom they have spoken, is this the one on whom our own hopes for restoration and hope rest, it could be,

He comes as expected, with an entourage, with followers yet he does so not with the pomp and majesty of a king, but in the simple and very moving expression of a peasant on a donkey’s foal.

Here we see greatness and humility expressed clearly together, at times this is very difficult to achieve many have tried but only a few have really managed to hold these two contradictory expressions of humanity together at the same time throughout their lives. Being great whilst being humble is a great gift, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was one Mahatma Ghandi another and there have been others throughout the centuries who have managed to hold together greatness and humility, but none like Jesus.  His humility was deep and profound and we see the Son of God who emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form humbling himself and becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

So Palm Sunday is a day of rejoicing, Jesus arrives and does so by taking the initiative himself, he sets the scene for all that is to come. He makes himself be noticed, so that as he engages in his Fathers work in driving out corruption, and greed and cleansing the people of God he does so with scriptural power and authority.

As Jesus entered into the city have you ever wondered why the people shouted Hosanna, Hosanna translated simply means Save now!

It is a word which speaks of acceptance, of recognition of spontaneous hope and excitement reaching a climax in which caution is thrown to the wind. Throughout the ministry of Jesus he has been faced over and over again with questions, who are you, on whose authority do you do these things, can you be he or are we to look for another. Always uncertainty always doubt no certainty expressed only caution and yet now the questions have gone, albeit just for a day.

On this holy day people were caught up in the sheer excitement and the unexpected nature of the arrival of Jesus.

This is where the message of Jesus’ triumphal entry really tests us today. Do we still ask questions are we still uncertain? Do we shout Hosanna out of tradition and in and through our set liturgy or do we shout hosanna because we mean it. Are we encouraged to rejoice today only to begin questioning again tomorrow, or are our hosanna’s greater than that.

In knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection we live our lives in him and through him. As followers of Jesus we should be rejoicing today, we should wave our palms and lay down our personal possessions for others to walk on without any regret or care or concern, for in shouting hosanna we proclaim not save now but rather we use the word as a word of praise and thanksgiving knowing that Jesus has saved us and that we live and move within the power of his saving love for us.

Palm Sunday within the life of the resurrection is a golden opportunity for us to celebrate and give thanks, but we must shout our hosannas with confidence. We should wave our palms and lay down our coats willingly without regard. Today is an opportunity for us to follow the holy week which lies ahead of us not with questions but in the acknowledgement that Jesus was and is the Holy Son of God who willingly rides into our lives and changes them forever. So as we celebrate today let us shout our hosannas with confidence and pride, whilst seeking to be like Jesus, triumphant and victorious and yet with humility.

Amen.

Resources for Spiritual Growth at Home

Dear All members of the Greater Deanery Chapter

I received this email offer and am unsure if you have had a similar email but whilst confined at home it looks like a good resource for those who have web access offered free by Tom Wright.

Whilst addressed to ministers (Indeed it appears it may have only been rural deans), I think that if any member of your congregation wants to participate they have to register by Friday to get the free offer – Follow the simply Jesus link.

Regards

Revd Andrew Higginson

Original Email Message

In these unprecedented times, with so much changing so quickly, we are acutely aware that there are so many calls on the time of both yourself and the clergy in your deanery. Here at Thy Kingdom Come, we thought it may be helpful to share two free resources with you that will enable congregations to engage with faith while many of them have this unaccustomed time at home.

Firstly, in the form of an online bible study called Simply Jesus that can be done individually or as a small group study (virtually).

For many Christians, Lent traditionally involves the re-telling of the story of Jesus, especially his final days and moments. Sometimes this is in hymns, prayers or processions, or with great music such as Handel’s Messiah or one of Bach’s Passions, or it is the journeying through Holy Week as a church community. With none of that possible this year and enjoy these things together, we are all exploring ways to think and pray through the story of Jesus. This course, based on Tom Wright’s book Simply Jesus: Small Group Edition, is designed to help us do just that.

We are making the Small Group Edition available for individuals and for congregations. Individuals will be greatly encouraged through the course, but there are also questions that would allow people to dialogue with one another about what they are learning. During these days, this kind of learning can be done virtually via emails with one another or through video chats. Perhaps you and others would gather together in a video chat format to connect and learn together.

You may enroll in this course for no charge from Tuesday, 24 March, 17:00 until Friday, 27 March 17:00. The window to enroll in this course is 72 hours. We cannot extend the time so please make sure you enroll while you are still able to. We are so grateful that this gift has been given for free (normally charged at £149.99!) by Prof. N.T. Wright and N.T. Wright Online. The link for enrolling is : Simply Jesus – TKC gift

The second resource, is five simple ideas for families to weave prayer and bible readings throughout these days of home schooling. These can be shared by clergy with anyone they think might benefit.

Growing in faith together

  1. Keep a regular routine of prayer. Good times to pray together are those times you do something regularly, eating together, going to bed or washing your hands! Or Light a candle and Pray the same family prayer at the same time every day.
  2. Read a bible story at bed-time or watch one online with them during the day.
  3. With the ongoing situation, it can be difficult adjusting to not seeing family and friends in person, however, you can still pray for them together daily. Write them a letter or send them a picture saying that you are thinking and praying for them?
  4. Choose one of the follow family Fun prayer ideas – Bright prayer ideas for families at home!
  5. Listen to a podcast together. For example, you can click here to listen to our Family Prayer Adventure podcasts.

It would be very much appreciated if you would share this email with the clergy in your Deanery,

Yours in Christ,

Emma Buchan | Thy Kingdom Come Project Director

In response to the Coronavirus:

Dear friends

I write to you as the newly appointed Vicar of The Sibsey and Carrington and Brothertoft groups of churches.

Due to the current situation where Worship at our churches has now been suspended, the church community were keen to offer you all our support and care at this time.

Sadly scheduled services will no longer be available and the Churches will be closed until further notice.

We were hoping to be opening all the churches on Palm Sunday and on Easter Day where Palm Crosses and an Easter message from myself would have been available, but in order to ensure your safety we are currently seeking to find electronic ways of continuing to serve our communities.

The Churches have agreed not to hand-deliver the Church Magazine but instead to make it available on-line as a means of reaching out to you at this difficult time. If you would like to receive a copy please send us your email and we will seek to get one to you, hopefully the magazine may be available soon on either a webpage or with a link to it on Facebook.

If you are aware of anyone who is self-isolating and who has little support please do let us know, we may not be able to visit but we can certainly hold them in our prayers, supporting them as best as we can. We are here for you all at this time and will be holding you all in our prayers whilst seeking to follow the Government Guidelines so ensuring the well-being of everyone.

With my prayers for you all at this time.

Reverend Clive

Sermon for Mothering Sunday

I am writing this knowing that I will not be able to deliver it on Sunday because of the restrictions now required to contain the Coronavirus. However I do believe that it is my responsibility to prepare and to consider the implications of God’s Holy Word for us all at this difficult time.

The Gospel message set for us today has a very powerful sentence within it that being “as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

I think that one sentence says a great deal to us at this particular time when so many of us are worried and anxious about the future and what may lie ahead. With Jesus in the world we need to constantly remind ourselves of the glorious light which is so freely available to us in and through his love and care for us.

Love and care are two key words for us on this very special day where traditionally families meet together to give thanks for those who brought us into the world. Mothering Sunday has become a time for cards and gifts and quality time together for families though sadly that will have to be curtailed considerably today in order to keep those whom we love safe and secure.

Today however needs to be a day which enables us all to rethink and to reflect on how we can still show love and care both to our mothers and to our neighbours.

It is a great joy to see so many neighbourhood- help groups now being set up in order to care for those who are self-isolating, especially those who are elderly and frail. It is truly amazing how a shared difficulty often brings out the very best of humanity. We often believe that we live in a dark and often uncaring world when in reality there is so much light and joy, friendliness and good neighbourliness all around us. Being isolated can however still be quite a difficult and frightening experience, especially when we are used to engaging in so much social activity. So many of the things we naturally do in order to have fun, to eat and drink in sociable settings, meeting up with family and friends and going to the theatre , or engaging in the hobbies which keep ourselves lively and bright are things which temporarily have now been removed from our daily activity. This will mean that we will all have time on our hands and so let us try to use that time effectively and creatively.

Letter from the Vicarage

Dear Friends

It is with sheer delight that I write this message as your new Vicar!

I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has worked so hard during a long Interregnum to ensure that the Churches in the Benefice and their commitment to their local communities has remained so strong and robust. I look forward to working with you all and getting to know you over the next few months. Sadly of course we find ourselves in a difficult place with all of the uncertainty over the Corona Virus and all the restrictions and safe guards which are now being encouraged. Therefore quite a number of our social activities and special events planned for the run up to Easter will need to be postponed or amended. Please have patience during this time as we seek to care for one another and especially those who are particularly vulnerable both within our churches and our wider communities.

Please do let me know of those who are in need of prayer and I will hold them with you before God for his blessing. I had hoped to visit as many people from the churches now under my care as soon as possible after my Induction but sadly that will now not be possible but I am sure that I will get to know you all in the course of time.

May I thank you for the wonderful welcome you have given to Carolyne and myself and the maps (and cycling routes!) which will help me enormously once I am able to get out and about to see you all.

In the meantime may I reassure you that I am here for you and as we approach the glorious season of Easter, may we constantly give thanks to God for the glorious light of Christ whose light will shine brightly for us as we go through the difficult times which lie ahead.
With my prayers and best wishes to you all.

Clive.