Matthew 21:1-11, Palm Sunday sermon (with drama) — Gobledales, UK

photo by Ben Ulrich

We have used this introduction, conclusion and closing prayer book-ending the Sunday Morning Live drama as the ‘sermon’ on Palm Sunday.

Possible sermon titles:  Not what we expected!  or  Two Kings: Take your choice!


Pray with me.  God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight.  You are our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

Introduction to drama:

Parades!  Processions!

Two columns enter Jerusalem.

One from the west [point in that direction], from Caesarea by the Sea.

One from the east [point in that direction], from the Mount of Olives.

In one procession, the leader is surrounded by Centurions, soldiers hefting spears.

Columns of defeated enemies chained together trudge behind.

In the other, the central figure is surrounded by an unruly assembly of shouting people, paving the dusty route with their cloaks and tree branches.

Columns of children dance, or so the story goes.

In one procession trumpets blare, and flags fly.

In the other shouts of “Hosanna!”,  “Save us!” rise from the crowd.

The man entering Jerusalem from the west[signify], from Ceasaria,

is met with fearful, downcast eyes.  He proudly rides a great steed, a war horse.

This is the feared Roman governor of the place called Judea.

Remember who the Roman governor is?  Pontius…[wait for congregation to respond] Pilate.

The man entering Jerusalem from the east, from the Mount of Olives, is met with waving palm branches, singing and dancing.  He rides a donkey, or a colt.

— Hang on a moment!  Anybody here ever ridden a donkey?

Did you feel high and mighty when riding that donkey?

I know when I have ridden a donkey I feel [when I have seen someone riding a donkey they look ] a little foolish, a little vulnerable.  But here comes a so-called King, humbly riding a…[wait for congregation to respond] donkey.

This is the King of the Jews from a place called Nazareth.  This is…[wait for congregation to respond]Jesus, son of …[wait for congregation to respond]Joseph.

Two men.  Two leaders.  But, oh so different, one from the other.

Pontius Pilate —  Proud, dangerous, frightful—

entering Jerusalem from the west[signify].

And Jesus – Humble, hopeful, joyful  —  entering from the east.

Let us join that eastern procession and our roving reporter with his camera crew.

Drama:   Sunday Morning Live

Conclusion — following drama:

Ride on! Ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

O Christ, thy triumphs now begin,

o’er captive death and conquered sin.

Jesus — humble, hopeful, joyful,  —  entering Jerusalem from the east.

Jesus will change people’s lives.

Indeed, he will change our world, he IS changing our world,

but not in ways or with means that we expect.

Jesus beckons to his followers, then and now, to serve the Eternal One with gladness,

to bring good news to the poor, to bring sight to the blind,

to bring liberty to the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the God’s favour.

Jesus, Servant King / Monarch / Ruler, riding humbly on a donkey.

May he enter our cities and our lives today.

Closing prayer:

Pray with me.

God of Promise,

we are taken by surprise at each Palm Sunday parade.

We so want Jesus to be powerful, a ruler who will smite the world of all evil,

and make all things good and easy for us.

Rather, he comes in humility to serve,

and calls us to have the strength to be humble servants.

Hosanna, save us from ourselves, that we might be the best we can be.

In the words of St Francis,

“Make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.
[Eternal One],

grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Show us the Way this Holy Week, Eternal One. Amen.