5th April - Order of Service for Online Streaming

Welcome

The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem,

tells us that after his celebrated arrival.

He went into the Temple

and looked around at everything.

As we gather here for worship today

may it be with a sense that Jesus

has walked in too, and is looking around.

May our eyes be open to see Him,

may our hearts be ready to be seen by Him,

may our worship be worthy of His presence,

and may we be transformed

so that we see the world through His eyes.


Prayer

God of the cross, tottering down the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey,

You are not the saviour we expect.

Your power doesn’t look like the power we want our God to have.

Your wisdom makes no sense to us.

 

We are happy to join the crowd, waving branches,

but not so sure we want to follow you through this Holy Week:

into the temple courts

into the upper room

into the Garden of Gethsemane

to the high priest’s house,

to the assembly of elders,

to Pilate,

to Herod,

to the place of The Skull,

to the foot of the cross.

 

We need you to go with us on this journey.

Grant us clear vision,

Courageous hearts,

Persistent steps.

 

Even though we know what this week will bring, we sing:

Hosanna, hosanna.

Save us Lord, we humbly pray! Amen.

 

HYMN  Praise to the Lord almighty


Briefing

  • Two weddings in the near future - both cancelled

  • Baptissimo copies in the post - 2 envelopes

  • Subtitles for hard of hearing

  • Music - ISingWorship

  • Maundy Thursday Communion

 

Talk

How are churches coping with coronavirus?  Well, in Ilkley we seem to be adapting quite well.  Many churches are streaming their own services, or have a central denomination based service available for people to watch.  Although not quite the same as a real worship service, it is the best we can offer at the moment.

Nationally, churches are helping people who are vulnerable.  One of my fellow students at Northern Baptist College, Susan Myatt, is deaf.  She now streams live British Sign Languages services from Rising Brook Baptist Church, helping the deaf community to feel less isolated.  I also watched a recording from Phil Jump, regional minister for the North Western Baptist Association, which helps those in mourning for the death of a friend or relative when normal funeral services are impossible.  You can find details of these on the church website.

Internationally, the situation varies.  In Portugal, the International Church of the Algarve, which Diane, Deborah and I have all attended whilst on holiday, is screening services in English and Portuguese.  In some parts of the world, churches are still meeting. The hardship that we are experiencing can only get worse in countries that have poor hygiene and non-existant welfare systems.  Our thoughts will be with them.

People are pulling together.  Many of our more mobile members are shopping for others.  The Deacons and I are phoning members and friends are in contact with each other.

But for some, coronavirus and isolation means one thing - an opportunity for profit.  Our webcam arrived this week - three weeks late. I bought it on Ebay as it said it was located in Liverpool - it was posted in China.  Honesty is not a high priority for many. Churches are not exempt from criticism. The pentecostal Kingdom Church in Camberwell, London, is being investigated by trading standards for selling a “coronavirus protection anointing oil” for £91.  They have sold over 1000 kits! Last week’s sermon on the mind of the flesh over the will of God does seem rather appropriate!

During this crisis we have still got a lot to be thankful for.  A lot to be humble for.  

Let us join together to say the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father……

 

To take us into our Palm Sunday reading, let us sing an appropriate Palm Sunday hymn.  Let us sing, “the Servant King”

HYMN  The Servant King

 

Reading

  • Matthew 21:1-11

 

Sermon

Our God is known as the Servant King.  What does it mean to be a servant? What does it mean to be a King? 

Forty two years ago, in 1978, I joined the Police.  I started off as a Cadet and then became a simple PC.  You started at the bottom, like a Servant, and it took me 10 years to be promoted to Sergeant.  Even a Sergeant was a quite lowly post.  

Then in 1998 I was promoted to Inspector.  That was the barrier between servant and leader.  You became management in an instant. 

This sort of thing happens all the time in the Army, and in countless other organisations. Some large organisations move their staff around, in order that those who have been newly promoted may start afresh in new surroundings, but others don't possess that sort of sensitivity.

Moving into leadership can be extremely difficult, and there are people who are never able to cope with it. Some treat yesterday's friends as dirt beneath their feet, whilst others are unable to maintain any authority at all in their anxiety to retain friendships.

In our society there is such a clear distinction between leadership and servanthood, that there are very few people who are able to cross those boundaries whilst retaining both humanity and self-respect.

The problem seems to be that leaders must have a certain degree of authority over those whom they lead. And those who are "servants", i.e. are of lower status for whatever reason, submit themselves to that authority. We see that all the time with Politics, and frequent cabinet reshuffles when someone doesn’t toe the party line.  How then, can anyone be both servant and leader at the same time?

For human beings, the authority of leadership is promoted and enhanced by all sorts of trappings, like special clothing worn by leaders, chains of office, or  a luxury office - adulation by lesser mortals and increased spending power. All these things encourage the use of power in the way in which most people in our society would understand power.

 Jesus had moved on from being a boy to now being a leader of the Christians.  However, Jesus both practised and encouraged a very different sort of leadership and authority and power than we are used to. He spoke about and practised leadership through service, and power through weakness. And he expected the same from his followers. 

People who take seriously the idea of servanthood tend to be workaholics, unable to say no and very quickly wearing themselves out in the service of God by simply being everything for everyone. There are, of course, examples of clergy who are a little too authoritarian.  

We have a poster up at the moment on the church notice board outside the church.   It simply shows a picture of a crown with the words “Servant King”.  Did Jesus really succeed in his role as both servant and leader? Or was he one or the other? 

When he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that first Palm Sunday, he seemed very much like a leader, but a leader who was almost mocking the trappings of leadership.

Kings don't ride on donkeys, they ride now in limousines, or in Biblical times on a horse. They are cheered and applauded by the onlookers, but usually the onlookers come prepared and don't simply pick up palm branches from the wayside. The king's mount isn't usually covered by somebody's old cloak, but with soft, royal cushions and expensive, regal coverings.

Yet it was Jesus who ordered the donkey, so it would seem he had some idea of what might happen and even initiated it.

Perhaps it was an ironic ride, designed to laugh at, and to ridicule, the power and pomp and ceremony of the Pharisees. Whatever the reason for the ride, there wasn't too much of the servant about it. Certainly the trappings were all those of a poor person, but the whole notion of riding into the major city in triumph looks very much like the power and authority known by the world, even if it was only a parody.

So perhaps it's not possible for servanthood and leadership to be practised at exactly the same time. At one time Jesus was clearly in the role of servant, at another he was in the role of leader, and perhaps those two roles were kept fairly separate.

But Jesus exercised his leadership and authority in a particular way, so maybe that's the key issue. Perhaps the way we practise leadership and authority is more important than trying to juggle two opposing roles at the same time.

Some authority is given simply by status. But the authority of Jesus was earned, and people instantly recognised it, and they instantly responded to it. His authority was strong on humility.

Jesus was so in touch with God that he was able to receive and to accept humiliation. It has been said that humility is a gift from God which is seldom seen because the route to humility is through humiliation. 

Frequently we say the words "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". It’s easier to say than do! As you keep forgiving, you will also let go of the capacity to be offended, and eventually you come to experience the whole universe as grace." 

The use of power and authority is very much a Christian issue in today's world. The boundaries between the use and abuse of power are quite blurred, so that many people don't realise they are abusing power for they assume that once they're in positions of leadership anything goes.

But for Christians, the other person no matter what their status, must always be treated with respect. Parents who treat their children with respect deserve their love. And Christians who treat all other people with respect introduce them to the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey that first Palm Sunday, the people cheered and rejoiced for they sensed that Jesus was special and that they had glimpsed the Kingdom of God. But when they discovered the route to the Kingdom was through humility and suffering and danger, they mostly fell by the wayside.

Those who continue along this tough road will discover the Kingdom in all its glory. And en route, they'll also discover how to exercise Christian authority and how to be a leader through service. These are the sorts of leaders who respect themselves as well as others - who serve because they wish to do so. 

This is servant leadership. Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as our Servant King.  We will never be another Servant King, but we can all be in Servant Leadership in God’s church.  Humble servants can also be the leaders who unconsciously show Christ in our world. AMEN.

 

HYMN  Take my life and let it be


Prayers of Intercession

Our Prayers for others this week comes from Christian Aid, who are still working world-wide during our current crisis.

 

Lord we pray 

For the health workers tending the seriously ill

for the scientists working on a vaccination 

for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends

for the media outlets working to communicate information 

for the supermarket workers and other key workers

for the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning

for the clapping at doorways by locked-down communities

for the recognition that isolation doesn’t need to mean loneliness

for the notes through letterboxes offering help and support 

for the internet and telephones that keeps us connected

for the awakened appreciation of what is truly important

Thanks be to God.

 

For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones

for those who were already very anxious

for those immune suppressed or compromised

for those vulnerable because of underlying conditions

for those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories

for those watching their entire income stream dry up

for those who have no choice but to go out to work

for those who are afraid to be at home 

for those who are more lonely than they've ever been

for those who are bereaved and grieving.

God be their healer, comfort and protection,

be their strength, shield and provision

be their security, safety and close companion

 

And raise up your Church

to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet 

to be present to the pain

to respond with love in action

if even from a safe distance.

 

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.


HYMN  Great is thy faithfulness


Blessing

Please join us if you can on Thursday evening for our Maundy Thursday communion service.  Try to have a small piece of bread and some wine or juice available so we can all participate together, even if we are apart.

To conclude our worship, we should remember that this is Holy Week and we are told that “Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem.” 

 

Our Lord is on a journey,

and the way leads through opposition and misunderstanding.

Jesus invites us to follow him.

 

Our Lord is on a journey.

May we have the grace to follow this Christ,

and to give to him our very lives.

For in giving away our lives, we find them,

and in dying we live.

 

Go now, in peace and with hope.  Amen.


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