Palms and Passion

Year A, Palm/Passion Sunday and Maundy Thursday

Liturgy of the Palms/Liturgy of the Passion      

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Matthew 21:1-11

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14                                        

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

As I write this blog I am preparing for five days of retreat and rest in the desert of New Mexico. The winter has been full of change at our church. Change from growth in the church and from the people’s response to our changing political times. Fortunately our change is being channeled into progress though not without the seemingly requisite anxiety that change produces. All in all it is good and we are headed into some exciting new ministries. It will be good to have a week to clear my head, just be and listen for God’s presence in the wind and sun, and possibly some rain and new bloom, in the wilderness. My prayer is that you all have some hours, if not a day or more, of rest and retreat as you head into the hear of our Christian faith story in Holy Week. 

Below are some of my favorite sources of story for the Liturgy of the Palms, Palm Sunday, and for stories of Maundy Thursday.

  • There are three children’s picture book for Palm/Passion Sunday listed at The first one suggested is Way Up and Over Everything by Alice McGill. It resonates with the imagery of Isaiah 50. The second book, Maybe God is Like That Too by Jennifer Grant helps us understand the words of Paul in Philippians 2. The final story comes from SparkHouse Stories, The Story of Easter tells the events of Holy Week in straightforward language for the ears of children and adults alike.
  • I believe I recommend this story every year for use with the Liturgy of the Palms Sunday, Herald of Peace, told by Robert Bela Wilhelm. It is a favorite of mine. The story is of a young prince sent off to war by his father, the king. The journey to the land where he is to lead his father’s troops changes him and instead of a great warrior he becomes a herald of peace. For me, the story is reminiscent of the two parades entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – the Roman procession of Pontius Pilate coming for Passover and to keep the peace by power over people and the ragtag procession of Jesus and his followers praising God who brings peace through the empowerment of people through love.
  • The Floppy-Eared Goat is another story told by Bob Wilhelm. It is about people searching for the promised land. And the obstacles that can prevent us all from experiencing that land. This is not a story I would use predominantly for children. It ends with some sadness and irony. It is a story of confession and repentance that adults need to hear. This story could be used for a creative Maundy Thursday or Tenebrae service. It has echoes of the episode in the garden when Peter cuts off the ear of the soldiers as well as of the theme of an innocent who gives his life for the life of all.
  • One of my favorite Bible story books is Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Children of God Storybook Bible (Deluxe Edition). Like “Herald of Peace” I have recommended this before. Archbishop Tutu’s retelling of 50 of his favorite Bible stories is beautiful reading. The illustrations in this edition come from artists of many nationalities. The central metaphor that runs through the book is God’s dream for the world – a dream of peace and justice, compassion and love.

Blessings on your Lenten story journey as we head into that holiest of weeks,

Jane Anne

©Jane Anne Ferguson, 2017 and beyond. Photos and commentary may be reprinted with permission only. Please find and tell the stories!

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