*Procession: “Sings to God as Sings the Ocean” CCS 104
OR “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!” CCS 105
Have the children wear “coats” and “cloaks” (scarves, fabric shawls, or period costumes if available). As the congregation sings the hymn the children follow the worship leaders to the rostrum handing palm fronds to the congregation and laying them in the aisles. When the procession arrives at the rostrum, the children remove their “coats” and “cloaks” and strew them across the area. The adults can watch to see that they are not placed where people may be walking during the service.
*Welcome and Call to Worship:
Leader: Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Leader: Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you;
People: Hosanna to the King!
Leader: Triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
People: Be exalted, O Lord, my God.
Leader: He shall command peace to the nations;
People: Hosanna to Jesus, the bringer of peace and salvation!
—Zechariah 9:9–10, adapted
*Hymn: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” CCS 467
OR “’Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” CCS 456
Focus Moment: “The Donkey’s Lightest Burden” *
Disciples Generous Response
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. —Psalm 118: 19-21, 28-29
Blessing of mission tithes
*Hymn: “Ah, Holy Jesus” CCS 462
OR “Now Thanks We All Our God” CCS 131
*Congregational Response: “Jesus, Remember Me” CCS 459
The Donkey’s Lightest Burden*
Let me tell you, a donkey’s life is not an easy one. Donkeys are born to carry burdens…people’s burdens, loads of things that are not even ours! I have carried water jugs to the well for water, and I have carried the wheat bags in from the field. I have carried lots of other things, too, but there was one day that I was chosen to carry something very special.
I had been tied up just outside the door where my master had dropped off a load of fruit for the market. He and some of his friends were telling stories to each other. The day was warming up, and I was hoping we could get on our way back home.
That’s when I saw them–the two strangers entering the gates of the village. Right away I wondered who they were. I knew they weren’t from around this place. So I wondered who they were and why they had come to our little village. You see, it wasn’t exactly a tourist spot. It was mostly just a few families trying to make a living and doing the same things everyday. So these guys got my attention right away.
I was surprised when they came right up to the door post, my door post, and began to untie me. Maybe, I thought, they had made a deal with my master to buy me. Or…or…maybe they were stealing me! I dug my heels into the dust preparing myself for the old stubborn donkey routine. Just when I was about to make the biggest donkey bray I could muster up my master and his friends noticed what was happening. “Hey there!” they called out, “What are you doing? Where are you going with that donkey?”
So then these strangers answered, “The Lord needs it.” That’s it. That’s all they said! “The Lord needs it.”
What Lord? And what does he need me for? I was beginning to get pretty nervous now. These guys were going to be in big trouble.
But then my master smiled, gave a nod to them, and turned back to talking with his friends. I couldn’t believe it! What was he doing? What were they doing? And what were they going to do with me?
Fears raced through my head as we wandered down the road to the little town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. I couldn’t imagine why I was needed here. Finally we stopped at a small home just inside the town. As the strangers brought me a bucket full of water to drink, other people came out from the house. They took off their cloaks and spread them on my back. It felt strange. I had never carried coats before. This wasn’t a heavy burden at all.
And then, he came out of the house…the man they called Jesus. He had a gentle face, but I noticed there was something sad in his eyes. He looked at me as though to thank me, and then he sat on all those coats that the others had thrown on me.
I had never carried a person before and it was a new feeling. It didn’t feel like much of a burden at all.
As we set off towards Jerusalem I didn’t feel afraid anymore. I still wondered where we were going, and I wondered why. Yet I felt like something special was happening. As we got close to the gates of Jerusalem I saw a crowd of people had gathered. They were shouting something and waving branches from the palm trees and laying their coats in the road. As we came closer I heard what they were saying, but at first I didn’t understand what they meant. “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Glory to God!”
Then I realized that this man I carried was a king, a savior! It was Jesus the prophet from Nazareth! Everyone had heard of him and his miracles. I had heard the people in my little village telling how he had healed people and that he told stories of love and forgiving. And so as we walked through the gates I held my head proudly and was careful not to stumble or fall. This was precious cargo I was carrying! On down the streets of Jerusalem and on towards the temple we went with the procession following us.
Later the disciples returned me to my home. Life pretty much returned to normal, but I could not forget that day when I got to serve Jesus in that special way. Not long after that day I heard my master and his friends quietly talking. I couldn’t quite hear the whole story, but I did hear something about a cross and an empty tomb. I don’t really know about all that. After all I am only a simple donkey. But I do know that the most precious burden I ever carried was Jesus, the man with the kind face and sadness in his eyes that day.
—by Trish Hernandez
Scriptures and Songs
Share and Care
Gathering Song: “Who Is This Jesus” CCS 38
Scripture 1 O give thanks, for God is good.
Leader: O give thanks, for God is good.
People: God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Leader: This is the day the Lord has made.
People: Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
ALL: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
*Hymn of Praise: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” CCS 105
Scripture 2, Psalm 118: 5a
CONGREGATION: Out of my distress I called on the Lord.
Hymn of Lament: “I Need Thee Every Hour” stanzas 1 & 2 CCS 188
Scripture 3, Psalm 118: 8
CONGREGATION: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals.
Hymn of Refuge: “When We Are Called to Sing” CCS 229
Scripture 4, Matthew 21: 1-5
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 fulfill 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.”
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture 5, Psalm 118: 19
CONGREGATION: Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Song of Thankfulness: “Give Thanks” CCS 134
Scripture 6, Matthew 21: 6-9
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they bought 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!”
Song of Triumphant Entry: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” CCS 467
Scripture 7, Matthew 21: 12-13
Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’: but you are making it a den of robbers.”
Hymn of Peaceful Protest: “We Shall Overcome” CCS 261
Prayer for Peace
Scripture 8, Matthew 22: 15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
Hymn of Truth: “When as a Child We Spoke” CCS 571
Scripture 9, Matthew 23: 1-4, 6-7, 11-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them…They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi…The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Hymn of Servanthood: “Humble Yourself” a cappella CCS 211
Scripture 10, Matthew 25: 1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Song of Being Prepared: “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” CCS 633
Scripture 11, Psalm 118: 22
CONGREGATION: The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone
Hymn of Transformation: “Living Stones” stanza 1 CCS 279
Scripture 12, Matthew 23: 37-39
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
CONGREGATION: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Song of Paradox: “No Tramp of Soldiers’ Marching Feet” stanzas 1&2 CCS 466
Scripture 13, Matthew 25: 34-40
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
*Song of Our Commitment: “Whatever You Do” CCS 355
* What Is Coming: Scripture 14, Matthew 26: 1-13
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
*Sung Response: “What Wondrous Love Is This” stanzas 2, 3, & 4 CCS 454
Witness of the Truth
Worship Setting: Prominently display a cross draped in purple. Have one or more large weighted vases complete with a little water set up in front of the sanctuary. As people enter, they are greeted and given palms and flowers. Provide a large basket in the front for receiving the Mission Tithes as they are brought forward.
The Crowd Gathers
Welcome and Scripture Call: Zechariah 9:9, 16
*Hymns of Praise
“When the Morning Stars Together” CCS 93
"Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
*Prayer of Praise and Invocation
Welcome Jesus: Procession of Palms
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1–9
Procession Invitation and Statement
Those chosen to arrange the flowers and palm branches and to receive the Mission Tithe, come forward to the front. Invite the congregation to come forward bringing palm branches, flowers, and offerings. Some palms may be strewn in the aisle. Be sure to provide for those who are not able to come forward. The helpers receive the palms and flowers and arrange them in the vases.
Offerings are placed in the basket provided.
Jesus is coming. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Procession Hymn: “No Tramp of Soldiers Marching Feet” CCS 466 OR “Filled with Excitement” CCS 465
The Truth about Jesus
A Conversation with Jesus
Leader: He is coming, riding on a colt. Our deliverer has come.
Congregation: Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Leader: We will rise up under his banner. He will smite our enemies.
Congregation: Hosanna. Blessed is he.
Jesus: My kingdom is not of this world.
Congregation: Deliver us from our enemies.
Jesus: My kingdom is already within you.
Congregation: Hosanna. Save us. Lead us against our oppressors.
Jesus: The Son of Man will be betrayed, condemned, mocked, flogged, and crucified.
Congregation: Have mercy on us, Son of David. Deliver us.
Jesus: Be quiet. Listen to me.
Congregation: Lord, Son of David, have mercy.
Jesus: You who are blind and do not see me, see me. You who are deaf and do not hear me, hear me.
Congregation: Have mercy on us. Deliver us. Save us.
Jesus :Let me tell you. When the father sends the son at last, they will throw him from the vineyard kill him.
Leader: No, Lord. You will live to lead us, to smite our enemies, to restore our land to us. You will be our king and we will worship you.
Jesus: Oh, Jerusalem. You who have killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks, but you were not willing.
Leader: And Jesus left the crowd and joined his disciples to prepare them for his betrayal and death. And the disciples did not understand. They betrayed him. They denied him. They drifted away in confusion and despair. And then the crowd turned on him in their anger and disappointment, and they sought to crucify him.
Congregational Hymn: "’Tis Midnight and On Olive’s Brow" CCS 456 OR "Were You There" stanzas 1, 2, and 3 CCS 458
Disciples are called to be witnesses of the truth in Jesus. Who is Jesus? What did he do? What are we to do? Is your witness one of denial, betrayal or discipleship?
Go as Living Witnesses
*Hymn: "Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit” CCS 209 OR "All Glory Laud and Honor” CCS 467
Passion Sunday is high drama. The drama begins with the procession of the palm leaves, a celebration of the events of Holy Week, and concludes with our responses and offering.
This day is one of contrasts with joyful demonstrations of loyalty to Jesus and somber contemplation because we know the crucifixion is yet to come. We need to point out the contrasts of the week ahead. The culmination of this week is the mystery of the crucifixion of Jesus, his death and rising from the tomb.
Part 1 The Procession
If the weather permits, people should gather outside the sanctuary. Or if the entry area is large enough, have people gather there. The presider welcomes the people as they stand outside or in the foyer.
Learning the Refrain
Use "I Know That My Redeemer Lives: CCS 34
or "Angels, from the Realms of Glory" CCS 436
Teach the refrain to the congregation so they can sing it during the processional without using hymnals.
Distribute Palm Branches and Cloaks
Refrain Introduction (Organ)
*Procession: Worshipers enter the sanctuary singing with enthusiasm laying their palm branches and cloaks in the middle aisle.
*Hymn: “All Glory Laud, and Honor” CCS 467 OR "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” CCS 394
*Reading of the Scriptures: Congregation continues to stand for this reading and then is seated.
He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.—Isaiah 50:8 NRSV
Ministry of Music: "On the Road to Jerusalem,"
Joseph M. Martin (Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania: Harold Flammer Music), SATB. OR "Sanna, Sannanina” CCS 469
Reading of the Scriptures
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 2:1–5, adapted
Part 2 The Passion
Hand out scripts of the drama to each worshiper. Share with the worshipers that the drama is the message for the morning. If possible, have the main characters rehearsed and prepared with signs that tell who they are. This drama can be used in a congregation with only 6 or with 400.
The main characters are
- Narrator 1
- Narrator 2
Supporting cast consists of
- Reader 1
- Reader 2
- Reader 3
- Reader 4
- Reader 5
- Crowd (all of congregation)
- Thief 1
- Thief 2
- High Priest
If you have a small group, one person could read two or three of the parts.
The Passion Drama
Narrator 1: It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Jesus in secret, and kill him; for they said,
Reader 1: "Not during the feast, lest there be a riot of the people."
Narrator 1: While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with a flask of costly ointment, and she broke the flask and poured it over Jesus head. But there were some who said to themselves in anger,
Reader 1: "Why was the ointment wasted in this way?"
Reader 2: "This ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor."
Narrator 1: And they scolded her. But Jesus said,
Jesus: "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you. Whenever you will, you can do good to the poor; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And surely, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
Narrator 1: Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Jesus to them. And when the chief priests heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money. So Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
Narrator 2: On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to Jesus,
Reader 3: "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
Narrator 1: Jesus sent for two of his disciples and said to them,
Jesus: "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."
Narrator 2: And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
Narrator 1: And when it was evening Jesus came with the twelve. And as they were at table eating, he said,
Jesus: "I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me."
Narrator 1: They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one after another,
Reader 1: "Is it I?"
Reader 2: "Master, is it I?"
Reader 3: "Surely not I."
Narrator 1: Jesus said to them,
Jesus: "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread in the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to the one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."
Narrator 1: As they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
Jesus: "Take, this is my body."
Narrator 2: And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them,
Jesus: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Narrator 1: When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them,
Jesus: "You will all become deserters, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee."
Narrator 1: Peter said to Jesus,
Peter: "Even though they all become deserters, I will not."
Jesus: "Truly, I say to you that you will deny me three times before the rooster crows."
Narrator 1: But Peter protested and said,
Peter: "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you."
Narrator 1: And the disciples all said the same thing.
Narrator 2: And they went to a place that was called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,
Jesus: "Sit here while I pray."
Narrator 1: Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and began to be distressed and greatly troubled. And he said to them,
Jesus: "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and keep awake and watch with me."
Narrator 1: Going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed, that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him, And he prayed,
Jesus: "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will but what you will."
Narrator 1: And Jesus came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter,
Jesus: "Simon Peter, are you asleep? Could you not stay awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into this time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Narrator 2: Again Jesus went away and prayed. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. And he came the third time, and said to them,
Jesus: "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up now, see, my betrayer is at hand."
Narrator 1: Immediately, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
Narrator 2: Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,
Judas: "The one I shall kiss is Jesus, seize him and lead him away under guard."
Narrator 2: When Judas came, he went up to Jesus at once, and said,
Narrator 1: And Judas kissed him. And they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
Narrator 2: And Jesus said to them,
Jesus: "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled."
Narrator 1: The disciples all deserted Jesus and fled.
Narrator 2: They led Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled.
Narrator 1: Peter had followed at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, and warming himself at the fire.
Narrator 2: Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimonies against Jesus, but their witnesses did not agree. And some stood up and bore false testimony against Jesus, saying,
Reader 4: "We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’"
Narrator 2: Yet even on this point their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus,
High Priest: "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?"
Narrator 2: But Jesus was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him,
High Priest: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"
Narrator 2: And Jesus said,
Jesus: "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven."
Narrator 2: And the high priest tore his clothes, and said,
High Priest: "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?"
Narrator 2: And they all condemned Jesus as deserving death.
Narrator 1: And some began to spit on Jesus and they blindfolded him, and began to strike him, saying,
Reader 1: "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?"
Narrator 1: And the guards took Jesus and beat him.
Narrator 2: Peter was in the courtyard and one of the maids of the high priest came out. Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said,
Maid: "You also were with Jesus, the one from Nazareth."
Narrator 2: But Peter denied it, saying,
Peter: "I neither know nor understand what you are talking about."
Narrator 2: Peter went out into the gateway. The maid saw him again and began to say to the bystanders,
Maid: "This man is one of them."
Narrator 2: But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystander said to Peter,
Reader 1: "Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean."
Narrator 2: But Peter replied in a hostile voice.
Peter: "I do not know this man you are talking about."
Narrator 2: And immediately, while Peter was speaking, the rooster crowed and he remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And Peter broke down and wept.
Narrator 1: As soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole council, had Jesus bound and led away and handed over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him,
Pilate: "Are you king of the Jews?"
Narrator 1: And Jesus answered him,
Jesus: "You have said so."
Narrator 1: The chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again,
Pilate: "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you."
Narrator 1: But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Narrator 2: At the Passover feast Pilate would release one prisoner that the people asked for. Among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to release a prisoner as was his custom. And he said to them,
Pilate: "Do you want me to release the king of the Jews?"
Narrator 2: For he realized that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over.
Narrator 1: But the chief priests had stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead. And Pilate said to them again,
Pilate: "Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the king of the Jews?"
Narrator 2: And they shouted back,
Crowd: "Crucify him."
Narrator 2: So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having flogged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Narrator 1: The soldiers led Jesus away to the courtyard; and they called together the whole battalion. Then they put a purple cloak on Jesus, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. And they began to shout at him,
All Readers: "Hail, king of the Jews!"
Narrator 1: The soldiers struck Jesus on the head and spat upon him, and then they knelt down in homage to him. And after they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
Narrator 2: They compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, to carry the cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).
Narrator 1: And they offered him wine mingled with a sedative; but he did not take it. It was about nine o’clock in the morning.
Narrator 2: There was an inscription over him that said "This is the king of the Jews."
Narrator 2: The soldiers cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying,
Reader 5: "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe!"
Narrator 1: The soldiers also mocked him, saying,
Reader 2: "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!"
Narrator 1: One of the thieves who was next to Jesus said to him,
Thief 1: "If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!"
Narrator 1: But the other thief rebuked him saying,
Thief 2: Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. (pause) Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Narrator 1: And Jesus answered him and said,
Jesus: "Today you will be with me in paradise."
Narrator 2: When it was twelve o’clock, there was darkness over the whole land until three o’clock. Then Jesus cried with a loud voice,
Jesus: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Narrator 1: And some of the bystanders hearing it said,
All Readers: "Behold, he is calling Elijah."
Narrator 2: One bystander ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, gave it to Jesus to drink.
Narrator 1: Others said,
Reader 3: "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down."
Narrator 1: And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.
Narrator 2: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Narrator 1: When the centurion who stood facing Jesus saw that he had breathed his last, he said,
Reader 3: "Truly, this man was the son of God."
Narrator 2: There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, who had followed him while he was in Galilee, also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Narrator 1: When evening had come, since it was the day of preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Narrator 2: When Pilate learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.
Narrator 1: After taking Jesus down from the cross, they wrapped him in a linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
Narrator 2: They rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where he was laid.
—Adapted by Jamie Tankersley from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Offertory Statement and Prayer
As we remember Jesus, his example, his sacrifices, and his gift of God’s love to us, let us respond by generously sharing our gifts. Let us share our gifts with the church, the poor, and those in need.
*Closing Hymn: "Hope of the World” CCS 29 OR "Bring Forth the Kingdom” CCS 387
You are sent out from these walls to remember God’s blessings and the gift of God’s son.
You are sent out to remember God’s mercy.
You are sent out to live and serve in newness of life.
May the lamb of God, even Jesus Christ, enter your hearts and give you peace. Amen