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28 March 2021

Greek Orthodox Icon: ‘The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem’

Dear Friends

The service on Palm Sunday begins with the Liturgy of the Palms, for which the Gospel readings given are Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16, describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey – the Gospel writers understood this event as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-12 (‘Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion!  Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem!  Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’).

It is usual, once the palm crosses have been blessed by the priest, to then process either around the church or, weather permitting, outside, singing ‘All glory, laud and honour’.

Once back in church, the Liturgy of the Passion follows, and we hear the canticle drawn from Philippians 2:5-11 about the self-emptying of Jesus ‘taking the form of a slave’ and humbly becoming obedient unto death ‘even death on a cross’.  The canticle ends with the exultant confession of faith that Jesus has now been raised on high by God, and given the ‘name above all other names’ so that ‘every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.  It is probable that St Paul took these words from a liturgy which was already in use within the early Church and reworked them into the form in which we now read them.

Sometimes, at St Mary’s, we have proclaimed the Gospel (which this year would have been either Mark 14:1-end of 15 or Mark 15:1-39) in dramatic form, perhaps asking members of the Sunday School, or from the congregation, to take the parts of the main protagonists.

I have always thought it is superfluous, after this, to have a sermon.  It is usual for the congregation to stand during the recitation of the Gospel, even though this is rather long, and the recitation itself provides all that is needed for profound meditation on the Passion.  It is concluded with a time of silence and prayer.  Communion then follows.

Let’s hope that by next year the normal flow of the Palm Sunday liturgy, along with the rest of the Holy Week and Easter services, including Stations of the Cross, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observance, can resume.  These are always moving rites, and also a witness to those who, for whatever reason, continue to ‘pass by’ the true meaning of Easter.  If I can be forgiven for throwing in here a personal memory, I have vivid recollections of the enactments of the Passion Gospel which were arranged by those studying for the priesthood at Chichester Theological College during the Holy Weeks of 1986 and 1987.  The enactments took place in the pedestrianised area of the city streets, culminating in the Crucifixion which was staged at the Market Cross.  In the first year, I was the ‘props man’ and, amongst other things, was required to carry the ‘cat-o-nine tails’ which was used for the scourging scene.  It was a powerful and profoundly moving witness to the Passion, and it was heartening to see how many people paused from their shopping and took time to join in as spectators.

Sadly, such enactments are not possible this year, for all the reasons of which we are well aware.  I shall arrange for the Paschal candle to be blessed on Easter Eve, and I shall look forward to joining with as many of you as can be present for the socially distanced Easter Sunday Eucharist.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Palm Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
   to take upon him our flesh 
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 Philippians 2:5-11

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,

he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
ven death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Mark 14:1-15

Hear the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

It was two days before the Passover 
and the festival of Unleavened Bread. 
The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way
to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 

for they said, 
“Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,
as he sat at the table, 
a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, 
and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.

But some were there who said to one another in anger, 
“Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 

For this ointment could have been sold 
for more than three hundred denarii,
and the money given to the poor.” 
And they scolded her. 

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? 
She has performed a good service for me. 

For you always have the poor with you, 
and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; 
but you will not always have me. 

She has done what she could; 
she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 

Truly I tell you, 
wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, 
what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, 
went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.

When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, 
and promised to give him money. 
So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, 
when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, 
his disciples said to him, 
“Where do you want us to go and make the preparations 
for you to eat the Passover?” 

So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 
“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 asks, Where is my guest room 
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 

He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.
 Make preparations for us there.” 

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

  1. St Mary's Facebook page
  2. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  3. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  4. Prayer for today.
  5. The C of E youtube channel.
  6. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  7. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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