Palm Sunday commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and it is this passage that we'll be looking at together (Luke 19:28-44).
The story is bitter sweet. At the time when Jesus rode into the gates of Jerusalem with his disciples to celebrate Passover, his popularity and favor among the people reached such a great height that they were ready to proclaim him as the King of Israel. As he rode into Jerusalem they called him the "Son of David" and rejoiced that the Messiah had come. Jesus did not rebuke them even though these proclamations were dangerous - there was already a king in Judah and an emperor in Rome. His disciples must have felt a thrilling surge of victory to be part of such a marvelous welcome. They must've envisioned themselves soon serving King Jesus in a royal palace. But before the week would end, Jesus would be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified and all his disciples would abandon him.
For this reason on Palm Sunday we say with the disciples: "Hail to the Lord's Anointed!" But we also now know that the kingdom he came to usher in is not an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom. And the time is not yet for Jesus to show his strength as the warrior king. That day is still yet to come and Palm Sunday helps us to look forward to it.
To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. O CHURCH OF CHRIST INVINCIBLE
Style: This is a modern hymn done in a mid-tempo, english folk style. Like much of Townend's work it is reminiscent of a Beatles song.
Song Info: This song appears on Stuart Townend's newest release - Paths of Grace. It is a hymn of the church meant to draw our attention to truths about what it means to be God's people. The four verses work through some of the hopeful but painful realities of what it means to be the church. In order, they begin with these lines:
"O Church of Christ, invincible...
O chosen people called by grace...
O Church of Christ in sorrow now...
O Church of Christ, upon that day..."
The hymn recognizes that the church is the work of God and cannot be defeated by the devil, she is called by God's grace, she lives in an age where she can expect to suffer because of her faith, but she awaits a wonderful day of vindication and ultimate salvation when Jesus returns.
2. HAIL TO THE LORD'S ANOINTED
Style: We are playing a contemporary, alt-country version of this old hymn/psalm. It is up-tempo and joyful.
Song Info: The lyrics to this tune were originally composed by Scottish poet, hymn-writer, and activist James Montgomery in 1822. His original lyrics are almost entirely preserved, although slightly altered, by Sandra McCracken in this version that we are singing. She also set the words to new music which she composed. Montgomery's words were based heavily on Psalm 72 and in many Psalters this song is associated with Psalm 72.
Psalm 72 is a Royal Psalm written by King David for his son Solomon. It is a plea for God to give his justice and wisdom to the king so that the reign of the king might bring forth equity and prosperity on earth. This Psalm can be applied to Jesus as "great David's greater son", who is God's anointed king forever. Hail to the Lord's anointed!
3. HEAL US
Style: This is a low-tempo and yet very energetic song. It's done is a classic mo-town/gospel style.
Song Info: This tune is an adaptation of the hymn: "Heal Us Emmanuel Hear Our Prayer" which was written in the 18th century by William Cowper. Cowper was a poet and hymn writer but also suffered from depression and attempted suicide on more than one occasion. This song beseeches the Christ, God with us, to touch us and heal us where we most need healing. It draws on different narratives in the gospels in which Jesus healed broken people. The version you hear here was arranged by Kevin Twit of Indelible Grace. It appears on their 2015 release: "Look to Jesus".
This is a very appropriate song to play as we prepare to receive the Lord's Supper. In the Lord's Supper we come to the Lord himself not just to receive the elements, but to receive Christ by faith. Jesus is the ultimate medicine that heals our guilt, blindness, sinfulness, and shame.
4. ALTHOUGH WE ARE WEEPING (PSALM 126)
Style: This is a contemporary tune done in an ambient, folk style. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song Info: This tune was produced by Sojourn Music and released on their 2014 album: New Again. It is heavily based on Psalm 126. Psalm 126 is a Song of Ascents, which means that it was used in Israel by pilgrims who were journeying to Jerusalem during feast times. This particular Psalm was written after the exile. It talks about the Lord restoring the fortunes of Zion - a reference to their return from exile. The Psalmist rejoices in this miracle and then turns to a plea for restoration. The land was desolate after 70 years of exile and in need of restoration of all kinds. This prayer asks God to establish the work of their hands as they go out to sow their seed and try to rebuild their lives.
This song is good for us to sing today because we too are called to busy ourselves with building the kingdom of God. The exiles of that time were called by God to return to the land and rebuild, awaiting God's promise to visit them and completely restore the kingdom. We're in a very similar spot. As we wait for Jesus' return we are called to sow seeds of the kingdom and seek to establish God's kingdom in every place. So this prayer is for the church today. Restore us, O Lord.
5. Rejoice the Lord is King
Style: We will play this song in its traditional style. It is mid to up-tempo and celebratory.
Song Info: This is one of the many hymns written by Charles Wesley and was published in 1746. The tune was composed by John Fawcett. This hymn was written for Easter and Ascension. It focuses on the kingship of Christ.
See you Sunday!