Palm/Passion Sunday: Year C

The service for Palm/Passion Sunday reflects the sharp contrasts of Holy Week. Worshipers enter the sanctuary in joyous procession praising Jesus as Lord. The service then moves to a reading of the passion narrative allowing the congregation to hear the whole story of Jesus' suffering and death. Since many will not be in worship again until Easter Sunday, the service on Palm/Passion Sunday is a significant opportunity to represent the wholeness of the Gospel and to remember that the way to Easter joy is the way of the cross.

The Approach to God
The Liturgy of the Palms

If possible, the congregation may gather at a designated place outside the sanctuary, so that all may enter the church in procession. Palm branches may be distributed before the service begins.

Proclamation of the Entry into Jerusalem --Luke 19:28-40

Prayer of the Day

  • Humble and riding on a donkey,
    we greet you;
    Acclaimed by crowds and caroled by children,
    we cheer you;
    moving from the peace of the countryside to the corridors of power,
    We salute you: Christ our Lord.
  • You are giving the beast of burden
    a new dignity;
    you are giving majesty
    a new face;
    you are giving those who long for redemption
    A new song to sing.
    With them, with heart and voice, we shout:
    Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    --from Common Order, Panel on Worship, Church of Scotland, 1994. Used by permission.

Procession into the Church "All Glory Laud and Honor" or other Palm Sunday hymn

Prayer of Confession

  • O Lord, who on this day entered the rebellious city that later rejected you:
    we confess that our wills are as rebellious as Jerusalem's,
    our faith is often more show than substance,
    our hearts are in need of cleansing.
    Have mercy on us, Son of David, Savior of our lives.
    Help us to lay at your feet all that we have and all that we are,
    trusting you to forgive what is sinful,
    to heal what is broken,
    to welcome our praises
    and to receive us as your own.

Words of Assurance and the Law of God

The Word of God
The Liturgy of the Passion

Prayer of Illumination

  • Merciful God, as we enter Holy week turn our hearts again to Jerusalem, and to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Stir up within us the gift of faith that we may not only praise him with our lips, but may follow him in the way of the cross.

Scripture Lessons

  • The readings, which include the passion narrative from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 22:14- 23:56), could be presented by several readers, and/or by incorporating appropriate anthems and hymns at various points in the reading. Scripture, well-read, is in itself a forceful proclamation of the Gospel. A period of silence and a brief sermon may follow the readings.
  • Worship continues with the service of response to God.

Written by John Paarlberg, pastor of First Church in Albany, New York