Palm Sunday (Psalm 118:24-29)

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. 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.

Preparation: Hosanna, hosanna

Call to Worship (Psalm 118:1, 2, 19-23)

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures forever." 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. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

Hymn: Hosanna, loud hosanna


God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'" They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Sermon: Surprise

I wonder who were more surprised, the disciples or the priests and Pharisees. In the case of the disciples, were they surprised at people’s reactions? First when they went to untie the colt and answered the bystanders’ question as Jesus instructed, the permission was given. They were total strangers, yet these bystanders let them take the colt. Then, when they began approaching the gate of Jerusalem with Jesus, many people spread their cloaks on the road and others spread leafy branches they cut from the fields. In this case, the surprise was that all   these people seemed to have prepared themselves. The bystanders allowed the colt to be taken while the people near Jerusalem had leafy branches they cut from the fields for this very event. The disciples did not arrange all these. They were also with Jesus. That is, if Jesus arranged these to happen, they surely would have known.

I have been chuckling a bit as I read about the colt. Colt would be like a car today. Imagine what would happen in today’s Toronto where thefts of cars have been causing all kinds of troubles for many people. As you and your neighbours are outside talking to each other strangers come near you, approach a car across the street. You know they are not your neighbours. So both of you go over and ask the strangers what they are doing. These strangers are wearing clothes that no one in the neighbourhood wears. They answer you by saying that their master needs it and will return it back immediately. Do you stand there and let them take your neighbour’s car or call the neighbour or the police? This was why it was so surprising that these disciples were allowed to take the colt by the locals.

The other curious thing to note is that there were people who were rejoicing the arrival of Jesus on a donkey. This symbolic action of a king coming peaceably by sitting on a donkey instead of a horse ready for war was greeted by people who were laying their cloaks and leafy branches they cut in their fields. Somehow these people gathered there to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as the coming Messiah. Did they know what they were doing? Did the disciples primed them? Did Jesus let the word out regarding his entry into Jerusalem? Whatever the case may be, people who were there were ready to receive him as someone very important.

Those who went ahead of Jesus, most likely the disciples and their friends, were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Certainly this part is not as surprising as the other two. The disciples followed Jesus with the conviction that Jesus was the Messiah. They knew that their time to overthrow the Romans was coming. That was why they followed Jesus in anticipation in the first place. Now as they approached Jerusalem, they began to feel the fulfilment of the promise that David’s kingdom would be re-established was at hand. It was quite apropos for them to link Jesus to the restoration of Israel.

For us Christians, who see things from the viewpoint of the resurrection day, we see how Jesus revealed himself to be the Messiah in the way that the world, including his disciples initially, did not understand. It was only after the Pentecost, the disciples and his followers began to grasp fully how God fulfilled the promise to restore the kingdom of David through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thankfully, the kingdom or God’s reign that came through Jesus was unlike anything we saw in history prior to Jesus and since. This reign of God did not come by might and power destroying the enemies, but by love that lays down one’s life even for the enemies.

Truly if we were to be taken back in history to the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, we, too, would unreservedly proclaim, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Knowing what Jesus would go through, we would shout even louder because the grace of God by which Jesus would suffer became the road to salvation for all those who would follow him. Our enthusiasm would not be any less than those who shouted on the top of their lungs that day. Indeed, if anything, the knowledge of his death and resurrection would embolden us even more so.

Palm Sunday is the celebration of the arrival of God’s reign in the most unexpected way. There is no conquering hero on a horse followed by legions of soldiers as the pomp and ceremony demands while the jubilant population erupts in adoration. Instead, we have a man sitting on a donkey signifying peace instead of war, preceded by a rag-tag group of disciples from the countryside announcing the arrival of the Messiah without the pomp and circumstance. Instead of meticulously lined dignitaries welcoming, there are ordinary people laying down their cloaks or leafy branches they cut from their fields. All to indicate that Jesus came for the weak, meek, broken, sick, poor, hungry and thirsty. Jesus' entry as the Messiah sitting on a donkey was for the sinners, not the rich, powerful and mighty.

It is no wonder that today the sinners are the ones raising up voices. Those who are poor, hungry, meek, weak, sick and thirsty are here putting down their cloaks and what they have gathered for this occasion. Instead of the pomp and circumstance, we bring our tired old selves in sin to raise our voices.

Are you a sinner? This is the day that the Lord has made for you to come out and shout, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Are you part of the poor? This is the day to lay down your cloak and welcome Jesus entering Jerusalem.

Do you belong to the weak and meek? This is the day to bring leafy greens and put them on the road.

Are you the sinner who is shouting in glad joy that this is the day to witness the Messiah.


Caught between joy and despair,
we yearn for the fulfillment of God's desire
beyond the brokenness and neediness of this life.
We offer thanksgiving for God's presence with us
and petitions for the transformation
of the church and the world.

Hear us as we pray:
For the unhoused in our communities, 
and for refugees wherever they take shelter; (Pause)
For all who find themselves without enough resources to cope
when necessary things are so costly; (Pause)
For those who live in isolated communities 
and lack the access, care and technology most of us take for granted; (Pause)
Embrace them, O God, in your mercy,
and humble us, 
lest we put too much trust in our life styles as the source of life’s goodness.

Hear us as we pray
for all those who have been humbled by unexpected circumstances:
for those who face illness or injury; (Pause)
for those who know death or disaster, fear or failure; (Pause)
for victims of crime 
and those who suffer through the misjudgment or mistake of others; (Pause)
And we pray for those who suffer
because of the consequences of their own actions and choices. (Pause)
Embrace them, O God, in your mercy,
and humble us, lest we imagine we can live our lives untouched by trouble.

Hear us as we pray
for all those who have not yet learned the lessons of humility:
for those who live carelessly or drive recklessly,
endangering themselves and others; (Pause)
for those who abuse the trust and power in their positions,
betraying those whose interests are in their hands; (Pause)
And we pray for those who mislead others to protect their own interests
or indulge their fame with no thought for the consequences. (Pause)
Humble them, O God, in your mercy,
and humble us if we are tempted to ignore the responsibility you give us all
to care for our neighbours’ needs.

Life-giver, Pain-bearer, Love-maker,
day by day you sustain the weary with your word
and gently encourage us to place our trust in you.
Awaken us to the suffering of those around us;
save us from hiding in denials or taunts that deepen the hurt;
give us grace to share one another's burdens in humble service. Amen.

Offering/Offering Prayer


Today is the beginning of the Holy Week for Christians. We ask you to humbly follow Christ to the cross and through his death and resurrection. On Wednesday, we will have a devotion at 10 am. On Friday, we will have Good Friday Worship at 10:30 am. We invite all of you to come and join us.
Next Sunday is Easter. We will be celebrating the day of the resurrection with all our hearts. Please come with joyful hearts. Invite your friends and family. Let’s fill this sanctuary with praise and glad shouts as we worship God.

On Easter Monday, we are inviting everyone to come and join us for a simple dinner. We will ask those who have volunteered to cook to come at 1:30 pm. We will eat at 5 pm and share time together. If you would like to come by yourself or friends, please make sure you take a ticket(s). We are trying to see how much food we need to prepare. It will be first come first serve and limit the number of tickets in total to 150.

The Rev. Wally will be on vacation in April.We will have different ministers from the Presbytery coming and preaching. Please make sure you will come, glorify and enjoy God while our minister is away.

Hymn: Ride on, ride on