Special services

Burning of the Palms

 (liturgy adapted from one posted in ELCA Clergy FB group by Rev. Angela Ryan Jennings)

On the Sunday of the Passion, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, people lined the way and waved their palms in praise of the coming one.
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” they cried. “Alleluia!”

Yet by the end of the week those same people cried out for Jesus’ death. Their praise turned to condemnation and taunts of the one lifted high on the cross.
 “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Release for us Barabbas!”

Today we hail Christ as our Lord and King, our Savior, our transformed Lord.
Yet with our words and by our actions, we condemn this Lord, denying his power over us, each day by the life we live.

The one we would proclaim as our Lord on Sunday, we wander away from on Monday, and deny, betray, curse, and abandon the rest of the week.  
We fail to see and honor his face in the face of our neighbor.  We fail to care for his image, imprinted on creation.

The psalmist asks God, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, O Lord?”
From dust we were formed and to dust we shall return:  earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  We have no life apart from God.

In God’s anger we become like dried leaves, once used for praise, but now simply rustling in the wind.
Our empty praise and words burn to dust in the face of God’s hot anger.

[the palms are burned in silence]

Yet God desires the death of no one.  God tenderly calls us to turn from our sin, back to the path of life.  For God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and do not let your anger burn against us forever; let our prayers rise before you as incense.  Turn our wayward hearts back toward you.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, out of your great love and mercy, you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to love you and to serve our neighbors.  Lead us into true repentance this season of Lent.  Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face the truth of our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
Amen.

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