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Happening This Sunday

All about this Sunday at St. John the Divine

High five

Palm Sunday - Who's Preaching Where?

  • Traditional Services: 9 am & 11:15 am in the Church – The Rev. Louise Samuelson
  • Awesome Worship Service for Families: 9:15 am in the Hall Life Center – The Rev. Reagan Cocke
  • Modern Worship at The Table: 11:15 am in the Hall Life Center – The Rev. Reagan Cocke
  • Traditional Services: 8 am & 5 pm in the Chapel – The Rev. Louise Samuelson & The Rev. Reagan Cocke

Worship Online

All-Ages Education Hour — Administration Building

Nursery – First Floor

Sunday school for all ages will resume on April 16.

Happening Today

Palm Sunday
All services include a blessing of the palms, festive procession, and a dramatic reading of Christ's passion and death at Calvary. Services range from the intimacy of the Chapel to the festive glory of traditional worship in the Church and the joy of modern worship in the Hall Life Center. Learn more about about our Palm Sunday services.

The Collect of the Day

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 27:11-54

27:11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Musical Offering in the Church

Today is the Sunday of the Passion. We gather outside as we celebrate and remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with exuberant cries of “Hosanna.” We process into the church with palms and festal song, where we sing “All Glory Laud and Honor” and hear our children offer one last “Hosanna” after the Collect of the Day. Our service then quickly moves into the commemoration of the passion and crucifixion. The congregation participates in the dramatic reading of the Gospel, shouting “Let him be crucified!”

The word “hosanna” is often thought of as a declaration of praise, much like “hallelujah,” but it is more a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (ESV). The Hebrew words “yasha” (deliver, save) and “anna” (beg, beseech) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!” So, as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the crowds were perfectly right to shout “Hosanna!” as they were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah. In saying “Hosanna,” the people were crying out for salvation, and that’s exactly why Jesus had come. Within a week, Jesus would be hanging on a cross.

Our musical offerings today draw us to the foot of the cross where we contemplate Christ’s great love. At the Offertory, the Chorale sings a gripping arrangement of the old German hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus” for choir and solo viola as arranged by contemporary American composer and influential church musician John Ferguson. The work comes to a dramatic dissonance, at the realization that it “…’twas I Lord Jesus” that crucified him. We welcome the talents of violist Sam Pederson from the Houston Symphony. During the Ministration, we hear the motet by Thomas Tallis with words that plea for God’s salvation.

Our liturgy concludes with the singing of the Passion Chorale, “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded,” which Bach used in his monumental St. John Passion. The hymn is based on a long medieval Latin poem with stanzas addressing the various parts of Christ’s body hanging on the cross. The fervent singing of this text and tune leads us into the solemnity of Holy Week.

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