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Worship Materials: Palm Sunday

From the Festive Worship collection


THEME                  The Interplay of Adulation and Rejection


  1. The events of Holy Week reveal the complexity of human nature – of how loyalty and treachery, callousness and tenderness can live side by side in people’s hearts.
  2. Fulsome praise of prophets is but the prelude to crucifixion.
  3. God never stops sending prophets and human beings never stop crucifying them.
  4. Peace is not just the absence of war – it is being at home with the rhythm of our spirit and the rhythm of nature. It is being at home with other people and accepting their rain-bowed diversity. All this is part of being at peace with God.
  5. Peace without humor is little more than the tyranny of the puritans.
  6. Shared power is the instrument of life, stolen power the instrument of death.
  7. All the characters of Holy Week reside within our heart and are never more dangerous than when they are unacknowledged.
  8. The prophets and the dreamers shall be canonized by the future, but not before they have been crucified by the present.
  9. We are all called to be festive clowns, dreamers, mystics, prophets and lovers.
  10. If you are planning to be a prophet make sure you are not working for the institution you are criticizing. Institutions, including churches, develop a love/hate relationship with their prophets.
  11. Christ’s power sharing – the humility of the circle, rather than the pride of the pyramid.
  12. The power of the Christ-life is the power of gentleness, kindness, earthiness, creativity, humor and love.
  13. Only prophets with a loving sense of humor have the ability to stand to one side and not be decimated by society’s criticism of them.
  14. Prophets who take themselves too seriously will, if circumstances allow, become despots. Clowns who are unaware of their  inner weaknesses only produce hollow laughs.
  15. The peace-maker who has no sense of humor and no prophetic passion becomes a politically correct irrelevancy.
  16. Those who need popularity in order to feel secure are crushed by rejection.
  17. Just as the historian can enable us to hear the voices of the past, the prophet can enable us to hear the voices of the future.
  18. To be able to see something of God even in the most destructive and unjust of human beings is the mark of the saint and the goal to which all peacemakers should aspire.
  19. The Jesus of Palm Sunday – prophet, clown and peace maker.
  20. Palm Sunday – a new attitude to power.
  21. There is a Palm Sunday and a Good Friday in each of us, the desire to praise and the desire to destroy.



  1. O Spirit of true humility, may we neither be corrupted by praise
    nor destroyed by criticism, but rather have that true reverence for ourselves which enables us to be channels of your peace.


  1. Jesus Christ who came in peace, help us to accept what lies behind your peace that we may work to bring Good News to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to those with blinded vision and so hasten the process of liberation for all people.



Amid the many thoughts. (BL)

Within the shadows of our thinking. (BL)

What can we learn from war? (BL)

My spirit shall rejoice. (BL)

Repaying force with counter force. (BL)


Help us, O Christ, to choose the path.

Upon a humble donkey’s back.

Give joyful praise and honor. (STS1)

Singing the Sacred, Vol 1, 2011 World Library Publications


I am dancer, I am free. (BL)

RESPONSIVE READING (Paraphrase of the Beatitudes)

How liberated are those. (BL & SE / MU)

How happy are those. (BL)


see Peace Prayer of St Francis under Peace Sunday




Holy Week is a pattern for pilgrimage. A pilgrimage from the superficial analysis of the crowd on Palm Sunday to the complexities and manipulations, the affirmations and denials, the shouting and the silence, the lonely inner journey and the placing of oneself in the hands of God. Then follows concern for the future of other people and for one’s tormentors, the walk through the valley of suffering and death and finally the oneness beyond and within all of this – the all-encompassing reality of a new way of perceiving the mystery.



Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a foal of an ass; not as the victorious warrior on a war horse, but as the humble prophet and clown making an upside-down statement. The clown is the one who turns the images upside down and unmasks all that is pretentious and unreal. The clown confronts the powers-that-be with humor or with silence e.g. Jesus before Herod (Luke 23/9). The clown tells stories that have a hidden meaning e.g. Christ’s parables. If all this is true there was an element of the clown in Jesus, as indeed there is in any liberated human being. To be humorless is to be without hope, for it is only humor that can enable us to live with joy in the midst of the manipulative destructiveness that stalks through the land. Humor enables the fool to be ‘in the world but not of it’. The wisdom of fools is that they are willing to expose their own weakness and in so doing enable others to laugh at theirs. Weakness is destructive only when we cannot laugh at it.



Both the prophet and the clown unmask the destructive forces that imprison human beings.  What myths need unmasking in our society?

Should we examine our preoccupation with acquisitiveness, belief in racial or social superiority, male orientation, simplistic faith in economic solutions and acceptance that competitiveness is the best way?

Which of these are present within our church and how can we tackle them in a way which will lead to change?



Text and image © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

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