Year B
Palm/Passion Sunday
(Sixth Sunday in Lent)
28 March 2021

Eucharistic Preface

Let us lift up our hearts.
    We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
    It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you alone are good and your steadfast love is forever.

The creation of the world was your doing
and is a marvel to our eyes.
Your prophets told of the coming one
who would teach your ways
and sustain us with your word.

Your son, Jesus, though one with you
gave up all he had,
taking on human flesh,
and walking the path of obedience
all the way to insult, betrayal and death,
trusting only in your vindication.
Though he was rejected by those who had cheered him,
you made him the cornerstone of new life
and raised him to the highest place of honour.
He has opened the gates of justice
and become our salvation,
so with shouts of joy we greet his appearing,
and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord
to your glory forever.

Therefore with .....

©2003 Nathan Nettleton

Short Preface
(for insertion into Eucharistic prayers with fixed prefaces)

We give thanks for your son, Jesus Christ,
who, giving up all he had
and walking the path of obedience
all the way to insult, betrayal and death,
opened the gates of justice
and become our salvation.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton

General Prayer of Thanksgiving
(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you alone are good and your steadfast love is forever.

The creation of the world was your doing
and is a marvel to our eyes.
Your prophets told of the coming one
who would teach your ways
and sustain us with your word.

Your son, Jesus, though one with you
gave up all he had,
taking on human flesh,
and walking the path of obedience
all the way to insult, betrayal and death,
trusting only in your vindication.
Though he was rejected by those who had cheered him,
you made him the cornerstone of new life
and raised him to the highest place of honour.
He has opened the gates of justice
and become our salvation,
so with shouts of joy we greet his appearing,
and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord
to your glory forever.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton

Declaration of Grace / Absolution

The God who vindicates us is near.
We shall not be put to shame.
With the Lord God as our help
no one can declare us guilty.

Sisters and Brothers,
    your sins are forgiven;
        be at peace.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton

Commission & Benediction

Go now and follow Christ in obedience.
Have the same mind as was in Christ Jesus;
Keep your ears open to God’s teaching;
Be humble, even in the face of hostility
and do not turn back.

And may God help you and keep you from disgrace;
May Christ Jesus lead you through the gates of justice;
And may the Holy Spirit keep you in God’s steadfast love
    and fill your mouths with praise to the glory of God.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
    In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton

Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for Palm/Passion Sunday - Year B - 28 March 2021
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.

Liturgy of the Palms

* Mark 11: 1-11

   Jesus and his followers were getting close Jerusalem, and their last stop was just outside the twin townships of Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his followers into the township, saying, “As soon as you get into the main street you will see a young donkey tied up to a fence. It is an awkward looking thing and has not yet even been ridden. Collect it and bring it to me, and if anyone asks you what you are doing, just tell them the boss needs it and will return it in no time.”
    So they headed into the township, and found the donkey tied up outside a gate in the main street. As they untied it, some of the locals challenged them, saying, “What do you think you’re doing untying that donkey?”
    They told them what Jesus had said and the locals let them go.
    They brought it to Jesus and made an improvised saddle from items of spare clothing. When Jesus got on and began riding slowly up the road to Jerusalem, people began giving him the red-carpet treatment. Some were spreading their coats on the road before him while others were cutting down branches of leaves and flowers and spreading them along the road. Both in front of him and behind him, the cheering crowd began to chant:

    God’s blessing is on the one
        who comes in the name of the Lord!
    God’s blessing is on the coming kingdom
        of our ancestor, King David!
    Hooray for God, the greatest of all!

Once he was inside Jerusalem, Jesus went on into the temple and had a good look around. However, it was already late in the day, so he and the twelve went back out to Bethany and stayed overnight there.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton


* John 12: 12-16

Jesus set out to complete his journey to Jerusalem on the Sunday before the religious festival known as Passover. Huge crowds had gathered in the city for the festival and, when they got word that Jesus was due to arrive, they lined the streets, waving palm branches, to give him a hero’s welcome. As he approached, a loud chant went up:
....God’s blessing is on the one
........who comes in the name of the Lord,
............the King of Israel!
Jesus found a young donkey, and rode in on it. It was just as the scriptures had said:
“Do not be afraid, people of Jerusalem.
....Look, here comes your king
........riding a simple little donkey!”
At the time, his followers couldn’t get their heads around the meaning of all this. Only later, when Jesus was known in all his glory, did it dawn on them that the things which had been written about him had, in fact, happened to him.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton

* Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
........Thank you for your goodness!
........Thank you for your love —
................rock solid and timeless!
May all your people recognise
........that your love and loyalty last forever.

The minute they open the city gates
........— the gates of justice —
we’ll be the first through, LORD;
........eager to tell you how thankful we are.

These gates belong to you, LORD,
........those you have put right can come on through.

Thank you for answering our prayers, LORD;
........for coming to our rescue and putting us right.

From a rejected stone found in a rubbish pile cut and polished a priceless jewel.
This is obviously your work, LORD,
........and we can hardly believe our eyes!

Today is your day, LORD, a day to honour you;
........we will celebrate with joy and laughter.

Get us through safely, LORD!
........In the tasks ahead, give us success!

The one who comes in your name, LORD, the one who is truly blessed.
Gathered here in your house,
........we praise you for sending him.

You, LORD, are our only God,
........and you light up our lives.
In a great procession,
........we march to the sacred place,
waving branches and banners;
........tossing flowers in the air.

You are our God
........and we give you thanks.
You are our God
........and we give you our highest acclaim.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
........Thank you for your goodness!
........Thank you for your love —
................rock solid and timeless!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton

Liturgy of the Passion

* Isaiah 50: 4-9a

The LORD God has given me the gift of the gab
    so that my words can teach others
    and put a spring in the step of the weary.

As I wake up each new day,
    God makes me hungry for learning.
The LORD cleaned out my ears
    so that I could hear every word.
I learned eagerly;
    I never rebelled or quit.

I was opposed by others,
    but I gritted my teeth and stood my ground.
I looked them in the eye
    when they insulted me and spat in my face.
I took it on the chin and did not fight back,
    when they gave me a belting and tore out my hair.

The Lord GOD is always there for me,
    so no disgrace ever gets to me.
I have steeled my jaw and dug in my heels,
    and I’m sure I’ll never be ashamed of my stand
        because I can trust God to back me up.

So, who thinks they can take me on?
    Let them stand up and face me!
Who are my opponents?
    Let’s see what they’re made of!

The Lord GOD is backing me;
    so who is going to accuse me of doing wrong?

©2001 Nathan Nettleton

* Psalm 31: 9-16

Be kind to me, LORD,
........I’m a mess.
My eyes are bloodshot from crying;
........My heart is breaking
................and my whole body aches.

Grief gnaws away at my life,
........sorrows piles up, year after year.
Misery is draining my strength
........and destroying my health.

I get no respect from my opponents;
........nothing but ridicule.
Those who know me can’t bear to look at me;
........even strangers cross the street to avoid me.

Everyone wants to purge me from their thoughts;
........they’ve given me up for dead;
................abandoned me like a burned out car.

Everyone is out to get me;
........they’re whispering behind my back.
They’ve portrayed me as a monster
........and put a price on my head.

But I still put my trust in you, LORD; are my God and you’re all I’ve got left.
My future is in your hands;
........snatch me from the grasp
................of those who are hunting me down.

I’m working for you; look on me with love.
........Stand by me and save me.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton

* Philippians 2: 5-11

Model your attitude on the attitude of the Messiah, Jesus.
Although Jesus was the same as God in every way,
........he did not think of his God-like privileges something to milked for all they were worth.

Instead, he laid it all aside
........and, with no more privileges than a slave,
........was born as a human being.

Having become a human being,
........he was the model of humility.
He didn’t demand his own way
........but let God set the agenda;
even when it included his own death,
........and a gruesome public death at that.

Because of all this,
........God has raised him to the status of number one
and honoured him more highly
........than anyone else in the universe.

So now, just the mention of the name ‘Jesus’
........should bring everyone to their knees;
........everyone who has ever lived or ever will.

Everyone, everywhere will honour God openly acknowledging
........that Jesus the Messiah is Lord of all!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton

* Mark 14:1 - 15:47 or scroll down for the shorter extract Mark 15: 1-39, (40-47)

    There were only two days to go until the religious festival known as Passover, and the chief priests and the religious lawyers were getting anxious to find a way to get Jesus arrested and killed on the quiet. They wanted it done without delay, because they were afraid that if it was done during the festival it might provoke a riot among the people.
    At this time, Jesus was a dinner guest in the home of Simon the Leper, in the town of Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. During the dinner, a woman approached him with a very expensive bottle of blended fragrant oils. She broke open the bottle and tenderly poured out the oils on his head. But some of the other guests got their noses out of joint over this and began growling, “What do you think you’re doing? That stuff is worth a fortune. Why was it not sold and the money put to work to do something for the poor?”
    They were giving her a hard time over it, but Jesus came to her defence, saying, “Give it a break. Why are you picking on her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. You will always have the poor with you, so you can go and do something worthwhile for them any time you like, but you won’t always have the opportunity to do anything worthwhile for me. She has done what she could, using these oils to prepare my body for a decent burial. I can tell you now, without a word of a lie, that wherever the great news is broadcast, anywhere in the world, she will be remembered for what she has done today.”
    That was the last straw for Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve – the inner circle of Jesus’s closest followers. He arranged a secret meeting with the chief priests, and offered to rat on Jesus and give them the information they needed to arrest him. They were over the moon about his offer and promised to pay him for his trouble. So Judas began looking for the right moment to double-cross Jesus.
    On the first day of the Festival – the day during which the Passover lamb is sacrificed – the disciples asked Jesus where they should go to book a room for their celebration of the Passover Meal. He sent two of them off to take care of it, saying, “Go into the city and you will be met by a man carrying a bucket of water. Follow him, and when you see him arrive at a house, speak to the owner of the house and say, ‘The Teacher wants to book your guest room to celebrate the Passover with his followers.’ He will show you a large room upstairs which is already set up for such an occasion. You two go and prepare the meal for us there.”
    So the two disciples set off for the city. They found everything just as Jesus had described it, and they made all the necessary preparations for the Passover Meal.
    When the evening came, Jesus arrived with the rest of the twelve to share the meal. When they were all seated and eating, Jesus said, “I kid you not; one of you will double-cross me; one of you who is sharing the meal with me.”
    They were all quite shaken by this, and began asking him in turn, “Surely it is not me, is it?”
    He answered, “I will be betrayed by one of the twelve, one of the very ones who pass me the sauce and top up my glass as we share the meal. And while the fate of the New Human is well known to scripture, the writing is on the wall for the one who stabs him in the back. That one is going to wish he had never been born.”
    During the meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread in his hands and praised God. He broke the loaf, and gave it to them, saying: “Take some. This is my body.”
    Then he picked up a glass of wine, gave thanks to God, and gave it to them, and they all took a drink from it. He said to them, “This is my blood, which is spilled for countless people in sealing God’s new alliance. I tell you without a word of a lie, that not another drop will pass my lips until the day when we drink in celebration of the culture of God.”
    Then, after singing the hymn that concludes the meal, they went out to the Mount of Olives. As they went, Jesus said to them, “You lot will all chuck in the towel. It will be just like the old saying in Scripture,
    ‘Knock off the shepherd,
        and the sheep will run in all directions.’
But when I have been raised, I will go on up to Galilee ahead of you.”
    Peter protested, saying, “Everyone else might lose their nerve and shoot through, but not me. I will hang in there no matter what.”
    Jesus said to him, “Don’t bet on it. This very day, this very night, before the rooster crows a second time, you will have sworn three times that you don’t even know me.”
    “Over my dead body!” thundered Peter. “I’d die before I would deny you.”
    And all the others swore the same.
    Soon they arrived at the Gethsemene Gardens. He asked most of them to wait for him while he went to pray, and took only Peter, James and John with him. As they went, he became increasingly disturbed and distraught. He said to the three, “I feel totally gutted. It feels like it’s killing me. Wait here and hang in there while I pray.”
    He went ahead a little and threw himself down on the ground and prayed for the possibility of a way out of what was about to happen to him. He said, “Abba, Father, you can do anything. Get me out of this without having to drink this bitter cup! But still, the bottom line is whatever you want.”
    When he got up, he found that his followers had fallen asleep. He woke Peter, saying, “Simon, have you nodded off? Couldn’t you hang in there with me for even one hour? Stay on the watch, and pray that you will not have to confront things that stretch you to breaking point. Your spirit is raring to go, but your body can’t hack the pace.”
    Then he moved off again and prayed in the same words as before. When he came back, he found them all asleep again, simply unable to keep their eyes open, and they didn’t know how to explain themselves. When he came back the third time, he said, “Are you lot planning to sleep right through? Enough! The time is up. A traitor has dealt the New Human into the hands of the corrupt. On your feet, and get moving! Look, here comes the one who has done the dirty on me!”
    Immediately, even before he finished getting the words out, Judas, who was one of the twelve, arrived on the scene with a heavily armed mob. They had been dispatched by the coalition of chief priests, religious lawyers, and political authorities. The traitor had given them their cue: “The one I greet with a kiss is the target. Bust him and drag him off under guard.”
    So when he arrived, he walked straight up to Jesus saying, “Rabbi!” and gave him a kiss.
    Immediately the mob surrounded Jesus, grabbed him roughly and began to drag him off. In the confusion, someone pulled a knife and began lashing out, slashing a personal attendant of the High Priest and cutting off his ear. Jesus said to the mob, “Do you think I am some kind of dangerous thug, that you need your weapons drawn and your batons ready when you come out here to take me in? I have been sitting in the temple with you nearly every day, teaching the people, and you could have easily busted me if you had wanted to. But you are proving the scriptures right by doing it this way!”
    By this time, everyone had run for their lives and abandoned him to his fate. There was one particular young bloke who had been following him, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. The mob tried to grab him too, but he broke free, losing the towel in the process, and ran off into the night, stark naked.
    They dragged Jesus off to the High Priest, where all the chief priests and the political heavy-weights and the religious lawyers were waiting for him. Peter followed at a safe distance, and made it all the way into the High Priest’s central courtyard. He sat down there with the security guards and kept himself warm by their fire.
    The chief priests and the ruling council were doing their best to put together a case against Jesus that would lead to a summary execution, but they couldn’t get the evidence to stick. A procession of witnesses brought false allegations against him, but they kept contradicting each other. Eventually though, some shonky witnesses testified that they had heard Jesus claim to be able to demolish the Temple, which the people had built in Jerusalem, and to build a replacement in just three days without any human help. They still couldn’t get their stories to line up properly, but the High Priest got to his feet, put Jesus back on the stand, and said, “You have heard the allegations that you claimed to have powers which only God could possess. What do you have to say in your own defence?”
    But Jesus remained silent and offered no reply. So the High Priest put a different question to him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
    Jesus replied, “I am. And you will see the New Human seated as God’s right hand man and riding in with the clouds of heaven.”
    At that, the High Priest feigned utter dismay and turned to the council saying, “Why should we bother with further witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemous claim to be on a par with God. What is your verdict?”
    Their unanimous verdict was that he deserved to be condemned to death.
    There was a near riot as they all began to stick the boots in, spitting in his face and roughing him up. They blindfolded him and bashed him repeatedly, saying, “Come on, prophesy for us!”
    He was handed over to the security guards and they assaulted him further.
    Peter was still keeping a low profile downstairs in the courtyard, but a girl from the High Priest’s domestic staff saw him there keeping warm by the fire. She recognised him and said, “You were with that Nazarene bloke, Jesus, weren’t you?”
    But he denied it, saying, “I don’t know what you mean. I’ve got no idea what you are talking about.”
    He walked out into the entrance courtyard, but the girl saw him again and began saying to everyone there, “Look, this bloke is one of them.”
    But again Peter denied it. A little while later, some of the bystanders became more insistent, saying to Peter, “You’ve got to be one of them. You are a Galilean – it’s a dead give away.”
    Peter began foul-mouthing them and yelling, “I’ve never even set eyes on the bloke you are talking about. I swear it on a stack of bibles!”
    But the moment the denial was out of his mouth, a rooster began to crow for the second time. The words of Jesus came flooding back – “Before the rooster crows twice, you will have sworn three times that you don’t even know me” – and Peter fell apart, bawling his eyes out; a broken man.

    At the crack of dawn the next morning, the chief priests, the politicians, the religious lawyers, and the whole ruling council held a meeting to plan their next move. They handcuffed Jesus, marched him off, and transferred him into the custody of Pilate, the Roman governor.
    Pilate began his interrogation by asking Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
    “They are your words,” answered Jesus.
    The chief priests raised a string of allegations against him, and Pilate turned to him and said, “Aren’t you going to defend yourself? These are serious crimes they are accusing you of.”
    But, much to the governor’s amazement, Jesus offered no further reply to any of it.
    Now it had been Pilate’s practice to release a political prisoner – any prisoner nominated by the people – during the annual celebration of the Passover festival. At the time, there was a group of prisoners being held on murder charges after a violent uprising, and among them was a man named Barabbas. A crowd had gathered and were beginning to call on Pilate to make his customary release for them. He answered, “Would you like me to release the king of the Jews for you this year?”
    Pilate said this because he realised that Jesus had only been charged to get him out of the way of his religious rivals, and so he saw the annual custom as an opportunity to solve two problems at once. But the chief priests were busy stirring up the crowd to call for the release of Barabbas instead. Pilate asked the crowd, “Then what am I supposed to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
    The shout came back, “Execute him!”
    “Why? What evil has he done to deserve death?” Pilate asked them.
    But the crowd just kept chanting, “String him up! String him up!”
    So Pilate, wishing to keep the crowd happy, gave orders for the release of Barabbas. After having Jesus flogged for good measure, he handed him over to the executioners.
    The governor’s security guards kept Jesus detained for a while in the Roman headquarters while the whole battalion gathered round and entertained themselves at his expense. They clothed him in a purple dress-coat, and twisted some barbed wire into a crown and jammed it on his head. They began saluting him and saying, “Heil, King of the Jews!” and then bashing him over the head with their batons. They spat on him and knelt down in mock worship of him. When they’d finished their brutal sport, they stripped the purple dress-coat off him, put him back in his own clothes, and marched him off to be executed. They pulled a man out of the crowd, and forced him to carry the large wooden cross on which Jesus was to be strung up. The man was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, and he had come down to the city from the bush.
    The place where the executions were carried out was called Skull Hill, or in Hebrew, Golgotha. When they got there, they offered Jesus a strong drink – wine spiked with a common drug – but he turned it down. At nine o’clock in the morning, they strung Jesus up on the cross by driving nails through his flesh. Then they divided up his clothes among themselves, tossing a coin to see who should get what. The sign informing onlookers of the offence for which he was being executed, read, “The King of the Jews.”
    A couple of convicted thugs were executed at the same time. The three crosses were erected in a row with Jesus on the middle one. People passing by hurled insults and ridicule at him. They shook their heads and said, “What happened to the big man who reckoned he could demolish the Temple and rebuild it in three days? Show us what you’re made of! Get yourself off the cross and save yourself now!”
    The chief priests and the religious lawyers were there too, making jokes about it to one another with the best of them. “He reckoned he could save everyone else, but he can’t even save himself!” they said. “Let’s see the Messiah, the King of Israel, get himself down off the cross. If we see him do that, we’ll be ready to believe in him!”
    Even those being executed alongside him hurled abuse at him.
    When midday came, the sky went black for three hours and it was dark everywhere. At about three o’clock Jesus screamed out in agony, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you turned your back on me?”
    When the people standing around heard this, some of them thought he was calling for help from Elijah. Someone soaked a sponge in wine that had turned to vinegar and held it up on a stick for him to drink, saying, “Let’s hang around and see whether Elijah will turn up to rescue him.”
    Then Jesus let out a loud cry, and breathed his last. At that very moment, the curtain that closed off the most holy place in the Temple tore open, all the way from the top to the bottom. The commanding officer was standing at his post facing Jesus, and when he saw how Jesus died, he said, “Fair dinkum, this bloke must have been the Son of God!”

    There were a number of women there too, watching it all from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and another Mary who was the mother of Joses and James junior. They had been among Jesus’s followers since the days in Galilee and had provided most of the resources needed by his group. There were also numerous other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.
    It was the day of Preparation which comes immediately before the sacred Sabbath day, and so Joseph of Arimethea plucked up the courage to go to Pilate and ask permission to take the body of Jesus for burial. Joseph was a respected member of the ruling council, and was himself someone who was genuinely looking forward to the culture of God. Pilate was doubtful whether they could already be certain that Jesus was dead, so he sent for the commanding officer and asked him how long Jesus had been dead. Having heard from the commanding officer that Jesus was well and truly dead, Pilate gave orders for the body to be released to Joseph. Joseph took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a linen shroud which he had purchased. He buried Jesus in a tomb which had been cut into a rock wall, and rolled a boulder over the entrance to seal it. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witnessed the burial.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton