This service took the form of four readings, each accompanied by a meditation, hymn, and prayer. I wasn't trying to say anything new in this service - just help the congregation to feel part of the story, as preparation for Holy Week. I wrote a hymn to introduce the service's theme.
Reading: Luke 19:28-40
Here comes our King!
Not as we had expected him...
Not as we might have wanted him...
Carried on a donkey?
Where are the trumpets?
Where are the nobles, paying homage?
Where's the army marching behind, waiting to be led to victory against our oppressors?
If no-one else will do it, we will!
We'll lay down our cloaks in the road.
We'll make a red carpet of palm branches.
Donkey or not, Jesus is our King!
He has healed the sick.
He has preached Good News for all.
Is he the one?
Our saviour, promised from long ago?
Yes! We lay down our cloaks for him - and offer our lives as well.
(Followed by "All glory, laud and honour" and a prayer of adoration.)
Reading: Luke 22:7-20
How sweet it is to eat in the company of friends.
To relax down after a hard day's work.
Better yet in the company of someone as wonderful as Jesus.
We don't understand everything he says or does - no-one could - but we know he's something special.
And this isn't just any ordinary meal - this is the passover.
We've been sharing this meal for hundreds of years.
This isn't just a fellowship between the disciples and Jesus - it feels like much more.
Like the whole of history is in this room.
When Jesus breaks the bread for us, it means we're part of his team.
When Jesus pours the wine for us, it means he is our servant - miracle indeed!
But what does he mean about his body and his blood?
How is any of this part of a "new covenant"?
And why is Jesus talking about suffering?
This isn't the first time Jesus has said some troubling things.
Maybe it's best not to worry.
Maybe it's best just to enjoy being here, being part of a special group of friends.
Maybe it will all make more sense tomorrow.
For tonight, rub the bread between your fingers.
For tonight, chew it and listen to the conversations.
For tonight, drink the wine and maybe let that go to your head, rather than any darker thoughts.
How sweet it is to meet in the company of friends.
(Followed by "let us break bread together with the Lord" and a prayer of thanksgiving.)
Reading: Luke 23:13-24
Who does he think he is?
Our King? Just because he says so?
We have some pride, you know.
The Romans haven't taken that away.
We're not going to just let anyone claim they can rule us.
What would Pilate know?
Why should Pilate stick up for this man?
Are they in cahoots?
Is this "Jesus" really Pilate's puppet?
What's his game?
We won't have it!
And as for Barabbas...
I heard it wasn't a fair trial.
I heard the charges were all dodgy.
They call it insurrection... I call it freedom of speech.
And as for this murder... Where's the proof?
For all we know, all this is some trouble that Jesus has cooked up.
We need to put a stop to this.
(Shouted with violence) Crucify!
(Followed by "My song is love unknown" and a prayer of confession.)
Reading: Luke 23:26-31
There he goes, condemned.
It turns my stomach over, to tell you the truth.
I know, I was there in the crowd when they were calling for this.
I didn't actually shout myself, of course - but I suppose I didn't defend him either.
And then to have to carry his own cross, when he's already in such a state.
It's barbaric, what they've done to him.
Look - he's fallen.
What are those soldiers doing?
They've made someone else carry the cross!
That's something, at least - although it doesn't seem fair on the other guy.
But Jesus is still bent over.
It's as if the cross didn't weigh anything... But there's still a weight on him.
I'm not even sure it's the beating.
Can you see his face? Just occasionally?
That's a strange look.
He doesn't look angry.
He doesn't even look resigned, as such.
It's as if he's determined in some way.
But what could he possibly have left to do?
And what weight is he bending under?
This is strange.
There's no way he can escape crucifixion now.
But I don't think he's finished yet, either.
(Followed by a prayer of intercession, the Lord's Prayer, and "Ride on, ride on in majesty".)