Sunday Worship – April 2, 2023 Palm Sunday

John August Swanson, Entry Into the City

Narrative Lectionary Week 28 – Palm to Passion Sunday The Passion According to the Gospel of Matthew

First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon, Iowa

Striving to live as Jesus lived – confronting injustice with love, compassion, service.”

Welcome to Worship

*Please stand if you are able




L: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.


(Matthew 21:1-11)

Narrator (Reader 3): When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,

Jesus (Reader 1): ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’

Narrator (Reader 2): This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

Narrator (Reader 3): The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

Crowd (Congregation): ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Narrator (Reader 1): When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking,

City (Congregation): ‘Who is this?’

Narrator (Reader 2): The crowds were saying,

Crowd (Congregation):‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’


All are invited to join in the procession, singing and waving palms.

*HYMN Hosanna! Hosanna!

Choir: Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: All the people sang their praise to him.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: Came to town upon a donkey’s back;
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: Seemed so lowly but he’s Lord in fact.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!

Hosanna! Hear the people say Hosanna!
Save us today. Hosanna!
It’s a faithful song. Hosanna!
Sing it all night long!

Choir: Everybody brought their hopes and dreams.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: Life just isn’t always what it seems.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: Need somebody who can help us be
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!
Choir: liberated from captivity.
Congregation: Hosanna! Hosanna!


God of community, we gather in your presence in this safe place.
We are your straying sheep and your loved children.
We gather to hear the story of that love embodied in Jesus
and expressed through his death, on a cross outside a city wall.
We gather to reflect, to remember and to sing of that love.
May we know your presence in this time of sharing, in the story, in our silence, in our song.


READING Andrew by Madeleine L’Engel
Jesus, too, needed friends; close friends and solitude.
The companionable meal, laughter and talk—then he, the one who spends himself must turn himself, turn, and conceal himself in desert emptiness to be by Father filled.
And then poured strength upon all the emptiest, the most in need.
And he, being human for us, needed me, Peter and John.
So he taught us.
So did we learn this lovely rhythm—needing, needed—then the deepest of all needs, the heartward turn to Love’s own source, the spring which fills all [people], Son-lit, Father-filled, Spirit-blown.
By yourself, Lord, to us our self is shown.



(Matthew 26:17-29)

Narrator (Reader 1): On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying,

Disciples (Congregation): ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’

Narrator (Reader 1): He said,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’

Narrator (Reader 3): So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’

Narrator (Reader 3): And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another,

Disciples (Congregation): ‘Surely not I, Lord?’

Narrator (Reader 3): He answered,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’

Narrator (Reader 1): Judas, who betrayed him, said,

Judas (Congregation): ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?

Narrator (Reader 1): He replied,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘You have said so.’


Book of Common Worship (2018) pp. 305-306, 28-29

INVITATION (Matthew 26:26-29)

Narrator (Reader 3): While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’

Narrator (Reader 3): Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’


L: O give thanks to the Lord, who is good,
P: whose steadfast love endures forever!

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
we lift our hearts to you with thanks and praise:
you opened the gates of righteousness to welcome the outcast and despised;
you established your kingdom on the stone the builders rejected;
you entered the city in triumph on the back of a humble donkey;
you came in glory to reign enthroned on the praises of the poor.
Therefore we cry to you: Hosanna! Lord, save us!
Blessed is the one who comes in your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
we give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Savior:
betrayed by a friend, he remained faithful to the last;
denied by a disciples, he claimed us as his beloved;
condemned without cause, he forgave without condition;
stripped of all dignity, he clothed us with compassion;
mocked by the crowds, he spoke only truth and grace;
broken on the cross, he died to make us whole;
buried in the tomb, he would rise to give us endless life.

Therefore we cry to you: Hosanna! Lord, save us!
Blessed is the one who comes in your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
pour out your Spirit upon us, and upon these gifts:
that in the sharing of this bread and cup,
we might be nourished and made one in the body and blood of Christ our Savior.
Give us the same mind as Christ Jesus:
who emptied himself that we might have fullness of life;
who humbled himself and so became highly exalted;
who gave up his own birthright to receive the name above every name;
who suffered and died in shame to put an end to sin and death forever.

Therefore we cry to you: Hosanna! Lord, save us!
Blessed is the one who comes in your name.

We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
As our Savior Christ has taught us, let us pray together:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.


Jesus said: I am the bread of life.
Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches.
Come to me and never be hungry; believe in me and never thirst.

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.


All are invited to come forward using the center aisle to receive the elements.
Servers will give you a piece of bread and the option to dip the bread into a cup of grape juice or wine, or to take an individual cup of juice.
Please return to your seat by the side aisle.


Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and forget not all God’s benefits.


(Matthew 26:30-35)

Narrator (Reader 1): When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Narrator (Reader 1): Peter said to him,

Peter (Congregation): ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’

Narrator (Reader 1): Jesus said to him,

Jesus (Reader 2): ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Narrator (Reader 1): Peter said to him,

Peter (Congregation): ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’

Narrator (Reader 1): And so said all the disciples.

HYMN #220 “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (verse 1)

1: Go to dark Gethsemane, all who feel the tempter’s power;
your Redeemer’s conflict see; watch with him one bitter hour;
turn not from his griefs away; learn from Jesus Christ to pray.


(Matthew 26:36-56)

Narrator (Reader 2): Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’

Narrator (Reader 2): He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ Narrator (Reader 1): And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

Narrator (Reader 1): Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’

Narrator (Reader 2): Again he went away for the second time and prayed,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’

Narrator (Reader 2): Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

Narrator (Reader 1): While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

Judas (Congregation): ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’

Narrator (Reader 1): At once he came up to Jesus and said,

Judas (Congregation): ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’

Narrator (Reader 1): and kissed him. Jesus said to him, Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’

Narrator (Reader 2): Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’

Narrator (Reader 2): At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’

Narrator (Reader 1): Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

HYMN #220 Go to Dark Gethsemane (verse 2)

2: Follow to the judgment hall; view the Lord of life arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn from him to bear the cross.


(Matthew 26:69-75)

Narrator (Reader 3): Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, Servant Girl (Reader 2): ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’

Narrator (Reader 3): But he denied it before all of them, saying,

Peter (Congregation): ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’

Narrator (Reader 1): When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders,

Servant Girl (Reader 2): ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’* Narrator (Reader 1): Again he denied it with an oath,

Peter (Congregation): ‘I do not know the man.’

Narrator (Reader 3): After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, Bystanders (Choir): ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Narrator (Reader 2): Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath,

Peter (Congregation): ‘I do not know the man!’

Narrator (Reader 1): At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’

Narrator (Reader 2): And he went out and wept bitterly.



L: Judas, slave of jealousy, where are you?
P: I am here.
L: Peter, slave of fear, where are you?
P: I am here.
L: Thomas, slave of doubt, where are you?
P: I am here.
L: People of Jerusalem, enslaved to mob rule, where are you?
P: I am here.
L: Pilate, slave of expediency, where are you?
P: I am here.

L: The story of Christ’s passion and death mirrors for us much of our own weakness and sin.
We all come here as people who have missed the mark and are alienated from God and our neighbor near and far.
~Richard N. Eick, Imaging the Word, vol. 1


Merciful God,
for the things we have done that we regret,
for the things we have failed to do that we regret,
forgive us;

for all the times we have acted without love,
for all the times we have reacted without thought,
forgive us;

for all the times we have withdrawn care,
or all the times we have failed to forgive,
forgive us.

For hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid,
for unfinished tasks and unfulfilled hopes,
forgive us.

#577 Lord, Have Mercy (sung in Latin)

Kyrie elieson. Kyrie elieson.
Kyrie elieson. Kyrie elieson.

For self-righteousness that will not compromise,
and from selfishness that gains by the manipulation of others,
forgive us, O God.
For the lust of money or power that drives destruction,
For the arrogance and thoughtlessness that abuses your good creation,
forgive us, O God.
For trusting in the weapons of war and mistrusting the councils of peace,
For hearing, believing, and speaking lies about other nations,
forgive us, O God.
For suspicions and fears that stand in the way of reconciliation,
For words and deeds that encourage discord,
perpetuate racist assumptions, sexist stereotypes, and classist attitudes,
for everything that contributes to oppression,
forgive us, O God.

#577 Lord, Have Mercy (sung in Latin)

Kyrie elieson. Kyrie elieson.
Kyrie elieson. Kyrie elieson.


L: Hear the Good News: Even Judas was included in that last supper with Jesus
P: Even when we are languishing in the depths, Christ offers his grace.

READING Andrew: having run away from Jesus in the garden by Madeleine L’Engle

…I know I betrayed you
and must forever know that this coward, too,
is as much me as the loyal disciple I thought to be.
This stranger who is most of me is still
my Lord’s failed friend, but friend nevertheless,
and in this friend I now must find, before I sleep,
His image, and His love.


(Matthew 27:11-26)

Narrator (Reader 3): Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’

Narrator (Reader 3): Jesus said, Jesus (Reader 1): ‘You say so.’

Narrator (Reader 3): But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’

Narrator (Reader 3): But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus* Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’

Narrator (Reader 3): For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over…

Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ Narrator (Reader 3): And they said,

Crowd (Congregation): ‘Barabbas.’

Narrator (Reader 3): Pilate said to them,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’* Narrator (Reader 3): All of them said,

Crowd (Congregation): ‘Let him be crucified!’

Narrator (Reader 3): Then he asked,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ Narrator (Reader 3): But they shouted all the more,

Crowd (Congregation): ‘Let him be crucified!’

Narrator (Reader 3): So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,

Pilate (Reader 2): ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Narrator (Reader 3): Then the people as a whole answered,

Crowd (Congregation): ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ [*]

Narrator (Reader 3): So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

[*] This verse is known as the “blood libel.” From The Discipleship Study Bible: “Tragically, this verse has been used across the centuries to fuel anti-Judaism. The imagery of fault for killing the Lord’s anointed comes from 2 Samuel 1:16 (see also Lev. 20:9-16, Josh. 2:19-20; 2 Sam. 14:9).”

HYMN #220 Go to Dark Gethsemane (verse 3)

3: Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at his feet,
mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete;
“It is finished!” hear him cry; learn from Jesus Christ to die.


(Matthew 27:27-56)

Narrator (Reader 1): Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,

Soldiers (Congregation): ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’

Narrator (Reader 2): They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Narrator (Reader 3): As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

Narrator (Reader 1): Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,

Crowds (Congregation): ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’

Narrator (Reader 1): In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,

Authorities (Choir): ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’

Narrator (Reader 2): The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. From noon on, darkness came over the whole land* until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice,

Jesus (Reader 3): ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Narrator (Reader 1): When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

Bystanders (Pulpit Side): ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’

Narrator (Reader 1): At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,

Bystanders (Choir Side): ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’

Narrator (Reader 2): Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,

Soldiers (Congregation): ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

Narrator (Reader 3): Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

HYMN #221 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded (vv. 1, 3)

1 O sacred head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down;
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory,
what bliss till now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call thee mine.

3 What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love to thee.


(Matthew 27:57-66)

Narrator (Reader 1): When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Narrator (Reader 2): The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,

Religious Authorities (Choir): ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’

Narrator (Reader 3): Pilate said to them,

Pilate (Reader 1): ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’

Narrator (Reader 3): So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

HYMN #215 What Wondrous Love Is This

1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing!

4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

READING Three Days by Madeleine L’Engle

…For every birth follows a kind of death,
and only after pain comes life.

We depart in silence, and await the resurrection…

Thank you to the following people for sharing time and talents this morning!

Readers: Craig Engel and Stephanie West
AV Operators: Scott Larson and Gerald Gerber
Communion Servers
The Choir


Sunday, April 2 – Palm/Passion Sunday

8:15 am Choir rehearsal in Community Room
9:15 am Nursery care is available
9:30 am Worship in the Sanctuary & Online
Sunday School for PreK and up! Children will leave with teachers following Discovery Time (children’s sermon)
10:30am Quarterly Congregational Conversation 10:30am Coffee Hour in Social Hall

Tuesday, April 4

1-3pm Church office hours

Wednesday, April 5

6:30pm Youth Group at UMC

Friday, April 7

9am-12pm Church office hours

Sunday, April 9 – Easter Sunday

8:15am Choir rehearsal in Community Room
9:15am Nursery care is available
9:30am Worship in the Sanctuary & Online
10:30am Coffee Hour in Social Hall