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Who is This? - Matthew 21

A service plan for the sixth Sunday of Lent planned around Matthew 21:10. This service is part of "Questions of the Last Week," a series of Lent service plans.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Questions of the Last Week

This Lent series is titled "Questions of the Last Week." Each of the questions comes from the narratives of the week before Christ's resurrection. It is our hope and prayer that these series will provide you with variety, thoughtful content, and an excellent opportunity to enrich the spiritual journey of worshipers of all ages.

Theme of the Service

This question was spoken on the first day of the week as Jesus entered Jerusalem. The theme focuses on how we understand information about Jesus and arrive at a conviction of his identity.

* * * * *


Prelude: "All Glory, Laud and Honor" [see music notes]

*The Call and Invitation to Worship:
King Jesus comes, King Jesus,
Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah.
Hail! King Jesus, King of all!
Recall the words of the Scriptures:
"A great crowd who had come to the feast
heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.
So they took branches of palm trees
and went out to meet him, crying, 'Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
even the King of Israel!' "
In praise we adore you, King Jesus.
Enter our hearts today
as you entered Jerusalem long ago,
and lead us by faith in the way everlasting. Amen. (from The Worship Sourcebook, K.1.2.3, based on John 12:13)

*Opening Hymn: "All Glory, Laud and Honor" PH 88, PsH 375/376, RL 279, SFL 161, TH 235, TWC 204, UMH 280

*The Welcome and Greeting

The Children's Moment and/or Songs [see liturgy notes]

Anthem [see music notes]

WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE [see liturgy notes]

The Call to Confession

Because we trust in God's grace and mercy, we are able to make our honest confessions to him without fear of rejection. We know he will be merciful. So let us call on him for his mercy and grace that we may be renewed.

The Prayer of Confession:
O Christ,
out of your fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
You are our eternal hope;
you are patient and full of mercy;
you are generous to all who call upon you.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, fountain of life and holiness,
you have taken away our sins.
On the cross you were wounded for our transgressions
and were bruised for our iniquities.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, obedient unto death,
source of all comfort,
our life and our resurrection,
our peace and reconciliation:
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, Savior of all who trust you,
hope of all who die for you,
and joy of all the saints:
Save us, Lord.
Jesus, Lamb of God,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, J.2.2.7)
Sung: "Agnus Dei" [see music notes]

The Assurance of Pardon:

When the Holy Gospels give us the account of the suffering and death of our Savior Jesus Christ, they are reassuring us that he has laid down his life for his sheep. As you hear this account, receive in faith that he was ".pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wound we are healed."

Please rise for the reading of the Gospel.

*The reading of John 19:28-30
This is the Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

On the basis of the Gospel of Christ, we may be assured that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

*Passing the Peace [see liturgy notes]
The peace of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you.")

*Our Grateful Affirmation [see liturgy notes]
What do you believe about your forgiveness?
We believe
that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins
because of Jesus Christ,
and that in it our righteousness before God is contained,
as David and Paul teach us
when they declare that man blessed
to whom God grants righteousness
apart from works.
Is such forgiveness given to you freely?
We are justified "freely" or "by grace"
through the redemption in Jesus Christ.
And therefore we cling to this foundation,
which is firm forever,
giving all glory to God,
humbling ourselves,
and recognizing ourselves as we are;
not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits
and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified,
which is ours when we believe in him.
Does this forgiveness give you peace toward God?
This is enough to cover all our sins
and to make us confident,
freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach,
without doing what our first father, Adam, did,
who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves. (from The Belgic Confession of Faith, art.23)

*Song of Testimony: "There Is a Redeemer" RN 232, SNC145, SWM 128
or: "What Wondrous Love" PH 85, PsH 379, RN 277, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212, UMH 292


Anthem [see music notes]

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Who Is This?
Questions of the Last Week 6
Text: Matthew 21:10

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" PH 89, PsH 378, RL 282, TWC 203, UMH 278
or: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" PsH 371

*Our Affirmation of Faith: Apostles' or Nicene Creed [see liturgy notes]

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" [see music notes]
or: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" [see music notes]
The Offering of Our Gifts


*The Words of Sending:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death-
even death on a cross. (from The Worship Sourcebook, K.9.1.2, based on Philippians 2:3-8, NRSV) [see liturgy notes]

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen

*Song: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" PsH 291, RN 285, TH 644, TWC 560, SWM 211

Postlude: "Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates" [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

An athlete surges on the scene and quickly accumulates a record above others, and we want to know more about her. A businessman becomes an instant success, and we call for more biographical information. A politician makes the news, and we want to know about her. Such a desire to know more usually comes in the setting of striking events, such as this setting on Palm Sunday.

Jesus has finally arrived in Jerusalem, the center of religion and the location of the temple. Though he apparently did come to the Passover early in his life, most of the time he deliberately stayed away from Jerusalem. His ministry began in Galilee, gradually moved out to a broader area and included some of Judea and Perea, but only now is he publicly entering the Holy City. He is, in a sense, a newcomer. The events associated with his entrance are very interesting and eye-catching. Think of the donkey, the palms, the crowds along the road, and the chants of "Hosanna." It all sounded and looked like the welcome given to royalty, yet it had a strange humility to it. The response was so strong that Matthew (who describes it most vividly) tells us "the whole city was stirred." And notice that in our text he is careful to place the question of Jesus' identity in the mouth of "the whole city."

The dialog here is between two large groups of people. Both the question and the answer come from a group (see v.10-11). Verse 11 attributes the answer to no one person but to "the crowd" so "the city" and "the crowd" are in dialog with each other. "The city" may include those pilgrims who have come to town for the Passover feast, the uninformed residents, the religious leaders who have been threatened by Jesus' ministry since the beginning, the non-Jews who resided there, and the sincere inquirers who had heard much but never had the opportunity to affirm it. "The crowd" may be composed of those who had a clearer idea of who Jesus was and what was happening. They are the ones who had been lining the road, chanting, and laying down their cloaks and palms.

Try to imagine this intense dialog between a "city" and a "crowd" and a similar dialog today. Our current society ("the city") sees events, watches churches, hears stories of happenings and lives changed, reads biographies that point to this person and asks the big question: "who is this?" Then "the crowd" (the church) answers back on the basis of the information they have heard, read, and believe and the truth they've been given by the Spirit of God. In their answer they clearly point to the identity of the one who is under question, the object of curiosity. Therefore, the "city" and the "crowd" are also in dialog today.

We can imagine this dialog continuing through history as one of God's methods for proclaiming the truth of Christ. For instance, Peter (1 Peter 3:15) imagines people ("the city"?) asking us about the reason for the hope that we have. They have seen and heard some things about us and from us, and their curiosity is piqued enough to stimulate their inquiry. Then Peter says that we ("the crowd"?) must be ready to answer by pointing to our hope that comes through Jesus Christ. This searching and inquiring dialog is one of the most effective methods that God employs to build his church in the world. In the setting of our text the dialog introduces the foundation of the church that can grow and spread, the road to the crucifixion and resurrection.

Music Notes:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Suggestions for prelude and alternative accompaniments for "All Glory, Laud and Honor" can be found in the following resources:


Diemer, Emma Lou. (1979) Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (M)
Bach, J. S. Organ Works, vol. 3. Schirmer 867 (M-D)
Burkhardt, Michael. Partita on All Glory, Laud and Honor. Morningstar MSM-10-306 [1990]
Kauffmann, Georg Friedrich Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005]
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (adaptable for piano; E)
Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Linker, Janet. Suite for Holy Week. Beckenhorst OC5 [1989] (E-M)
McCollin, Frances. Two Chorale Preludes for Organ. (All Glory, Laud and Honor) Ricordi [1950]
McKinley, Carl. Ten Hymn Fantasies. H. W. Grey GB274 (POP) [1933] (M)
Peeters, Flor. 30 Chorale Preludes, set 2. Peters 6024 [1950] (M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Processional on "All Glory, Laud and Honor". Agape 1230 [1986]
(3-5 with organ and optional trumpet and voices, M)

Choral Resource:
Teschner, Melchior/Kinsman, Franklin. All Glory, Laud and Honor. Plymouth HA4 [1959]
(SATB [divisi] with opt. trumpet trio obligato; Palm Sunday; hymn-based E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH 97-6851 [2000]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 5. Ludwig O-14 [1992]
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]
Vogel, William. Free Organ Accompaniments to Hymns, vol. 3 Augsburg 11-9189 [1966]
Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968]

The anthem suggestions for the service can be found below; the first set of anthems are focused primarily on the Palm Sunday event, and the second set alludes more to the question posed in the sermon:

Berkey, Jackson. Hosanna! Walton W3407 [1981] (SATB and piano; D)
Fedak, Alfred V. Hosanna. Selah 405-480 [1997] (SATB, organ, opt. brass quintet, opt.
choir; E-M)
Gregor, Christian/Hopson, Hal. Hosanna! Flammer A6628 [1990] (3 choirs: SATB, SAB,
unison, or 1 choir divided with opt. organ, handbells and brass quartet; based on Matthew
21:9 and Mark 11:9; E-M)
Kauffmann, Ronald. Hosanna In Excelsis Deo! Beckenhorst BP1327 [1989] (SATB
and keyboard; E-M)
Larson, Lloyd. Jesus, the King. Beckenhorst BP1234 [1984] (SAB and keyboard; E-M)

Ferguson, John. Who Is This? Morningstar MSM-50-6509 [2003] (SATB divisi and viola; M-D)
Courtney, Craig. Who Is the One? Beckenhorst BP 1300 [1987] (SATB and keyboard; M)
Nagy, Russell. Do You See That Man? High Street Music JH 518 [1991] Unison/2 pt.
and keyboard; E-M)
Wagner, Douglas. Who Is This Man? Sunburst S 102 [1986] (Unison/2 pt. with keyboard; E-M)

The text of "Agnus Dei" which has been spoken already in the prayer of confession can also be repeated as a sung prayer. Musical settings of this text can be found directly in PsH 257 and SNC 253. A more contemporary indirect setting can be found in SWM 124.

Suggestions for alternative accompaniments and offertory music based on the sermon response hymn suggestions can be found in:

ELLACOMBE ["Hosanna, Loud Hosanna"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 1. Ludwig O-05 [1975]

Burkhardt, Michael. Five Lenten Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-309 [1990] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
Stoldt, Frank. Five Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (M)

Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (M)

JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN ["Christ, the Life of All the Living" ]

Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor. (1966-Peters) Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Christ, Mighty Savior. Augsburg 11-10819 [1997] (E-M)

Postlude suggestions can be found in the following resources:

VINEYARD HAVEN ["Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates"]

Dahl, David P. Hymn Interpretations. Augsburg 11-10972 [1999] (E-M)
Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M)

TRURO ["Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates"]

Albrecht, Timothy. Grace Notes VIII. Augsburg 11-10970 [1999] (E-M)
Bingham, Seth. Twelve Hymn Preludes, set 1. H. W. Grey. [1942] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week. Morningstar MSM-10-318 [1995]
Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Lent-Easter. Summa SP-112 [1998] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes

1. The opening of this service of worship is designed to emphasize Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Call to Worship is based on that event. We have left the rest of the service general so that your local customs and traditions may be incorporated. Perhaps your children enter as a processional with palms, your children's choir sings, or a children's moment captures the observance of Palm Sunday.

2. The Service of Confession/Renewal has been designed to be a standard form for each week of Lent to reinforce its impact and meaning. This is the last week for this format.

3. Perhaps your congregation has become increasingly familiar and comfortable with "passing the peace" during this Lenten season. If so, we encourage you to continue using it as an element of your liturgies.

4. Worshipers have the opportunity after the Assurance of Pardon to give a grateful affirmation of their faith by using the words of the historic Belgic Confession of Faith. Article 23 is adapted so that it is in a format for responsive congregational use. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom us, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. . Reprinted with permission.

5. The Affirmation of Faith may use the words of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed to publicly profess our unity with the worldwide body of Christ.

6. The Words of Sending provide an understanding of the identity and ministry Christ as well as call us to "have the mind of Christ" through the words of Philippians 2.


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