A service for Palm Sunday live from the Church of God of Prophecy, Winson Green, Birmingham.
In the last of Radio 4's series 'Inside Lent', Bishop Joe Aldred explores the power of Christian hope, a hope that enables Christians to look beyond the despair of death to Resurrection. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the fickleness of the crowd could have tempted him to despair. A millennium and a half later Martin Luther wrote that "everything that is done in the world is done by hope". He understood that hope is no mere emotion but is a carrier of such energy and motivation that it fuels vision and an imagined new future - a future which Jesus knew God had sent him to embrace.
Leader: Bishop Paul McCalla.
Music directors: Joanne Herlock, Vincent McCalla,
Producer: Philip Billson
Through programmes on Radio 4, local radio and online resources for individuals and groups, BBC Religion & Ethics 'Inside Lent', devised by Bishop Stephen Oliver, invites listeners to join a journey of discovery through this Christian season by reflecting on the nature of a number of very human feelings. bbc.co.uk/religion.
Church of God of Prophecy, Winson Green 14/04/14
This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.
Opening announcement: BBC Radio 4. Time now for Sunday Worship which this week comes live from Birmingham. The last in our Lent series this Palm Sunday takes the theme ‘Inside Hope.’ The service is led by The Revd Deseta Davis and Bishop Dr Joe Aldred.
SPEECH – JA AND DD JA - Good morning, and welcome to the Church of God of Prophecy here at Aberdeen Street, Winson Green, Birmingham. This church is situated within one of Birmingham's most deprived wards, close to some well known landmarks. Within walking distance is Winson Green Prison, the City Hospital, and a landmark recently made famous by Channel 4 television, the so-called Benefits Street. How appropriate then that the theme of this service is 'inside hope'.
DD - Today in the Christian Calendar is Palm Sunday; we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey. His arrival then represented renewed hope for a people that looked for liberation from Roman occupation. Great kings arrive with pomp and ceremony but Jesus’ entrance on a donkey demonstrates that he identifies with the poor and dispossessed. He comes amongst those who are deprived and brings hope of a new future.
JA - So we sing our first hymn, 'My Hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness'
MUSIC 1 Congregation: MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS
Tune: Solid rock
SPEECH – DD DD - For many of us these are still tough economic times that can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. As Christians, we are not exempt from these experiences but in prayer we take all our concerns to God. And so now one of our local ministers, the Rev'd Norma Powell will lead us in prayer.
PRAYERS 1 – Rev’d Norma Powell
Loving God of grace and hope, we come to you in prayer. We give you thanks for calling us to be your sign of hope in a community where many experience hopelessness and pain. In the midst of high unemployment, with many on benefits, some of our loved ones suffering ill health, some in prison, sometimes we are at a loss as to how to help those caught up in these situations. And so Lord we pray in this season of Lent that we may find you afresh as our true hope. We praise you that no one is beyond your reach no matter who and where we are.
We pray oh God, that as people's spirits were lifted as you entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, that those in despair today will be filled a sense of expectancy at your coming into their situation. That those on the margins of society in our community, may find peace and security. That through the ministry of your church people may find a real sense of your healing, your grace and your comfort.
Help us Oh Lord to be effective as your hands and feet on this earth, as those who you have anointed to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind and to set the oppressed free. Thank you for hearing our prayer dear Lord, which we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
SPEECH – JA JA - Music is a universal means of worshipping God. Music has the power to stir human spirit when we are down and ignite our sense of hope. This Church is blessed with some of the best musicians and singers around Please welcome the wonderful Aberdeen Street Fellowship Choir as they sing 'Ride on King Jesus'.
MUSIC 2 Choir: RIDE ON KING JESUS
SPEECH – DD DD - Our first scripture lesson comes from Luke's Gospel, chapter 19 verses 28-40 and is read from the New International Version of the Bible by thirteen year old Olivia
READING 1: OLIVIA Luke 19.28-40
28. Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,
30 "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’"
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
34 They replied, "The Lord needs it."
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
40 "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
DD - Each Sunday in our service we ask a soloist to sing something that’s particularly personal to them and expresses their faith. This morning Joanne Herlock is going to sing ‘My help comes even from the Lord.’
MUSIC 3: Soloist Joanne Herlock
My help comes even from the Lord
SPEECH - JA JA - The apostle Paul tells us in the book of Romans that; suffering produces patience; patience, experience; and experience, hope. And Dr Martin Luther King said, 'We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope'. Let's hear now from someone who remained patient and hopeful through difficult times, until her hope became a reality.
TESTIMONY - Jennifer Williamson A Testimony of Hope by Jennifer Williamson
Hello. I'm Jennifer, and this morning I would like to share my story with you– it’s a story of a journey of faith and of hope in God.
My husband Kirk and I got married in July 2009. I was 44 years old, never been married, but retained a sense of hope in my ability to have a child. I knew that as a woman my ability to have children is strongly linked to my age so, with hope in my heart, I visited my GP. His/Her response was devastating – he/she responded that I’d ‘left it to late, even for IVF’. I went home feeling despondent. It would appear that my hope of having a child had slipped away.
After a while, I began to reflect on Sarah, Hannah and Elisabeth – biblical women who gave birth under what would today be considered ‘impossible circumstances’. Sarah was 100 years old!
In December 2011, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to embark on a seven-day fast – deep in my heart, I believed that, against all odds, I was going to conceive in 2012. Imagine our joy when we learned that I became pregnant in March 2012! But, eight weeks later, I suffered a miscarriage. I was devastated! I began to question how could I have got it so wrong. But God was with me during this very difficult time and once again, we began to pray by faith and kept hope alive!
Seven months later, in December 2012, I discovered that I was expecting again at the age of 47, and after a very healthy pregnancy, our beautiful son entered the world! He is worth the wait. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
SPEECH – JA and DD DD - Thank you Jennifer, for an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness. This tells us that whatever our circumstances may be, we should always keep hope alive! Sometimes those circumstances don’t involve such a happy outcome. When the answer to prayer is seemingly the opposite of what we’re hoping and praying for, still, Christians believe, God is faithful.
JA- Our next hymn speaks of God’s love for the world, demonstrated through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. ’This ‘The Power of the Cross’
MUSIC 4: OH, TO SEE THE DAWN
SPEECH - DD – Our second scripture Reading comes from the first letter of Peter chapter 1 verses 3 to 9 and will be read by ten year old Davin.
READING 2: DAVIN 1 Peter 1.3-9
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
SPEECH –DD JA - As Christians, there is no greater source of hope than the promises found in God’s word, the Bible. We pray that God will speak directly to our hearts and circumstances, through the words of our preacher for today, the pastor of this local congregation Bishop Paul McCalla.
MESSAGE – Bishop Paul McCalla Inside Hope Luke 19: 28 – 40 & 1 Peter 1:3-9
So much of what we see and hear around us tells us that there is a great need for hope in the world today. Hope is the desire and expectation that things will get better. And perhaps the worst state we can find ourselves in, is a state of hopelessness. So as we enter a week in which we remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that hope triumphs over adversity, and we see in Jesus Christ the ultimate symbol of hope, as death gives way to the resurrection.
In the week of the crucifixion, Jesus humbly rides in to Jerusalem on a young donkey. His arrival brought hope to the large crowd that had gathered in the city to celebrate the Passover - they spread their cloaks and branches on the ground to give Jesus a fitting royal welcome.
Now, you might be wondering why a man riding a simple donkey might cause such a commotion. It’s not the image of power and majesty we would usually associate with Royalty – it’s a surprising way for Jesus to make his triumphant entry and even more surprising, is the response of the crowd. But those who knew the Hebrew Scriptures that spoke of the promised Messiah based their expectation on the promises of God. The Prophet Zechariah spoke some 500 years before; saying, rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)
To those men, women and children, waving their palm branches, Jesus seemed the fulfilment of their hope for the long awaited Messiah and liberator. As far as they were concerned their King had come, their hope was fulfilled. They cried out in praise, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!".
But there were those who did not share the excitement. The Pharisees protested, they said to Jesus, order your disciples to be silent. Jesus responded, ‘if they were to keep silent the stones would cry out’. There is a time to be silent, but when God’s promises breaks through our gloom, through our darkness, through our pain; and our hope is fulfilled, silence must give way to joyful praises. Jesus brought hope not only to Jerusalem, but to the world.
Sceptics might argue that Kings ride horses, or sit on Chariots, so what kind of king arrives on a donkey? But this was no ordinary king. Sometimes we can miss the fulfilment of our hope and the answer to our prayers because we do not know the promises of God, or because they come to us in a manner that we do not expect or recognize. Christ does not always do what we expect; at times he turns our expectations on their heads. Sometimes he simply walks with us to calm our fears and comfort us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. At other times he surprises us and goes beyond what we ask or ever thought possible.
That week in Jerusalem began with tremendous excitement and expectations. The people initially believed Jesus was the coming Messiah that the Old Testament prophets had spoken about. And they were ready to crown Him as their King. They began the week shouting, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord’, but by the end of the week some of these same people were shouting, "we have no king but Ceasar!", and he was crowned with thorns. They expected a different kind of king from the one Jesus turned out to be. He went from being celebrated to being condemned. He endured suffering, humiliation, rejection, and finally death.
In an area such as Winson Green, with all its issues of poverty, unemployment, poor housing, a large prison population, a hospital, broken homes, broken lives; there is a great need for hope. People have an expectation that things will get better in the future. And, I pray that it does; I pray that whatever your circumstances that you hold on and keep hope alive. As a Church we are here as an agency of hope. We provide food for the hungry through our food bank; we visit and comforting the sick, we stand with those who grieve, we visit people in prison and support them when they leave knowing that Jesus was condemn as a prisoner.
But hope is more that just a wish that things will turn out well. Real hope is a response of faith to the promises of an unchangeable God, not just our wishes or desires!
Furthermore, the journey of hope is not always a simple one. Sometimes it is like being on a roller-coaster. It takes us to the mountain of high expectation; but at times we find ourselves in the valley of despair when it seem as if all hope is gone. Even Jesus felt as if hope had left him when, in the anguish of Gethsemane he called out in despair, "my God, why have you forsaken me? But if our faith is in Jesus Christ even in death there is hope; for death must give way to resurrection.
Hope is a virtue that speaks to us from the inside. It promises new possibilities for a better future. In the midst of turmoil, hope speaks peace; In the midst of weeping in the long dark night, hope says, Joy will come in the morning! Hope puts faith to work when doubting seems easier.
In our second bible text, Peter reminds us that by the mercy of God we have been given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. My friends, hope that is founded on Jesus Christ is secure, it has meaning not only in this life but in the life to come. Hope in Christ promises an inheritance that cannot perish, cannot be defiled, does not fade, and it is reserved in heaven for you, protected by the power of God and ready to be revealed in the last day. What a wonderful promise! What a hope! This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both firm and secure, and one which enters within the veil (6:19).
But for now, while we await the realization of that hope, life goes on. And in the reality of life we must endure certain trials; trials that may even test the sincerity of our faith in the same way that gold is tested by fire. Amen.
MUSIC 5: Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer
Tune: Praise Him (Allen)
SPEECH –DD DD - Donna Gordon will now lead us in Prayer, after which we will sing our final hymn, Oh magnify The Lord.
PRAYERS 2: DONNA GORDON
Almighty God, the Creator and Giver of life, we give You praise for this day. We thank you Lord for your presence with us in our Morning’s Worship. We bless you for all those who have joined us through this radio broadcast, and pray that they have received a word that will help them in their daily lives.
As we reflect on this Palm Sunday, we remember what you did for us at Calvary. We can live because you died. It is through your death, that we have hope, we have victory, we have eternal life.
Help us to shine our light in this world, sharing the good news of the gospel, so that others will experience your love so they too can share in this wonderful hope.
Lord, we ask that you will grant healing, comfort, peace and hope to those who are in situations that may seem hopeless today. We pray they will know you, as we do, to be a loving caring God, who is always there to help us in our times of need. God of hope, fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you. Grant your blessings and love to us all. We pray and ask this in Jesus’ name.
SPEECH – JA AND DD JA – And now we join our voices together to say the prayer that Jesus taught us
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
Forever and ever.
DD – We trust you have been blessed by today's Palm Sunday Service. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may meet whatever comes with fortitude, patience and joy; and in all things give thanks and praise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
MUSIC 6: O MAGNIFY THE LORD