March 28th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeBreathe on Me, Breath of GodChris Johansen, piano
Confession & Forgiveness
Palm Sunday Liturgy
Gathering SongAll Glory, Laud, and Honor
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Opening Prayer
Psalm 118vs. 19-29Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ScriptureLuke 19: 29-44
SermonChristy Wetzig
Nicene Creed
Prayers of IntercessionSharyl Manwiller
Lord’s Prayer
Closing Prayer
Closing HymnSing, My Tongue
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Blessing / Benediction
PostludeHosanna, Loud HosannaChris Johansen

Audio Recording – Full Service


Chris Johansen

Confession & Forgiveness

We begin worship with recognition that we do not always live up to our highest ideals or values, and with trust that God’s love encompasses us always.

L:  In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                           

C: Amen

L: We confess our entanglements with justice, hurts, and greed – and God’s difficult, blessed vision of a very different way. We seek the face of God, confessing our sin.

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

we have sinned against you and each other. We pray for your forgiveness and healing. The good we want to do, we often fail to do. The harmful actions and thoughts we do not want, we turn to again and again. Deliver us, Gracious God. Save us, save our neighbors, save all your creatures from our lack of imagination and courage. Gird us for the challenges of change needed, called for, overdue. Guide our way in your way.     Amen

L:  We who were once far off have been brought near to God through the cross of Christ. 

     May we forgive one another as God in Christ has first forgiven us.    Amen

Palm Sunday Liturgy

M:Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the field exult, and everything in it…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: For he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

W: Hosanna in the highest!

M: Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the rivers clap their hands…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

W: Hosanna in the highest!

Gathering Song – All Glory, Laud, and Honor

All glory, laud, and honor
to you, redeemer, king,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

You are the king of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One. [Refrain]

The company of angels
is praising you on high;
creation and all mortals
in chorus make reply. [Refrain]

The multitude of pilgrims
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present. [Refrain]

To you, before your passion,
they sang their hymns of praise.
To you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. [Refrain]

Their praises you accepted;
accept the prayers we bring,
great author of all goodness,
O good and gracious King. [Refrain]

Text: Theodulph of Orleans, tr. John Mason Neale
Music: Melchior Teschner

Opening Prayer

Everlasting God in your endless love for the human race you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and to suffer death on the cross. In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.



Psalm 118: 19-29

19 Open for me the | gates of righteousness;
I will enter them and give thanks | to the Lord.

20 “This is the gate | of the Lord;
here the righ-|teous may enter.”

21 I give thanks to you, for you have | answered me
and you have become | my salvation.

22 The stone that the build-|ers rejected
has become the chief | cornerstone.

23 By the Lord has | this been done;
it is marvelous | in our eyes.

24 This is the day that the | Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be | glad in it.

25 Hosanna! | O Lord, save us!
We pray to you, Lord, pros-|per our days!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name | of the Lord;
we bless you from the house | of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God and has giv-|en us light.
Form a procession with branches up to the corners | of the altar.

28 You are my God, and | I will thank you;
you are my God, and I | will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for the | Lord is good;
God’s mercy en-|dures forever.

Scripture Reading – Luke 19: 29-44

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,

“Blessed is the king
    who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
    and glory in the highest heaven!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

Thanks be to God

Sermon – Christy Wetzig

I should admit at the outset that I’m a Palm Sunday scrooge. Why must we read these passages from the four Gospels every year when, Look, in the Luke version there aren’t even any palms! It smells to me like the floral industry met behind closed doors with the Lectionary Committee to find an agreement that everyone could benefit from.

Palms are so foreign to us northerners. They are traditionally a symbol of Jewish nationalism–by waving them to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, the people show that they are welcoming a king to the Jewish nation. Similarly, they lay their cloaks down on the path Jesus would walk, another tradition to show respect for a king, like a red carpet.

According to one preacher I read, kings had been riding into Jerusalem on donkey colts ever since Zechariah had prophesied this: “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations…”

A king riding a donkey is a lovely symbol of peace. It was actually begun by that warrior king David, rider of warhorses, who put his son Solomon on a mule to ride into Jerusalem as his successor.

So Jesus also seeks out a donkey colt, to fulfil the Messianic prophecy, but it sort of muddles the minds of the people watching that day, since naturally they assume Jesus is declaring kingship. Little did they know he had a very different plan in mind.

Jesus enters Jerusalem, following a rocky path across a valley from the nearby hill called the Mount of Olives, probably among a large group of pilgrims heading for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover that week. Among them are a large group of his followers lauding him with the traditional cheer for pilgrims to the temple in Jerusalem: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” While this cheer was given to any pilgrim on the Jerusalem road, it takes on special–Messianic–significance here, especially accompanied by an echo of the angels’ song from the night of Jesus’ birth.

So this pilgrim king doesn’t correct any of the missunderstandings accompanying his entrance to Jerusalem–he seems instead to feed them. However he would spend the next week, revealing exactly what sort of king they had welcomed into their city–and it would cost him his life.

What does this king do first? He weeps over the city. Jesus weeps because they don’t get it–they’re looking to him for the kind of peace that comes from war and oppression, and that focus has made it difficult for them, even his friends, to comprehend the very different peace he has to offer.

So, weeping over one’s domain–not a very kingly thing to do. But it gets stranger: a good king would probably go to the Roman garrison and scope out its weaknesses, but he goes instead to the temple. Since it’s the week before the Passover and crowded with pilgrims, this is a big week for commerce, a sort of Black Friday. But he drives all the merchants out, trying to cleanse the temple from commerce and return it to its use as a house of prayer. 

Once the last merchant slinks out, Jesus dusts off his hands and begins to teach the surprised onlookers. And every day this week, he would go to the temple and teach, and crowds would gather early in each morning to get a good spot to hear what he had to say, and every night he would go back out of the city to sleep on the Mount of Olives.

As he teaches in the temple this week, he makes no friends. For a king, he has no political savvy. In fact, he seems even to purposely be offending, poking the religious leaders especially. I’ll just list–bullet point style–all the remarkably tone-deaf teachings into which he indulges this coming week, and you can make up your mind why they decide to “off” him: 

  • He begins, as I said, by driving out the money-makers;
  • Then he deliberately, openly refuses to answer the teachers’ challenge of his authority over what goes on in the temple;
  • He tells a thinly veiled parable that ends with the people in charge being destroyed;
  • When given questions by the teachers of the law, he answers them wisely and craftily, making them sound a little stupid, then stumps them with a question of his own;
  • He warns the people about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law (while in the hearing of the teachers of the law);
  • He insults the rich people by praising a poor widow who comes to drop a penny into the offering box; 
  • He discounts the beauty and grandeur of the temple, of which the Jewish people were so proud, foretelling that it will be destroyed; 
  • And then he finishes by foretelling the end of the age in odd, scary, violent language.

I sort of sympathize with the religious leaders–the king they had heard lauded at the beginning of the week has revealed himself to be a troublemaker, a challenger of the values of society, a friend of the nobodies: children, the sick, and the abject poor. Personally, he’s not even the kind of Savior I want–I would have wanted him to like me, to point me out as a model of good behavior. But instead if I had met Jesus I’m sure he would have quickly seen my secrets and turned me face to face with my most pernicious shortcomings.

So forget “goodwill to men”–even “peace on earth” doesn’t seem really his aim. His violent outbursts in the temple, turning over tables, had only been a picture of his violent turning of the tables on society, teaching a radical new way, a topsy turvy way, where power is brought low and only the humility that comes from absolute trust in God is elevated. During his entire ministry, three years of itinerant preaching and one final, intense week of teaching in the temple, Jesus had pricked our consciences and awakened our guilt, showing us how utterly opposed his kingdom is from the one we’ve established in our countries, our churches, our hearts. Nothing we can do can measure up to the standards he set. Or, more aptly, to crouch to the level he set, to creep through the eye of a needle. Look at us: white Americans with money and education, church people–there’s no way we can possibly please a God so partial to the poor and downtrodden and marginalized. 

He made it perfectly clear that we were hopelessly lost.

Lately in church and in society we’ve been talking a lot about white America’s faults, and to tell you the truth sometimes I leave church feeling just a little beaten about the head. Because there’s nothing I can do about my whiteness, my Americanness, my middle class upbringing, my college education.  At least I’m a woman. Poor Jeff over here doesn’t even have that. Not only are we the perpetuaters of the malaise of our society, but now Jesus is telling us that only the poor and downtrodden can inherit the kingdom of God.

And what does Jesus do next? He goes willingly to the cross and dies, and some say his kingdom came, not at his kingly entry into Jerusalem, but (true to his overturning of the values of our world) at that moment when he gave up the ghost, or when the stone rolled away from his tomb. His topsy-turvy kingdom came into the world, and all our shortcomings were wiped away, our secrets were brought to light, and Jesus brought us near to himself, yes, even us, the white, the rich, the privileged. 

Maybe the poor and outcasts had always been near to Jesus–they knew that they were nothing without Christ, that in clinging to him they would find life. Maybe it was the religious leaders, the powerful, the people like you and me, who really needed Christ’s death, who needed to be brought near.

The religious leaders didn’t want to hear it. They said, “Stop with the singing, stop with the palms, stop with the cloaks and the donkey colt.” 

Jesus says to them, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.

I believe the stones are every day quietly going about the business of praising God. Quiet, because that’s in their nature, but steady, which is also in their nature. They are who they are, to the best of their ability: sharp, smooth, sparkly, craggy, supporting lichens and mosses, providing homes for all sorts of creatures, slowly wearing away to create sand. They do the job that God has given them to do–and that is how they cry out praise to God.

Have you heard that verse in Isaiah (55:12): “The trees of the field will clap their hands”? Have you stood under a stand of white pines on a windy day and heard the roaring of its needles in the wind? Have you watched a grove of quaking aspens shimmer as the gentlest breeze sets its leaves shivering? Have you heard oak leaves rattle in the winter breeze and thought of all the insects overwintering inside them, and the birds who are sustained by them? This is how trees clap their hands. 

At the end of the book of Job (38:4-11), God says to Job, 

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements–surely, you know!
Or who stretched a line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut in the sea with doors
When it burst out from the womb,
When I made clouds its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And prescribed limits for it
And set bars and doors,
And said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, 
And here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

If this is the God we worship, I don’t think we need to worry about justice being done in the world. God does not, in fact, need us. The stones will do the work, if God calls them. It takes a mighty kind of trust to throw up our hands and let God do the work.

Still, there is work that God has called us to do, equipped us to do, but only a little. If we are the sea, we should definitely make proud waves. If we are the morning stars, we should sing together. If we’re aspens, we should shimmer. If we are Danish American Lutherans, we should do whatever it is God has put in our hearts to do, and trust that it is enough. We have been brought near to God. It is enough.

And the palms will wave, whether or not our hands are waving them.

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the father, the almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, 
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made. 
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and become truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death  and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, 
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Passing of Peace

Closing Prayer

Into your hands, almighty God, we place ourselves: our minds to know you, our hearts to love you, our wills to serve you, for we are yours. Into your hands, incarnate Savior, we place ourselves: receive us and draw us after you, that we may follow your steps; abide in us and enliven us by the power of your indwelling. Into your hands, O hovering Spirit, we place ourselves: take us and fashion us after your image; let your comfort strengthen, your grace renew, and your fire cleanse us, soul and body, in life and in death, in this world of shadows and in your changeless world of light eternal, now and forever. Amen

Hymn – Sing, My Tongue

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle;
tell the triumph far and wide;
tell aloud the wondrous story
of the cross, the Crucified;
tell how Christ, the world’s redeemer,
vanquished death the day he died.

God in mercy saw us fallen,
sunk in shame and misery,
felled to death in Eden’s garden,
where in pride we claimed the tree;
then another tree was chosen,
which the world from death would free.

Tell how, when at length the fullness
of the appointed time was come,
Christ, the Word, was born of woman,
left for us the heav’nly home,
blazed the path of true obedience,
shone as light amidst the gloom.

Thirty years among us dwelling,
Jesus went from Nazareth,
destined, dedicated, willing,
did his work, and met his death;
like a lamb he humbly yielded
on the cross his dying breath.

Bend your boughs, O tree of glory,
your relaxing sinews bend;
for a while the ancient rigor
that your birth bestowed, suspend;
and the Lord of heav’nly beauty
gently on your arms extend.

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,
be for all the noblest tree;
none in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit your equal be;
symbol of the world’s redemption,
for your burden makes us free.

Unto God be praise and glory;
to the Father and the Son,
to the eternal Spirit honor
now and evermore be done;
praise and glory in the highest,
while the timeless ages run.

Text: Venantius Honorius Fortunatis; tr: John Mason Nealee


L: Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God


Chris Johansen