Worship in the Home: Sunday, April 5, 2020 – Sunday of the Passion / Palm Sunday

Posted on March 30, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday
April 5, 2020


In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While we cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.


Set out on a table in front of you a green branch, a house plant, or simply a drawing of a leaf or branch. Then speak this acclamation:

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Processional Gospel  Mathew 21:1-11

The holy gospel according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.

1When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “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. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And they will be sent immediately.” 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5“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.”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

About this reading:

When in the past we have read this text in church and carried the palm branches, we were celebrating the presence of Jesus Christ coming among us as we began all the services of this Holy Week. But you may trust that Christ comes also now to your home, to be with you as you begin this week of prayer, apart from others but still together with the whole church. Blessed indeed is the One who comes!


If you have a hymnal (or using the graphic below), you might now sing or read “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 344)

All Glory, Laud, and Honor


The Prayer of the Day may be prayed.

Let us pray.

O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ, and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Then the readings for this Sunday may be read, as follows:

First Reading  Isaiah 50:4-9a

4The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
5The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.
6I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
7The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
9aIt is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Psalm  Psalm 31:9-16 may be sung or spoken in response to the First Reading.

9Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I | am in trouble;
my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat | and my belly.
10For my life is wasted with grief, and my | years with sighing;
my strength fails me because of affliction, and my bones | are consumed.
11I am the scorn of all my enemies, a disgrace to my neighbors,
a dismay to | my acquaintances;
when they see me in the street | they avoid me.
12Like the dead I am forgotten, | out of mind;
I am as useless as a | broken pot.
13For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is | all around;
they put their heads together against me; they plot to | take my life.
14But as for me, I have trusted in | you, O Lord.
I have said, “You | are my God.
15My times are | in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who | persecute me.
16Let your face shine up- | on your servant;
save me in your | steadfast love.”


Second Reading  Philippians 2:5-11

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel  Matthew 27:11-54

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew.
Glory to you, O Lord.

11Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24So 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, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and 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, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “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.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“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. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’ ” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48At 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. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now 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, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.


If a larger household desires a passion reading designed for multiple readers, you may wish to use the optional PDF below.

The Passion According to Matthew


Having read these readings, think of this:

As the Psalm today says, fear is certainly all around. This story of the suffering of Christ powerfully fits our time, and we can recognize ourselves in the fearful crowd, if not also in the betrayers and killers. But why does God in Christ enter into such agonies? To plant hope and life and God’s very self deep in all human suffering, so that from now on there is no place of hurt and sorrow where Jesus Christ is not there first. To defeat all dread and death and sin, so that we might no longer live in fear. To plant the mind of Christ in us, so that we might turn to our neighbor in love.


If you have a hymnal (or using the graphic below), you might now sing or read “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 351)

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded


Prayers of Intercession

In our separate homes but gathered together in the Spirit, we pray for the church, the earth, the world, and all in need, responding to each petition with words from one of today’s psalms, “O Lord, save us.”

A brief silence.

O triune God, God of majesty, mercy and might, hear and heed our fervent prayers:
for the church around the world, that the faithful be nourished by your presence in the word;
for pastors and bishops, that they be strengthened for their tasks of ministry;
for all those who are assisting the digital sharing of worship materials;
for guidance in keeping this Holy Week in devout prayer and praise;

A brief silence.

O holy God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


For the earth, that it be saved from pollution and disregard;
for endangered animals, that they and their habitats be protected;
for scientists, that their knowledge of your earth will direct our society’s choices;

A brief silence.

O creating God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


For peace through the world, especially in Syria and Afghanistan;
for an end to terrorism and religious violence;
for all elected leaders, that they see our crisis rightly and make judgments wisely;
for wisdom in distributing governmental economic aid;

A brief silence.

O mighty God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


For our distraught world facing the coronavirus;
for countries hardest hit, especially China, Italy, Spain, and the United States;
for those who grieve their dead;
for the sick and their families;
for those fearful of an unknown future;
for the millions of unemployed;
for children at home, that they be safe from abuse;
for those who have been led to rely on empty remedies;
for hospitals, in their desperate need for supplies;

A brief silence.

O compassionate God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


For all who are facing the criminal justice system;
for those falsely accused of crime;
for those who are incarcerated, that they be kept safe;
for those who face isolation or execution;

A brief silence.

O righteous God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


For those whose needs we know, for those whose needs are hidden;
for those with prior illnesses whose treatments are now postponed;
for all who today will die;
for those who are homeless;
for all who are sick;
especially for those we name here;

A brief silence.

O benevolent God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


And finally, for ourselves:

A longer period of silence.

O loving God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.


With thanks for the technology by which we stay connected;
with thanks for enough food;
with thanks for the support of our community of faith;
with thanks for the saints who struggled through life and died in you,
especially those Christian artists whose work has enriched our faith,
we praise your salvation now and unto our end.

A brief silence.

O eternal God, we pray to you: O Lord, save us.

Into your hands, gracious God, we commend all for whom we pray,
trusting in your mercy, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Then conclude with these prayers.

Let us pray.

A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Merciful God, accompany our journey through these forty days.  Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may provide for those who are poor, pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence, and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


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,
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.


May the grace of Christ attend us,
and the love of God surround us,
and the Holy Spirit Keep us,
now and ever.


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may desire to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress. “Ride On, King Jesus (A Palm Sunday Medley); “Just a Closer Walk with Thee;”  “Ah, Holy Jesus.”

Readings for the Week:

Monday (commemoration of Albrecht Dürer, died 1528; Matthias Grünewald, died 1529; Lucas Cranach, died 1553; artists) Psalm 36:5-11. Tuesday 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Wednesday Isaiah 50:4-9a. Maundy Thursday (commemoration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, died 1945) John 13:1-17, 31b-35. Good Friday (commemoration of Mikael Agricola, Bishop of Turku, died 1557) John 18:1—19:42. Resurrection of Our Lord/Vigil of Easter Romans 6:3-11.

Resurrection of Our Lord/Easter Day Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 28:1-10 or John 20:1-18.


Reflection material: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship and sundaysandseasons.com, © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.


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