Worship in the Home: Sunday of the Passion / Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Posted on March 17, 2021 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Sunday of the Passion / Palm Sunday
March 28, 2021

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.

In response to the mass shootings in recent days, you may wish to include in worship the following or another prayer related to gun violence. A more extended rite, “Lamenting Gun Violence” is available in All Creation Sings Leaders Edition (p. 107) and on sundaysandseasons.com.

God, our healer and our refuge, we pray for all who suffer from gun violence. With your mercy, bind up their wounds, restore their bodies, and heal their hearts. Comfort the mourners and embrace the lonely. With your might, empower us to change this broken world. Make us advocates for a stable society, alive with hope in you. We ask this through the one once wounded for our transgressions and now standing with us in our sorrows, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


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:  Mark 11:1-11

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

1When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

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), “Pave the Way with Branches” (All Creation Sings 928), “Blessed Is the One” (All Creation Sings 929).

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

Pave the Way with Branches

Blessed Is the One


The Prayer of the Day may be prayed.

Let us pray.

A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

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.


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 the Lord God 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;
8the one 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.


The Psalm may be spoken or sung in response to the First Reading.

Psalm 31:9-16

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, although being in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but relinquished it all,
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: Mark 15:1-39

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

1As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

6Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he 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 St. Mark


Having read these readings, think on 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 351/352); “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 345).

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Jesus, I Will Ponder Now


Then pray these intercessions:

On this Sunday of the Passion, we pray for all in need, responding to each petition with words from today’s psalm, “save us in your steadfast love.”

A brief silence.

O 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 bishops, pastors, and deacons, that they be strengthened for their tasks of ministry;
for those who are providing the necessary technology for our worship at this time, . . .

A brief silence.

O holy God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

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 guide our society’s choices, . . .

A brief silence.

O creating God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

For peace throughout the world;
for an end to terrorism and religious violence;
for all elected leaders, that they serve the common good, . . .

A brief silence.

O mighty God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

For the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus;
for the fearful and the sick and their families;
for medical personnel and hospitals, . . .

A brief silence.

O compassionate God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

For all who are facing the criminal justice system;
for those wrongly accused of crime;
for those who are incarcerated, that they be kept safe, . . .

A brief silence.

O righteous God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

For those whose needs we know,
for those whose needs are hidden;
for all who are sick, for the hungry,
for the dying; for those we name here, . . .

A brief silence.

O benevolent God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

And finally we pray for ourselves:

A longer period of silence.

O loving God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

With thanks for this Holy Week; with thanks for the support of our community of faith;
with thanks for the saints who struggled through life and died in you;
we praise your salvation now and unto our end.

A brief silence.

O eternal God, we pray to you:
save us in your steadfast love.

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.


If you have a hymnal (or using the graphic below), you might now sing or read “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 335); “Were You There” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 353).

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Were You There


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.


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:

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.


Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us now and forever.


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;” “Holy God, Holy and Glorious;” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

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 (commemoration of Benedict the African, confessor, 1589) Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43; Mark 16:1-8 or John 20:1-18.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain and selected hymns for limited use. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase copies of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and All Creation Sings for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648. Selected hymns from All Creation Sings will be provided for limited use.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, All Creation Sings, and sundaysandseasons.com © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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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