ROOTS at home for families
Worship-at-home resources for Palm Sunday. You'll find materials to use during Holy Week at the bottom of this page.
ROOTS is a partnership of denominations and other Christian organisations and has been publishing lectionary-based worship resources online and in print since 2002.
You are welcome to copy and paste this material for use in your own resources
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© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.
This week provides many challenges as for many, even more than at other times, this week’s act of worship would involve gathering, processing and reflecting on the ‘crowd scene’ which forms the narrative for Palm Sunday.
However, we are learning more about how to do this in new ways, at home, and hope that using these materials for a time of worship will help explore the idea of being a pilgrim Church on the move, following Jesus from wherever we are. See Bible notes for more information on the passages for today.
Jesus the Messiah,
welcome to our meeting!
We have come to hear from you,
we have come to learn from you,
we have come to offer you our praise.
Welcome, Jesus, welcome!
Open the Bible at Matthew 21.1-11: Jesus comes into Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
In the mood
Explain that people travelled to Jerusalem in groups with friends and family. Passover was a big festival, with lots of preparation. Ask everyone to imagine that they are going to the Passover festival and the excitement is growing as they get nearer. Describe the scene, the noise you can hear and the sight of Jesus in the distance. Then ask everyone to help you count down from 10 to 1, as you build the atmosphere of anticipation before reading the story.
Geoff Hays, www.geoffrey-hays.co.uk
Hosanna! Hosanna!’ The crowds shouted and sang as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Now who’d get excited about a man riding on a donkey? People who had read the Old Testament, that’s who. Some laid their cloaks down in the road, and some cut branches from the nearby trees to mark the way, as they would do for a king.
A king? A king on a donkey? What made them think of that? Well, the Old Testament prophet, Zechariah. Years before, he’d said: ‘Shout for joy, Jerusalem! Your king comes to you, riding humbly on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ Jesus knew the Old Testament very well, of course. That’s why he’d sent his disciples ahead of him to get the donkey in the first place. ‘Go into Bethphage,’ he’d said. ‘You’ll find a donkey and her foal tied up there. Bring them to me.’ Just as his followers were about to go, he’d said, ‘If anyone tries to stop you, just say, “The Lord needs them,” and they’ll let you go.’
So the disciples had gone and got the donkey, a humble animal, just as Zechariah had described it, and thrown cloaks on its back for Jesus to sit on. And that’s what he was riding into the city.
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ cried the crowds, both behind and ahead of Jesus. ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highe eople asked. And the singing crowds replied, ‘This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Hosanna! a Hebrew word usually used to mean ‘Praise’, but it actually means ‘Save us, please!’; prophet someone who receives messages from God to pass on to the people.
Talk together with children
- What was the most surprising part of the story and why?
- Have you ever been part of a big crowd watching an event?
- If you saw Jesus on the street, what word might you shout and why?
Talk together with young people
- How might the bystanders have felt when they watched what was happening?
- What might you have thought if you were one of Jesus’ disciples?
- What may the crowds have anticipated happening straight after this incident?
More activities, songs and prayers
Mime from memory
Remember the story through silent movements
- Ask everyone to recall the timeline of the story.
- Repeat the order and ask for one volunteer to be Jesus, some to be disciples and the others to be the crowd.
- Invite everyone to mime the story. Younger children may need you to use a word to help them move through the story.
Create an abstract picture of the Passover festival
You will need: newspaper, one sheet of A4 paper each or one large piece, pots of different coloured paint with several brushes in each, wipes or damp flannels.
- Spread the newspaper over the surfaces. Give out paper to everyone or use one large piece of paper for the group.
- Ask everyone to think about the noise and colour of the festival.
- Invite them to create an abstract image of what they can imagine using splashes of colour and shapes.
Make a praise banner
Decorate leaves (template) and join them all together on a large sheet of paper to make a praise banner.
You could move around the space and use this banner as you sing or listen to Lord I lift your name on high, Rick Founds on Cedarmont Worship for Kids, volume 1
Show everyone the ‘Where’s Jesus?’ picture and ask them to find Jesus in the turmoil. Ask what else they notice in the picture.
Jesus was on a journey into Jerusalem through the turmoil of a city during festival season. How do we walk together through busy lives and times of turmoil?
Note – the picture contains a number of rats/mice among the people. Counting these could form an additional activity as could colouring the picture in.
Mind map prayers
Place a large sheet of paper in the middle of the room. Create a mind-map as a group, using the following questions.:
- What do we want God to change in the next year?
- What turning points would I like to see in my life?
Pray together silently, asking God to be present in change and turning points, as each element of the mind-map is written down.
Finish by praying together:
Jesus our King,
give us ears to hear your voice,
and minds and bodies
ready to do what you ask.
Help us to go out
and sing Hosannas to you.
Sing and listen
Little donkey (Tune: Little donkey, words by Emily Hoe-Crook)
Hosanna, Planetshakers on Nothing is Impossible
Make a move, Royal Tailor on Black & White
Breaking free, Skillet feat. Lacey Sturm on Unleashed beyond
Still rolling stones, Lauren Daigle on Look up child
See also Same Boat @ HOME
Notes on the Bible story for parents and carers
- Every year at this time, Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims arriving for the Passover. It would have been a chaotic time, more like a demonstration or a march than a pilgrimage walk. The inevitable strains on law and order would have drawn in extra soldiers to keep the peace, which only heightened the pilgrims’ hopes for freedom.
- When Jesus and his followers went on this pilgrimage, this was a clear moment when Jesus’ disciples may have anticipated him acting differently. Would he turn the stones of popular expectation into the bread of political freedom? Was he willing to risk everything to show the crowds who he was? Instead he entered the city as a peacemaker, on a donkey, hungry only for righteousness and mercy.
- A man and his followers coming into the city on a donkey would have been a tiny part of this chaos. Would he have even been noticed? What would the Romans and bystanders have thought of this? As some were shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, would they have been heard above the noise of the crowds?
- But Jesus was making a peaceful statement about the kind of king, prophet and leader he was. The reading from Isaiah foreshadows Jesus’ suffering by reminding us that a prophet’s vocation is costly, and the passage from Philippians talks of being ‘emptied’. Would we, as a community of faith, rejoice and celebrate Jesus coming to us as this kind of king?
Resources for Holy Week
||For each day you will find a story, suggestions for other resources, plus a variety of things to do and games to play. Use them in any way you wish, adding ideas of your own.
||Pictures, words and activities for families to reflect on and do together during Holy Week.