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Sunday of The Passion/Palm Sunday

"A Servant's Form" Homily by Pr. Jim

28 March 2021

Grace Lutheran Church
Ashland, Oregon

The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim


We extend the hand of fellowship to all who worship here this morning. May all present grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in a love and desire to serve Him. Guests and visitors, please honor us by signing our Guest Book located on the table in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Pastor Jim or the lay assistant for the day will be happy to answer any questions you may have concerning our parish. Come to worship with us again and often!


AS WE GATHER Blessed Is He

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem signals the beginning of our Holy Week observance. The joyful shouts of “Hosanna!” that greeted Jesus as he entered the Holy City soon gave way to a different chant by the people: “Crucify him, crucify him!” In today’s service, we will observe the stark contrast between these two realities. Our hosannas will ring loud and clear. Very quickly, however, our rejoicing will be silence as we step back and ponder the great sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. The reading from the Gospel of St. Mark will prepare us for the coming week as we follow our Savior through his suffering and death and finally raise our voices again in praise of his glorious resurrection.


Lord God, it is through our lives that your love touches others. Stir us by your Spirit to serve all people with willing hearts and bring them the message of your love. We ask this in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PRE-SERVICE MUSIC All Glory, Laud, and Honor LSB 442
Ride On, Ride On in Majesty LSB 441


This week, the center of The Church’s Year of Grace, is one of striking contrasts: Jesus rides into Jerusalem surrounded by shouts of glory, only to be left alone to die on the cross, abandoned by even his closest friends. Mark’s gospel presents Jesus in his complete human vulnerability: agitated, grieved, scared, forsaken. The passion gospel sets forth the central mystery of the Christian faith: Christ emptied himself in death so that we might know God’s mercy and love for all creation.

PRELUDE The Palms—Jean Baptiste Faure - Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano


Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna to the Son of David.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

We pray together: Mercifully assist us, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts whereby you have given us life everlasting; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A reading from Mark:

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

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
We praise and thank you, O God, for the great acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day, he entered the holy city Jerusalem in triumph and was acclaimed Son of David and King of kings by those who scattered their garments and branches of palm in his path. We ask you to bless these branches and those who bear them. Grant that we
may ever hail him as our Lord and King and follow him with perfect confidence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!


KYRIE (Sung by the Worship Team. Please join in singing the Refrain.)

Refrain: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison

Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the
peace of God’s Kingdom. Refrain

You came in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us
in holiness. Refrain

You will come in glory with salvation for your people.


Sovereign God, you have established your rule in the human heart through the servanthood of Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep us in the joyful procession of those who with their tongues confess Jesus as Lord and with their lives praise him as Savior, who reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Isaiah 50:4-9a

[This text, the third of the four Servant Songs in Isaiah, speaks of the servant’s obedience in the midst of persecution. Though the servant has been variously understood as the prophet himself or a remnant of faithful Israel, Christians have recognized the figure of Christ in these poems.]

The 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. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I 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. The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

PSALM of THE DAY Psalm 31 (Please join in singing the Refrain)

Refrain: Surely it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be
my Savior.

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge, deliver me in your righteousness.
Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
In your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. Refrain

My times are in your hand; save me in your unfailing love.
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.
You heard my cry for mercy when I called you. Refrain

SECOND LESSON Philippians 2:5-11

[Paul quotes from an early Christian hymn that describes Jesus’ humble obedience, even to death, and his exaltation as Lord of all.]

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

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SPECIAL MUSIC Ride On, King Jesus—Gina Sprunger

GOSPEL Mark 15:1-47

The holy Gospel is written in the 15th chapter of Mark, beginning with the 1st verse.
Glory to You, O Lord

[The passion story in Mark’s gospel presents Jesus as one who dies abandoned by all. He shows himself to be the true Son of God by giving his life for those who have forsaken him.]

… And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and have scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s head-quarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him away to be crucified.

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

The gospel of our Lord.
Praise to You, O Christ!

GRACE CHOIR Raise the Wave of Praise—arr. Pepper Chopin

HOMILY A Servant’s Form—Pr. Jim Text: The Second Lesson

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 15:1-39

A Servant’s Form

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Jesus and his disciples go to Jerusalem for a festival along with other pilgrims singing the prescribed psalms of ascent, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Apparently, (at least in Mark), the crowds aren’t necessarily singing about him–since they don’t even notice him for who he really is! They’re on the lookout for a new “Son of David” who will kick the Roman occupiers out of their country and establish a new Davidic kingdom. Obviously, Jesus is by no stretch of the imagination that kind of warrior-hero, so he is unremarkable to them even in the midst of their excitement, and the politically charged shouts “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Yet it’s not the event of that first Palm Sunday but the meaning behind the event that counts as it embraces Jesus’ betrayal, passion … crucifixion … and resurrection. Let your imagination take in that meaning on this day as St. Paul summarizes it in today’s Second Lesson:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus … who emptied
Himself, taking the form of a servant.
To sharpen that distinctive proclamation of Christ in this passage, one needs to put it alongside the Genesis account of the first man, Adam.
Adam counted equality with God as something to be grasped. And in that grabbing for autonomy, Adam cut himself off from God … setting into motion the sin that affects us all.
What a contrast our Lord is! He was in the form of God … begotten of the Father from eternity. Yet He did not count equality with God a prize to be grasped but emptied Himself … taking the form of a servant. Taking on our flesh and blood, our Savior humbled Himself to endure the ultimate humiliation of dying on the Cross.
He humbled Himself.
Those three words are the key to the mystery of the Incarnation … of who Jesus is and what He has done for you and me. He humbled Himself. One might think of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem as quite the opposite. After all, everyone loves a parade … especially when the parade is about me! But even His triumphant entry carries clues of what Jesus’ humbling was all about. He rode in on the back of a donkey … not a war horse or chariot.
Jesus humbled Himself not to bow out of what lay ahead of Him, but to meet it head-on just as we meet things: as vulnerable human beings who can’t sidestep deceit … betrayal … rejection … suffering, and death.
He humbled Himself … choosing the way of the Cross.
Never let that choice confuse you. Never confuse Jesus’ humility with weakness … nor think in having the mind of Christ yourself that you are a “Casper Milquetoast.”
Think of Jesus before Judas in Gethsemane. It’s Judas who is nervous and guilty … wondering whether his plan of betrayal was going to blow up in his face. Think of Jesus’ man-handlers falling to the ground when He identifies Himself. Think of Jesus commanding them to let His disciples go free—thus fulfilling Scripture. Who are the weak ones—Jesus or the mob?
Think of what Jesus says to Peter as Peter cuts off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. Commanding Peter to sheath his sword, Jesus says: “Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” To whom is Jesus responding? Who’s in charge? Jesus or the mob?
Think of Jesus before Caiaphas … the trumped-up charges and accusations. It’s the people who are agitated …and desperate to do Him in. In the midst of it all, Jesus remains calm. Is this humility coming out of weakness?
In the Passion accounts, it’s always the excited and guilty who are the weak ones. Even in His last words spoken from the Cross, “It is finished!”—it is Jesus who is in control—Jesus who is strong. He chose the way of the Cross freely. For our sake … yours and mine. That’s the purpose of His humility … that God’s saving will for the world is worked out in the One who worked out God’s will through His suffering and death. His servanthood is not the denial of His divine strength in human form. It is the revelation of it.
In the text, Paul taught the faithful in Philippi that nothing less than the mind of Christ would make them healers of one another and those around them. “Let this same mind be in you,” he writes.
Servanthood … it’s not popular out there beyond these walls. Our culture and society prizes strength of character and achievement. But at what cost to self and others?
The One who came in the form of a Servant calls us to servanthood—to serve others regardless of their appearance or circumstance is what the mind of Christ moves you and me to do. That kind of service means that there is no end to what can be accomplished in and for His Name.
Lord, whose love through humble service,
Bore the weight of human need,
Who upon the cross, forsaken,
Offered mercy’s perfect deed,
We, Your servants, bring the worship
Not of voice alone, but heart,
Consecrating to Your purpose
Ev’ry gift that you impart.
Called by worship to Your service,
Forth in Your dear name we go,
To the child, the youth, the aged,
Love in living deeds to show;
Hope and health, goodwill, and comfort,
Counsel, aid, and peace we give,
That Your servants, Lord, in freedom
May Your mercy know and live. LSB 848 v. 1 & 4
Enter Holy Week, then, under the strong Name of Jesus—the Servant who gives us His mind … and heart … to do his will.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life + everlasting. Amen.


Relying on the promises of God, let us pray boldly for The Church, the world, and all in need.

+ A Brief Silence +

O God, you came among us as a suffering servant in your Son. Give your Church humility. Redeem your people from pride and the certainty that we always know your will. Heal us and empower us to confess Christ rucified. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

In creation, life springs from death. Redeem your creation awaiting resurrection: restore lost habitats and endangered species. Create new possibilities for areas affected by climate change, grant relief from natural disasters, and nurture new growth. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus was handed over to the powers of this world. In all nations, instruct and guide the powerful with wisdom and compassion, that they would not exploit their power but maintain justice and work for peace. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

On the Cross Jesus joined all who feel forsaken. Bless those who need to be assured of your presence, those who need healing and grow weary in their struggle with health concerns especially Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), Shari, and those suffering from COVID-19, together with those we name in our heart that they may receive hope, healing, and the mercies rendered by us as God’s people as we pray for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

From the Cross Jesus spoke words of loving and tender care. Embrace all who are lonely or homebound, especially Sharon, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, and those we name in our hearts that they may be assured of your loving presence in our compassion, prayers, and care for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You called followers to tend to Jesus’ body in death and those who mourned. With steadfast love and mercy comfort The Paxson Family who mourn the death of Joyce (Joyce received the crown of life this past Wednesday evening); The Simms and Peterson families who mourn the death of Lila Ruth Peterson (Cindy’s mother), together with The Hoff and Turner families who mourn the death of Raal (Alice’s sister). As Jesus died and rose again for our eternal life, now uphold these families by lifting their eyes beyond their tears and filling their hearts with the sure and certain knowledge of your abiding presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the Cross of Christ, your Name is glorified. You inspired the centurion to confess Jesus as your Son. We praise you for all the saints who walked the Way of The Cross and gave witness to its power in life and death. Give us also that same faith and trust in the promises of Baptism and bring us at last to life everlasting. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grant these prayers, merciful God, and all that we need, as we eagerly await the Easter feast; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Gracious God, we bring before you a portion of what you first gave us and
with these gifts our very lives. Teach us patience and hope as we care for
all those in need until the coming of your Son, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.



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
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.


The peace of the Lord be with you always. And also with you.

Distribution Song Come to the table


We thank you, O God, for the free gift of righteousness and peace in Jesus Christ, whose body and blood have nourished us here. Lead us out from this house of prayer to the places you will show us, so that we will be a blessing to others in the Name of Christ, our Redeemer and Lord. Amen.


SONG Go to Dark Gethsemane LSB 436

+ With Great Boldness … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +

Good Friday 6:30 pm Service of Darkness
Easter Festival Service 10:00 am Holy Communion