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Palm Sunday / 04.05.20

Welcome to Coffee & Conversations, digital edition!

Whether you are worshiping with us on Zoom or on your own, welcome to Palm Sunday.

See last week’s service here | Listen to previously recorded talks here

This week we’re changing the format a bit. Twice a year Discovery Church does Coffee & Conversations, a time of small group discussion before regular worship, and we’ve decided to base our new normal of digital worship on that format. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us in some thoughtful conversation.

Call to Worship

Though we have known hardship and pain,
though life has not always turned out as we had hoped,
we will stand here and say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Though life becomes more complex,
the deepest questions remain unanswered,
and the mystery of faith deepens, we will say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
And though the pain of the world
often seems more than we can bear or address,
we will stand firm in our faith and say:
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Gracious and loving God,
In the journey of life, you are our guide and our companion.
From our beginning to our end, you are there.

You run this race alongside us,
at times encouraging us,
at times comforting us,
at times tending to our wounds,
at times carrying us when we don’t think we can take another step.

For six weeks we have been on a Lenten journey,
and you have been right here with us—
with us in our discipline and devotion,
with us in our weakness and failure,
with us in our fear,
with us in our hope.

As we spend this final week with Jesus in Jerusalem,
we are amazed once again by his gentle spirit and fierce determination.
As he confronts those who challenge him,
he confronts our own stubbornness and defiant wills.
As he cares even for those who hate him,
we are challenged to love as he loves.
As he bears witness to the emergence of your kingdom,
our eyes are opened to your presence all around us.
As he moves with resolve toward his dark destiny,
we find ourselves struggling to understand why it has to be this way.

God, the journey is not just about the destination;
it is about each step along the way.
The journey itself is a blessing,
with all of its joys and sorrows.
As we run this race you are shaping us into new people.
As we move with you, we are continually born anew.
Help us to be attentive to each step,
in the darkness and in the light.
Help us to fully experience all that we encounter,
the good and the bad,
for in it all we discover you.

Though the race of life goes on,
our Lenten journey is nearing its conclusion.
Bind us ever closer to Christ,
so that we may turn our hearts and minds
to all that he experienced in this holy week,
a week both terrible and wonderful.

Hear us even now as we join our voices to his, saying together the prayer he taught us:

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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Matthew 21:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Now we welcome Kevin Schutte, who is leading our conversation this week and next. Kevin, his wife Kelli, and children Abbie and Jeremy were members of Discovery Church for many years. Kevin planted and pastors Pathway Community Church in Olathe, Kansas, and is a Christian Reformed denominational leader of Mission Shaped Congregations.

O God, even as we gather in this unique way of video, distancing from each other as we worship, amaze us with Your Word, with the story of Your Son, The King. Challenges us to be people of the King, comfort us as we serve, forgive us when we follow our own King. Stir in us a greater love for Father, Son and Holy Spirit and love for our neighbors – both those we call friends and those we call enemy. Amen.

Questions for discussion: 

1. How do you see the natures of Christ – divine and human – demonstrated in the passage? What did you see first? What are you typically drawn to?
2. What were the shouts of Hosanna about?
3. Why was there a desire to view Jesus as a political figure? How does this temptation manifest itself in your life? In the life of Discovery? In the church of North America? In Christian history?
4. Why do the people of God want a king that can be seen as powerful and great to other nations? What are some of the problems with this thinking? (1 Samuel 8)
5. How does the expressed views, actions, words, or social media posts of Christians and churches reflect our understanding of mission as ambassadors to the King?
6. How can we serve as ambassadors of the king while we are distanced socially?

Matthew 27:27-37

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

Questions for discussion: 

1. How did the misunderstanding of God’s people in celebrating Jesus on Palm Sunday impact Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion? 
2. How do Christians recognize the Kingdom of King Jesus? How have you or Discovery Church settled for smaller and lesser kingdoms? How? Where? When? 
3. What are some alternative kings & kingdoms that are pursued by you, Discovery Church, or the universal church? What is appealing about those kingdoms? (Your country as kingdom, education as kingdom, etc) 
4. Do you ever find yourself stating that King Jesus is more aligned with your country or your political party? What does that say about your understanding and view of Jesus as King? Of His Kingdom? Of God’s Reign? 
5. How would you describe Who is your King? How would you describe His Kingdom?

Lord, thank you for guiding our conversations today. Fill us with your Spirit and go with us into this new week with a conviction to serve your kingdom, not our own purposes, and to love all of our neighbors with your love that knows no bounds. Father, show us how we can live out your calling in this time of social distancing. Thank you for being our true King, even when we fail to serve you as you’ve asked. Forgive us for our misdirected loyalty, complacency, and pride. Amen.

Children’s Worship

1. Print and color a palm branch and read this reflection:

In ancient times the palm tree was associated with life and blessing. Found in desert oases, it was referred to as the tree of life. The branch was used as a victory symbol at public games and in battles. In the Old Testament palm fronds were carried in the Festival of Booths (Lev. 23:40) as well as used as a motif in the design of the temple (1 Kings 6:29-35). As Jesus entered Jerusalem the people waved palms in triumphant rejoicing, laying them on the road before their king. Palms appeared in the funeral art of the catacombs, symbolizing Christ’s triumph over sin and death. This image depicts the joy and the sorrow of the moment–the paradox of Christ’s victory of life through humility and death. // Reprinted by permission from Visuals for Worship, © 2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources.

2. Using the Bible App for Kids, watch “The Donkey and the King” story. More activity ideas are also available after the video.

3Research different kinds of palm trees. Look carefully at the trunks, leaves, and fruit of the palm trees. Draw diagrams and pictures of different kinds of palm trees. Check a globe or a map and find where palm trees grow. (VanderMeer, Harriet. Rings, Kings, and Butterflies. Augsburg Fortress, 2006, p. 80.)

Gift Offering

Mailing an envelope just isn’t the same as bringing your tithe to the front of the sanctuary, but it’s what we can do right now. Take a few moments to offer your gifts to God.

For financial gifts, have someone address the envelope (a good opportunity for digital natives) and place the stamp on it. Checks can be mailed to:

Discovery Church
7245 Eastern Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

Please specify “general fund” or “missions fund” on the memo line.

For gifts of encouragement, write a note or draw a picture for someone who may need encouragement at this time. Have someone address the envelope and place a stamp on it. Or deliver it in person (keep that six foot social distance) to a neighbor or loved one.

For gifts of art, share a picture or video of your response to today’s service with us on Instagram (@discoverycrc) (parents permitting).

Benediction

During this Holy Week, may God in his infinite mercy grant you a journey of renewal and hope; a time of prayer and reflection; and joyful anticipation of our Lord’s resurrection.

May you live and serve this week in remembrance of Christ’s love.

We pray in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Digital Prayer Pad

Prayer requests will be sent to Sara, our administrator, who will compile and distribute them to the congregation via email throughout the week as usual.

5 + 3 =

Thank you for joining us today! And thanks to Pastor Kevin Schutte, Pastor Mary, Kristi Stulp, Ahna Ziegler, and Marj Terpstra for creating this week’s service. Watch our Facebook & Instagram feeds for ways to stay connected throughout this self-imposed quarantine, including tips for making delicious coffee at home (so you’re well prepared for Coffee & Conversations) and ways to walk through Holy Week with your family. Social distancing does not mean social isolation!

Contact

Phone

(616) 554-1440

Email

discoverycrc@gmail.com

Address

7245 Eastern Avenue
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

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