Passion/Palm Sunday — Planning Notes

April 9, 2017 (Year A) | Holy Week: Through Death to Life Series
by Taylor Burton-Edwards

Order of Worship Preaching Hymns Music  Planning Formation Groups Resources

Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

The most intense week in the Christian year begins today.

The color may change today from purple to red. Red continues to be used through Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday.

Starting with Good Friday and until the first service of Easter you celebrate, there should be no color. It is customary to “strip the sanctuary” immediately following or just before the sending from the Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday service, removing not only all paraments, but all other adornments from the worship space. This includes all altarware, banners, flowers, candles, and any items on the Lord’s Table. If there is a permanent cross on the walls, it is customarily covered (not merely draped), typically in black. So are processional crosses if you intend to use them during this time.

April 9             Passion/Palm Sunday
                        New Series Begins: Holy Week
April 13           Maundy Thursday
April 14           Good Friday
April 15           Holy Saturday (Full Twitter script with audio links) #holysat17
                        Great Vigil of Easter Planning Resources Simplified Service
April 16           Easter Sunday
April 23           Festival of God’s Creation
                        New Series Begins: Easter Season (through Pentecost)
April 25           World Malaria Day
April 30           Native American Ministries Sunday

All Month        Christian Home Month
                        Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 4              National Day of Prayer (USA)
May 5              May Friendship Day
May 8-14         Christian Family Week
May 14            Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 21            Heritage Sunday
May 24            Aldersgate Day
May 25            Ascension Day
May 28            Ascension Sunday (if transferred)
May 29            Memorial Day (USA)

June 4            Day of Pentecost (Easter Season Concludes)
June 11          Trinity Sunday, Peace with Justice Sunday
                       New Series Begins: TBA
June 18          Father’s Day (USA)
June 19          Juneteenth

July 4            Independence Day

All Month          Season of Creation (2017 resources forthcoming)
September 4   Labor Day (USA)
September 15-
October 15      Hispanic Heritage Month (USA)


For Your Planning Team: Holy Week — Through Death to Life

Palm/Passion Sunday

In This Series
Holy Week begins now.

This is the most intense week in the Christian year. It confronts us with the violence we inflict upon one another and our faithlessness toward God, juxtaposed dramatically against the love of God and the hope God’s kingdom offers our world.

Additional resources from our colleagues Scott Hughes and Melanie Gordon support the journey of this week day by day with whomever you gather, whether family at home, friends at school or work, or just you before God with the Scriptures for each day. Your Lenten formational groups may wish to use these resources as part of a daily gathering, whether in person or online if in-person meetings are not possible for you.

We hear and feel the juxtaposition of violence, love, and hope dramatically in the contrast between the processions that begin and end this service.

We begin with Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem, met with both joyous expectation by some, and curious or hostile wonder by others. We conclude with the reading of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ procession to his place of execution and what unfolds there.

Likewise, musically, we begin with upbeat singing at the processional into the worship space, move toward meditation on the cross at Communion, and conclude with a silent dismissal. We recommend that musical instruments be used more sparingly from now until your first Easter service, whether the Great Vigil, Easter Sunrise, or Easter morning.

This service has a lot of moving parts, especially at the beginning and end. Take time to rehearse especially the opening processional logistics in both places they may originate-- whether outdoors or at an alternate indoor location. Figure out where leaders need to stand and how the flow of people will work. Consider affixing markers on the ground or in the hallway to identify where specific leaders will begin and stop midway (especially pastor and lay leader).

As you determine where to begin the procession, be mindful of sound and accessibility. If you do not have adequate provision for sound amplification outdoors, be sure the pastor and lay leader are prepared to project well. People with significant mobility challenges may be invited to go directly to the worship space, if needed, bypassing the opening processional. If you have a way for these people still to see and hear the processional (a good use for Skype or Facetime or similar person-to-person video connections), be sure to provide it, either individually, or to screens if you have them. We do not recommend Facebook Live or other public streaming apps unless you have licensing to allow the streaming of any and all copyrighted content (songs or liturgical texts) you may be streaming.  

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for the Palm/Passion Sunday

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines


Categories: Year A, Palm Sunday - April 9, 2017