Palm Sunday

Holy Week 2018 Worship Planning Series

Passion Sunday/ Palm Sunday 2018, Year B

Palm/Passion Sunday recapitulates the beginning and the end of Christ’s final week in Jerusalem. We move from a triumphal procession and its stirring of hope as our entrance rite to hearing of a very different kind of procession, a forced march with a crucifix, to conclude it.


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, they are customarily covered (not merely draped), typically in black. So are processional crosses if you intend to use them during this time.

For Your Planning Team — Holy Week: 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 each other and our faithlessness toward God, juxtaposed dramatically against the love of God and the hope God’s kingdom offers our world.

Additional resources support the journey Monday through Wednesday 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’s 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’s 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 along the way (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. Persons 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 persons 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

2015 Planning Helps for the Palm/Passion Sunday

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Use link to find current listings as posted.

In This Series...

Holy/Maundy Thursday 2018 — Planning Notes Holy/Good Friday 2018 — Planning Notes Easter Sunday 2018 — Planning Notes Easter Morning 2018 Sunrise Service — Planning Notes


  • Red
  • Purple

In This Series...

Holy/Maundy Thursday 2018 — Planning Notes Holy/Good Friday 2018 — Planning Notes Easter Sunday 2018 — Planning Notes Easter Morning 2018 Sunrise Service — Planning Notes