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Greek Orthodox Palm Sunday Religious Service Overview

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Palm Sunday is the remembrance of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem after he raised Lazarus from the dead. On Palm Sunday, people of the Orthodox Christian church receive and worship Jesus in the same way that the people of Jerusalem did after he performed His miracle. Here’s what you should know about Palm Sunday Service.

About the Palm Sunday Service

Palm Sunday tells us to behold our king: the Word of God made flesh. Palm Sunday is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. This is preceded by the Matins service. Palm Sunday also summons that we accept both the rule and the kingdom of God as the goal of Christian life.

Palm Sunday Service consists of the Vespers, the Orthos, and the Divine Liturgy. The Orthodox Christian Church also observes the Blessing and Distribution of the Palms where a basket that contains woven palm crosses are laid on a table in front of the icon of the Lord. A prayer for the blessing of the Palms is then said. Sometimes this prayer is said at the end of Divine Liturgy. It is said that this is actually less of a prayer for the blessing of the Palms and more for those who hold the palms in their hands.

In the Icon of the Feast of Palm Sunday, Jesus Christ is the central figure. He sits on the colt as he enters Jerusalem. This entrance into Jerusalem is a fulfillment of the prophecy that is found in Zechariah 9:9. In this icon, Jesus is giving blessings with his right hand and with his left hand he holds a scroll. This scroll is a symbol of His fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophecies.

Biblical Story of Palm Sunday

Five days before Passover, Jesus left Bethany for Jerusalem. He had two of his disciples bring Him a colt and a donkey, which he sat upon and entered the city of Jerusalem. Having heard about the resurrection of Lazarus as well as the teaching and work of Jesus, people gathered in Jerusalem. The people had heard that Jesus was entering the city and went to meet him with palm branches. They laid their garments before him and shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”

When Jesus began His public ministry, He proclaimed the kingdom of God and announced the powers of the age to come were already active. You can read about this more in Luke 7:18-22. Jesus’ words and works were intended to inspire people to create an inward change of heart and mind which would result in concrete changes in their lives, a call to follow Him and accept his messianic destiny.

Scriptures and Hymns of Palm Sunday Service

During Palm Sunday Service, scriptures read may include: Genesis 49:1, 8-12; Zephaniah 3:14-19; Zechariah 9:9-15; Matthew 21:1-17; Philippians 4:4-9; and John 12:1-18. Hymns and prayers that may be part of the Palm Sunday Service include: Apolytikion: First Tone, Apolytikion: Fourth Tone, and Kontakion: Plagal of the Second Tone. Here are the words to the hymns for the Palm Sunday service:

Apolytikion: First Tone

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, You did confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!

Apolytikion: Fourth Tone

As by baptism we were burried with Thee, O Christ our God, so by Thy Resurrection we were deemed worthy of immortal life; and praising Thee, we cry: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.

Kontakion: Plagal of the Second Tone

Sitting on Your throne in heaven, carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God. Accept the praise of angels and songs of children who sing: Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam.

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Palm Sunday

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