The Way of the Cross 2020

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This meditative journey begins and ends in your prayer corner if you have created one over this past week. If you are just joining us now, find a space to pray where you can begin and end. If you are able, take this journey sometime between 12­-3pm: the last three of the six hours Jesus suffered for us on the cross when darkness covered the land. At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (Mark 15:33). ​To experience the full three hours, spend time in the prayer corner and come back to it, so your journey is bathed in prayer and centered with our community. 

Take time. Tune your focus by reading this introduction and preparing to join Jesus on the way of the cross as you and he move through your home. You can take part of this walk out into your neighborhood if you would like (and are able to maintain social distance!). If you are not comfortable leaving your home, all of the stations can be observed inside. 

Some background for this spiritual exercise 

The way of the cross is a means to engage our whole being: body, mind and spirit, in meditation. Most Roman Catholic buildings have replicas of these “stations” on their walls—people take this prayer walk in the quiet of the sanctuary, contemplating the Lord’s sacrifice for them and entering into his death. We have our own version. We are taking this journey wherever we are to help ourselves see the way of suffering love moving into our present reality and to see how we can enter into it with Jesus in our time and place. 

The “Stations of the Cross” originated with believers who visited Jerusalem and prayerfully walked along the traditional way Jesus went to the cross. There are records of their acts of devotion dating back to the 400’s. The followers of Francis of Assisi (Franciscans) were the great promoters of this practice after they were given custody of the holy sites in Palestine during the 1300’s. This rendition is based on a variation offered by Pope John Paull II to make the stations conform to the Biblical accounts. 

Some help for experiencing this journey 

Identify with Jesus 

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-­39. 

Go on an outward journey 

  • See your immediate surroundings through the eyes of our dying Savior 
  • Pray that others remember, turn away from sin, grieve, see the love of Christ and receive God’s forgiveness in Him 
  • Symbolize your own journey of suffering love on behalf of your neighbors 
  • Make a circle of hope around your home or neighborhood 

Go on an inward journey 

  • remember 
  • grieve 
  • repent 
  • receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus in a fresh way 

Visualize Jesus in each of the stations.​  

Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:8­-9 

See Him there broken, torn, suffering in love. Don’t rush by Him as we often do. In quarantine, we practice staying. Stay with Jesus. The stations slow us down and force us to truly be with Him in His suffering, in our time and place, as who we are right now. Remember that it is not a matter of getting from station to station; it is all about the journey. It is a sober walk with Jesus, not a task that needs to be accomplished. Go slow. 

Last word… 

The main thing you are doing is ​being ​with Jesus. But it is impossible to be with Jesus in the midst of a pandemic and not have a heart for the lost and suffering around us. Be the presence of Jesus along your way—to anyone you encounter in your home or on your walk. Pray for those who move you, pray about the needs you see and the spiritual battles you can imagine. Jesus died to forgive, reclaim and revive. Be the presence of resistance and restoration. 

To Begin:  Start at the highest level in your living space. Stand at the threshold of a door and cross through it. Stand still and listen.  Look to the right and the left and pray. Others may have little concern for or understanding of this journey. You are walking with Jesus, as Jesus: caught, betrayed, and alone before the powers that be. 

  • First Station: Find a plant to look at (like a houseplant or window where you can spot a tree or patch of grass). Sit down with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 25:36­-41 

Pray: Lord, grant us your strength and wisdom, that we may seek to follow you in every way. 

  • Second Station: Move to stand with your back against a wall. Watch the scene play out in front of you. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested. 

Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. Mark 14: 43­-46 

Pray: Lord, give us courage to match our convictions, so our lives may reflect the good news you bring. 

  • Third Station: Pull up a chair to a table or counter where you can sit upright and listen. Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin. 

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us,” but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.” Luke 22: 66-­71 

Pray: Lord, fill us with your sense of righteousness so we will never stop working to bring about the justice of the kingdom. 

  • Fourth Station:Move outdoors to a back or side alleyway if you have one (or some space just outside where you live). Peter is sitting there. Jesus is Denied by Peter.  

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!” As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!” A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.” At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. Matthew 26: 69-­75 

Pray: Lord, makes us honest so we are not afraid to speak the truth even when that is difficult. 

  • Fifth Station: (If you want to continue outside, keep moving and allow these directions to lead you places you already know. The Twelve Station says to return to your front door. Or return inside now to complete all of the stations). Move to a place where you can look to the highest building around you. Looking up, Jesus is Judged by Pilate. 

The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed…. Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas… [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified. Mark 15:1­5. 

Pray: Lord, grant us discernment that we may see as you see, not as the world sees. 

  • Sixth Station:Find an object or stick that reminds you of a thorn. Where you found it, hold it in your hand. Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns. 

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. John 19: 1­3 

Pray: Lord, give us patience in times of suffering, so we can be one with you in your suffering and in your hope. 

  • Seventh Station:​ Take 30 steps, long and slow. Then stop to read, Jesus Bears the Cross. 

When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” … They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19: 6, 15­-17 

Pray: Lord, give us purpose so we can pick up burdens that require faith to bear. 

  • Eighth Station:​ Find a place where you can rest. Walk to a park, sit on a stoop, or go to a comfortable chair. Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross. 

They pressed into service a passer­by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. Mark 15: 21 

Pray: Lord, deepen our spirits, so we may be your willing instruments on earth. 

  • Ninth Station: Move to a hallway, an open window or an intersection to listen to what is going on around you. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem. 

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time, people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23: 27-­31 

Pray: Lord, we want gentle spirits that can comfort those who mourn. 

  • Tenth Station: Go to a common place where you go every day. The spot where you put on your shoes, the bus stop, in front of the business you pass on your way to work. There ​Jesus is Crucified. 

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do..” Luke 23: 33­-34 

Pray: Lord, fill us with mercy so we bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all. 

  • Eleventh Station: Spend five minutes in movement – around the block or throughout your house. Stop at the foot of the cross. Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief. 

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-­43 

Pray: Lord, give us strength to persevere so we never stop seeking you. 

  • Twelfth Station​:Return to your front door. Open it and stand in the doorway, looking out to your neighbors. Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple. 

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19: 25­-27 

Pray: Lord, make us constant so we are willing and able to stand by those in need. 

  • Thirteenth Station:Come into a quiet room and close the door. Turn off the lights, pull down the blinds and be still. Pray for our region as Jesus Dies on the Cross. 

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last. Luke 23: 44­-46 

Pray: Lord, give us trust in you: your life, death, resurrection and presence. May our own deaths have meaning. 

  • Fourteenth Station: Return to the threshold or prayer corner where you began. Pass through it and kneel down. Jesus is Placed in the Tomb. 

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. Matthew 27: 57-­60 

Pray: Lord, we are silent with you. 

Finally Stay here to pray for as long as you need.  

  • Fifteenth Station:Many renditions of the Stations of the Cross include a final station named Jesus rises from the dead. ​We will journey to that station together (alone) on Sunday morning and evening online.