This evening our Holy Week devotions will be Stations of the Cross.
These are reflections on Jesus journey to the cross and to his resurrection.
They begin with Jesus being condemned by Pilate and then follow his journey,
drawing on the Gospels and Tradition.
This evenings stations will use parts of the reflections we have shared during Lent.
They are as follows:
Station 1 Jesus is condemned to death
Desmond Tutu described Nelson Mandela
as a man who was not broken
but refined by his 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa.
Perhaps without that suffering, he suggests,
he would have been less able to be as compassionate and magnanimous
as he turned out to be.
Jesus was not broken by his journey to the cross, but completed.
Station 2 Jesus receives his cross
When does ordinary action become a means to serving God?
When our action becomes our prayer.
Brother Lawrence says that we should do everything for the love of God,
and that our greatest times of busyness
should be no different from our times of prayer.
One flows into the other.
Even receiving life’s crosses can become an act of prayer.
Station 3 Jesus falls for the first time
The journey to Easter is a journey of letting go.
Letting go of the sins that weigh us down and the guilt that goes with them;
Letting go of resentment, anger and negative thoughts towards others.
Letting go of our burdens and anxieties, and simply trusting God with them.
Letting go of desires and ambitions, and visions of how we would like life to be.
Letting go of our attachment to possessions, to material goods,
to relationships, to health, to life even.
Letting go of everything:
And standing before God naked, as God sees us and knows us.
For it is when we have let go that we create space to receive.
Space to receive the grace, the love, the joy; the life that God longs to give to us.
Station 4 Jesus meets his mother
There is a particular African tribe where, when a woman becomes pregnant,
she goes with other women to a remote place outside the village to meditate.
During her meditation, it is said,
that she listens to the song of the soul of her unborn child.
Once she has listened to and memorised the song of her child’s soul
she shares it with the other women and they sing it with her.
They then all go back to the village and teach that song to the community.
The song is sung at the child’s birth and all the rites of passage into adulthood
Later in times of difficulty and hardship; when things are painful and tough,
the community will gather around them and sing them the song of their soul,
to remind them who they truly are; to remind them of their true beauty and worth.
Station 5 Simon of Cyrene helps to carry his cross
In New York recently, during the cold snap, someone had given out
woollen socks and gloves to the homeless people that they passed.
I saw a photo of some homeless people showing off their new clothing,
with big smiles on their faces.
I’m sure the smiles where not just for the socks and gloves,
but for the fact that someone noticed them.
They mattered to someone that day.
Station 6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
“To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.
To give a blessing is to say “yes” to a person’s belovedness.
The blessings we give each other are expressions of God’s blessings
that rest on us from all eternity.”
Station 7 Jesus falls for the second time
“God is totally on our side. Everything works together for our good.
If we can believe this we can save ourselves an enormous amount of trouble.”
Hope is not merely wishful thinking,
it is knowing that in whatever happens God is with us.
Station 8 Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
“To enter into the presence of another human being
is to enter into the presence of God in a new and different way.
We should encounter others with a sense of gratitude and delight,
for here is a new and fresh expression of God’s creation.”
Station 9 Jesus falls for the third time
After his baptism Jesus was driven not only into the wilderness of Palestine,
but more significantly into the wilderness of his own mind, and heart.
There he faced his inner demons of doubt and uncertainty.
“If you are the Son of God show us what you can do; how you can make a difference.
Turn stones into bread, do something special,
Some saviour you are who doesn’t even trust your own powers.”
And, like Jesus, we find ourselves at times driven into our own inner wilderness.
We feel isolated and alone; we too are filled with doubts and uncertainties;
Our inner demons also taunt us: “Where is your God now?”
Yes, the wilderness is a tough place to be.
All we can do is what Jesus did: hold on firmly to what has sustained us so far;
and place our trust in God’s strength and not in our own strength alone.
Station 10 Jesus is stripped of his garments
A monk, while on a journey found a precious stone lying by the banks of a river.
He knew straight away that the stone was valuable,
and would save his monastery from financial ruin.
Another traveller saw the monk pick up the stone and demanded to see it.
“Why should you be the one to have the stone”, he said to the monk,
“I have as much right to it as you.”
The monk, without hesitation gave him the precious stone. The man left.
A few miles later on the man returned with the stone, and gave it back to the monk.
“Please” he said, “give me something even more precious than the stone;
give me that which enabled you to give it to me.”
Station 11 Jesus is nailed to the cross
“The way I regard those who hurt or annoy me today,
will affect how I experience the world in the future.
In any encounter we have a choice:
We can strengthen our resentment, or, our understanding and empathy;
we can widen the gap between ourselves and others or we can lessen it.”
Station 12 Jesus dies on the cross
When Jesus saw that an enormous act of love and self-sacrifice was needed,
to break the power of sin, hatred, and selfishness;
he took responsibility, received his cross and made that long journey to Calvary.
This is the moment that God took responsibility for the world he made and loves,
and opened the gate of glory.
Station 13 Jesus is handed to his Mother
What is it to have compassion for another?
It is to see the other person as God sees them;
for God sees only through the eyes of love.
God has no blinkers,
God just sees the person and loves them for who they are.
May we learn to see each other has God sees us; through the eyes of love.
Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb
We can over think our journey into God;
sometimes what we have to do is simply let go of the thinking
and allow God’s presence to draw us into itself.
That is what prayer is about. It is not about us seeking God and reeling God in.
It is, in fact, the other way around.
In prayer we have to allow God to seek us and reel us in.
It is not so much about us bringing God into our situation,
but of becoming aware that God is already there
and allowing that holy presence to draw us to our centre, to carry us home.
Station 15 Jesus rises from the dead
“Be content, be content!
We are the Body of Christ!
We have found Him because He has sought us;
God has come to take up his abode in us.
There is nothing further to do except to turn to Him completely,
where He is already present.
Be quiet and see that He is God.”