Stations of the Cross

DSCN1018“Therefore, doing the Stations of the Cross was still more laborious than consoling, and required a sacrifice. It was much the same with all my devotions. They did not come easily or spontaneously, and they very seldom brought with them any strong sensible satisfaction. Nevertheless the work of performing them ended in a profound and fortifying peace: a peace that was scarcely perceptible, but which deepened and which, as my passions subsided, became more and more real, more and more sure, and finally stayed with me permanently.” ― Thomas Merton

The spiritual practice of walking the Stations of the Cross dates back to the medieval period.  These stations reflect the original 14 stops along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.  Not all of us can make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but the Stations of the Cross allow each of us to make a pilgrimage of prayer. By walking from station to station, the walker is guided through meditations on the chief scenes of Jesus’ Passion.

The Stations of the Cross in Victory Park include the traditional fourteen scenes of Jesus’ Passion, and are also bookended by two extra stations: the Jesus in Gethsemane, and the Resurrection.

The congregation of Christus Victor walks the Stations of the Cross together every Good Friday, but you are welcome to come and make a personal pilgrimage at any time.  Print this page, or access it on your smartphone, to bring up a prayer and a Bible verse to accompany your walk.

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To begin the Stations of the Cross, enter Victory Park through the middle of its three gates.  Walk toward the lake and begin with a moment of silence, or an opening prayer.  Then begin your walk by turning to the right, and coming to the first Station.

Jesus Prays in the Garden

Read: Luke 22:39-46

Reflect:  

In the midst of this park, imagine the sights and sounds of Gethsemane: the rustling of olive leaves instead of palms trees, the quietness and coolness of the night, the dust and the dirt of the ground where Jesus kneeled.  Picture Jesus.  How do you imagine him?  Does he pray quietly or aloud?  Does he weep?  Does he struggle with God’s will?

Is there a time in your life when you’ve struggled to reconcile God’s will with your own?

Pray:  

Lord Jesus, as I reflect upon your experience in Gethsemane, I am once again astounded by your utter humanness. You are not God-in-flesh-well-sort-of, but truly God in human flesh. You are Emmanuel, God with us. Thus you are also God with me. You understand me. You stand with me in hard times. You encourage me when I wrestle with the Father’s will. And you intercede for me. How I thank you, dear Lord, for who you are, for what you have done, and for what you are doing in my life today.  Amen.

This prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.  Read his full-length reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Patheos.com. 

 

I.  Jesus is condemned to death. 

Read: Luke 23:13-25

Reflect:  

In John’s account of the Passion, Pilate brings out Jesus wearing the crown of thorns and a purple cloak and says “Look at the man.”  Imagine looking at Jesus now.  What does he look like?  What is the expression on his face?

Despite Jesus’ innocence, Pilate still maneuvers to have him killed–and to do it in such a way that, at the end, he can wash his hands of it.  Are there times when you have participated, even unwillingly, in an enterprise that has unfairly hurt someone else?

Pray:  

Dear Lord, You know how easy it is for me to be like Pilate. I don’t like to take responsibility for my failures. I find rationalization to be so natural. I can fool myself into thinking I haven’t really done wrong.

So forgive me, Lord, when I follow the way of Pilate. Help me to acknowledge my sins, both to myself and to You, rather than wallowing in my pointless excuses and defenses. By Your Spirit, guide me to see clearly where I have missed Your mark, so that I might confess truly and fully. Help me to experience the forgiveness You offer in Christ, and to live in the freedom of the cleansing You alone provide.  Amen.

This prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.  Read his full-length reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Patheos.com.

II.  Jesus carries his cross.

Read: John 19:15-17

Reflect:

Imagine Jesus shouldering his cross.  Historically, crucifixion victims carried the crossbar to the place where the post had already been set up.  The crossbar would be heavy, full of splinters, and resting on the open wounds where Jesus had already been flogged.

Jesus knew all this would happen.  He had been predicting for a long time that he would suffer death in this way.  He knew what was coming; he chose this path.

Have there been times when you chose to endure pain, knowing that something better was waiting on the other side of it?  Can you think of anyone who has done that for you?

Pray:

Dear Lord, you chose the cross. Yes, the Jewish leaders accused you. And, yes, Pilate sentenced you. And, indeed, Roman soldiers led you to Golgotha. But in a very real sense they were simply working out what God had willed and you had freely and painfully chosen.

How I thank you for this costly choice! Because you took up the cross, I can take up life in all of its fullness. Because you were led to die, I can be led into the eternal life. Because you bore my sin, I can enjoy your forgiveness. How good you are to me, dear Lord, my Savior! Amen.

This prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.  Read his full-length reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Patheos.com. 

 

III. Jesus falls for the first time.

Read: Philippians 2:6-8

Reflect:

Imagine the scene as Jesus falls for the first time.  He is exhausted.  He has likely not slept or eaten since the Passover meal he shared with the disciples the night before.  He has been beaten and abused, verbally and physically.  He is at the end of his strength.

God chose to enter the world in human form, to experience the joy of being enfleshed, but also the pain.  Our bodies are such blessings, allowing us to taste, touch, dance, see, hear, and smell God’s marvelous creation.  But they are also subject to pain, exhaustion, aching, bleeding, soreness, weakness.  As Jesus’ body fails him for this first time, we remember that this is God-made-flesh, a God who chose to empty himself of divinity, so he could walk–and stumble–and fall–beside us.

Have you ever been angry at your own physical failings?  Do you know someone who feels that their bodies are not good enough?

Pray:

Dear Lord, how strange to imagine you falling, just like anyone else would when pushed beyond their limit.  You know both the joy and the pain I’ve experienced in this body.  You know the anger, fear, and sadness I feel when it fails me.

As you rise again to take a few more steps, give your risen grace to me, and to all those who fall and cannot rise.

 

IV.  Jesus meets his mother, Mary.

Read: Luke 2:34-35

Reflect:

Jesus was just a baby when Mary met Simeon in the Temple and heard his prophecy that Jesus was sign that would be opposed, and that a sword would pierce her own heart too.  Look at the pavement beneath your feet, and imagine a mother watching her child run along it despite her warnings to slow down, knowing that the child will fall and hurt itself, and knowing that she can only be there to comfort it and put a band-aid on the scrape.  Now look at the pavement, and imagine Mary watching Jesus trudging along it, on the way to the cross.  She knows she can’t save him; she can only weep for him, and dress his body in strips of linen cloth once Death has done its worst.

Have you ever watched someone walk a path full of pain and wish you could save them, but feel powerless to help?

Pray:

 Dear Lord, knowing that you suffered on account of my brokenness pierces my own heart too.  Sometimes I wish I could step into your place, and keep you from this torment that you’ve done nothing to deserve.  Yet because you walked this path of pain, Jesus, no one who is locked into suffering in body, mind, or spirit, waits in that darkness alone: You are with them.  Thank you for being the Savior of the whole world–for I know only too well that I am not.

 

V.  Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross.

Read: Luke 23:36

Reflect:

Imagine that you are Simon of Cyrene.  You’ve traveled almost a thousand miles from north Africa, perhaps to be part of the Passover celebration in Jerusalem.  You’ve gotten caught up in the crowd of pilgrims on their way into the city, and got sucked into what looked at first like a parade…but in the center was a bloody, beaten man carrying a heavy cross.  And suddenly, you’re ordered to help him.  

Simon found himself a surprised participant in Jesus’ crucifixion–and so do we!  As Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians (Galatians 2:19-20), we are also crucified with Christ.  We die to sin, so that like Jesus, we can rise to newness of life.  

Pray:

Dear Lord, the powerful example of Simon reminds me that I am also to take up the cross and follow you. You have called me to die to myself so that I might live for you. I confess that sometimes I resist this call, even though I know that in dying to myself I find true life in you. So help me, Lord, to carry my cross, to give my life away so that I might receive the abundant life of your kingdom.

I could not do this were it not for the fundamental fact that you took my place on the cross. Through you, I am forgiven and invited into the fullness of life. In your death, I am raised to new life. All thanks and praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for bearing my sin on the cross, so that I might bear the cross into eternal life, both now and forever. Amen.

This prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.  Read his full-length reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Patheos.com.

VI.  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Read:  Psalm 27:8-9

Reflect:

The woman who wipes the face of the Jesus isn’t mentioned in the Bible, but later tradition calls this woman Veronica and says that she gave Jesus her veil so that he could wipe the blood and sweat from his face.  Legend says that when Jesus returned the veil to Veronica, the image of his face was imprinted on it.

Imagine watching Jesus, focused on putting one step in front of the other as the heavy crossbar digs into his shoulders.  Blood and sweat poor down his face, stinging his eyes.  Suddenly a woman emerges from the crowd, and before the Roman guards can hustle her back into place, she gently wipes Jesus’ face.  For a moment, the pain of his stinging eyes–just one pain of many–is relieved.  For a moment, a beam of compassion shines out of the condemning crowd.

Whenever we show compassion to another person, even when the act of compassion is so small as to (seemingly) make no difference at all, we not only reveal Christ’s face to them, but we see Christ’s face revealed to us.  (Matt 25:41)

Can you think of someone who’s shown you a small act of kindness?  Can you think of someone who needs one today?

Pray:

 Dear Lord, it seems so strange at first to find such a minor act recorded along such world-shakingly big ones.  But then again, I’m so often dogged by the belief that all the things I do in your name must be world-shakingly important.  Teach me to recognize your face shining in the small acts of kindness, Lord.  Give me the humility to realize that it’s not my actions that make me worthy of your grace, but rather your grace that leads me into action.  Amen.

 VII.  Jesus falls for the second time.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

VIII.  Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

Read:  Luke 23:27-31

Reflect:

This station is sometimes titled, “Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem,” but his words aren’t that comforting!  “Don’t weep for me,” he seems to be saying.  “Weep for yourselves and your children, because the time is coming when people will think that people without children who have to endure the future are the lucky ones.”

Global warming, rampant poverty, starving children, violence against women, ongoing wars, corrupt politicians–have you ever felt overwhelmed by the brokenness of the world?  Jesus’ words might not have been comforting, but they were certainly prophetic.

The thing is, Jesus was on his way to make it better.  He was on his way to the cross, where he would conquer the powers of sin and death once and for all.  That doesn’t mean that we no longer encounter the sadness that come as part and parcel of being of this world.  But it does mean that that sadness no longer has the last word; God does.  And that Word will break the power of death when he rises on the third day.

Pray:

Dear Lord, here at this halfway point, help me to keep sight of the last station–resurrection.  I often feel overwhelmed by the world’s vast hurt, pain, and sadness–a vastness that seems far too big for me to make any difference to.  Help me remember, Jesus, that you have already made the difference.  When heartbreak threatens to overwhelm me, root me in this life-giving faith: You died.  You rose.  You will come again.  Amen.

 

IX.  Jesus falls for the third time.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

X.  Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

XI.  Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Read:  Luke 23:33-4, 47

Reflect:

Pray:

Gracious Lord, how can I ever thank you for dying on the cross for me? Your death has given me life. Your sacrifice has led to my blessing. Yet I confess that I can sometimes take your death for granted, forgetting what you did for me and neglecting its significance. Forgive me, Lord. And even when I can’t go to the actual place of your crucifixion today, may the reality of your sacrifice press itself upon my mind and flood my heart.

All praise to you, merciful Lord, for Your cross!  Amen.

This prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.  Read his full-length reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Patheos.com.

 

XII.  Jesus dies on the cross.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

XIII.  Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Read:

Reflect:

Pray:

 

Jesus is raised!

Read:

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Pray: