Day 38: Stations of the Cross
Written by Jennifer Stanley
The first time I participated in Stations of the Cross, I had no idea what to expect. It was sometime around 2006 (I think) and I wanted to find somewhere to worship on Good Friday. Our home church was not offering a service, but I knew of a few community services happening in town. In a chance conversation with my sister, she mentioned that her church was hosting something called ‘Stations of the Cross’ on Good Friday.
I had no idea what that meant.
A quick internet search reminded me that Stations of the Cross has been practiced for centuries, mostly in the Catholic and Episcopalian faith traditions. The idea is to follow the steps of Jesus as He makes his way down the ‘Via Dolorosa,’ the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Everything from artwork, meditation, living replicas, music, and tapestries are used to invite the participant to more deeply experience the emotions of Jesus that day.
Feeling curious and somewhat skeptical, I decided to go.
When I entered the building and made my way to the room with the stations, I felt the doubts creeping in. I wondered if participating in the stations would feel weird, or boring, or even worse, what if the whole thing felt pointless? I wanted to observe Good Friday in some way, but this was outside my experience and comfort zone.
I made my way to the first station, read the scripture listed in my guidebook and gazed at the portrait of Jesus standing in front of Pilate–being sentenced to His death. I really looked into His eyes and I think I saw courage with a trace of fear. I let myself take in Pilate’s posture and hands as he asked the crowd again why he should convict an innocent man. I noticed the disciples in the far corners, watching without being obvious, and imagined myself there that day.
I was already experiencing Good Friday on a deeper level after just one station.
I made my way from station to station. I didn’t hurry. I paused when I needed to, prayed, wrote in a makeshift journal, and by the time I reached the cross–well, there really aren’t adequate words. I felt Jesus’ death in a fresh and real way.
Was it fun? No, but it was good.
Was it easy? No, but it was peaceful.
Was it Meaningful? ABSOLUTELY.
Since that time, I have participated in many versions of Stations of the Cross. I have visited Catholic churches to experience it there and I have coordinated Stations of the Cross for churches I have served.
It is always one of the most beautiful worship experiences I encounter all year. And it makes the victory of Easter Sunday a whole lot more fun to celebrate!
My purpose for writing this is to hopefully inspire you to find a way to participate in Stations of the Cross somewhere in your community. At Commonway Church in Muncie, we will have them open on Friday, April 19th, from 12-7pm. But for those who are reading and not nearby, I hope you will find a place in your hometown to meditate and breathe deeply the sacrifice and suffering of Christ.
May the peace of Christ be with you.
About the Author
Jennifer Stanley serves as Creative Director at Commonway church. She works to bring creative projects to life utilizing teams and talent from within the church family. Jennifer also enjoys her fashion business, traveling to new places with her family, singing, and writing.