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Stations of the Cross

(rewritten 2011)

 

The Stations are not only the story of the death of Jesus 2000 years ago. They are the deeply human story, and your story and mine as well. It is through the human story of joy and sorrow that we meet the God who has become flesh in Jesus, and who is one with us in our world’s joys and hopes, struggles and pain.

We invite you to participate in this prayerful reflection by journeying through the Stations not just of Jesus, but of your own life and of all our lives. We pray for the grace to let our sufferings become sacred wounds, so the healing life of Jesus might flow through us to those around us, for the renewal of God’s beloved world.

 

 

Opening Prayer

Lord and Brother Jesus,

we wish to retrace the steps you took in your final hours.
Take our minds, our memories, and above all, take our reluctant hearts,
so you can reveal to us what people had longed through the ages to discover –

that there is nothing but eternal and immeasurable love in God.

 

 First Station: Jesus is condemned to capital punishment

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: Pilate brought Jesus outside and said to the people, "Behold your king!" At this they shouted, "Away with him! Crucify him!" Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe Your forgiveness towards those we have condemned through our ignoring, ridicule or ostracising.

Reader 2: May we breathe Your forgiveness towards those who have condemned us through false accusations, blame, guilt or scorn.

 

All: Prince of Peace, help us to understand that when we accept violence as a way of getting what we want, we trample upon you and we trivialise your gospel. During your passion, You refuse to return the aggression that you receive from others. Save us by showing us the total non-violence of your Father’s Heart, for there is no safer place in the whole universe. By your holy Cross, may we abandon the need to exact vengeance, and may we extend Your compassionate non-violence to ourselves and all whom we meet.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

 

Second Station: Jesus shoulders his cross

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ, and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: Jesus was led away, and carrying the Cross by himself, went out to what is called Golgotha, or the Place of the Skull.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your love, a love that is forever true and unwavering towards us.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your love, through encouraging others to be true to the call and the demands of love.

 

All: Jesus the Way, You place no barriers between classes, races or religions. Inspire us to carry our cross by living justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with all peoples – despite the cost that carrying this cross will always entail. Help us to listen to those who risk their lives in standing up for the downtrodden and the oppressed. Save us by showing us the way to living truly and fully humanly, for this is the way to live from within Your Heart. By your holy Cross, may we discover your divine presence in all your Father has created. 

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble – Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

 

 

 

Third Station: Jesus stumbles and falls for the first time

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of all people. He humbled himself, even to accepting death – death on a cross.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your love when we fall into self-pity, bitterness or indifference.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your love to those around us, when we so easily break the bruised reed of others’ enthusiasm, and so quickly quench the wavering flame of others’ hope.

 

All: Jesus the Life, you are drawn to those who repeatedly stumble and fall – not to castigate them and so add to their self-hatred, but to show them that the Father’s heart is mercy within mercy.  Save us by encouraging us to trust that there is nothing but love in God. We then can have the courage and confidence to return God’s gaze. By Your holy Cross, help us to trust in the Father’s confidence in us.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

Fourth Station:  Jesus looks into the eyes of his mother Mary

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: Simeon said to Mary his mother: "This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed. And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword, so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare."

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in the awareness of Your presence when we feel alone or anxious, deserted or discarded.

Reader 2: May we breathe out the awareness of Your presence when we encounter the orphaned, the bereft, the battered, and all those whose eyes have been dulled by pain.

 

All: Jesus the perfect mirror of divine Justice, as a child you learn how to love through the example of your parents. Your mother Mary teaches you about the God who exults the lowly and fills the hungry with good things.  You fearlessly announce in the synagogue about liberty to captives and sight to those who are blind. Save us by the manner in which you met your death: that in your willingness to become weak, we find we don’t have to pretend to be strong; that because you are willing to be seen as a failure, we don’t have to pretend to be a success in anybody’s eyes – especially in the eyes of your Father. By your holy Cross, help us to be as poor in spirit as your mother Mary. 

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble – Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

         

 

                  

Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: A man named Simon of Cyrene was coming in from the fields, and they pressed him into service to carry the Cross.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your eagerness to embrace us, no matter how good or bad, worthy or unworthy we may feel we are.

 Reader 2: May we breathe out Your eagerness to embrace all, so we can welcome those who seem least worthy of our care and attention.

 

All: Shepherd of all, you long to gather all peoples as a mother hen gathers her chicks. In your moment of need, you are helped by Simon of Cyrene, when all others around you are paralysed by fear. Save us by helping us to know you embrace all people – not only those who fit our patterns of acceptability, but also and especially those who do not. By your Holy Cross and by your grace, may our communities become spaces where no one is made to feel an outcast.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

 

Sixth Station: Veronica lovingly wipes the face of Jesus

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Reading: A woman named Veronica comes out of the crowd, and kindly washes Jesus’ face with a towel. Upon this towel he graciously imparts an imprint of His suffering face. You Lord Jesus have said that “the one who welcomes you welcomes Me, and the one who welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. Whoever gives a cup of cold water will not want for a reward.”

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your presence, so we can let You caress our wounds, whisper our name and still our fears.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your presence, so we can become Your image for those who are hurting, despairing or frightened.

 

All: Jesus the suffering One, the pain that we experience in our lives, hearts and communities is the pain which You also experience. Remind us of the imprint of your Face deep within our souls, and help us to be reflections of your Face for a sacred yet suffering earth. Save us by planting a profound awareness of your Presence within us, for you delight to live within us. By your holy Cross, teach us to be transparent icons of your Father’s graciousness, especially where there is insult and derision, selfishness and greed.

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing

                   O Jesus crucified, for us you suffered, for us you died on the cross.

 

 

 

Seventh Station: Jesus falls for the second time

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

*        

Scripture Reading: Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone wants to be my follower, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me."

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your commitment to us, so we might know that you take us seriously as frail human beings.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your commitment to a frightened world, that needs to know that You can never give up on us.

 

All: Jesus the Truth, by your life You show that we can do nothing to make God love us more, and that we can do nothing to make God love us less. Save us by meeting us where we most need to know You – in our insecurity, our hurt, our sin, our vulnerability. Save us by recognising how unwittingly we buy into a culture of death rather than surrender to the fullness of Your life. By your holy Cross, show us that you are never put off by our stupidities, but that you deeply long to embrace us where we fear we are most rejectable. For wherever there is sin, you see the pain behind it.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

 

Eighth Station: Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him. But turning to them, Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your spaciousness, so You can transform our capacity to see all of creation as your handiwork.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your spaciousness, so we can work for the liberation of all those who are marginalized, excluded and exploited.

 

All: Jesus the Liberator, you tirelessly encourage those who are downtrodden to rise and live from the dignity which your Father has implanted within them by virtue of their being human beings. Save us by opening our eyes to see how those whom we marginalise, exploit and expel – especially women, children, the unborn, and those whom we fear because they are different from us – reveal our own scarred and scared souls. By your holy Cross, may we, like the women of Jerusalem, reverence all people with the same dignity with which we reverence the Eucharist.

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing

                   O Jesus crucified, for us you suffered, for us you died on the cross.

 

 

 

Ninth Station: Jesus falls for the third time

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: (Isaiah 50) Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was oppressed, and He was afflicted - yet He did not open His mouth.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your holy Presence, so we can let You be truly present to us.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your holy Presence, so we can be truly present to all that is.

 

All: Jesus our Real Presence, you are never more present to us than when we are discouraged, bound up in anxiety or weighed down with burdens too great to carry. It is not that you love us when we change – indeed, you love us so we can change. Save us from ourselves: from our apathy towards the poor, our gluttonous consumerism, our incessant self-loathing and our blindness towards injustice. By your holy Cross, show us how to live as you live, and help us to know that it is never too late for your grace to transform us.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 



 

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: They stripped off his clothes and began to mock him saying:  "All hail, king of the Jews!" They divided his garments and cast lots for his clothes.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your purity of heart, so we can relinquish our need to prove ourselves to You, protect ourselves from You or defend ourselves before You.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your purity of heart, so we can show others a more life-giving way to relate, other than always trying to prove ourselves as right so others can be proved as wrong.

 

All: Jesus the ultimate Free One, You can let yourself be totally transparent before the loving Gaze of the Father. You can let your outer self be stripped away because you know that who you are is who you are in God. We continue to strip you of your garments through institutional abuse, corporate abuse, disregard of the elderly and mentally ill, the rape of the earth and a million other ways. Save us from a lack of sensitivity to others’ dignity, and by your holy Cross melt our frozen hearts.

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble – Were you there when they crucified my Lord?    

 

 

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: After carrying his Cross, Jesus came to the Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they crucified him and two others with him.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your commitment to love, so we can be assured that we can never fall out of Your mercy.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your commitment to love, so we can let ourselves be nailed to the pledge of continually loving – especially those we regard as our adversary.

 

All: Jesus the Total Lover, you do not shrink from going to the end, so we can experience what the Father’s Heart is really like – for even though we kill you, you still breathe forgiveness. Through your commitment, we discover that there is nothing but love in God. You willingly take your place among the condemned ones, so we can know that you never condemn us –for it is we who, out of fear, condemn ourselves to the icy loneliness of sin. Save us from continually skewering and nailing others in an attempt to look good, look holy, or look in control. By your holy Cross, give us the humility to let You love us – not despite but within our frailty.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

 

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: Jesus said, "I thirst!" and they gave him wine. "It is finished!" he cried, and gave up his spirit.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your spirit of Entrusting, so we can say like Mary, “Be it done unto me according to your Word”.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your spirit of Entrusting, so we can say like you Jesus, “into your hands Father we commend our spirits”

 

All: Jesus the Lamb who is slain, how hard it is to die – yet surely how harder to say “yes” to being born again and again. You trust that the Father’s love can never forget you, and in the middle of the blackness, you know that God has to be faithful to you no matter what. Save us from despair and all that despair brings: the need to dominate, to play the victim, to manipulate, to amass and to annihilate. By your holy Cross, tell us deep within our hearts that our lives are in your hands – and there can be no safer Hands than Yours.

 

As we walk to the next Station, we sing

                   O Jesus crucified, for us you suffered, for us you died on the cross.

 

 

 

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and blood and water flowed out.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your surrendering spirit, so we might hold our deaths gently, let endings be endings, and let God’s tenderness hold us.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your surrendering spirit, so we might relate to others as tenderly and as compassionately as You hold us.

 

All: Jesus our Friend, you join us in the midst of our defeats and failures; you sit down next to us in the gutters and hells of our personal lives and the lives of so many millions who experience fear and insecurity as constant companions – and you whisper: “yes, I know”. Save us from the terror of ultimate abandonment. By your holy Cross may we know that there is no hell that you and your Father’s love are not prepared to enter and to bear with us in total and absolute solidarity.

 

We walk to the next Station in silence.

 

 

 

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is lovingly laid in the sepulchre

 

Leader:        We adore you O Christ and we praise you.

All:              Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

 

Scripture Reading: A man named Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate, and begged for the body of Jesus. And he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein no-one had ever been laid. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed after; they noted the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

 

Reader 1: May we breathe in Your Hope in the midst of darkness, so we can draw our strength not from our own ingenuity but from Your grace.

Reader 2: May we breathe out Your Hope to the waiting world, so with Your breath we can outstare the darkness and outlove the seemingly unloveable.

 

All: Jesus, Presence in the Darkness, you wait with us until the timing of the Father calls us out into a new life that we cannot begin to imagine. When a dream fades, when a hope withers, when a love dies, when a friendship is betrayed, when the silence shrieks, or when emptiness seems to have won the day – you proclaim from your Cross that perfect Love can never be extinguished. Save us from our fears of abandonment, of rejection and of being forgotten. By your holy Cross, help us to model a new way – Your Way – to live fully humanly. May we not just worship you, but be You for your scarred and sacred world.

 


To conclude, we sing

 

Holy God we praise Thy Name.

Lord of all, we bow before Thee.

All in earth Thy sceptre claim,

All in heaven above adore Thee.

Infinite thy vast domain –

Everlasting is thy reign.

 

Holy Father, Holy Son,

Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee.

While in essence only One

Undivided God we ‘claim thee.

And adoring bend the knee

While we own the mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stations of the Cross

We conclude our Stations of the Cross this morning by becoming aware of the small sculptures which hang around the walls of the church. The Stations are not only the story of the death of Jesus 2000 years ago. They are the deeply human story, and your story and mine as well. The term that Jesus uses of himself is “The Son of Man”, which means “the truly human one.” Call to mind the Stations which we have visited this morning. We invite you to stay for a few moments after this reflection, to gaze upon the Stations, to make it your own journey as well.

It is as if Jesus says to us

  • First Station: Jesus is condemned to death
    You too will be judged unfairly at least once in your life, and so destined to seeing the unfolding of events in a way you would not have chosen.
  • Second Station: Jesus carries his cross
    You too will be asked to carry the cost of living your own truth. We are asked to carry the responsibility for our life choices, and not blame or shame anyone else.
  • Third, seventh and ninth Stations: Jesus falls
    You too will fall at least three times during your life, where you experience the fallings from grace in the eyes of others because you have dared to be true to your calling.
  • Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother
    You too at some time in your life will find you need to let go of what you have cherished and nurtured, and see it go in a direction different from that which you may have dreamed and hoped.
  • Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross
    You too will experience along the way the help of people who you would least expect to be helpful along your journey.
  • Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
    You too will glimpse the face of Jesus imprinted within your suffering, when you let your wounds become ways into living from within the suffering heart of God.
  • Eighth Station: Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem
    You too will discover that your woundedness allows you to become far more compassionate, and lets you meet others in their woundedness.
  • Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments
    You too will find that the false needs to be right, to be acceptable, to be in charge, to play the victim, to be strong or “be the good boy or girl” eventually are stripped from you, so you can let your naked self come before the presence of God, with nothing to prove, nothing to protect, and nothing to boast about to God.
  • Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
    You too will find that because you have chosen to deeply love people and situations, your life will be nailed to a particular circumstance. This love calls you to give your life away.
  • Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross
    You too will be led to a place of surrendering, where despite the un-knowing, the only way to deal with your pain is to let yourself fall into the arms of God, in complete trust that God knows what God is doing.
  • Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross
    You too are invited to hold your deaths gently, to let the endings be endings, and to let God’s tenderness hold you.
  • Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the sepulchre
    You are invited to wait with Jesus in the tomb, and to become partners with him in co-solitude, to stay until the timing of God calls you out into the new life which you cannot even begin to imagine.


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