Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stations of the Cross Introduction

Our theme for Holy Week and Easter at Alberton Methodist Church this year is:
Were you there when.....
and we start this Saturday, 23 March with
Were you there when Jesus walked the road of Suffering?
with our Stations of the Cross, which this year we are "walking" on our beautiful church grounds.

I need to state upfront that none of the following material is original....I have used various sources in compiling this material, which I acknowledge now:

The book Journeying with Jesus: Personal Reflections on the Stations of the Cross and Resurrection: The Mowbray Lent Book 2013 is an excellent resource which I can recommend. Buy it here

Web resources I have used and which I recommend you visit for much more information are:
Creighton University's
Collaborative Ministry Office

Presentation Ministries
3230 McHenry
Cincinnati, Ohio 45211
Phone: (513) 662-5378

Cedric Poole The Dental Methodist

The hymns printed are all in the public domain and are sourced from

Why do the Stations?
The most important reason for reviving the practice of making the Stations of the Cross is that it is a powerful way to contemplate, and enter into, the mystery of Jesus' gift of himself to us.  It takes the reflection on the passion out of my head, and makes it an imaginative exercise.  It involves my senses, my experience and my emotions.  To the extent I come to experience the love of Jesus for me, to that extent the gratitude I feel will be deep.  Deep gratitude leads to real generosity and a desire to love as I have been loved.  First, just a note about the history of the stations:
The History:
From the earliest of days, followers of Jesus told the story of his passion, death and resurrection.  When pilgrims came to see Jerusalem, they were anxious to see the sites where Jesus was.  These sites became important holy connections with Jesus.  Eventually, following in the footsteps of the Lord, along the way of the cross, became a part of the pilgrimage visit.  The stations, as we know them today, came about when it was no longer easy or even possible to visit the holy sites.  In the 1500's, villages all over Europe started creating "replicas" of the way of the cross, with small stations or stops commemorating the places along the route in Jerusalem.  Eventually, these became the set of 14 stations we now know.
How to do the Stations?
The first point to note is that this is prayer.  It isn't an intellectual exercise.  It is in the context of my relationship with God.  I could read through the text of each of the stations, and look at the pictures, but that wouldn't necessarily be prayer.  This is an invitation to enter into a gifted faith experience of who Jesus is for me.  It becomes prayer when I open my heart to be touched, and it leads me to express my response in prayer.
The second thing to remember is that this is an imaginative exercise.  Its purpose is not a historical examination of "what really happened" on that day in history.  It's about something far more profound.  This is an opportunity to use this long standing Christian prayer to let Jesus touch my heart deeply by showing me the depth of his love for me.  The context is the historical fact that he was made to carry the instrument of his death, from the place where he was condemned to die, to Calvary where he died, and that he was taken down and laid in a tomb.  The religious context is that today Jesus wants to use any means available to move my heart to know his love for me.  These exercises can allow me to imaginatively visualize the "meaning" of his passion and death.
 The point of this exercise is to lead us to gratitude.  It will also lead us into a sense of solidarity with all our brothers and sisters.  In our busy, high tech lives we can easily get out of touch with the terrible suffering of real people in our world.  Journeying with Jesus in the Stations, allows us to imagine his entry into the experience of those who are tortured, unjustly accused or victimized, sitting on death row, carrying impossible burdens, facing terminal illnesses, or simply fatigued with life.
 How to:
Just go from one station to another. When arriving at a station, begin by looking carefully at the image itself.  See who is in the scene. Look at how they are arranged and what the artist who created this image is trying to tell us about the drama there.
Each station has 5 elements
1. The first element is a simple description of the scene. It helps us be conscious of what the "meaning" of this station is for us.
2. The second element is the traditional prayer at each station. Its words become more and more meaningful as we repeat them throughout the journey.
3. The third element is the contemplation of the scene.  This is a guided reflection on the power of the scene for me, to enter it more deeply and to lead to some experience of it personally.
4. The fourth element is my response.  This is expressed in my own words.  It is the place where the sorrow and gratitude flow from my heart. You might well only want to do steps 1-4
5. The fifth element is an opportunity for even deeper reflection and meditation based on statements and verses relevant to the station. This is an optional step.

Some notes from Cedric before you get started:
There is no right or wrong way to walk the stations.......use this day as a spiritual exercise, in other words, let the Spirit guide you.
You may want to do the walk in an hour, you may want to take the whole day.
Feel free to “leave” the walk at any time in order to get a drink, eat breakfast or lunch, etc, and to return to the place you were later.
Once on the walk, let us respect one another's space and give each other the freedom to express our emotions.....for example if someone is crying, don't interrupt their tears. Let us leave all the ministry for Jesus to do as He chooses to on this walk.
Please keep silence throughout the walk.
While we will be silent, life will carry on around us, just as it did when Jesus carried his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. As you hear the noises of our suburb around you, try and remember that while Jesus was walking this road of suffering, people were shopping, looking out for their children, having conversations and for the most part probably quite annoyed that another execution was taking up space on the very narrow streets of Jerusalem.
The Chapel will be open all day and will serve as the 15th Station, where you will be able to worship, relax, meditate and receive Holy Communion
The walk will take place between 6:00am and 6:30pm
The Coffee Shop will be open from 10:am to 6:00pm
The Men's Breakfast team will be providing breakfast between 8:00am and 10:00am
Our various rest rooms will be open all day.
At the back of this booklet are some Easter Hymns to use as you wish

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