Welcome to Holy Week.
This is the story of how I decided to create an online Stations of the Cross on the Forefront blog. Experience it here and read the story below.
Over the last few years I’ve grown fascinated by ancient practices that are rooted and grounded in the Christian tradition. One of these I have been meaning to dive into for a while now is the Stations of the Cross aka Way of the Cross, or Way of Sorrows.
The traditional 14 stations depict Jesus’ journey from being condemned to death to being laid in the tomb and are meant to guide you to prayerfully and slowly walk with the suffering Christ in his passion.
Since I wrote the song “I’ve Wondered at the Cross” almost 8 years ago I’ve always found Holy Week and Good Friday draws me in more and more every year. You can get this song for FREE on my Ben Grace EP and I hope it is meaningful to you through Holy Week.
Anyway, back to the Stations of the Cross …
I set about to curate an experience that we could create in our Forefront offices by taking all our art and photos off the walls to highlight this singular Lenten journey. I looked at a bunch of the traditional ones as we’d been using a lot of Alexandre Bida’s work in our graphics throughout the calendar this year since Advent. While a lot of these were beautiful I felt like I’d like to have modernised them in some way and didn’t have the time. I then got obsessed with the more esoteric modern ones like the one in the graphic above which comes from St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When I showed the options to my wife Sara she was really taken with David O’Connell’s amazing art that lives in St Richard’s of Chicester especially because they would print out really small and you would have to really focus to figure out what was happening in the scene. So myself, Sara and Forefront Brooklyn Associate Pastor Jen headed into the Forefront offices on Palm Sunday evening and spent some time prepping the stations, swapping out regular light globes with edison bulbs, and creating a more sombre space for Holy Week.
You are welcome any time this week during office hours to walk through the Stations of the Cross. The office will also be open before and during our three “Scatter” events on Monday, Wednesday and Friday should you wish to participate in an intimate communal worship experience.
Upon arriving home I knew that I wanted to create a print out so that people could be guided through this experience but I realized how little I still even knew about it. With a few hours research I stumbled upon a resource from Creighton Universities that walked through this imaginative exercise and decided to replicate this on our Forefront blog so that people could walk through it online as well.
There’s a little more info below that is also outlined in the blog post but if you’re interested in walking through this Stations of the Cross imaginative prayer experience then head on over HERE.
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.
WHAT IF I HAVE NEVER MADE THE STATIONS BEFORE?
On the web, it’s easy. I can do one a day, for two weeks. I can do several at a time, and just do them, when I get a chance. I can do all 14 at a time, and return to them in my prayer and imagination as I do them.
The most important thing to remember is that this can be as personal as I’d like it to be. One of our common religious struggles is to realize that we are not alone. The Good News is that Jesus entered into our life’s experience completely – even suffering and death – and that he fell into the hands of a Loving God, who raised him from death to life. We can have complete hope that suffering and death have no complete hold on us. We will all share eternal life with him, if we can fall into the hands of the same Loving God. And, along the way, we are not alone. Jesus is with as one who knows our suffering, and the death we face. That can be deeply consoling.
So try the stations, and experience the consolation they offer. And return often, to be renewed in this intimate experience of Jesus’ solidarity with all humanity in our way of the cross each day.