This week I am running a series of Stations of the Cross. They were completed during a deadly year, one in which I was being treated for an advanced cancer. For this reason—and because I was traversing new territory for myself—they’re uneven. But their power comes from the underlying story.
The language is simple, meant to be accessible to a child.
The originals are on display at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 2000 Highland Avenue, Rochester NY 14618.
|Jesus was nailed to the cross.|
When they came to Golgotha, the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh. He would not drink it.
They crucified him between two criminals.
Pilate put a sign on Jesus’ cross that said “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
The wine with myrrh would have made death less painful and scary. But it also would have made Jesus confused. Jesus did not drink it.
Golgotha must have been a scary place that day. Perhaps the two criminals screamed in pain. Jesus’ friends and followers wept. The crowd shouted and laughed.
All around him, people lost control. But Jesus kept a clear head. The crowd was lost in their feelings. Jesus was not. Jesus forgave his enemies. He showed us that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
|The soldiers divided Jesus’ garments.|
The soldiers took Jesus’ clothes and divided them among themselves. Jesus’ tunic was woven in one piece. They said, “We won’t tear it. We will gamble to see who will get it.”
For the soldiers, this was just another workday. If we could ask them what they were thinking, they might say, “I’m doing what I’m told,” or, “I need this job.”
There will always be people who take advantage of weak or defenseless people. Sometimes we do it ourselves. But Jesus told us, “Whenever you refused to help these least important ones, you refused to help me.”
|Jesus spoke from the cross.|
A crowd of people stood watching. Many shouted at Jesus, saying “Save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”
One of the criminals who was dying with Jesus said, “If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!”
The other criminal said, “We are getting what we deserve, but Jesus has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
“Today you will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus told him.
The crowd thought that if Jesus were the Son of God, he would take care of himself first. But he put himself last, not first.
In the world, we are called powerful when we can get other people to do things for us. In God’s kingdom, we are powerful when we are like Jesus—using our gifts for others.