Read this story and more in CONNECT Magazine | 2019 Lent Edition
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Most of us tend to think of the crucifixion of Jesus only as an event that happened at a certain time in a certain place. And for the most part, that’s true. However, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. The whole story of Good Friday reveals a great truth about the nature of God — and how God works with us in the world. It is this ultimate truth about God, revealed in Jesus and his actions, that provides us with an important touchstone for our own journey.
Quite often, in our eagerness to celebrate Easter and the resurrection, we tend to rush quickly through Holy Week, seeing the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday as just “the week before Easter.” And especially, as the week winds into Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, its inherent messiness can be just too much. We want to shy away from all that suffering and darkness and focus instead on the impending triumph and praise.
But in our rush to Easter morning, it’s easy to miss that the Jesus’ Journey to the Cross is about much more than the crucifixion. In the end it is a powerful witness to faithfulness, servanthood, the never-abandoning commitment of God’s love in Christ, even in the face of cruel rejection. “In a very real sense, Jesus’ Journey to the Cross is about the power of love, the commitment of God to humanity, the faithfulness and grace of God that knows no limits and will yield to no boundary, that will risk even death itself for the sake of new life,” remarks Rev. Linda McDermott, FUMCFW Associate Pastor and Director of Worship.
“When we’re being honest with ourselves, it can be really hard to stay in the triumph of Easter Sunday all of the time, or even most of the time,”. “Life just isn’t that way. Sometimes, despite our best efforts to do so, the realities of life can feel too difficult to bear — even for people of Faith.” Linda says that we all struggle in one way or another, grappling with the inequities of life, large and small.
“Who among us hasn’t been misjudged or misunderstood? Who hasn’t endured physical or emotional pain?” she asks. “It’s a part of being human. We face painful endings — the end of a marriage, the death of a loved one, the betrayal of people we thought of as friends. Sometimes the darkness can feel overwhelming and hopeless — much like the Good Friday world of Jesus.”
This Lenten season during Holy Week, we’ll join together for a moving and inspiring Good Friday service with visual and performing arts that will bring added depth and meaning to the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Scripture, music, drama, liturgical dance, and art will be the means to transport you as you experience Jesus’ journey to the cross, which consists of fourteen evocative scenes.
Following the Journey of Jesus on Good Friday — the 14 Scenes of the Journey — provides us with a tangible reminder that allows us to see our own Journey mirrored in his. No, we’re probably not on our way to a cruel and humiliating death, but if we can manage to see the faithfulness in the midst of his suffering, his perseverance through a terrible ending, and courage in utter hopelessness, we will be able to gain the courage we need to face the darkness that comes into our own lives with the solid realization that God is with us in that darkness, and every end can become the building block of a new beginning.
So what are the traditional scenes of Jesus’ Journey to the Cross — and what can we learn from them?
The fourteen traditional scenes are based around the traditional “Stations of the Cross,” also called “Way of the Cross,” a Christian tradition dating back to the fifth century. Fourteen scenes depict events of Jesus’ trial, execution, and death, from praying alone the night before, to speaking to his mother and John from the cross, to his burial.
The darkness surrounding Jesus’ Journey to the Cross is merely setting the stage for us to celebrate the light. That is the hope of our faith — and the gift of Good Friday.