The Stations (or Way) of the Cross are a mini-pilgrimage; a set of prayers and meditations which help us to remember and share in the Passion (suffering) and Death of Jesus Christ. This meditation on the death of Our Lord is undertaken by individuals and groups throughout the whole year. However, it is a particularly popular devotion during the season of Lent.
During the early centuries of the church, Christians traveled to Jerusalem to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Pilgrims traveling to the site of Christ’s crucifixion often walked one particular route (known from the 16th century as the Via Dolorosa).
Following the ‘Way of the Cross’, they would stop at regular intervals to pray and to remember key moments of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. During the Middle Ages, as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land became difficult, imitation Ways of the Cross spread across Europe.
The number of stations (scenes) marking Jesus’ journey to the Cross has varied considerably over the centuries. Starting as an outdoor devotion on roads leading to a church or shrine, by the end of the 17th-century sets of images had found their way inside religious houses and churches. In 1731 Clement XII fixed the number at 14 and that has remained the custom since then, although the scenes and prayers continue to change. The addition of a 15th station, the Resurrection of the Lord, has grown in popularity during the twentieth century.
For this Online Good Friday, we will simplify down to seven.
Move through these at your own pace, as an individual, couple or family. There's no one, right way to meditate on Jesus' journey to the Cross this Good Friday. Walk through it with your children, or wait until they've gone to bed. Sit on your couch, walk the virtual "stations" in your backyard or around your block.
You can also do this as a Tenebrae (Latin for "shadows") service- setting up 7 candles and blowing out one at each "station."
But whichever way you choose, spend some time this Good Friday considering the suffering of Jesus... for you.
As you begin, pray…
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
I pause from the cares and concerns of my daily life to spend a few moments reflecting upon the events surrounding the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
As I do, fill me with Your Spirit,
increase my faith and deepen my hope in the resurrection.
I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen
Lord Jesus, Word made flesh,
Light for our dark world,
God come to save us,
Thank You that You became a servant for our sake, and endured the scorn and condemnation of Your own creation to save us.
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You were despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces You were despised, and we esteemed You not.
Surely You took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.
You were pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon You and by Your wounds we are healed.
Jesus, was it the weight of the cross or the weight of the world on Your shoulders that You carried? How heavy were our sins...
That You would endure all of this for my sake fills me with gratitude and awe at the price You paid.
Can God fall, a mighty God,
Whose hands uphold all that is?
remember how weak we are,
remember our helplessness,
remember our human frailty,
and come to our assistance.
They divided Your garments
and cast lots for Your clothes.
Stripped of all dignity,
you had nothing of your own.
But in your nakedness and suffering, O Lord,
You clothe us in Your mercy
which is rich beyond words.
God's Servant, crushed in sorrow, pierced for our offenses! Shall we not stand watching, Lord, mourning the sins You bear, rejoicing in the pardon You gain for us?
Jesus, we see Your death in our place, the price paid for our sin and our forgiveness... and we are silenced.
We observe Good Friday, because as followers of the one who came to give His life as a ransom for many, we recognize that what happened on the cross 2000 years ago, and in the tomb the Sunday morning after was THE pivotal event of human history- that moment when God began to set all things right and make all things new.
We observe Good Friday because the death of Christ, while brutal, torturous and a grave injustice, was also, at the very same time, the means by which God was moving in human history to bring salvation to any who want it.
And we observe Good Friday because we are forgetful... we forget the great price God paid for our wholeness and healing. We forget that it was by His stripes that we are healed- that He was punished for our iniquity, and it was our sins He carried on His shoulders up to Calvary and onto the Cross.
Before we can begin to see the cross as something done *for* us, we have to see it as something done *by* us.
So we remember tonight as we read the Story.
We remember tonight as we pray and contemplate.
We remember tonight as He told us to remember- by coming to this table and sharing this bread and cup together as a remembrance of Him.
On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”
St Paul said, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.”
This table is very much a picture, not just of the sacrifice of Christ for us, but of that table someday all who follow Him will sit at- the Table of God. And as we come, we recognize our place at the Table is due to no righteousness of our own or what we have done, but rather- the righteous life and atoning death of Christ- what HE has done.
Tonight we come to the Table recognizing that as Jesus laid down His life, as He gave His Body and Blood for us, He opened the way for forgiveness and relationship between us and God. We come to say we remember. We come to say we accept what He offers. We come to say thank you.
“Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against You
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved You with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in Your will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of Your Name. Amen.”
Take the Bread and the Cup.