Station 1 - In the Garden of Gethsemane Imagine yourself in the Garden that night. Imagine the joy coming from the remarkable events you have witnessed. Imagine your weariness and trepidation after the Passover meal where the master told us he would die. Consider the troubled night Jesus had as he threw himself into prayer. Touch the leaves, feel the moonlight, hear the peaceful sounds of night. Can you stay awake? Can you be attentive to the one you follow, the one you love? Can you support the one who has given you so much? Will you allow God’s will to be done?
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Station 2 - Jesus Betrayed and Denied What would it have been like to travel with Jesus as the disciples, seeing his miracles, hearing his sermons, sharing his meals? Would we have been thrilled at the chance? Or upset that he was not willing to take up the sword and overthrow the authorities? Would we have stuck by him through thick and thin, or saved our own skin? How do we betray our lord and savior today? How do we flee from his teachings? How do we deny the messiah? Take time at the fire to consider how you would have responded in the place of Judas, Peter, and the other disciples.
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Station 3 - Jesus Judged by the Sanhedrin and Pilate Fear motivated many events of the Passion. The Sanhedrin feared Jesus. He was gaining a following, challenging their authority, and possibly calling down the wrath of the Roman Empire. Pilate was afraid of a riot, of stirring up a volatile situation in this large city. So he gave the crowd what they wanted and washed his hands of the whole ordeal. How many actions do we take out of fear? How often do we sit in judgment over our fellow sisters and brothers? How often do we sit in judgment over the Holy One, thinking we know better? How often do we wash our hands, denying any responsibility? Take the gavel and pound it three times. Dip your hands in the water and dry them. Consider those who were willing to pass judgment on the messiah.
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Station 4 - Scourging and the Crown of Thorns Hold the whip in your hands. Touch the thorns (careful, they’re sharp). We humans have found so many ways to hurt each other. Though these might not be the tools we use today, how do we continue to inflict pain on others and on creation? How do we mock others? In what ways do we strip others of their dignity?
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Station 5 - Jesus Receives the Cross Here is the cross, a humiliating, excruciating, tortuous way of execution. After being condemned by the religious and imperial authorities, Jesus, an innocent man, made his way to Golgotha bearing the instrument of his death. What would it be like to drag this cross to the place of your death? Would you be willing to take up this cross and follow Christ? Would you have the strength to make such an arduous journey? Would the way we live lead to our conviction of being a Christian?
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Station 6 - Jesus Falls Tradition speaks of Jesus falling on the way to the cross. Our scriptures tell us stories of the suffering servant who takes on the sins of the world. After being beaten and then forced to carry a heavy wooden beam, in addition to those sins of the world, which one of us would be able to make such a journey without stumbling? Feel the rocks, their hardness jabbing into your skin. As you are able, kneel in them to feel the stones on your knees as you fall. Imagine the pain of falling, the fear that we might not make it, the weariness we hope will not overtake us.
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Station 7 - Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus There you are, a bystander, just there to see who is being executed. Then the guards force you to take on this cross yourself. Circumstances are not always in our control. Sometimes we must bear a cross whether we like it or not. Every now and then we take on a role we were not prepared for. Simon, a father of two, was tasked with helping the Son of God to his death. Feel this wooden beam. Try to lift it. Would you be able to shoulder this burden? Would you be able to carry it for one you loved? Would you ease the burden of a perfect stranger? How would you feel being asked to hasten the death of another?
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Station 8 -Daughters of Jerusalem While the Pharisees and Sadducees thought they were ridding themselves of a rabble rouser and rebel, a true and violent rebellion was a short time away. Then Jerusalem and those of the Jewish faith were decimated, destroyed. Jesus tells the women of Jerusalem not to weep for him and those who were about to die, but to weep for those who continue to die, who continue to face injustice, who continue to be outcast and ostracized. Observe the tears before you. Would you add to them as you consider the tragedies still faced by those who live today? While we try to honor Jesus with our tears, let us not forget those who are suffering, who are oppressed, and who are faced with death.
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Station 9 - The Stripping of his Garments Do we gamble over worthless items? Do we try to take advantage of any situation, no matter how ruthless or degrading? Feel these rough clothes and recall how Jesus rarely had more than the shirt on his back, and yet he was able to change the world. Will you be consumed with the spoils of his death, or are you willing to preach the gospel with just the shirt on your back?
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Station 10 - Nailed to the Cross Who nailed Jesus to the cross? Of course, Roman soldiers did. But so did the religious authorities. So too the crowd that yelled crucify him. So too anyone who refused to stand up for Jesus. Take a nail and hammer it into the wood. Consider the pain our savior suffered, not in vain, but so that we might truly live.
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Station 11 - Mary and John Beneath the Cross Even with his life draining away, still Jesus cared for those he loved. Jesus expanded the concept of family, expanded on how love was to be shared among his disciples. Even with his dying breath he commands us to love one another. Look at this cross and remember who you are called to love. How might your love extend to others? Who would you include in your family of Christ?
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Station 12 - The Sour Wine Amidst the agony and suffering of crucifixion, no wonder Jesus cried out in pain and anguish. An observer thinks cheap wine will help. No amount of smelly spirits can overcome the pain of death. How do our efforts to comfort others fall short? Do we ignore what the dying are trying to tell us and seek simple solutions to quiet them? Smell the sour wine and consider the times where we could have done more. Reflect on the suffering of others and the questions they raise. Do not be in a hurry to try anything in order to quiet them down. Instead, listen, be a presence, and share your love.
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Station 13 - The Death of Jesus Sometimes immense tragedy must occur before we open our eyes like the centurion did that day, as he saw Jesus’ blood flowing down. Are we willing to open ourselves to seeing the divine at work in the world around us? Are we willing to go to the troubled spots, the edges of society, the places of death, to witness to the love of God? We are still surrounded by tragedies this day. May we be open to seeing the Almighty at work even in the midst of them.
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Station 14 - Jesus in the Tomb Welcome to the tomb where Jesus was laid down. Here is where hope was buried. Here is where the Good News was shut off by a great stone. Consider all the steps it took to get to this point. Imagine the sadness that overwhelmed those who experienced that terrible Friday. Yet, even through their grief those with resources took on what needed to be done. Some of those who followed Jesus throughout his ministry remained at his side even after death. Faith was still present as the tomb was filled. You may linger for a while, but remember, the story does not end here. On the third day, return so we may hear the Good News.