Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stations of The Cross: The Online Prayer Walk, Part One


Welcome to the online version of the Lenten Prayer Walk. This was designed for those who couldn't make it to the actual prayer walk or who wanted to revisit their experience. The twelve stations are divided into four posts to make reading easier. Before you begin, take a moment to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and release the stresses of the day and the week. Try to tune out the noises and distractions in your surroundings. Clear your mind so you can hear God speaking to you through this virtual journey.

The First Station: “In the Public Eye”
Matthew 21:1-11, NIV


As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' "
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

This is where the walk starts: with palms and coats laid on the ground, and “Hosannas” in the air. The Messiah was coming to town. Many people expected a political king, coming to kick the Roman occupiers out. Just days alter, the same people were shouting “Crucify Him!” We are still fickle with the famous, loving them one minute and hating them the next. This says more about us than it does about them.
Think of some news headlines you have seen or heard recently. Spend a moment praying for those who are in the public eye. Some want to be there, but find it difficult to know what to do; others have suddenly been forced into the public view, and have no idea what to do. Do you praise or blame people in the news?Take a moment to pray for someone in the public eye who might need your prayers.

The Second Station: “Take This Cup from Me”
Luke 22:39-46, NKJV

Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation."

The night before He died, Jesus went to pray at the Mount of Olives. He cried out to God in anguish, asking Him to take the cup of suffering away. But then he added: “Yet not my will, but thine be done”. Imagine the taste of red wine vinegar on your tongue. Think of the pain of the moment and the anguish that Jesus, the person, went through. Now think of someone who is afraid today, someone who has to make an agonizing decision, someone who knows that doing the “right” thing will be difficult or dangerous. Pray for them, now.

The Third Station: “God in Chains”
Matthew 26:14-16, NIV

Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. The Temple guards arrested Jesus while He was out of public sight in the garden, and took Him to the house of the High Priest.
Touch the forefinger and thumb of your right hand together, and then interlink your left thumb and forefinger to for a chain. Keep your fingers pressed together and feel the resistance as you try to separate your hands. Think about the many prisoners in the world today. Some are guilty of crimes, but some are innocent of any actual crime. Those are being held because they expressed a belief that someone in power doesn't like, or because they are suspected of being related to someone the powers don't like. Some people feel like prisoners, trapped in their houses by illness or environmental sensitivity or fear. Ask God to help you help those you have thought of.

Stations of the Cross: The Online Lenten Prayer Walk, Part Two

The Fourth Station: “Avoiding the Issue”
Matthew 27:15-26, NIV


Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

We all want to avoid conflict, and we sometimes allow innocent people to suffer because of that. When Pilate washed his hands, it was symbolic of the fact that he was avoiding the issue. When we wash our hands, let it be a sign of repentance – that we are sorry for all those times when we did nothing and others suffered because of it. Consider a bowl of water. Life-giving, cleansing water, that we use to baptize people to free them from their sins. Imagine dipping your fingers in the water and touching some drops on your cheek to make symbolic tears, the ones shed for all the nothings you have done.
Isaiah (1:15-17) says: “Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourself clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage to the oppressed, defend the fatherless, plead the case of the widow!”

The Fifth Station: “Scarlet Robe, Crown of Thorns”
John 19:5, NKJV


Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"


The soldiers mocked Jesus. They put a robe on him, twisted thorns into a crown and rammed it on his head. “Hail! King of the Jews!” Some people say that when Jesus suffered the pain of the crown of thorns, he healed us of every evil thought we had ever had. The prophet Isaiah said: “By His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Tell God now about your struggles with some of those secret things that you have problems with. Ask Him to bring light and warmth to those places inside you that need them.

The Sixth Station: “Heavy Loads”
Luke 23:26, NKJV


Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

The cross was such a heavy load that they forced a passer-by, “Simon, a Libyan”, to carry the cross behind Jesus. Legend says that Jesus fell under the weight of the cross three times.magine picking up a stone, holding it and feeling its weight. What loads are you carrying, deep inside? Money? Work? Friends? Anger? Sex? Bullies? Illness? Fear Something that shouldn't matter, but it does to you?
Ask God to show you the worries that you need to let go of.

Stations of the Cross: The Online Lenten Prayer Walk, Part Three

The Seventh Station: “The Cross”
Matthew 27:33-37, NLT

Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A signboard was fastened to the cross above Jesus' head, announcing the charge against him. It read: "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."

Come into the place near the Cross. Lay down your burden, and give it to God.
Spend some time talking to God. He will listen to whatever you have to say.
With a smiling face, Jesus looked at His side... There He showed me a place, beautiful and delightful, enough for all humanity to rest in peace and love... And as I looked, He showed me His heart, broken in two... He helped me to understand, a little, at least, how God was teaching us poor souls to appreciate the Eternal Love of God that has no beginning or end. At the same time, our Good Lord said, most beautifully, “See how I have loved you”... (paraphrased from Dame Julian of Norwich, England).

The Eighth Station: “Father, Forgive”
Luke 23:33-35, NKJV


And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."

“Father, forgive them, they do no know what they are doing.” These are the words Jesus cried out as they were driving the nails into his hands.
Sometimes it is very hard to forgive, especially when you are still hurting. But when we are wounded by someone, Jesus is hurt, too. Consider the feel and weight of a nail in your hand. Ask God to give you the strength to forgive the was Jesus was able.

The Ninth Station: "The Body in the Tomb"
John 19:38-42, NIV


Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Later, on the Friday, once Jesus was dead, Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus' body and laid it in a tomb. Nicodemus, brought myrrh and aloes to anoint the body. Taking Jesus' body, they wrapped it with spices, in strips of linen. Imagine the fragrance of these spices, and think of them sealed into a tomb. It is hard to contemplate how the disciples must have felt, because we know the happy ending two days later. But, at that moment, Hew was gone, period. Pray for those who have lost someone recently.

Stations of the Cross: The Online Lenten Prayer Walk, Part Four

The Tenth Station: "Unless a Seed"
John 12:20-26, NKJV


Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked them, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."

Hold your hands palms up. Make a fist with one, to symbolize work, effort and strength. Leave the other open, to symbolize giving and openness. Think of the lives that have been changed because of Jesus' sacrifice. Thank Him. Thank about the sacrifices of other people who have made trying to make the lives of others better – Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and many who try to help right in our own area … thank God for them, too. Look at your own hands, and ask God to show you how to make someone else's life better. Think of various kinds of seeds: pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, lettuce seeds, and mustard seeds. Notice how small mustard seeds are compared with the others. Jesus compared faith to a mustard seed. Consider how you are a seed. Jesus said, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Do you need to die to self?

The Eleventh Station:“The Rejected Stone”
Mark 12:10-11, NKJV

Have you not even read this Scripture: "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?"

Jesus quoted the psalm, but referred to Himself. He knew that the Jewish people would reject Him, but He also knew that many people from many lands would accept Him.
Think and pray about a time when you felt rejected. Remember how hurtful it was to be passed over. Then ask God to come into the memories of that time and heal them. He knows how it felt. Pray for those who feel rejected at this moment. Ask God to show you ways to make other people feel welcome and wanted.

The Twelfth Station: “Footprints”


Our God leaves footprints
When he whispers “Peace be with you”.
His breath steams up the wineglass
And the blood beats in his veins.

His feet might be scarred
With a jagged body piercing
But the bruises are fast-fading
That the soldiers left behind.

This man is not a parable.
A story for the springtime
Or a tacked-on happy ending
Making tragedy less bad.No, this corpse lay rigid;
Frozen stiff with rigor mortis.
Bandaged and unfeeling
And then simply came to life.
A resurrection.
– Anonymous


Thank you for reading this online Lenten Prayer Walk! Please leave a comment and express your feelings about it, or email us at lentenprayerwalk@gmail.com. We want to improve this experience for future walks.
We hope you have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week and a joyous Easter season!