The palm branch crosses are an excellent reminder of the speed we move from the celebration of the palms to the lament over the passion. Holy week is a time to remember how Christ suffered and died for us. We are pilgrims on a journey retracing Jesus’ steps from the table to the tomb.
There are fourteen prayer stations, click on the first image in the gallery to get the larger view, and click through each one.
“Be Still and Know I am God”
Please enter prayerfully.
Station One – The Last Supper: The night before his death, Jesus shared a meal with his friends. Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper on the back wall of a monastery dining hall. He used the place settings of his time (1495, not the time of Christ) and painted an Italian landscape in the background of the windows. The artist may have wanted the monks who saw this picture to think about Jesus joining them at their table. Jesus has been with his followers throughout time, and his resurrection reminds us he is present and alive today: at our homes, in church, at our school, at our jobs, in our neighborhoods, and at our tables. When we gather around the communion table we remember God is with us, as we eat the bread and drink the wine, we take Christ in our life. Jesus freely gave his body and his blood so we can be forgiven. Just as he dined with his disciples Christ , he invites us to join him at his table. But when we fellowship with Jesus, we must leave different. Jesus is Emmanuel—God is with us. Spend some time reflecting how Jesus is present in your life. Draw on a napkin a time Christ was present in your life. Jesus, God with us, be present with us on this journey. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen
Station Two:-Footwashing Footwashing was a slave’s duty. A woman’s, or a child’s. Yet if you were in a private dinner of the closest to Jesus, none would be available to serve. Jesus stands, removes a garment, takes a towel, and begins to wash the dusty, dirty, broken, mangled, fungus-infected, bunioned, blistered, feet of those who call Him Rabbi. They protest. He washes their feet anyway. Did Jesus do something that was below Him? Certainly. “God Among Us” washes feet. But he also challenged the “common sense” that there are lower people who should be doing the washing of those above. From Jesus’ perspective, it is not below Him to care for His creation. That’s what Jesus had done all along-for lepers, the blind, the bleeding women-those who were outcasts, freaks, out, dirty, and other. Jesus came to break the common sense, to cast it to the rocks when it lulls us into believing that one person has earned respect at the expense of another. In prayer ponder this: “When have you made a person feel worthless?” How can you serve others like Jesus? Humble Jesus, even though you are God you washed the feet of your followers. Help us to be servants. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Three- The Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was constantly in prayer with his Father in Heaven. In his greatest hour of need he went to one of his favorite prayer spots and wrestled with God. Jesus knew crucifixion was going to be hard. He begged God if it was his will to take his cup. Jesus sweated drops of blood and was in agony over the cross. He was completely honest with his feelings and his fear. He had his friends Peter, James, and John keep watch and pray. They fell asleep three separate times. “Your spirit is willing but your flesh is so weak.” How often do we fall asleep on the job? Jesus prayed on through the night in desperation. Even while he was dreading what was coming ahead, he was obedient to God’s direction. Spend a few minutes in prayer with the Father. End by praying the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus you knew the cost, and you choose to die for us. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Four- Judas Betrays Christ: In the garden Jesus knows his time has come when Judas arrives with guards and marks Jesus with a kiss. And Jesus responds with the “Judas, you betray me with a kiss?” Judas condemned Jesus with a warm friendly greeting of the day. While I can only speculate, I doubt Jesus said this in anger or bitterness but rather genuine heartbreak. Judas was one of his close friends and followers the past three years. He watched the blind see, the lame walk, the demon oppressed freed, and the hungry crowds fed. Judas heard all the teaching and knew Jesus personality…even a few hours earlier he shared in the last supper and had his feet washed. How Judas could betray Jesus? Why did he? Was it unbelief, greed, disappointment with a peaceful King, the devil himself, or ambition? And the bigger question, would I betray Christ? Certainly our sin led him to the cross. Thankfully, Jesus always offers grace. Judas despaired, taking his own life, and I believe Jesus would have forgiven him. As followers of Christ, we move beyond initial curiosity, to belief, until we become friends with God. How is your friendship with Jesus? Do you spend time with him each day? Is there anything in the way? Lord, when we sin may we seek your forgiveness, instead of dying in despair. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Five- Peter Denies Christ: Peter was the brash, insert-foot-in-mouth, uneducated, stubborn, often thoughtless disciple…and one of Jesus’ best friends. Full of faith one moment: walking on water or being the first to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, and God….then the next moment he is asking stupid questions, trying to aid Jesus in resisting arrest by chopping off a servant’s ear (and I doubt he was aiming for the ear) and tempting Jesus to sin (to which Jesus replied “Get behind me Satan”). Now he denies even knowing Jesus three times. Simeon aka Peter—nicknamed “The Rock” by Jesus. Some rock. Thankfully Jesus sees us not just as we are, but also who we can become! And if this screw up Peter could be a disciple and one of the earliest church leaders, God can use screw ups like us. When Peter does his most memorable failure, his emotions are vivid and change rapidly from fear to anger, then to shame and grief. I think we get caught up in the same ways when we mess up. In weakness we might be afraid or quick to get angry. Then we are faced with a choice, to live in the fear or the anger or to repent, grieving over our sins, then resolving to begin again. When we ask forgiveness God is always faithful. Are you denying Christ in any areas of your life: as school, work, or relationships? Is there anything you need to repent from like Peter? Thanks for seeing us not as we are but who we can become. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen
Station Six- Jesus is Condemned to Death: Jesus was the only perfect and truly innocent person who walked the earth. The Holy Son of God was condemned guilty. Today I imagine the trial would be a media circus. Reporters on the street with the mob, with legal experts in the studio, and a marathon on Court TV, Jesus’ arrest would make front page headlines. After Jesus was arrested, he was illegally tried at night by the Sanhedrin for blashemphy. The next morning he was forced before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, so they could get a capital conviction…this time the charge is political, Jesus the King of the Jews, a threat to Caesar. Despite his weaknesses Pilate stalled in judgment. First he sent Jesus to Herod, the King of Jerusalem. Herod was disappointed Jesus would not do any miracles for him, and sent him back to Pilate. Angry mobs kept following this prisoner, a popular teacher to and fro demanding death. “Shall I release Barnabas to you or this man Jesus who has done nothing wrong?” Pilate asked. The crowd roared out “Barnabas!” I shall have him whipped as a punishment, he does not deserve death. “Crucify him!” The crowd continued. “Defend yourself Jesus.” But he was silent. Pilate got a bowl of water and washed his hands declaring I am not responsible for this innocent man’s death, and released him to the Roman soldiers to be killed. Who is guilty of Jesus’ death? Pilate for the conviction? The Roman soldiers for overseeing the execution? The religious leaders who plotted against Jesus? Judas the betrayer? The angry mob? The truth is we all played a part, when we sinned against God and man. Through the death of Jesus we can be forgiven of our most heinous sins…even for our part in Jesus’ death. Father forgive us. In our sin we are part of the angry mob yelling out Crucify Him! Jesus forgive us. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Seven- Jesus is Mocked and Beaten: The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. “Hail, king of the Jews.” Again and again, they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off his purple robe and put his own bloody clothes on him. They then led him out to crucify him. Jesus you are the King of Heaven and Earth. But you are so humble, you rode to Jerusalem on a donkey and animal of peace. You had the angels at your command, and you were powerful to do mighty miracles. But you suffered this ugly abuse and torture. You were obedient to God’s will, even when it meant pain. Jesus you are my King. Read Isaiah 53 By your stripes we are healed. Your blood was poured out for us. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Eight- Jesus Carries His Cross: Jesus carries the weight of his own cross on his shoulders. My sins cost him this humiliation. He become a human being so he could enter into our joy and our pain, and so, ultimately, he could conquer sin and death. The weight of the cross crushed down on him with every step. Jesus stumbled three times on the walk to Skull Hill, worn out, beaten, bloodied, dehydrated; Simon had to help him carry the cross. But he went onward each step for us. O Lord God Almighty, you bear the weight of the whole world-you bore the weight of all my sins, and though they wearied you, you carried them all the way to death. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Nine- Jesus Talks to Women: Jesus broke so many barriers for his day: He touched lepers, he healed on the Sabbath, and he spoke to women in public. Jesus ignored traditions that were oppressive, and he stood up to the authorities who challenged him. And now the women of Jerusalem show their gratitude by meeting Jesus along the way and crying over his fate. Earlier, Jesus prophesied that the women of Jerusalem would weep for him, and now that prophecy is fulfilled. Do we weep over the cross and the death of Jesus? O Jesus, the cross is so commonplace in our world—around necks, hanging on walls, in cemeteries. Remind me what an awful torture you had to endure, so that I, too, might weep over your death when I see a cross. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Ten- Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 Jesus stood weary and battered in front of the cross. His cloak is violently stripped from him, tearing open the whip wounds on his back. As if the indignity of the crucifixion was not enough, humiliated Jesus stands naked before the crowd in embarrassment, knowing death will come soon. Lord Jesus, you with stood the mocking and derision heaped upon you, and you faced your fate with dignity. May I too, stand with courage when all is stripped from me. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Eleven- Jesus is Nailed to the Cross: Huge, sharp spikes are hammered through Jesus’ wrists and feet-he nearly loses consciousness with each swing of the hammer. Now he is raised up and the cross drops with a thud into a hole in the ground. Jesus’ weight hangs on those spikes, and to breathe he has to pull himself up on the nails. A sponge with vinegar is struck in his mouth and soldiers below him gamble for his clothes, even as the blood, breath, and life drain from his body. In The Passion of the Christ Director Mel Gibson filmed his hands hammering the nails. Our sin crucified Christ, our sin nailed him to the tree. He went willingly and was held by the nails, but more so by his love for us. “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son that we would not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Take a moment to write down a sin down on an index card. Take a nail and hammer it to the wood beam. Jesus conquered sin on the cross. O Jesus, dear Jesus, though you never sinned, you hang there on the cross. I should be there, not you. You hang there in my place. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Twelve- Jesus Forgives Criminal: The scandalous grace of Jesus is so apparent in this moment. A no good criminal scum getting what he deserves—death on the cross. We are quick to condemn. We look at people like terrorist, child abusers, prostitutes as hopeless cases. Jesus sees them as people made in the image of God, Beloved. What does it mean to love our enemies? No one, not one person is out of the reach of God’s huge mercy, they only need to ask for it. The criminal knows he is a sinner and deserves this death. Nothing in his life merited Heaven or God’s grace. He knows it. Sometimes I think we try to earn our salvation. But like the criminal on the cross we are completely hopeless without God’s love and grace. “Jesus remember me in your kingdom.” Imagine the criminal’s surprise when he heard Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The joy he felt! The joy we feel when we realize God in his goodness forgives us and offers us a place in paradise with him. Your grace is boundless. We anticipate entering into your paradise, forever with you. We adore you, O Christ, and we
Station Thirteen- Jesus Dies on the Cross: Jesus you suffered on the cross. You experienced terrible pain for me. Perhaps the greatest pain was feeling separated from your father for the first time and carrying the sins of the world. Even in your darkest hour you loved deeply, forgiving your executors, forgiving your accusers. Breathing became heavy. Your heart became sluggish, and death was near. Jesus you cried out, “It is finished. In to your hands I commit my spirit.” And you died. The soldier pierced your side with his spear, and blood and water flowed, signifying heart failure. It is finished. All creation mourned your death, the sky went black and the earth quaked. The curtain in the temple separating the Holy of Holies was ripped in two, and God’s presence was made available for the whole world. Jesus thank you. By your death we can live. Spend some time reflecting on Jesus’ death on the cross. Write a prayer thanking God for the cross. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
Station Fourteen- Jesus is Laid in the Tomb: Your body was taken from the cross and wrapped in linen. The women who mourned your dying when back to prepare spices. They hurried back to be home before Sabbath, broken and depressed. The light of the world lies in a dark cold tomb. God in flesh is stiff and cold. The disciples scattered: scared, hopeless, and alone. God’s own son: dead. At the very moment that Jesus was closest to his eternal glory, he seemed to be farthest from it. He body was placed in a stone cold tomb, sealed with a massive rock, guarded by Roman soldiers. Death is so very final. Give me the trust, O Christ, that your plans are higher than mine. For even when all seems lost, you are still at work. Death is not the final word for you, Son of Life. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.