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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Franciscan Stations of the Cross

This piece was written by Justus van Houten, friar and deacon, Society of St. Francis. Thank you, Jusus, for sharing this with us!

by (Bro) Justus VanHouten, SSF, deacon

It has often been part of my lenten observance to reflect on the fourteen stations of the cross and sometimes to write a set of devotions that can be used by others. The last time I was at St Francis Church in Koke (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea) I noticed that they had set up the stations of the cross around the church juxtaposed with a series of pictures depicting the Prayer often attributed to St. Francis. This year I decided to write a series of reflections interpreting each of the stations in light of the prayer attributed to St Francis.

1. Jesus is condemned to death. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

To become an instrument means to risk getting dirty. A garden hoe cannot stay in pristine condition if it is going to do its job. Even the precision instruments used by a surgeon can get splattered with blood. So too, in order to become an instrument of God's peace, we need to get "our hands dirty and our feet wet" by resisting the forces that undermine the peace of God. Jesus was condemned to death as he became an instrument of God's peace, forgiveness and reconciling love. For us to become instruments of peace, we, too, need to become actively involved in peacemaking in what ever way we are suited and not just be pius wishers-for-peace.

2 Jesus takes his cross Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Jesus said if we would be his disciples we must pick up our cross daily and follow him. Jesus took up his cross and by so doing revealed his great love. Jesus had already resisted escape from bodily harm when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. Now he takes up his cross knowing that this will result in his death. And yet out of love, he can do nothing else. He died for love of our love. Can we live for love of his?

3 Jesus falls the first time Where there is injury, pardon
The weight of the cross - the burden of the sin of the world - is heavy indeed. The burden of sin is truly immense. Forgiveness is the only way the burden can be lifted. When we forgive others their burden, as well as our own, is lightened. Jesus carries the weight of unforgiven sin so that by his sacrifice our sins can be pardoned. Does the weight of grudges and remembrances of past hurts weight us down? Forgiveness is the only relief.

4 Jesus meets his mother Where there is doubt, faith
When the archangel Gabriel told Mary she would bear God's son, Mary did not fully understand what that would mean. Even Simeon's prophecy, that a sword would pierce her own heart, was veiled in mystery. Now her son is being crucified like a common criminal. Surely she must have wondered what had gone wrong. And yet she stands by him. Full of grief she will later hold his lifeless body in her arms. Her faith abides even in the midst of doubt, uncertainty, seeming failure. Faith, even in the midst of doubt, conquers despair.

5 Simon helps Jesus Where there is despair, hope
Jesus is alone. True, he is surrounded by a crowd, but he is alone in his agony. And then a stranger comes to help him and he is no longer alone. An outstretched hand of welcome, some unexpected assistance and the rays of hope break through even the darkest despair. Simon helps Jesus and in so doing renews his hope.

6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Where there is darkness, light
Simon came to Jesus' help and now so does Veronica. When everything seems overcome with fear of despair, one thing can help to lighten the darkness and then we can see another and another. A single ray of light pierces the darkness, but more light dispels it. We may not always be able to be the first to respond, but like Veronica, we can come do our part to turn darkness into light.

7 Jesus falls a second time Where there is sadness, joy.
Jesus now has Simon helping him and has also been helped by Veronica and yet he still falls a second time. Life is like that. Even at the best of times it seems like we take one step backwards every time we take two or three steps forward. But we can still be joyful. Joy is not the same as happiness. Even in the midst of sorrow we can have the joy that comes from knowing and believing that God is still in control. In Gethsemane, Jesus submitted to God's will and now on this, his final journey, even though he stumbles and falls, he can carry on because he has the joy and peace that comes from surrender.

8 Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem O Divine Master
Claiming Jesus as Master or Lord and King is not just a personal action. It brings us into a community with the others making this same claim. The women of Jerusalem come to Jesus, their master, for solace: both to offer it to him and to receive it for themselves. This is community in action: the community that we all belong to by virtue of our baptism.

9 Jesus falls a third time Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
Even with the support of a community where the members help to strengthen each other, there are still times when a heavy burden can cause one to fall. Others can comfort us and give us support, but we still must bear the burden ourselves. The weight of his cross is heavy for Jesus, but it is his cross and even with the help of Simon and the solace of the women of Jerusalem he must still bear it. We, too, must bear our crosses even if we do not bear them alone.

10 Jesus is stripped to be understood as to understand
We all wear masks and hide behind them. There are things we know about ourselves we don't want others (and sometimes hope that even God won't) to know about us. And there are things we even try to hide from ourselves. Jesus is stripped of his clothes and we need to be stripped of these masks so that we can begin to see ourselves as God and other people see us. The more we understand ourselves, the more we can begin to understand others with insight and wisdom based on our knowing the truth of our own selves.

11 Jesus is nailed to the cross to be loved as to love
Here the great love of Christ is revealed. As he is nailed to the cross and as the blood flows from his wounds, we see his love. He didn't come into this world to condemn us, but to love us. By this act we learn what it means to truly love. We learn how to love from other people; we learn what true love is from God.

12 Jesus dies It is in giving that we receive
Jesus died as a ransom for many and as he is lifted up on his cross, he draws the whole world unto himself. He gives his life in order that he might receive us. We receive something to fill a lack, without a lack and with God's grace abounding there is no room to receive it. We have to give something in order to be able to receive something.

13 Jesus' body is taken from the cross it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. He became a true human being so that we might share in his divinity. In his death, we see the true cost of forgiveness. We can only be forgiven as we are able to forgive and our forgiveness of others may be nearly as costly as Christ's forgiveness of us.

14 Jesus is laid in the tomb It is in dying we are born to eternal life.
Jesus dies and is laid in a borrowed tomb. He is dead, as dead as a coffin nail. His friends will later come to properly prepare his body for burial; but instead will find him resurrected to eternal life. You cannot receive eternal life without dying to the things of this world.
See also an open journal from Br. Justus under Letter from PNG in the "Happenings" Section of Check it out!


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