Walking the Way of the Cross – Reflection for 7 APR 2019
For many years I brushed through Holy Week just like any other week. I skipped from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday straight to the triumphant exit from the tomb on Easter without ever really considering what happened in between. I probably saw my faith journey in this way as well, proclaim Jesus as King and everything is good because the tomb is empty. That superficial faith served me well until everything was not good. That faith was unable to speak into sadness, pain, suffering, and failure. The rhythms of Holy Week were essential to disrupting my superficial faith and developing a deeper my faith.
The first disruption comes on Palm Sunday. Our liturgy begins by celebrating the triumphal entry with palms and hosannas, but it concludes with the death of Jesus on the Cross as we read the entire passion account. No longer can I simply skip from the triumph to triumph. I must now consider the suffering and death that intervenes.
We will next celebrate Maundy Thursday as we remember Jesus washing the disciples feet, giving a new command to love as He loved, and instituting the Lord’s Supper. In different years, each of these remembrances has disrupted and deepened my faith. From the washing of the feet, I recognized my own need to receive the love of Christ even when it made me uncomfortable. From the new commandment, I recognized the ways that I had withheld love from those to whom Christ extended love. In the Lord’s Supper, I heard in the depth of my heart that Christ had given His body for my life.
As powerful as these services are, walking the Station of the Cross on Good Friday is perhaps the most disruptive and deepening service of Holy Week for me. As we walk together in prayer from the presentation of Christ before Pilate to the placement of Christ in the tomb, we are confronted by sadness, pain, suffering, and failure as women weep, as Jesus falls, as Simon of Cyrene is called from the crowd to bear the Cross, as Jesus dies and is placed in His mother’s arms. As I walk the Way of the Cross, I recognize that Jesus Immanuel, God with Us, is not just a proclamation for the joy of Christmas. I come to know that Jesus is also with us in the midst of our sadness, pain, suffering, failure. As I consider all of the ways in which Jesus could have “fixed” instead of “being with,” I recognize the ways in which my prayer tends to be of the “God fix this” variety rather than the “God may I know you in this” type. I recognize the ways that I miss the presence of Christ with me as I wait for the solution I desire.
I begin to see in the people my own needs and desires. As Jesus falls and the Cross is pressed upon Simon of Cyrene, I recognize the ways in which I resist and resent asking for the help of others. I recognize the ways that I see falling as failing rather than seeing getting up as resilient. As Veronica comes from the crowd to wipe the face of Jesus and sees the image of Christ on her handkerchief, I begin to realize the ways that the face of Christ is revealed in small acts of mercy. I begin to pray to see Christ revealed in the face of the poor and the outcast. I pray for the humility to receive this gift from those I think I am helping.
While we will not sit the Easter Vigil together as a congregation, I invite you to consider this service as a private devotion. I pray that in this Holy Week, you will receive what the Lord has prepared for you to disrupt and deepen your faith.