Once again it’s that time of year. Spring has overcome Old Man Winter’s half-hearted attempt at a season, the grass has been mowed twice, and the mosquitoes have been congregating for their annual convention on and around our front porch light and azalea bush. It’s a time of rejuvenation, of wonderment and splendor. A time when your landscaping, if you’re so lucky to have not killed it at some point or another, flourishes, seemingly out of nothing. As T.S. Eliot wrote in The Waste Land:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Unfortunately, my landscape does not flourish. It’s dead, Jim.
It’s also the time of year where the church congregates in overwhelming unity at the foot of the Cross. Though the Body is visibility divided into a massive number of denominations, by and large we all agree on one thing: that the holy, sinless Son of God was arrested, beaten, and humiliated, and was crucified, died, placed in a tomb, and three days later, rose again. Sometimes you just have to focus on the big picture, and I think this time of year, Holy Week and Easter Sunday, is our big picture that unites us.
Recently, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to be open to new things, or at least to not opposing them quite so ferociously. Just today I had an iced chai latte rather than a hot one. It wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but that’s one more thing I can scratch off the “Things I Never Thought I’d Try But Probably Should” list. This year I’m going to scratch one more thing off that list. Perhaps you already have.
Since the entirety of my churchtastic life has been bathed in Restoration Movement theology, there are a fair few activities that I’ve never participated in. While I am comfortable in my theology, I don’t think that’s any reason to not explore various ways to enhance my spiritual life in ways that can also enhance my understanding of the nature of Jesus how He wants us to relate to both him and the world. I can’t think of any better time of year than when we remember the events surrounding His death, and the glory of the resurrection. One way I’m planning on doing that is by devoting time and prayer to the “Biblical Way of the Cross.”
I don’t want to spend a heap of time comparing the two, but if you’re not familiar with it, the “Biblical Way of the Cross” is a protestant-friendly version of the “Stations of the Cross,” as it excludes extra biblical accounts, such as Jesus’ encounter with Saint Veronica and his meeting Mary along the path to Calvary. Put together, it looks like this:
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, (Matthew 26:36-41)
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested, (Mark 14: 43-46)
- Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin, (Luke 22: 66-71)
- Jesus is denied by Peter, (Matthew 26: 69-75)
- Jesus is judged by Pilate, (Mark 15: 1-5, 15)
- Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns, (John 19: 1-3)
- Jesus takes up His cross, (John 19: 6, 15-17)
- Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross, (Mark 15: 21)
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, (Luke 23: 27-31)
- Jesus is crucified, (Luke 23: 33-34)
- Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief, (Luke 23: 39-43)
- Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other, (John 19: 25-27)
- Jesus dies on the cross, (Luke 23: 44-46)
- Jesus is laid in the tomb. (Matthew 27: 57-60)
As the weekend draws near, take some time to reflect on the goings on during the last few days of Jesus’ life. If you have some time, read through an entire Gospel. Read John 17, where we can see some of the things that were at the forefront of Jesus’ mind shortly before his arrest. If you really want to detach from the business of life, if for only a moment, reflect on the stations of the Biblical Way of the Cross. If you would like some visual stimuli, Reform Worship has some wonderful imagery, along with prayers and scriptures, detailing each of the stations. Whatever you do, remember that our hope remains in the resurrection and in the living Christ who through love and grace takes away the sin of the world. He is Risen.