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Scriptural Stations of the Cross: An Explanation

January 4, 2013

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Why do the Scriptural Stations of the Cross?

I was sitting in an urban ministry class on worship where the professor extolled the virtues of “non-traditional” services that would incorporate art, music, and perhaps even movement into the worship experience.

“Why does it have to be non-traditional?” I wondered. The possibilities around the Stations of the Cross (also known as the Way of the Cross, or the Via Dolorosa) suddenly took on a new meaning for me.

In the Stations of the Cross, participants process along a path with stations that celebrate events in Christ’s Passion and death while singing, praying and reading scripture. The stations themselves can be very simple—merely numbers on the wall as they are on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem—or they can be works of art created by believers for believers.

The main problem was that my class was being offered by a conservative evangelical seminary. The traditional Stations of the Cross are compelling, but a number of them focus on events that are not to be found in scripture, and that would put off most of my fellow students.

So it was with pleasure that I discovered the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, which use the same format but commemorate events that are found in the New Testament. Initiated by Pope John Paul II, this set of stations is traditional enough to appeal to Christians with a Catholic background, and is biblical enough to appeal to those with a more Protestant background. In fact, my hope is that these stations “speak” to all Christians.

I came to realize that this form of devotion dovetailed with one of my major prayer concerns—peace in the Holy Land. So I resolved to create a set of photos, meditations, and prayers that would bring all of these pieces together.

The photos come from my visits to Israel, especially to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and include various photos of pieces of the separation wall. The meditations are drawn from my experiences there. When this is all compiled together into a coherent whole, the prayers will probably be drawn largely from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer but with additions from a variety of sources.

While there are deep divisions among Christians over what our relationship should be to the state of Israel, I hope that there is no division over the fact that we are all called to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).

Comments, criticisms, and kudos are always welcome on these postings.

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