|photo by Stephen Snodgrass|
And so we come to these 14 Stations. Why do we do this? And why have pilgrims through the years kept doing this exercise of pain and struggle?
I do not know except here we pause and remember. And in remembering somehow it touches some of our pain, loss, hurt and simple need. This is not an escape. To stand by these Stations is anything but an escape. We find ourselves here. We find suffering here. We find in this Via Dolorosa--this way of sorrows maybe, just maybe the essence of our faith.
So here we stand at the First Station. This story must have been important--for all four Gospels tell it in their own way. After the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane and arrest and beatings--Jesus is dragged before Pilate. He has not slept. He has endured their torture. And Jesus stands swaying before Pilate, the Governor.
What we have here is power and powerlessness. What we find in this scene is the establishment and the rule of law. Pilate represents Rome and authority and the way things are. But there is more here than Rome and the Governor Pilate and all they represent. Jesus stands quietly before this important official. Blood streaks down his face. His hands are bound. He is absolutely powerless. Could this possibly be the new order?
First we find the old order. The exploitative system that crucified 500 Jews many days just to underline who was in charge. Slavery was rampant. The people--especially the poor--were overtaxed and their basic needs ignored. While up on the hill behind fences and stone walls the elite lived and prospered. Sound familiar?
Pilate is nervous and testy. He does not want to be here. He does not want to deal with these despised Jews. His assignment would be like sending an ambassador to Afghanistan. They had had four Roman governors in twenty years. Nobody wanted this assignment.
|from contemplative imaging|
Pilate longed to be back in Rome where it was safe and life was not quite so complicated. But we do not always get our way. The Governor tried to whisk Jesus away. This was not in his job description, he muttered. But if this decision about the Jew-Jesus turned sour Rome would not look the other way. And he would be sent further into some even worse back-water place further from Rome and safety.
Before the Governor stands Jesus. No power. Just an outsider who some really thought was the Messiah. Messiah? Blood-streaked. Helpless. Weaponless? But four Gospels tell the story that Pilate in all his trappings symbolize the old order. And standing before him--is a new order that Rome would never understand. A way of life without violence. That did not lean on the world's power. That scorned everything that seemed precious: Violence. Hatred. People pitted against people: a Prince of Peace? What kind of joke was this. A vision of a peaceable kingdom where lions and lambs would lie down together. A world where every man and woman would sit under their own fig tree and never be afraid again. The Governor thought: This is their Messiah? You've got to be kidding.
Pilate leans forward and asks the prisoner: What is truth? He is furious that this dirty Jew, who in his insolence doesn't even answer. Sometimes silence is more powerful than speech.
Look up at this Station. Pilate represents the old order. Power and war and violence and hatred. Injustice especially to all the little people--the voiceless. And the new order. Faith...hope...love. Even to one's enemies. One who bids us to put down our swords and follow yet another way. Love one another--even our enemies.
We still need this first Station of the Cross. For the old order is still with us. And the new order, like those little green tendrils of spring remind us there really is another kind of kingdom. One not made with hands. A kingdom so strange and unlikely that we find wisdom and joy and life abundant that no earthly power can hold back nor ever understand.
--rogerlovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com