Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Stations of the Cross--Pondering the Mystery

"He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside,
He came to those men who knew 
Him not.
He speaks to us the same words: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. 
He commands,
And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple,
He will reveal himself in the toils, 
the conflicts, 
the sufferings 
which they shall pass in His fellowship, 
and, as an ineffable mystery,
they shall learn in their own experience Who He is."
                  --Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus

Every year as a Lenten exercise—I find myself turning to the Stations of the Cross. Pilgrims through the years in the Holy Land or in some church somewhere—can follow that twisting winding journey that led to the Cross.

Why I have pondered the mystery of those last days of Jesus' life—I do not know. Except there is a power here that pulls me. For years I spent two fine weeks in Princeton, New Jersey on a study leave. One day driving along outside town I saw in the distance a speck of a dark figure. It looked like he was carrying a cross. But I was far away and was not sure.

It must have been the next summer that I wandered down Mercer Street to the old historic Trinity Episcopal Church that dates back to 1833. Behind that church I saw a life-size statue of Jesus bearing the cross. Surely there were not two of these statues. I learned that some of the townspeople did not like that statue that stood in that field outside town. So the artist gave this beautiful piece to the Episcopal Church in Princeton.

Every summer when I was studying at the Seminary I would walk a block down the street and ponder the power of this aluminum-stainless steel Jesus bearing his cross. This work of art moves me to this day. I am not sure why except perhaps that out stretched hand beckons me to follow and follow and follow. God knows, I have strayed from the path. Yet I know deep in my heart that my business with this Jesus is far from finished. I may wander away—but I keep coming back to the Jesus who beckons me to follow him.

And so for the next weeks of Lent I am going to take the journey called the Way of the Cross. I will read the Scriptures that reflect each station. I will once again ask what do these stopping off places mean and what they still might mean. Through the years Priests and Ministers have led their flocks through these fourteen stations. And so I invite you to join me as we ponder again that journey which led to Calvary and beyond. Elizabeth Cheney’s poem, “There Is A Man on the Cross” seems to fit my meditation:

“Whenever there is silence around me
By day or by night—
I am startled by a cry.
 It came down from the cross—
The first time I heard it. I went out and searched—
And found a man in the throes of crucifixion.
And I said, ‘I will take you down,’
And I tried to take the nails out of his feet.
But he said, ‘Let them be
For I cannot be taken down
Until every man, every woman, and every
Come together to take me down.’
And I said, ‘But I cannot hear you cry.
What can I do?’
And he said, ‘Go about the world—
Tell everyone that you meet—
There is a man on the cross.’”

                                     --Roger Lovette /

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