I had the opportunity to participate in the Stations of the Cross for the first time this past Wednesday at our church. For those who are unfamiliar, the Stations of the Cross provide you an opportunity to rehearse the events related to Jesus’ crucifixion. There are 14 stations, each one representing a scene from the passion drama Christ endured, beginning as Jesus is condemned to die and concluding as Jesus is laid in the tomb. At each station you are able to meditate on the particular scene represented by that station and lift your heart in penitential prayer, such prayer being motivated by the great compassion expressed by our Savior on His way to the cross. In short, you walk the road to the cross alongside the One who bore the cross.
It is a somber ceremony. As I walked the path that Christ walked and considered His pain and agony at each step, I could not help but mourn my own wretchedness that made such a journey necessary. At the close of each station’s meditation and prayer we recited the Trisagian, “Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us,” humbling ourselves before Almighty God to petition Him for His pardon and provision of mercy.
A stark feature of this ceremonial journey is that it does not end with the magnificent resurrection but with the mournful internment of our precious Savior’s body in the tomb. Such an ending entices you to wait eagerly for His resurrection. We know the end of the story, that death could not contain our Lord, but pausing this passionate narrative at the tomb during this penitential season of Lent compels you to contemplate the agony of Christ’s act of redemption, and it urges you to consider the depravity of your own sinful state. The resurrection is glorious, powerful, and necessary, but the Stations of the Cross force you to recall the tragic necessity of death that preceded Christ’s glorious victory over the grave.
When the final station was over and I walked away in silence, having left Christ in the tomb, I couldn’t help but feel an eagerness of anticipation for the celebration of His resurrection. I left craving Easter Sunday and left craving my own future resurrection to a new life free from the constant pull of this sin cursed flesh.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ The Collect for the First Day of Lent