St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in giving that we receive.

Stations of the Cross 


station of the Cross no 1


No 1
Pilate condemns Jesus to die 





Story 
Jesus stands in the most human of places. He has already experienced profound solidarity with so many on this earth, by being beaten and tortured. Now he is wrongfully condemned to punishment by death. 
His commitment to entering our lives completely begins its final steps. He has said “yes” to God and placed his life in God’s hands. We follow him in this final surrender, and contemplate with reverence each place along the way, as he is broken and given for us.

Reading Mark 15: 1-2, 15

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.  They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. . .  And Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them, and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Prayer God our heavenly Father, to redeem the world you delivered up your only Son to be betrayed by one of his disciples and sold to his enemies; take from us, we pray, all greed and hypocrisy, and so strengthen us that, loving you above all things, we remain steadfast in our faith to the end; through him who gave his life for us, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  
Amen. (L Tuttiet)

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation As we look at the scene, we become moved by both outrage and gratitude. We look at Jesus. His face, the crown of thorns, the blood, his clothes that are stuck to the wounds on his back. Pilate washes his hands of the whole affair. Jesus’ hands are tied behind his back.
This is for all of us, that we might be free and that we all might have eternal life. 
As the journey begins we ask to be with Jesus, to follow in his journey.
                      

Station of the Cross No 2



No 2
Jesus accepts his Cross





Story
 Jesus is made to carry the cross on which he will die. It represents 
the weight of all our crosses. What he must have felt as he first took it upon his shoulders! With each step he enters more deeply into our human experience. He walks in the path of human misery and suffering, and experiences its crushing weight.

Reading Mark 15: 16-20

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace . .  and they clothed him in a purple cloak, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. . .  After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him out to crucify him. 


Prayer Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters and did not hide his face from shame: give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time, with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Meditation We contemplate the wood of the cross. We imagine how heavy it is. We can reflect upon all it means that Jesus is carrying it.
We look into his eyes. It’s all there. 
This is for me. So we place ourselves with him in this journey, in its anguish, in his freedom and surrender, in the love that must fill his heart.
With sorrow and gratitude, we continue the journey.
Moved by the power of his love, we are drawn to him and express our love in the words that come to us all.

Station of the Cross No3



No 3 
Jesus falls for the first time




Story The weight is unbearable. Jesus falls under it. How could he enter our lives completely without surrendering to the crushing weight of the
life 
of so many on this earth! He lays on the ground and knows the experience of weakness beneath unfair burdens. He feels the powerlessness of wondering if he will ever be able to continue. He is pulled up and made to continue.

Reading Isaiah 53: 4-5

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.


Prayer O Lord and Master Jesus Christ, as you carried your cross, so you have carried our griefs and borne our sorrows; be with us when we are weak and vulnerable, that through your frailty we may find courage and strength.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Meditation We see the weakness in his eyes. We look at his whole body and see the exhaustion. As we see him, there on the ground, then being roughly pulled up, we know he will always understand our fatigue and our defeats. This is for us. In grief and gratitude we want to let him remain there. As we watch him stand again and gain an inner strength, we accept all his love and express our thanks. 
                                     
                                                

Station of the Cross No 4




No 4
Jesus meets his Mother Mary





Story
 Jesus’ path takes him to a powerful source of his strength to continue. All his life, his mother had taught him the meaning of the words, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” Now they look into each other’s eyes. How pierced- through her heart must be! How pained he must be to see her tears! Now, her grace-filled smile blesses his mission and stirs his heart to its depth. Love and trust in God bind them together.

Reading John 19: 25-27a

Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, and Mary Magdelene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother ‘Woman, here is your son’.  Then he said to the disciple ‘Here is your mother.


Prayer A song of St Anselm
Jesus. like a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; through your gentleness we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives life to the dead, your touch makes sinners righteous. Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us; in your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness, for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.  Anselm (1109 AD)
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation As we watch them in this place along the way, we should contemplate the strength that a Mother's love gives. She knows and understands the sorrow in every mother’s heart who has lost a child to tragedy or violence. We look at the two of them very carefully and long for such love  peace and understanding.
This is for us, such incredible freedom, the availability of a servant.

Station of the Cross No 5



No 5
Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the Cross




Story Jesus even experiences our struggle to receive help. He is made to experience the poverty of not being able to carry his burden alone. He enters into the experience of all who must depend upon others to survive. He is deprived of the satisfaction of carrying this burden on his own.

Reading Mark 15: 21

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross: it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.


Prayer 
Lord Jesus, you were worn down by fatigue: be with those from whom life drains all energy. You needed the help of a passing stranger; give us the humility to receive help from others. To you, Jesus, weighed down with exhaustion and in need of help, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation  We look into his face and imagine his struggle, his weariness and fragility, his impotence. We see how he looks at Simon, with utmost humility and gratitude.
This is for me. We feel anguish and gratitude. We express our thanks that he can continue this journey. That he has help. That he knows our inability to carry all our burdens alone.

Station of the Cross No 6



No 6
Veronica wipes the face 
of Jesus




Story
 
Jesus’ journey is at times brutal. He has entered into the terrible experiences of rejection and injustice. He has been whipped and beaten. His face shows the signs of his solidarity with all who have ever suffered injustice and vile, abusive treatment. He encounters a compassionate, loving disciple who wipes the vulgar spit and mocking blood from his face. On her veil, she discovers the image of his face – his gift to her, and, for us to contemplate forever.

Reading Sirach 6:14-17
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he that has found one has found a treasure.There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him. Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright, for as he is, so is his neighbour also.

Prayer 
Lord Christ, whose face was wiped by Veronica your friend, wipe away the tears of those who watch with the suffering and the dying, that the brightness of your face may shine upon them and show them your grace and peace.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation What does the face of Jesus hold for us all? What do we see as we look deeply into his face? Can we try to comfort the agony and pain we see there? Can we embrace him, with his face so covered with his passion?
The veil we behold is a true icon, a gift of himself. This is for all of us. In wonder and awe, we behold his face now wiped clean, and see the depth of his suffering in solidarity with all flesh.

Station of the Cross no 7




        No 7
Jesus falls for the second time






Story Even with help, Jesus stumbles and falls to the ground. In deep exhaustion he stares at the earth beneath him. “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.” He has seen death before. Now he can feel the profound weakness of disability and disease and aging itself, there on his knees, under the weight of his cross.

Reading Psalm 38, 6-7, 21-22

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all day long I go around mourning. I am utterly spent and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. . . Do not forsake me, O Lord, O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me,

O Lord, my salvation.

Prayer God of compassion, you regard the forsaken and give hope to the crushed in spirit. Hear those who cry to you in distress, that they may be joined to the company of those who raise a song of thanksgiving to your glory, 
O Father, through the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Psalm Prayer 142)
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation We contemplate Jesus brought very low. As we behold him there, on the ground, with all the agony taking a heavy toll on him, we let our hearts go out to him. We store up this image in our hearts, knowing that we will never feel alone in our suffering or in any diminishment, with this image of Jesus on the ground before us. This is for all of us.

Station of the Cross No 7



No 8
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem





Story The women of Jerusalem, and their children, come out to comfort and thank him. They had seen his compassion and welcomed his words of healing and freedom. He had broken all kinds of social and religious conventions to connect with them. Now they are here to support him. He feels their grief. He suffers, knowing he can’t remain to help them more in this life. He knows the mystery of facing the separation of death.

Reading Luke 23: 27-28

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him.

But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children’.


Prayer Lord Jesus, the women of Jerusalem wept for you: move us to tears at the plight of the broken in our  world. To you, Jesus, the King of Peace,                                    who wept for the city of peace, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. 
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

Meditation We look at their faces so full of love and gratitude, loss and fear. We contemplate what words might have passed between them. We remember all his tender, compassionate, merciful love for us all. I place myself with these women and children to support him. This is for all of us. So, let this scene stir up in us our deep gratitude.

Station of the Cross No 9



                       No 9
   Jesus fall for the third time
                                              




Story This last fall is devastating. Jesus can barely proceed to the end. Summoning all this remaining strength supported by his inner trust in God, Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross. His executioners look at him as a broken man, pathetic yet paying a price he deserves. They help him up so he can make it up the hill of crucifixion.

Reading Hebrews 4: 15-16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Prayer
 Lord Jesus Christ, may the tears shed in your earthly life be balm for all who weep; may the prayers of your pilgrimage strengthen all who suffer.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Meditation We pause to contemplate him there, on the ground: The utter brokenness that makes us whole; the surrender that gives us life. We pause to experience and receive how completely he loves us all. He is indeed completely poured out for us. As we treasure this gifted experience, we know that this is for us.

Station of the Cross no 10




No 10
Jesus is stripped of his clothes





Story
 Part of the indignity is to be crucified naked. Jesus is completely stripped of any pride. The wounds on his back are torn open again. He experiences the ultimate vulnerability of the defenseless. No shield or security protects him. As they stare at him, his eyes turn to heaven.

Reading Mark 15: 22-25

Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  . .   And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

Prayer Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy, we may place at his feet all that we have and all that we are; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you
, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation We pause to watch the stripping. We contemplate the toll that is taken from him and how he now faces his death with such nakedness. We reflect upon how much of himself he has revealed to us, holding nothing back.
As we look at him in all his humility, we should know that this is a gift for us all.

Station of the Cross no 11




No 11
Jesus is nailed to the cross





Story Huge nails are hammered through his hands and feet to fix him on the cross. He is bleeding much more seriously now. As the cross is lifted up, the weight of his life hangs on those nails. Every time he struggles to pull himself up to breathe, his ability to cling to life slips away.

Reading Mark 15: 26-32

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read ‘The King of the Jews’.  And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!

Prayer O Lord our Saviour and our God, whom nails could not hold to the Cross, but only love; grant that we, who have received the fullness of your love, may be ready to bear before the world the marks of your passion; or you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God,  world without end. 
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation As we make ourselves watch the nails being driven through his flesh, and we watch his face, we should contemplate the completeness of his entry into our lives. Can there be any pain or agony he would not understand?
This is for us, as he is nailed to a cross to forever proclaim liberty to captives. Through his pain, comes our freedom.

Station of the Cross no 12



No 12
Jesus dies on the cross







Story Between two criminals, a mocking title above his head, with only Mary and John and Mary Magdalene to support him, Jesus surrenders his last breath: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Reading Mark 15: 33-34, 37-39

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  . . 

Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s son!’

Prayer Lord Jesus Christ, you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation: give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King, to the glory of God the Father. (Post Communion for Palm Sunday)
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation We stand there, at the foot of the cross, side by side with all of humanity, we behold, our salvation. We carefully watch and listen to all that is said. And then, we experience the one who gives us all life, pass from life to death, for me. I console Mary and John and Mary. And let them in turn console me.
This is the hour of his death and the start of our eternal life and freedom.

Station of the Cross no 13


No 13
Jesus is taken down from the cross





Story What tender mourning! Jesus’ lifeless body lies in his mother’s arms. He has truly died...A profound sacrifice, complete.

Reading Mark 15: 40-43

There were also women looking on from a distance, among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee, and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Prayer Jesus, Son of God, our true and only Saviour; you died like a criminal on the cross; but you are a God who forgives. Once broken, helpless and in pain, you are God in whom there is hope. You have shown us a love beyond words: give us your forgiveness, hope and love.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation We behold this scene at the foot of the cross. We contemplate touching, caressing his body. We remember all his hands have touched, all who have been blessed by his warm embrace. We should pause to let the enormity sink in. He knows the mystery of death. He has fallen into God’s safe, caring hands.
That we might love as we have been loved. We pour out our hearts to the God of all mercies.

Station of the Cross no 14


No 14 
Jesus is placed in the tomb





Story They take the body of Jesus to its resting place. The huge stone over the tomb is the final sign of the permanence of death. In this final act of surrender, who would have imagined this tomb would soon be empty or that Jesus would show himself alive to his disciples, or that they would recognize him in the breaking of bread? Oh, that our hearts might burn within us, as we realize how he had to suffer and die so as to enter into his glory, for us.

Reading Mark 15: 43-47

Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.  Then he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Prayer Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who at this evening hour lay in the tomb and so hallowed the grave to be a bed of hope for all who put their trust in you; give us such sorrow for our sins, which were the cause of your passion, that when our bodies lie in the dust, our souls may live with you for ever.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation We should pause to contemplate this act of closure on his life. In solidarity with all humanity, his body is taken to its grave.
As we stand for a moment outside this tomb. This final journey of his life has shown us the meaning of his gift of himself for us all.
This tomb represents every tomb we stand before with fear, in defeat, struggling to believe it could ever be empty.

In the fullness of faith in the Risen One we express our
gratitude for this way of the cross. we ask Jesus, whose
hands, feet and side still bear the signs of this journey, to grant us the grace we all need to take up our own cross to be a servant of our own mission in life and of the way forward into glory.

Closing Prayer
Yesterday I was crucified with Christ;
All          today I am glorified with him.
Yesterday I was dead with Christ;
All           today I am sharing in his resurrection.
Yesterday I was buried with him;
All         today I am waking with him from the sleep of death

Amen