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Posts by: Bethany McLellan

A Peek into Holy Week: Stations of the Cross

April 06, 2017

Traditionally, the Stations of the Cross refer to images depicting the journey Jesus walked from his condemnation and sentencing at trial to the laying of his body in the tomb. The images are customarily displayed around the sanctuary of a church, and people are encouraged to visit the stations during Lent. At each station there are prayers, reflections, and scripture read. This journey is thought to have been adapted from the practice of very early pilgrims to Jerusalem at Easter who would follow Jesus’ path on the Via Dolorosa, which was thought to be the actual path Jesus took on his way to being crucified. The Stations of the Cross developed in order to provide this experience to pilgrims around the world, no matter where they might be. The fourteen stations begin with Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and end with his followers laying his body in the tomb.

At Church of the Resurrection, we take a journey around our building together at two different times on Good Friday. An officiant and a musician lead the service. Each station is marked by a plain wooden cross. At each station we read the passage of scripture associated with that moment on Jesus’ journey and take a moment to reflect with song and prayer. Our Stations of the Cross service was designed by Pope John Paul II.

Amidst the intensely corporate pilgrimage of Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross stand out as an opportunity for a uniquely individual encounter with the Lord. With a liturgy of only two voices, no homily, and a multitude of scripture readings, this service is crafted to be a private devotional experience. We are invited into a one-on-one encounter with Jesus as we walk alongside him on the road to his crucifixion. 

As we contemplate each action that took place on Jesus’ journey to his death, we are invited to ponder the intentionality with which Jesus embraced his rescue mission. Each station takes Jesus deeper into betrayal, suffering, and death, thereby bringing us closer to the moment of our redemption. This paradox evokes an overwhelming love for our Savior as he suffers and stumbles, and it brings us hope amidst the darkness of human sin.

Join us for Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, 4/14, at 12:30pm or 2pm.


This is Part 3 of our Peek into Holy Week series. In the days leading up to Holy Week, we're taking time to prepare our hearts and minds so that we will be ready to hear the voice of the Lord. Read the next post about Good Friday here.

Photos from Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross 2016

A Peek into Holy Week: Palm Sunday

April 05, 2017

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, and it sets the tone as one of ultimate victory and joy. The service begins with celebration as we re-live the entrance of Jesus as a King into the city of Jerusalem, the historical capital of the kingdom of Israel. 

This kind of entry into the city was well-known in the ancient world. Historically, the “Roman triumph” was awarded by the Roman Senate to generals and their armies who were returning from a decisive military victory. Roman emperors would stride into the city on horseback with a giant parade, dragging along the spoils of war. As the victory party rode into the city, the crowd would join the procession behind them on the way to the temple.

Jesus made an important statement to the people when he rode into the ancient city on a donkey colt, a symbolic animal of peace. Like an emperor returning victoriously from war, he was greeted by the crowds with shouts of triumph and joy and waving palm branches, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). Jesus’ triumphal entry declares to everyone that he is King and Lord and that he will be victorious in his mission to defeat sin and death once and for all.

Like the crowds in the Gospel accounts (Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-40), during the processional we are invited to worship Jesus in all his glory. We see Jesus for who he truly is: our King. As we wave our palm branches and walk with Jesus towards Jerusalem, we experience Jesus’ eternal victory.  

The procession on this day holds special significance because it is the beginning of one liturgical movement that arcs through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. Historically, the procession begins outside the church. The palms—an ancient symbol of triumph and victory—are blessed and then waved by the crowd as the cross and Gospel book pass by. The whole congregation joins the procession and enters the sanctuary together. (These palm branches are saved and later burned to be used as ashes on Ash Wednesday of the following year.)

When we arrive with Jesus in Jerusalem there is a dramatic shift. In the service, we hear the Passion reading—the account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. The same crowd that was worshiping Jesus now turns against him, calling for his death. Again, we see ourselves in the crowd, realizing our own sin of rejecting Jesus. In the grittiness and length of the Passion reading, we realize the depth of suffering that Jesus endured for us.

The prayers of Palm Sunday focus on Jesus’ suffering. We are called to imitate Jesus in his humility and to walk with him through his suffering and death. We do this so that we might also share in his resurrection and victory—a victory that we have had a glimpse of in this service.  This invitation is not to be taken lightly. If, by faith, we embrace the call to share in Jesus’ suffering and allow the Lord to meet us, we will be changed. Whether this is your first or fiftieth journey through Holy Week, the Lord Jesus is calling you to walk this difficult and holy road with him.

Join us on Sunday, 4/9 at 9am or 11am for our celebration of Palm Sunday. Click here for full service details.


This post is Part 1 of our Peek into Holy Week blog series. Check out the full series to help you prepare to hear from God during Holy Week. Click here to read the next post about Maundy Thursday.