The Way of the Cross


As we enter the season of Lent, I want to remind you of a liturgy we offer to help mark this holy time, The Way of the Cross or The Stations of the Cross. The practice of walking in the footsteps of Jesus' last hours before he was crucified goes back at least until the fourth century. After legalizing Christianity, the emperor Constantine set up official markers along the path that Jesus walked from Jerusalem to Calvary, and the Church's traditions hold that Jesus' mother Mary walked that path daily throughout her own life. Each year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims descend upon Jerusalem during Lent and especially Holy Week, to walk that same road.

While most of us cannot do that literally, the Church has developed a way for us to walk those steps with Jesus wherever we are. The Way of the Cross is a short devotional service. We process around the inside of the church building, stopping along the way before plaques bearing a cross and a carved image representing the particular moment each station marks. Our set of Stations were made for us by Scott Woodside in 1989. One of the most striking ones to me is the first one, which bears a hand (Pilate's) with the thumb pointing down, in a universal symbol of condemnation. At each Station, we read a prayer, a short passage of scripture, and a very brief meditation. The whole service lasts about 25 minutes.

I hope you'll come, at least once. The real power in this service, though, lies in its repetition. That's why we offer it not just on Good Friday but on every Friday in Lent, beginning with this one. Consider adding this service to your other Lenten observances; you may be surprised how powerful it can be.