Sunday, 3 April 2022

Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2022: 3 April 2022 (Station 1)

Jesus is condemned to death … Station 1 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Passiontide begins today, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (3 April 2022), and in the past this Sunday has been known as Passion Sunday. I got back back to Stony Stratford yesteday having spent two weeeks in hospital in Milton Keynes and Oxofrd following a stroke on 18 March, I have been missed in church for the past two consecutive Sundays, and I hope to be back in church in Stoney Stratford this morning.

Before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning (3 April 2022) for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I have been reflecting on the Psalms each morning. But during these two weeks of Passiontide, Passion Week and Holy Week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford, and the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of Ireland;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Station 1, Jesus is condemned to death:

In an unusual arrangement, the Stations of the Cross in the church in Clonard, Wexford, are set in the curved outer wall of the church in 14 windows designed by Gillian Deeny of Wicklow. In her windows, she emphasises the role of women in the Passion story.

Her windows were made in association with Abbey Glass, where she worked with the cut-out shapes of coloured glass, the pigment being a mixture of lead oxide, ground glass and colour. Each window is signed by the artist.

The Stations of the Cross on the north and south walls of the nave in Stoney Stratford were donated in memory of John Dunstan (1924-1988).

The Stations of the Cross begin with Christ’s condemnation before Pontius Pilate.

In the First Station in Clonard, Christ is bound with a rope that is tied around his neck and his wrists. Pilate is seated on a throne in an open portico, his hands dipped in a bowl, washing his hands of any responsibility for his role in the imminent death of Christ.

In the background we can see a hill, with a depiction of Jerusalem, or perhaps the Temple, while the trees on the hills are, perhaps, a hint at the Cross of the Crucifixion.

His cloak is purple and his throne is gold, perhaps a hint at the county colours of Wexford. But it also seems Pilate has royal pretensions while he mocks Jesus who is accused of calling himself the ‘King of the Jews’ but wears a simple robe, bound and punished.

In the First Station in Stony Stratford, Christ has a crown of thorns on his head and is bound with a rope around his wrists, yet maintains his dignity as he stands in front of Pilate, facing him in this eyes.

Pilate is seated on a throne, his hands dipped in a miniscule bowl that rests on one arm of the throne, washing his hands of his responsibility for the drama that is unfolding.

Jesus is condemned to death … Station 1 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

John 12: 1-8 (NRSVA):

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

‘Meeting the Invisible’

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Meeting the Invisible.’ This theme is introduced by the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana Do Brasil:

Liberation Theology reminds us that God dwells among us and it is in this God-inhabited world that we experience God’s grace and seek to fulfil God’s plan of the kingdom. God called the Revd Elineide Ferreira Oliveira, a black woman and the daughter of a single mother, to be strong in the face of many inequalities that women experience in their daily journey.

She says, ‘I am an Anglican priest in the Missionary District in the region of Rondônia, a part of the Amazon. I coordinate the diaconal service of receiving women from situations of violence into the Noeli dos Santos Support House. All of my experience, pastoral, spiritual and professional, has its roots in Liberation Theology. This theology informs what I believe and practice in the community: that we must go to meet those who are untouchable or invisible. Liberation Theology encourages us to leave our comfort zones and do all that we can. This method of doing theology continually provokes me not to conform but rather to seek ways to act for those in most need, and never to be a person who simply wants to be neutral in situations of injustice.’

Today’s Prayer:

The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (Sunday 3 April 2022, Lent V, Passion Sunday), invites us to pray:

Eternal God,
in this changing world,
may we rely on you.
Let us not be afraid of the new,
but adapt to change.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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