01 April 2023
Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2023: 1 April 2023 (Station 7)
These final weeks in Lent are often known as Passiontide, beginning with last Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent or Passion Sunday (26 March 2023).
We are at the end of what is often known as Passion Week, and tomorrow is Palm Sunday (2 April 2023). Before today day begins, I am taking some time early this morning (1 April 2023) for prayer, reflection and reading.
In 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 Saint Dunstan’s and All Saints’ Church, the Church of England parish church in Stepney, in the East End of London, and the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Francis de Sales in Wolverton, which I visited for the first time last month;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of England;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
Station 7, Jesus falls for the second time:
The Seventh Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus falls for the second time.’ Although Simon of Cyrene has come to help Jesus carry his cross, although Veronica has sought to sooth his brow, Jesus falls beneath the weight of his cross a second time.
In Station VII in Stepney, Simon is seen trying to lift the cross with both hands with dignity as Jesus stumbles and falls on the city streets and as others watch on. Simon is no reluctant conscript but is actively trying to share Christ’s burden.
The words below read: ‘Jesus Falls the Second Time’.
In Station VII in Wolverton, Jesus has let go of the Cross, and both hands have hit the ground in front of him. Without Simon catching hold of the Cross, Jesus would be crushed beneath the weight of it.
The words below read simply: ‘Falls the Second Time’.
So often, I have felt I am a broken and fallen man. In the past, at times, the Church had an appalling record for how it treated people regarded as ‘fallen.’ Instead of helping many women in distress, it has condemned them to the Magdalene laundries, and often conspired in the inhumane treatment of their children.
But the Church has also responded with both hands to people who have fallen to the bottom of the system because of political, economic and social policies.
I pray this morning for people from the churches who are working together throughout Europe with refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, the families, neighbours and friends those refugees have left behind, and those who have fallen victims of this appalling war.
John 11: 45-57 (NRSVA):
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, ‘What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.’ 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! 50 You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53 So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?’ 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Good Neighbours: A View from Sri Lanka.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday morning with an adaptation from Father Rasika Abeysinghe’s contribution to USPG’s Lent Course ‘Who is our neighbour,’ which I have edited for USPG. Father Rasika Abeysinghe is a priest in the Diocese of Kurunagala in the Church of Ceylon.
The USPG Prayer Diary today (Saturday 1 April 2023) invites us to pray:
Let us give thanks for those who seek to work across divisions. May they be enriched by difference and emboldened to share all that is life enhancing.
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.
Stations of the Cross in Stepney, Wolverton and Stony Stratford (Photographs: Patrick Comerford)
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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