29 March 2023
Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2023: 29 March 2023 (Station 4)
These final weeks in Lent are often known as Passiontide, beginning with last Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (26 March 2023), which is sometimes known as Passion Sunday.
I have a dental appointment later today. But, before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.
During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I have been reflecting on words from Samuel Johnson, the Lichfield-born lexicographer and compiler of the first standard Dictionary of the English language. But, 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 4, Jesus meets his Mother:
The Fourth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus meets his Mother Mary.’
In the Fourth Station in Stepney, Christ meets his mother Mary and the Beloved Disciple. She reaches out with both hands cautiously and tenderly, her finger tips barely touching the fingers of his left hand, while Saint John clasps his hand to his heart, a sign of his broken-heartedness. They are to remain with Christ throughout his Passion and Death. It is a silent moment of love and pathos.
Behind them, a Roman solider and two other men stop for this moment, the soldier staring at the encounter, the other two almost averting their gaze, although one man also seems to be reaching out to Christ.
The words beneath the scene read: ‘Jesus meets his Mother.’
Saint John is also in the scene in Station 4 in Wolverton, watching on as Christ faces back to see his Mother, Mother and Son gazing into each other’s eyes, as her hands reach out to touch his shoulder and his arms while seem to say nothing. A soldier, instead of looking on, looks ahead – the journey to Calvary continues.
The words beneath the scene read: ‘Mother and Son.’
John 8: 31-42 (NRSVA):
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ 33 They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’
34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
39 They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ 42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.’
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 (Wednesday 29 March 2023) invites us to pray:
Let us pray for a greater understanding between faiths. May we learn to listen to one another with open hearts and find ways to work together for the common good.
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.
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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