04 April 2023
Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2023: 4 April 2023 (Station 10)
This final week in Lent is known as Holy Week, and this is Tuesday in Holy Week. In these two weeks of Passiontide this year, 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 10, Jesus is stripped of his garments:
The Tenth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus is stripped of his garments.’
In this station in Stepney, Christ , the Cross is not to be seen. One of the five men stripping Christ of his clothes seems to be embarrassed as he places his right hand on Christ’s left shoulder, almost in a gesture of doomed solidarity, while one of the two soldiers in the scene is knelling at a block and appears to be preparing the nails for the Crucifixion.
The words below read: ‘Jesus is Stripped of his Clothes.’
In Station 10 in Wolverton, two soldiers are involved in stripping Christ as they stand on the Cross below their fee.
Did these two or three exchange any conversation, any words, in the course of this encounter?
Did they realise how each other was exposed and vulnerable in this moment?
Was there a mutual understanding of the embarrassment each one is going through?
How often do we seek to cover ourselves in ways that cloak and disguise our embarrassment and our feelings of vulnerability?
Yet, as Saint Paul reminds us, ‘we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it’ (I Timothy 6: 7).
The words below Station X in Wolverton read: ‘Jesus is Stripped’.
John 12: 20-36 (NRSVA):
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35 Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)
The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Good Neighbours in Times of War: a View from Europe.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Ven Dr Leslie Nathaniel, Archdeacon of the East, Germany and Northern Europe, with an adaptation of his contribution to USPG’s Lent Course ‘Who is our neighbour,’ which I have edited for USPG.
The USPG Prayer Diary today (Tuesday 4 April 2023, Tuesday in Holy Week) invites us to pray:
Let us pray for internally displaced peoples. May they find a safe resting place and support in adapting to a strange surroundings and new neighbours.
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
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 humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.
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