Dear Friends in Christ—
How do we walk the way of the cross?
One answer is a liturgical one: we do this imaginatively and spiritually in worship. During Lent, we gather in the nave to walk the Stations of the Cross, on Fridays at noon in English and at 7:00 p.m. in Spanish. The tradition was popularized by the Franciscans in the late middle ages. The service follows the journey of Jesus from Pilate’s house through the crucifixion to entombment. When we join in the stations, we enter into the experience of Jesus’s suffering, and we try to understand the meaning of such pain.
But the way of the cross is not limited to our nave, or indeed to the story of Jesus’s passion.
In recent years, churches have discovered the power of relating the stations to the community around them. Many Christians will pray the stations not in their church building but in their neighborhood. They remember Jesus’s unjust condemnation at the courthouse, where they reflect on the ways in which our legal system is broken. They pray at the homeless shelter to remember how Simon of Cyrene reached out to help Jesus. The pause at the site of a murder to remember the moment of Jesus’s death.
The belief underlying this practice is that Christ’s suffering came to redeem all suffering. The significance of the way of the cross is not only what was broken two millennia ago. It is in what is broken today. And the purpose of walking the stations is not only to remember Jesus. It is to stand close to all those who suffer still.
As you pray through Lent, I invite you to consider the pain of this moment. Sadly, there is plenty.
I am especially aware of the war in Ukraine, a war that sits heavily on our hearts. Several of our parishioners are committing themselves to stand in solidarity with its victims. John Berry (who has worked with outreach for many years) and Laura Epifanovskaya (who is newer to the parish and who is a candidate for baptism at the Easter Vigil) are working to imagine how Grace might respond collectively to the crisis. I encourage to you seek them out and to lend your ideas and labor to their work.
We do not have to go far to walk the way of the cross. I encourage you to use it to draw closer to those in need, and to draw closer to Christ in this Lenten season.
Yours in Christ,