Most of you know what the members of the local ELCA congregation did to my sister and then to me and thus my family. So, most of you know that we’ve been attending an Episcopal church where we feel welcome and they actually do focus on ministry. I won’t say more about that. The point was to mention that I’ve been attending an Episcopal Church.
I went to all three Good Friday services in 2009 (as you know, I’m a church nerd and love going to church.)
On Good Friday, there was a stations of the cross service and it was the first stations of the cross that I’ve ever attended. It was informal as it was really the first they had at least with the new artwork.
Pastor Cook said that there are usually 14 stations of the cross, but that we had 16 because there were eight spaces on each side of the church for artwork.
I know that I’ve been amiss with posting any religious reflections lately. It’s called life and I do hope to get back on schedule.
Anyway, this is going to be different from most of my religious reflections because it’ll focus on the stations of the cross and some of it is also going to be about things that I remember from the artwork (each is an angel with symbols representing that stage in Christ’s life as the church is “St. Michael and All Angels.”)
Of course, I’ll still pray and ask God to show me any ideas as I write and all glory goes to God, but it’ll probably be more like my thoughts on the stations of the cross.
Hail Mary full of grace: the Lord is with thee.
God sends the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she is going to give birth to His Son. That, in the first place, is quite amazing. Two things come to my mind immediately and one is when we did our Christmas program when I was just a teenager. My Daddy took us out to places and we took pictures dressed as the characters from the Christmas story and then we each had a part to read as there was a slide show. When we first started with this part, the thing mentioned was that Mary was probably only 14 or 15 years old when she was told this news. I could tell that I wasn’t the only one who thought of how scary it would be to be a pregnant teenager, even if the lifespan were shorter in that time.
The next thing that comes to mind is when I pieced together two plays about Jesus coming down to earth and Jesus’s life on earth. The part that really does come to mind is from the play about Jesus coming down to earth. It starts with Him in heaven and talking to an angel. When Jesus tells the angel that he is going to have flesh, the angel shudders and basically says, “ew, gross!”
The one part of the art that made an impact to me was that there was a Star of David, and in that Star of David, there was a descending dove. It was as if God is saying, “I’ve always been with you!” It makes me think of how people point to the verse in Genesis where it says “let us” saying how it says that God was never one single entity. Also, of course, the beginning of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”
And an angel of the Lord appeared saying: Glory to God in the highest
God has sent His Son into the world, and that’s amazing enough as it is. Then, God doesn’t give the word to the kings and rulers. He isn’t there to be what most of the Jews thought would be the messiah – this great ruler that would conquer the kingdoms. God sends his angels to appear to shepherds in the fields. Then, the wise men also heard and traveled (and didn’t return when warned). Yet, Jesus was a great king already. It was enough that these shepherds and these wise men (who were not kings, though we wrongly call them kings and nowhere in the Bible does it say that there were three, but that there were gifts.)
The art with the angel has a star in the back. One of the other people commented on the same thing that I was going to say – that the star looked like spears through the angel’s wings. This brought to mind the artwork on the front of the Lost And Found Christmas DVD.
See it by clicking here.
Many of the stars can also reflect the cross pointing to Jesus’s destiny and future of being on the cross.
The artwork on the Lost And Found album is a bit different as it also looks like shining from a star or the cross which also looks like the crown of thorns. Others may even find other imagery in the artwork.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
So little is really known about this time in Jesus’s life. It was interesting to me that another person pointed out how people who work with youth concentrate on these formative years and yet we know little about Jesus’s formative years, and yet they are so important.
What we do know is that he was a carpenter because of Joseph’s trade. Then, the story we have is of Jesus in the temple. Jesus was the only sinless person, so do we find him disobedient in this story? Some would probably think that is the case. However, from what I’ve read, it was common to walk in family groups, so Mary probably thought that Jesus was with another part of her family and only after everybody was further away did they most likely realize He was in the temple. Yet, He was teaching, so how could teaching God’s Word be disobedient? After all, Mary knew he was God’s son.
The part that intrigues me is that there is no mention of Jesus doing carpentry in the Bible. People who don’t believe in Jesus have asked me how can a nice man just walk around the streets and not make a living.
While I know that Jesus focused on his ministry, I’d imagine that He wanted to be human like us as well and make an honest living. When he really needed it, I imagine that he found some small carpentry job that he could do to make money. Yet, I can’t say that this is definitely true because there isn’t any record of it.
Jesus came and was baptized of John in the river Jordan, and the spirit descended on him like a dove.
Here, Jesus comes to John and asks to be baptized. John says that he is not even worthy to undo Jesus’s sandals. Yet, Jesus insists on being baptized. It is a little bit confusing. However, this is when God first says that Jesus is His Son, at least, it one of the Gospels it says that everybody could hear the words. In another, it says that only Jesus heard the words. However, we know it is when Jesus started his adult ministry. It is from this point that he goes and his public ministry begins.
The evil one said: If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. Jesus answered: Man does not live by bread alone.
After Jesus goes out to do his ministry, the first thing He does is go out into the wilderness where He is tempted by the devil. A common phrase that was taught to say in hard times was “God doesn’t not tempt, but He does test.” So, here Jesus was tempted by Satan, but was it possible that He was also being tested by His own Father, even though He was the Son of God and was God?
I remember that when I was young, I would always envision some spirit or devil type being actually being in front of Jesus as He was tempted. Yet, now, I wonder, did Satan ever actually appear? In the artwork, he is depicted as the serpent, a common symbol of “the evil one.”
We’ve all had those times where we feel tempted to do something (we’re lying to ourselves if we say that we don’t have those times), and did Jesus simply hear these things in his head as in influence of the devil?
Sure, people say “the devil made me do it,” to some very strange things, but at times, it obviously is the devil tempting, especially when we can tell him to go away in the name of Christ and those temptations flee.
The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, gathering fish of every kind.
I have always liked this verse. I grew up Lutheran and I consider myself Lutheran (ELCA)/Episcopalian after first being a Christian. Yet, I consider myself a Christian. Yes, a fairly social liberally leaning Christian. I don’t think any of the denominations get it completely right, but God is happy to have us all believing in Him and in His son, Jesus. So, not only is God gathering up all sizes, shapes, and colors of skin for heaven, but also, all the types of denominations and even those who just simply believe and are not a part of a denomination.
The art is neat here as there is the obvious net like fishermen use. That net also makes me think of how Jesus said to cast the net on the other side of the boat and then said that He will make the disciples fishers of men. This makes me think of what I ever only knew as “the yellow tape” when I was very young and in Sunday school, but the song that always stayed with me from that tape was the that went “I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men; I will make you fishers of men, if you follow Me.”
The keys in the art are also quite neat as the ridges are made to look like crosses to be like the keys to heaven. However, this also made me think of the very odd teaching of the Seventh Day Adventists that their Prophetess Ellen G. White wrote of – the angels carrying golden keys, though I know the artwork is only meant to be symbolic and not like the SDA teaching.
And they filled the jars with water and the steward of the feast tasted the water became wine.
If you remember the miracle, it almost seems as if Jesus would not have chosen this to be His first miracle. His mother tells him that they’ve run out of wine and He asks “What concern is this?” He does not seem to think this is that important. He even tells His mother, “My hour has not yet come,” sounded as if He is not going to perform a miracle.
Jesus is not the one that says to come to him, yet, His mother tell the stewards, “Do what He says.”
It is interesting that in this, Jesus is performing a miracle and also being obedient to His mother.
Of course, most of us know how they are confused that the good wine was served after the bad here because most people serve the good wine until the people are drunk and then serve the bad wine because they won’t care once they are drunk that they are drinking inferior wine.
Jesus was not going to reach out Himself to do this miracle, and yet, when the disciples saw this happen, they believed.
It seems that it shows that even though God sent Jesus, He was also always using others.
They brought to Him all who were sick and possessed. And He healed the sick and cast out demons.
There are many stories of healing in the Bible and it is always nice to read them and know that God can and does heal even in this day.
The importance of the number seven is sometimes emphasized when the boy sneezed seven times among other times the number seven is mentioned.
Yet, the story that always sticks with me is the woman who simply reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’s robe. He knew that somebody had touched his robe. The Bible does not say the tone of voice that He used when He asked who touched His robe. It could’ve been angry, but I imagine that it is more of a tired voice, just wondering. Jesus probably wanted to go rest, yet, He sees and hears the woman and simply says, “Your faith has made you well,” and from that, she was healed.
Some people do not seem to believe that God still performs miracles today, rather, being stagnant and simply going through the worship service and thinking “all that was for when Jesus was on earth.” I know this because I had people try to teach me that exact thing, even pastors, but I did not believe that and still I do not. I believe that God still performs miracles and heals today.
I think the woman who touched Jesus’s robe should be an example for us to have faith in the same way.
This is my beloved Son. Hear Him.
I find it both interesting and comforting that God says the same thing at Jesus’s baptism and His transfiguration. It seems to me like God is telling the people, again, that He is definitely pleased with His son, like a good father would confirm his child’s successes or plan with the same assuring words they are used to hearing from when they were a small child.
I cannot imagine how bright that light was, either. I know what it is like to suddenly walk into an area where this really bright light is shining. In fact, I hate the halogen headlights on cars as they are quite blinding, so this light has to be even brighter! That obviously had to be blinding and scary, and yet, Jesus stands there and tells Peter, James, and John to stand!
I wonder, would I have been able to stand, even though it was Jesus telling me to stand? I would like to think the answer is “yes.” Yet, my human nature, my weaknesses, tell me that it probably would’ve been otherwise.
I am the light of the world. I am the true vine.
The verses that mention light always tend to stay with me and mean a lot to me. After all, Bridget means “resolute strength” and Ilene means “light,” so it has always seemed to me that my name names “a light of resolute strength.” Then, the screen name that I often use, “kagomeshuko” means “an idea of everlasting light.” I came about kagomeshuko in a roundabout way, but the meaning is why I really liked it and stayed with using it.
The light verse also make me think of Lost And Found’s Christmas song, “Arise, Shine,” where they sing, “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.”
The one where Jesus is the vine makes me think of how much wine and gathering to eat and drink in the Bible is important and how gathering together for communion and for a meal really does make a difference and how it makes one welcome. It also makes me think of the song “His Banner” how some people will sing a combination of “the vine” and “devine,” when that verse comes and how God seems to be able to use all kinds of tricks in all the different languages to make these little things happen. It is certainly different in each language, but there always seems to be something.
Hosanna. Hosanna to the son of David.
This station is reflecting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. I don’t have it now, but I remember going through the lineage in the Bible with people and trying to follow it all and then wondering about Mary’s lineage as it was mentioned that it was possible that hers went back to David and doing some searching, but never completing that. Not that it would concern me if Jesus were in the line of David or not, but I know that Joseph was in that line and that Joseph was Jesus’s earthly father.
While I like the palm crosses, at times I also miss waving the palm branches. I miss starting outside and playing handbells and having a big processional (though, even in the Lutheran church, the handbells wouldn’t happen now since they no longer have any music director and they haven’t for a long time.) However, I always loved the big joyous and triumphant celebration. It seemed just the right thing to get into the odd mood that set the tone back in Jesus’s day knowing what is going to happen at the end of the week. Here, finally, Jesus’s kingship is recognized and it is happy – and yet, soon, it will be mocked.
It also brings to mind a Palm Sunday when I was quite young and our friend Robin came to church with us. She, Briana, and I devised some little skit where Robin was the donkey and I rode her while I think Briana was somebody that waved a palm branch. It was odd, but it seemed to give us all a different perspective on the day.
He took bread, blessed it and gave it to them. And said, Take, eat, this is my body.
Here it is, the passover, and Jesus gathers His disciples in the upper room. Perhaps they are expecting a typical passover dinner, yet, Jesus is there with bread and wine. Pastor Cook made an interesting point that this would’ve been leavened and not unleavened bread. So, Christ is there and is present – there among the world, like the leaven is among the bread.
Here is when he says that one will betray Him, and they all start to question who it is. Yet, Judas knows that it is Him. A point though, is that without Judas doing what he did, then Christ’s capture, crucifixtion, death, and resurrection may not have happened. So, it seems that while not a popular guy, Judas was required in the whole scheme of things.
A part that I do not understand among some denominations is that they only have communion so many times a year (the Seven Day Adventists only have communion four times a year and what is written is that they are supposed to have a foot washing beforehand, but they never did that at Sharon Chapel SDA).
The disciples always broke bread when together, either formally as a sacrament or informally as a meal. I agree with people that say communion can be had as many times as there is a gathering of Christians. I could go on and on about how I don’t agree with those that don’t let others commune with their odd interpretations of verses, but I don’t get into any of that. I am glad that the Episcopals, just like the ELCA, has a policy of open communion where those who are baptized judge their own hearts and the pastor doesn’t decide.
And they put a scarlet robe on Him, and a crown of thorns upon his head.
I know first hand how much it hurts to be teased and mocked from all of my time in school. It started in Kindergarten and there were still those people who never matured in 12th grade. In fact, there still are those people who haven’t matured to this day, but ignoring them now works much better than ignoring them then.
Jesus couldn’t ignore these people. He had to go through this horrible time.
I can remember how my Daddy used to take Sunday School during the summer and we’d do a lesson on a book of the Bible over the summer. We did about a chapter during a class and then we’d work on our stained glass picture with these little things that he was able to created from stuff they sold at a craft store that allowed him to trace the pattern through glass using whatever separated the colors. We were then allowed to apply the colors as he’d have that part done when he brought it to Sunday School.
He was trying to teach how purple was expensive in Biblical days. Briana mistook this as that the purple color of the stained glass paint was more expensive than the others and asked how much it cost.
I think of the fact that the purple was expensive as odd because it was so important to mock Jesus that they still put a scarlet robe on him. I can understand the crown of thorns. Thorns aren’t expensive. They can be found.
However, it seems to me like the purple robe would be akin to somebody buying a brand new car just to mock a person by having them drive it and then get into some accident where the car is ruined or almost ruined, so more money is needed.
Why is it so important to mock Jesus that nice things are used?
Yet, in this mocking, part of the truth is also shown – Jesus is king – while mocking, they are unknowingly acknowledging a truth.
And they lead him to a place called Golgotha
I don’t really have much to say here. Pastor Cook had an interesting story that at Jerusalem, there was a bus station, and he and whoever else, climbed up on the roof, and they were able to see a mountain or rocks where the rocks seems to form a shape of a skull.
The part of the crucifixion that so many people seem to be confused about when I talk to them is Jesus carrying His own cross or did Simon of Cyrene carry the cross or at least part of the cross.
I think of it as the two disciples being in two different places. The first saw only Jesus carrying the cross. Of course, the cross was heavy and Jesus was getting tired, so Simon of Cyrene was pulled out to help carry the cross and then the second disciple saw that.
I know how violent crucifixion was from reading about it and being taught about it in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students at LaGrange.
Yet, I do wonder if being tired from carrying a cross made it at least that teeny tiny more bit . . . “bearable?” Which, it really wasn’t . . . but that if one was fully awake and had to go through it, what that would do and how it would feel. I know how I am when extremely exhausted and I think that it’d be much less painful to endure things like shots (which I hate) at a time like that.
The, I also think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the cross, and how that had to hurt. Recently, my little puppy was hit by a car and I was so worried about him! He did live and it ended up he needed some serious surgery. He’ll be fine as long as he is allowed to heal, but I was so worried and hurting for him, that I can only imagine the pain that Mary felt to watch her son have to die, even knowing He’s the Son of God.
I don’t have my own children yet, though I do want them. Yet, my dog is my child and I do know how much I hurt when my big puppy even passed away naturally and how much I still miss him.
I cannot imagine how the disciples just turned away in this time of Jesus’s need. I know how it hurts to lose a pet and a parent, and yet, not to be the person who needs support at the time (except maybe when I had bacterial pneumonia as there was a point I was so sick that I almost just didn’t care what happened, but I had people caring for me, so I had the love and support that I needed.)
Jesus was completely alone, though, and His mother was hurting. This is what I always try to think about when I feel so alone and unsupported. I know that Jesus knows that that is like.
An angel rolled back the stone. He is not here. He is risen.
I know the whole story of how the women had to go early after the Sabbath as to not break the law. I know there are differences in the Gospels, and yet, I really do not think the impact really changes. I try to think of the surprise. After all, these women were probably not strong enough to roll away the stone, even together, asking who would roll away the stone.
Yet, when they got to the tomb, the stone was rolled away.
I don’t have much to reflect on with this, either. However, I do think of a conversation that my friend and I once had about how if we went and took every symbolism literally, that Christians should be wearing a symbol of an empty tomb – the cave with the stone rolled away.
While the ascension is very important, it is very important that Jesus rose from the dead, because that is what even allowed him to be ascended.
Yet, the symbol of Christianity is the cross. Of course, there is a lot of importance of the cross – how Jesus was crucified and then buried. some Christians like the crucifix, but many seem to love the triumphant cross, which doesn’t tell the whole story, but it is saying that Jesus did not stay dead, he rose. The cross was bear and the body gone from the grave.
As they looked on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.
I think it must have been strange to just have Jesus raise out of sight and have him gone. I am also reminded of Enoch. The Bible does not say that he died. It simply states that he walked with God. Then, I’m also reminded of Elijah who was simply taken to heaven in a chariot of fire and whirlwind rather than saying that he died.
To me, I’d imagine that these events were foreshadowing the ascension of Christ.
And now, may the peace of Christ be with you all.