Stations of the Cross

Our outdoor Stations of the Cross are open during daylight hours in the church courtyard starting the afternoon of Monday, March 25 until sundown on March 30. Here we present the text and narrations of the audio recordings for each station. You may pray the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week in the church courtyard or online from the comfort and safety of your home.

Introduction

Hi, this is Jim Somerville, Senior Pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Thank you for taking time to walk the Stations of the Cross during this Holy Week. This year we have chosen art crafted from banana leaves made by refugees in Kenya. These pieces come from the Mikono Shop which supports the Jesuit Refugee Service in their work with refugees throughout Eastern Africa. The UN-HRC defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee his or her country, crossing an international border because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. In 2022, there are over 26 million refugees, and many more displaced people around the world.

From war and displacement, the ebb and flow of pandemic, as well as personal grief and challenges, For our country and world, this has been a season of unprecedented fear and anxiety. As Christians, we believe that God is with us in our most dangerous and difficult moments, that He walks with us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and for that reason, we don’t ever have to be afraid, and yet, we may still have to endure suffering. What a comfort to know that Jesus, the Son of God, understands our suffering! He has walked this pathway. He has made this journey.

The Stations of the Cross is a liturgical way to reenact the journey of Jesus as a meditation of prayer, an act of devotion to God and a time of remembering. On this journey with Jesus, we begin to understand that our journey is mirrored in his. We are probably not heading to such a cruel and humiliating death, but in these somber hours of our own dark night, we experience similar emotions of helplessness and sometimes, hopelessness. To face such darkness, we need some glimmer of light, some hint of hope beyond endings, some model of perseverance that comes from a faith that does not know the outcome yet, but is willing to trust God with it. As you walk these stations, be reminded of two things. First, life is sometimes dark, painful and brings endings. That reality will not go away even for the Son of God. Second, God does some of His best work in the darkness as we persist in the journey, even when that journey leads to Golgotha. Resurrection Sunday has no meaning without Good Friday. This journey reminds us of the darkness that causes us to celebrate the light.

You will find on this journey today eight stations representing the main events recorded in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ journey. Many traditions celebrate fourteen Stations of the Cross. In the Protestant tradition, we sometimes choose to remember these eight primary stations. At each station, scan the QR code at the sign, and you can start the narration. Step back as you listen to the narration and contemplate what you are hearing and seeing.

We hope you will pray for refugees around the world, especially as Ukrainian refugees have been on our minds in these last few months. We hope as you take time to ponder these stations you will see the ways Christians around the word see themselves in Jesus’ humanity and suffering. And how Jesus becomes a part of their lives and their stories. May you see Jesus present in your own life and suffering, as you join now with Christians around the world who are currently praying these stations during holy week with you.

And now, begin your journey by proceeding to Station 1.

Station 1: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”  But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed…So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”…and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. (Matt 27:11-14, 24, 26b)

Reflection

Jesus stands before Pilate, accused of crimes he hasn’t committed, and He Who is Without Sin mutely accepts the blame for the sin of all. Trust allows for this, Jesus’ full trust in God’s plan—the promise of resurrection and salvation. This was the light that led him through the darkness.

Prayer:

Jesus, help me to see your acceptance of blame not as weakness or resignation, but as the ultimate example of self-sacrificing trust in God. Give me that same trust that reveals a peace and a resolve in all around me that seems unfair. Give me the courage to do what is right without being swayed by the demands of others. Amen.

Station 2: Jesus Accepts His Cross

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

Reflection:

Scholars generally agree that Jesus carried the horizontal beam of the cross, which weighed about 125 pounds. We can only imagine the pain he endured as he walked, the beam chafing his fleshtorn back. Steadfast acceptance of God’s will allowed him to put one foot in front of the other. You hear no words of complaint, no cries of innocence, no cursing of injustice.

Prayer:

Jesus, I confess I avoid adversity. I fear humiliation, and run from suffering. But you chose to take up the cross, a symbol of humiliation and suffering, and did so with steadfast acceptance. Teach me, I pray, to carry my burdens with the same grace, remembering that you will never leave or forsake me. Amen.

Station 3: Simon Helps Carry the Cross

A reading from the Gospel of Mark:

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21)

Reflection:

Simon from Cyrene is pressed into service “on his way in from the country;” it’s an unexpected detour from his plan for the day. Scripture doesn’t tell us why he is appointed for the task or how he reacts. The point, it seems, is simply what he does. He serves a man in the hour of his greatest need. Would I have been willing to do the same? Here we remember that, as with Simon, our acts of service—expected or not, appointed or not, eagerly shared or not—carry great weight in the kingdom of God.

Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for this tiny glimpse of Simon from Cyrene, who shows me the cosmic impact of service. Please give me the eyes to see when, where, and who I can serve, and the strength to step into that call even when it causes a detour. Show me, too, how to let others help me. By your Spirit, help me to share my service generously and accept it from others graciously. Lord, Show me someone whose cross I may help carry. Amen.

Station 4: Jesus Speaks to the Women

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)

Reflection

A crush of people surround Jesus as he drags his cross through the streets. Some were jeering, cheering and yelling people. Others were grief-stricken. Jesus takes notice of the weeping women, shares in their suffering and tells them there will be more suffering to come. But we know this is not the end of the story. There is hope. God is both justice and mercy.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for noticing the grieving women sharing with your heartbroken followers, even on the way to the cross. Keep me mindful—and always ready to communicate your promise of forgiveness to others regardless of my situation.   O Lord, give me the gift of tears to weep for my own failures, for my sins, for the pain I bring to others, and to live the fruits of repentance. Amen.

Station 5:  Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

A Reading from the Gospel of John

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did. (John 19:23-25a)

Reflection:

Crucified people in Jesus’ time were stripped of all of their clothes. It was one more step in the process of ultimate humiliation. Imagine the embarrassment of being so exposed. Just the day before Jesus had removed his cloak and laid it aside to wash his disciple’s feet. Jesus modeled for us a life of humility and service.

Prayer:

Jesus our Wounded Healer, thank you for so fully embracing the human experience. May I  ever be grateful for all you endured on my behalf. Lord, teach me the humility of spirit that replaces self-centeredness with a sacrificial spirit. Make me vulnerable so that I may follow your example. Help me see those around me who are in need. Give me the courage to lay aside the things that I use to hide from their need, and find ways to minister to others as you have shown us. Amen.

Station 6:  Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark

And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. (Mark 15:23-32)

Reflection:

Keeping in mind that the word excruciating literally means “out of the cross,” we reflect on Jesus and the excruciating pain he suffered as soldiers pounded thick nails through his hands and feet. As he completely surrendered any natural human desire to protect himself, Christ bore this pain – our pain – as a supreme sign of his overwhelming love for God’s people.

Prayer:

Jesus, on the cross you embraced the pain of generations of sinful men and women. I want to deny it, but I was there too. Your death was the ultimate act of pure, unconditional love for me. Thank you. O Lord, in this hour, forgive me. Transform me by your grace. Amen.

Station 7:  Jesus Cares for His Mother

A Reading from the Gospel of John

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:25b-27)

Reflection:

Face to face, Jesus and his blessed mother meet. Jesus is covered in blood, sweat, and spit, bent under the weight of the cross, subjected to angry shouts of hate. And Mary, experiencing every mother’s worst nightmare that her child will suffer harm, feels the sword pierce her soul. Moving with fiercely protective love, she offers her son the little she can: the comfort of her presence. We wonder what she is feeling that moment. Is she thinking back to the visit of the angel who announced your coming? Is she remembering the words of old Simeon who took you as an eight-day old baby in his arms and declared that you were God’s salvation sent for all people, a light to the Gentiles and glory to Israel? Or is she reminded of that day in Jerusalem when you were twelve when she searched for you and could not find you? And what brought this one disciple to be standing before your cross? Why is he here? Yet, you trust him so much that you tell him to take care of your mother for the rest of her life.

Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for the gift of Mary, who models perfect love for us. In our love for you, make us fiercely protective of you. O Lord, give me the compassion with which you love. Give me the courage to stand beside those who are hurting and share their pain. You know everything about me, my weakness, my faults, and my sin. Redeem me and make me new. Through your strength and by your grace, make me a conduit of your love, not just to the lovable, but to any who need to be cared for and loved. Amen.

Station 8: Jesus Dies on the Cross

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o‘clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:33-39)

Reflection:

This image taken by Tim LeBerre is of a statue of Jesus from a Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine that spread across the internet in March of 2022. The men carry the statue of Jesus into a bunker to be protected from Russian bombings. This is the reality of many refugees who have to flee or hide in bunkers from daily military strikes. This image reminds us Jesus is among us in the darkest moments of our lives. In Jesus’s death, God has fully united Himself with the human experience.

Jesus, in your darkest moment I hear you cry out in lament from the Psalms and with the familiar cry of human pain and desolation. It seems like everyone has forsaken you, and in your pain the emotion escapes in a cry of abandonment. Yet, it is a prayer, a cry from human lips to a God who hears our cries. Finally, it is over. You are dead. Yet you never stopped loving us even in death. You died because of human sin, Yet we know that sin is never the final word. God can redeem the worst that human beings can do. But this? Right now? What can come of this? What can God do with such a final ending?

We hope, and wait…

Prayer:

Lord Jesus,

Give us courage to accompany others in pain, for in walking at their side we find you there present with us.

Give us joy that we might serve others, for in tending wounds of those who suffer, we sense your healing grace at work in us.

Give us wisdom as we advocate for others, for in defending the downtrodden we hear your voice speak up for us.

Grant that in all we do, we may give you the glory Lord; we return all we have in love to you, for you have given everything to us.

Amen.


The art for stations of the cross this year comes from the Mikono Shop in Kenya Africa, which supports the Jesuit Refugee Service of Eastern Africa.  The images are handcrafted from banana leaves and made by refugees.