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By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Apr 12 in Musings
Many of the more liturgical traditions in the Christian Church, especially our Catholic brothers and sisters, have utilized a set of images called “The Stations of the Cross” for learning scripture, rehearsing the story of Christ’s passion and guidance for prayer and meditation. Christian retreat centers often feature a walk guided by paintings, engravings or symbols for the “stations,” or different moments on Jesus’ journey from his condemnation before Pilate through his burial.  The Catholic version most often has 14 stations, while Protestants often narrow it to 12 or even 8.  The meditative worshipper slowly moves from station to station, pausing, praying and relating to Jesus’ sacrificial journey.  This week it struck me that the way we structure our Holy Week gatherings has a certain Stations-shaped flow to it.           
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, really opening the door into Holy Week. Jesus enters Jerusalem. In worship we raise palm branches and shout “Hosanna!” but we also put it in context. Shouts of “Crucify Him!” are also heard as we wrestle with the tension of being people whose mouths can easily form both expressions.
           
Thursday we meet in Wylie Chapel for a Maundy Thursday communion service. Noting that “maundy” is a Latin word for “command,” we consider Jesus “new” commandment given that night: “Love one another...as I have loved you.” We remember Jesus’ final night–gathering with disciples, sharing the supper meal, prayer in the garden and arrest. It’s a confusing, disquieting feeling.
           
On Good Friday we gather in the sanctuary, along with our sister church Reality LA. In a
service of gathering darkness, through music, silence, prayers and scripture we listen to the story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. One person said to me “I felt like I was at a funeral!” after attending the service. Exactly! We are pondering the most excruciating, sacrificial and powerful death in human history.
           
From Friday night through Saturday night we participate in a 24-hour prayer vigil. Whether in homes or at Wylie Chapel, we enter into a poignant waiting. In the chapel we can take a “Stations” walk around the room–or read, journal and pray in silence.  After Jesus died, the disciples waited. Wondered. Watched. Grieved. We engage with that same bewilderment, seeking to prayerfully quiet our hearts, consider the cross and wait for Easter morning.
           
Easter Sunday’s celebration is only possible because of the journey Jesus took to get there. Resurrection happens only after death. We must go through the gathering gloom of the week in order to understand the miracle and light of Easter. There is no shortcut. Welcome to Holy Week.            
 
See you soon,
            Pastor Dan

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