Stations of the Cross: An Artistic Exploration | Lent 2023
STATIONS OF THE CROSS: AN ARTISTIC EXPLORATION
Located in the Ambulatory from February 22–April 7, 2023
As we begin the holy season of Lent, we invite you to join us on a unique and meaningful journey through a new art-based Stations of the Cross. Curated from among the talented artists within our parish and staff, it offers a powerful and thought-provoking representation of the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Each of the fourteen stations features a different artistic interpretation of a specific moment in Christ’s journey to the cross. We hope that as you pray and interact with these stations, that you experience the raw emotions and spiritual significance of each one and appreciate the widely different styles and approaches employed by each artist.
We warmly invite you on this journey through Lent by praying with the Stations of the Cross and hope that it will inspire you, challenge you, and ultimately bring you closer to God.
The Rev. Christian Basel
"HOLY IMMORTAL ONE" BY JUSTIN BROOKS
When Christian Basel asked me to write a song for the Stations of the Cross Art Project, I was thrilled. Songwriting is a passion and spiritual practice of mine, so I was honored to be a small part of one of Saint Michael’s Lenten devotions in this way. In the search for inspiration, there was no better place to turn than the Way of the Cross liturgical devotion from the Episcopal Church’s Book of Occasional Services. The entirety of this song’s lyrics are various “call-and-response” and communal prayers from the devotion. Since observing every single station in song would take a really long time, I thought it best to condense the message of the fourteen stations to an overall theme: mercy. It is by the Cross that the mercy and grace of God was given to us. This theme is present throughout the Stations of the Cross service, as each station’s observance ends with a prayer:
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.
This simple but beautiful prayer repeats throughout the song as the chorus---the idea being that through repetition, this prayer can manifest itself in our hearts to recall during this Lenten season. I pray that “Holy Immortal One” is a blessing to you and leads you to a sense of thankfulness that we’ve been redeemed by the Cross.
"Holy Immortal One" Lyrics
Music by Justin Brooks
© 2023 Elgie Street Music (ASCAP)
Written for the Saint Michael and All Angels Stations of the Cross Art Project
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.
We will glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In whom is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.
The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all:
For the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Surely he has borne our griefs: carried our sorrows.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts and we shall be saved.
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.
Savior of the world, by your cross and precious blood you have redeemed us:
Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord.
STATION 1: JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
Printed Photograph by Michael Blachly
Michael Blachly, Artist Statement
When first asked to help with this project, I reflected on how I would visualize the powerful moment of Jesus being condemned to death, I thought about what he might be feeling. He knew and trusted God would save him, but I feel Jesus still experienced pain and the fear that comes from being captured. When the world turned on him, I imagined him being bound and dirty with torn clothes. It’s the thought about being bound that really spoke to me. It is an iconic symbol of the moment. He has lost his freedom and he is now bound to what is to come.
As I prepared for this photograph, I thought about bringing this moment to life. I debated the emotion conveyed in his hands. Would he have clenched hands because of fear, would they be relaxed because he trusted God? The emotions hands can tell are powerful, so I opted for a mixture of tense/relaxed.
I enlisted a friend to lend me his hands. After burying the rope in wet mud to age it, I used a combination of dirt and shoe polish on the hands. After the rope was in place, I put a black drape behind them. Once I had my image, I converted it to black and white and increased the contrast to create a harsh tone representing the power of the moment. It was a dark moment for Jesus, but he was moving to the light.
Finally, the piece was printed and framed. This stage of the process was another opportunity to add to the contrast and feel of the image. I used a solid black frame with a white mat, and, for the print itself, I used a textured paper with a torn edge, adding to the rough look of the image and what is being represented.
The Rev. Dr. Andrew Grosso, Reflection on Station 1
God did not spare his own Son: but delivered him up for us all.
The trial of Jesus presents us with a rather stark question: why exactly was he condemned? After all, he had devoted so much of his life to helping others: he healed the sick, he offered mercy to those in need of forgiveness, he delivered those who were oppressed, and he taught others about the love of God. Why would anyone want to condemn someone who had lived so selflessly?
One of the ironies of the trial of Jesus is that throughout his ministry he had often been identified as one who was sent by God as a judge. John the Baptist preached that Jesus would “clear the threshing floor” of the world, and would gather the wheat into continued God’s granary and burn the chaff (Matthew 3:12). Jesus sometimes referred to himself as the “son of man,” an image that would have evoked associations with the description in the book of Daniel of one “like a son of man” appointed by God to judge the world (Daniel 7:13–14). But in his trial and condemnation, we see Jesus himself judged: the one appointed to render God’s verdict now himself stand condemned by those he came to judge.
The condemnation of Jesus reveals to us two important things: it reveals something about God, and it reveals something about us. First, it reveals to us that the love and the mercy of God will stop at nothing in his efforts to reach out to us. Jesus gives no regard to his own prerogatives or his own dignity, but submits himself entirely to doing what must be done in order for his Father’s will to be accomplished.
Second, the trial of Jesus shows us something about ourselves. Like God, we, too, will stop at nothing, but our determination is not to fulfill God’s will but rather to resist it. We will even go so far as to presume to condemn the one who himself has the power to judge us. By submitting himself to our judgment and condemnation, Jesus shows us just how far we are from God.
STATION 2: JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS
Oil on Canvas by Bart Forbes
Bart Forbes, Artist Statement
This painting of the second station of the Stations of the Cross is largely self explanatory. Jesus taking up the cross is one of the most familiar and emotional images of our Christian faith. The composition and color of my paintings is usually based on my intuition and often changes as the painting develops. This painting, however, is exactly how I imagined it from the start.
The Rev. Tom Blackmon, Reflection on Station 2
The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
God's Frightening Mercy
“The God of curved space, the dry
God, is not going to help us, but the son
whose blood spattered
the hem of his mother’s robe”
–Jane Kenyon, “Looking at Stars”
The final chapter of Walker Percy’s wonderful novel, LOVE IN THE RUINS, reveals the spiritual fear and paralysis of its protagonist, Dr. Thomas Moore. Moore is a psychiatrist who lives in Paradise, Louisiana. A descendant of the Tudor-era saint whose name he bears, Moore is an entertaining but caustic commentator on our contemporary culture: so materially rich, but spiritually impoverished. The cancer death of his adolescent daughter Samantha has triggered Moore’s descent into a bemused but despairing life. At last, a profoundly unwelcome realization breaks in: his own fault is actually deeper than those he judges. Moore has feasted on his own remorse, making Samantha’s death an excuse for a passive and passionless life. It was his dread of deliverance, not his fear of failure, that kept him from taking her to Lourdes. “I was afraid she might be cured,” he thinks,”What then? Suppose you ask God for a miracle and God says yes, very well. How do you live the rest of your life?”
This is the heart of the matter, isn’t it? How do you live the rest of your life? It is God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, that truly frightens us, even scandalizes us! We fully understand and can explain divine judgment, but God’s pardon is unprecedented and leaves us no place to hide! To receive the miracle of God’s grace is to be stripped of all excuses and robbed of all our rationalizations.
When I first read Dr. Tom Moore’s story a half century ago, I became more keenly aware myself of the great irony upon which the Christian faith is built: our divine judge will accept the brutality and suffering we inflict and, in so doing, will remove our guilt from us! And a further irony: God is not only willing to do this; in fact, He has already done it! This is the word of suffering love which God speaks to the world from the cross, and it is, in the end, the only word we need to hear and to which we must, at the risk of our own souls, listen. For even as we strike the blows which drive him into the cross, God transforms them into the gracious word of redeeming love.
STATION 3: JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME
Encaustic, Oil, & Mixed Media on Board by Jeane Clayton
Jeane Clayton, Artist Statement
Jesus has fallen during his journey to fulfill his destiny, yet faces upward to heaven. He will not be defeated and will continue his journey. Jesus bears our burdens and we sense the divine through his transition and transcendence between earth and heaven. The “thin space” veil which separates heaven and earth is becoming thinner.
We learn that failing is in our nature and we can overcome challenges—even death—gaining strength through faith.
Encaustic is a form of painting involving heated wax medium to which pigments have been added. It requires many layers of wax application alternated with heat to fuse and bind the medium. Examples of encaustic paintings have survived thousands of years from ancient Greece and Rome. With its roots in ancient Christianity and icon creation, I view encaustic as a sacred medium, appropriate and symbolic for this station of the cross.
White: Resurrection, purity, righteousness, God’s love. Blue: Human life, divine nature/presence Heaven and the healing power of God. The use of blue and white on Jesus’ garments designate human life and resurrection. Blue is a personal symbol for me signifying transcendence: water, sky, spirituality and mysteries of life. Brown: The Cross; symbol of earth and God’s connection to man—death and hope simultaneously.
The Rev. Dr. Hiltrude Nusser-Telfer, Reflection on Station 3
Surely he has borne our griefs: and carried our sorrows.
Behold the Lord by whom all things were made. He falls in the dust. His agony and bloody sweat, the rigors of his final trial, the mocking and the scourging now take their toll.
Jesus has been brutally humiliated, crowned with thorns and beaten. The emotional high point of the passion sequence—and of the Whole Gospel—is the trial before Pilate. The story climaxes with a trial in which Jesus is being judged. Jesus remembers the statements he made to Pilate: "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate responds: "What is truth?" He does not hear Jesus' voice, and is just like his Jewish accusers.
As Jesus remembers and contemplates the unjust trial he had to suffer, it weighs him down, and now he collapses under the additional weight of the cross and falls the first time. I have fallen many times in my life. However, one time stands out. I was en route to visiting a parishioner in one of the hospitals on Harry Hines Blvd. Having previously served in a 292 bed acute care hospital I was overwhelmed by the size of those big hospitals after I parked my car. As I prepared to cross the street I missed the curb step and fell. Some kind people helped me up. I dusted myself off and noticed that my left arm was hurting. I resolved right then and there that I would continue to visit parishioners regardless of the hospital size. I dismissed the fall as a reminder that Jesus fell under far worse circumstances.
As we observe Lent, let us be mindful that it is not about guilt. Lent is about awareness. Lent teaches us to see beyond the emptiness of life's allusion and anticipate possibilities everywhere.
STATION 4: JESUS MEETS HIS AFFLICTED MOTHER
Pen & Ink, Pencil, Gouache, & Oil Pastel on Paper by Celise Stephenson
Celise Stephenson, Artist Statement
I tried to imagine what Jesus would have seen when he met his mother on the road to Calvary. I imagined he would know everything about her, all at once. I tried to imagine Mary’s feelings toward Jesus from his infancy to her last sight of him. Everything I imagined grew out of my own experience with my own son, projected onto an imaginary landscape where I am The Mother and my son is The Son. I imagined Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, where I am God reaching for my son Adam going past me to his crucifixion, but I couldn’t bear it. Mary did bear it, somehow. Where do I look and not go blind?
I measured the relationship between Mary and Jesus as it must be now and always, against the backdrop of Eternity: Theotokos and The Christ. Against the backdrop of eternity, my son and I are a drop, a drizzle, a fog, a starboard mist. Regardless of how I became pregnant, by Angel of God, by man, by agreement, by modern technology, I still share some riving measure of Eternity with a boat carrying treasure.
I do not need to be the boat. I could gladly be a drop in a wave that crashes against it, a drop arising from the seabed of humanity to meet its rescuing self. We are drops of everything hurtling toward de Chardin’s omega point. No thing, no one, can escape forward motion. The river carries all its parts forward, even through the shallows where it smooths the stones in a rhythm that slows and swirls or rushes into the deep toward the finger of God.
The Rev. Christian Basel, Reflection on Station 4
A sword will pierce your own soul also: and fill your heart with bitter pain.
I wonder what Mary was thinking when she saw her son carrying the cross. Maybe the words that the Archangel Gabriel spoke to her at the annunciation, “Do not be afraid, Mary,” rang in her ears. Or perhaps Simeon’s words, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Or even her own, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
We can only wonder what she thought, whether she was angry, or at how much she cried. But this meeting of Jesus and Mary somehow brings both of their individual stories together: Jesus on his journey to Calvary, and Mary in her journey of motherhood. It brings together the story of death and life, of crucifixion and incarnation.
And we must be careful with this scene. We must be careful both not to bury Mary’s emotions with ideas of trusting in God’s plan nor dwell so much on the pain that we fail to finish the spiritual journey. Her emotions are real, as are ours. And if we can trust in anything, it is that we are not alone. This brief encounter of Jesus seeing his mother acknowledges that pain but forces us to continue this pilgrimage to the cross.
This pain of Mary seeing her son in agony, and of us seeing our savior, must be taken to the cross, because it is only in allowing that pain to be crucified with Christ that it might be transformed and reborn into the grace and unending love that we receive in the resurrection.
Maybe this reminds us to see the pain we encounter in our neighbor as well as with ourselves.
What do you see through Mary’s eyes in this season of Lent?
May your sorrows be lifted on to the cross and be reborn with Christ into new life and grace.
STATION 5: SIMON OF CYRENE
Acrylic and Yarn on Canvas by Kaylie Hudnall
Kaylie Hudnall, Artist Statement
The fifth station of the cross is when Simon of Cyrene is called from the crowd to help Jesus, his strength dwindling, to carry his cross. The journey to Golgotha was dark. The cross was heavy, burdening Jesus figuratively and physically with the weight of the world. Markings of bright blue and yellow emphasize the light and unconditional love brought into the world by Jesus through his life, and even beyond his death. Despite the hopelessness and despair brought about by the crucifixion, there is much light in this story, as the word of the Lord is being shared. Jesus’ personal walk is marked by the yarn woven into the canvas. The cross was heavy, and Jesus’ strength was dwindling, as represented through the knots in the yarn. That is when Simon was called from the crowd, called to help Jesus carry his cross to Golgotha. The weight of the cross was lifted off of him, and the yarn disappears from the scene. We can’t make it through life without the help of others. People need our love and support as much as we need theirs. And just as this, we could not have been in this point of life without the help, the love, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May the message of light and love continue to spread to all people in all parts of the world.
The Rev. Mary Lessmann, Reflection on Station 5
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me: cannot be my disciple.
We don’t know much about Simon of Cyrene. He might have been in Jerusalem for observance of the Passover. He might have decided that the throng of folks coming to Jerusalem for the Passover were a great market for whatever he was selling. He might have become captivated by the developments going on around this man Jesus, unable to pull himself away from the crowd watching his death march. We don’t know. All we know is that Simon is in such a place at such a time that he is pulled into Jesus’ walk to his crucifixion. He is yanked out of his normal circumstance, and he is forced to carry Jesus’ cross. He moves from self-agency to being subject to an agency outside of himself.
We don’t know how far Simon carried Jesus’ cross. It may have been just a few feet. It may have been the length of a street. Regardless, Simon was compelled to step in and carry a burden for Jesus just a way down the road. And I imagine wherever he finally laid that cross down, his life was never the same.
In our walk as disciples we are often paralyzed from responding to God’s call on our lives by our fear. We know that our decision to give up our own agency and to become subject to the agency of God will change our lives forever. But if we trust the depth of God’s love for us, then we begin to see that he is not asking too much of us, really. He asks us to carry our cross, our burden, just a way down the road.
We may become frustrated when we can’t see the whole picture or when we know we have only a small part in God’s grand plan. But the flip side—thanks be to God—is that it does not all depend on us. We were not there when the journey began and we do not need to take responsibility for where it ends. We are simply asked to participate, to do our bit, to carry that cross just a little way down the road for Jesus.
STATION 6: A WOMAN WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS
Acrylic on Canvas by Teresa Person
Teresa Person, Artist Statement
The 6th station depicts a pause in Jesus’ journey to the crucifixion as Veronica wipes His face. In thanks to her gesture, He leaves His facial image on her cloth.
In my painting the color I chose for Christ ‘s cloak is based on His position in the world as King. Thus the regal hue of purple was my selection for His clothing. Gold accents surround Him and Veronica (it was one of the gifts the Magi brought the baby Jesus) and shows to the world His importance. Also the crown of thorns is gold—gold for a King. Green is a color I love and it is one of the colors in nature. I used it hoping to show a connection with the earth and heaven. White on Veronica’s outer cloak is a sign of purity.
I wanted Christ’s face to show his willingness to accept this sacrifice for the world and Veronica’s sadness as she gazes on his face. The image on the cloth shows the brutality of His experience.
I researched the way of the cross as it looks today in Jerusalem. There is a column embedded in the wall commemorating the 6th station. Trying to connect present day with 2,000+ years ago, the column was included in my painting.
The dark sky symbolizes the sadness of the day. The cross is the weight of our sins on Christ’s shoulders. The ray of light in the sky represents hope. The broken stone wall indicates the opening of the kingdom of heaven to us. The rocky path reminds us all that our passage through life is not always smooth.
The Rev. Michael Harmuth, Reflection on Station 6
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts: show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
During his lifetime, Jesus was a rebel, to say the least. There were those in both the religious and political arenas who had a serious problem with him and his teachings. He criticized the Roman Government for oppressing the people. He also criticized the clergy and other religious leaders for the burdens they laid upon the people. As such, the leaders plotted to eliminate him, which is how he ended up being sentenced to death by crucifixion. Legend says that as he carried his cross to the place where he was to die, a woman by the name of Veronica was there to wipe his face with her handkerchief. After she did this, tradition was passed down that the light of Jesus’ countenance was reportedly imprinted on the cloth. This became one of the holy relics of the church known as the Veil of Veronica. Be this as it may, it is a pious thought, which leads me to the Priestly or Aaronic Blessing.
I am very fond of this ancient priestly blessing. Pay attention to the bolded part.
“May the good Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be kind to you.
May God watch over you always and grant you peace.”
This phrase, “May the Lord’s face shine upon you” involves God taking us into His presence to see His face. Though we can't actually see God in His glory now as human beings, He's offering the great blessing of coming into His presence. For it brings forgiveness of sins, and shows God as a gracious and merciful Father, who pities and sympathizes with our grief and sorrow. It is a good meditation point for Lent.
Coming into God’s presence is another way of saying God is with us. I found this poem which says it all. (Author unknown)
You don’t have to tell how you live each day;
You don’t have to tell if you work or play;
A tried and true barometer stands in its place—
You don’t have to tell, it will show in your face. …
If you live close to God and His infinite grace—
You won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.
May the Lord’s face shine upon you as it did Veronica.
STATION 7: JESUS FALLS A SECOND TIME
Charcoal on Paper by Mary Elizabeth Schleier
Mary Elizabeth Schleier, Artist Statement
When I think of Jesus falling, two things come to mind. First, that he took on our human nature, with its frailties. I’m reminded of my favorite line in Once in Royal David’s City, “And he feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness.” God is with us in our suffering. I also think of the birthday prayer: “Raise them up when they fall.” We trust in God to help raise us up when we fall, and as his followers, we are to help raise each other up, as Simon of Cyrene is doing in this scene.
I looked at lots of images (and did some praying!) before I finally found the inspiration for my drawing, a seventeenth century Italian etching that features only Jesus and Simon. I loved the relationship between the older man and the younger man, both in design and in narrative. Simon is there, staying with Jesus till the end, getting down to help raise the cross. Jesus looks up as if to acknowledge the help, which I exaggerated. I believe Jesus appreciated Simon.
The etching has only the two in a light-filled landscape. I wanted a darker scene, and there were others there, so I included some dark, shadowy figures in a dark landscape to represent them. I wanted the pyramid formed by Jesus, Simon, and the cross to be in the light. I did a charcoal drawing because it was inspired by an etching. I could build up all the lines and hatch marks with a thin piece of charcoal to give the piece the look of an etching.
This experience made me think of a final project at the University of Georgia many years ago. It was a narrative cycle of drawings based on the life of Jesus. Participating in this project has reminded me how making drawings and paintings with some sort of narrative is meaningful to me, especially when the subject is God.
The Rev. Canon René Somodevilla, Reflection on Station 7
But as for me, I am a worm and no man: scorned by all and despised by the people.
The road is narrow and congested with people who have come to witness the spectacle that a crucifixion offers. Added to that, this particular prisoner has made many friends and enemies in his three years of ministry. Now, unfairly and illegally condemned, he is told to carry the tool of his death.
The cross beam that attaches to the base on the ground is rough and cuts into the prisoner’s already whipped back. Its weight bends the prisoner over and he tries to keep balance and not fall.
How slowly he moves now. The prisoner is so weakened by no food, no water, beatings, whipping and a crown of thorns brutally pushed into his forehead and scalp that it seems impossible for him to take another step. The soldiers continue to urge him on. They seem more and more anxious to finish. As the weak and bloody figure pauses and sways, there is an audible murmur from the crowd. What little strength he has is ebbing fast. The pain of the wounds and the loss of blood increases every step of the way, again his strength fails him and Jesus goes down on His knees. A gasp comes from the crowd as they push and jostle for a better view. Two soldiers get him to his feet again. He agonizingly straightens and struggles to go forward.
Falling is a serious event that can happen at any given time in anyone’s life. I have friends who have suffered major injuries by falling. A close friend in Memphis died from a brain hemorrhage after falling in his backyard.
Jesus did fall under the weight of the cross, not once but three times. Each time, he got up and continued his walk to Golgotha. This was a journey of love for all of us as he wiped the slate clean of our sins with his death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
I cannot fathom falling with a great weight on my back after being beaten and scourged. As my nerves have deteriorated in my spinal cord, the looming threat of falling is always present. I have fallen. I admit that the falls have not been more than an embarrassment for a former multiple sports athlete.
The falls that hurt me more than the physical ones are those I have when I fall into sin because of my own desires to have my way instead of following what God has asked me to do. When I do that, Jesus asks that I get up, repent, and return to him. For the gift of him there is no limit, as there is no limit to his love for us.
We adore you, Oh Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
STATION 8: JESUS MEETS THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM
Mixed Media by Sally Shiels Schupp
Sally Shiels Schupp, Artist Statement
Several years ago I started making images for the top section of these boxes, usually a scene or detail in the forest or under water. The lower section was filled with found or made objects meant to evoke a memory or something integral to the scene. When I was much younger, my grandparents gave me a beautiful butterfly collection behind glass. I loved looking at the brightly colored preserved insects positioned with tiny pins, and would draw pictures of them flying around in an imagined habitat. The wooden art boxes let me present both the scene or habitat, and some interesting or tactile objects that I hope entice the viewer to look more closely at the image and to feel something there.
I decided it would be interesting to interpret Station 8 in this format. This is my first attempt to try human figures in a box and this station is set between Jesus falling for the second and third time. I thought there was the possibility of Jesus showing love even as he lumbers toward his own crucifixion. The weeping women approach Jesus. I imagined they might be carrying baskets or water vessels and set them against a dark and ominous sky. In the scripture associated with this station; Luke 23:27–31, Jesus says to the women, “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.” It continues cautioning a bleak future of great despair. His words are a stern admonition to be prepared and stay vigilant. Jesus continues to teach even on this final walk.
Materials used for this piece include painted, torn, and cut paper; two grades of sandpaper; stems from my prickliest rose bush; two small ceramic vessels thrown by my sister Susan Shiels Johnson; pebbles, beads, a fabric braid, a bell; and the wooden art box.
I wanted the vessels, the pebbles, and the crown of thorns detail to make the scene more visceral and physical. The hand of Jesus touching the woman’s hand illustrates Jesus’ constant and real presence in our daily lives; whether seen or unseen.
Tim Smith, Reflection on Station 8
Those who sowed with tears: will reap with songs of joy.
As Jesus’ body grows weaker and he stumbles for the second time under the weight of the cross, his mind and heart are focused on the tens of thousands of people who have gathered for the Passover. They are oblivious to the sacrifice that is about to be made in Jesus which will change everything.
'Weeping' recalls Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just a few days before. The crowd was crying out “Hosanna!”, cloaks were laid on the ground, and palms were waved in the air: all signs of the hope of a King who would lead the revolt against Rome and free Israel from captivity and persecution.
Jesus stops at the top of the hill at Bethphage as he looks over the Holy City and the crowds who have gathered for his procession. Amidst the joy and celebration, he began to weep. It is a stark and unsettling scene. The crowd wanted a King, Jesus is a servant. They want revolution, Jesus brings peace. At a time when people were meant to be most sensitive and aware of God’s saving acts as they celebrate the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, they are blind and oblivious to the work of God standing right before them. This is why Jesus wept.
As Jesus stumbles toward Golgotha, he calls out to the people of Jerusalem: a city that has rejected and persecuted its prophets in the past. He tells them not to weep for him. Instead, he redirects their grief toward themselves, indicating that something is terribly wrong.
Jesus has been carrying a green, wooden cross which is difficult to burn, but the city of Jerusalem is dry, ripe for judgment and fire. Recalling the words of Hosea, he calls the women and the city to repentance in light of the pending judgment. As with every prophet’s message, there is hope in the form of time still remaining to turn and repent before the judgment comes.
This station is a call to look inward and assess the nature of our heart and the faithfulness of our obedience to living as a follower of Christ. But it is also a call to reflect on our city and its spiritual condition, to feel the pain of people separated from God, and to repent of how we often reflect the values of the world more than those Jesus. It is a call to weep and mourn over our spiritual condition as well as our city’s. But it is also an invitation to repent and turn back to the ways of God: loving our neighbor, forgiving our enemy, serving the needy, lifting up the broken, and most importantly, sharing the Good News and inviting people into life in Jesus. It is a call to action.
STATION 9: JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME
Acrylic and Gouache on Canvas by Sally Taylor
Sally Taylor, Artist Statement
The image of a tree may seem an unlikely choice to depict this Station, but trees are a theme throughout Scripture. The Bible opens with a tree in a garden and ends with a tree by a river. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a tree. The only thing he ever harmed was a tree. He died on one. In this painting, I wanted to portray the cross on which Jesus will be crucified in a few hours time as a literal tree. The tree I painted is experiencing the falling of its leaves. It is just before winter with the slow withering of life in autumn. The tree is going dormant. I wanted the artwork to be stark in its simplicity with the colors of a dreary fall day. I was imagining the light beginning to fade, and the leaves barely retaining their last faint colors.
Jesus’ crown is made from the thorns of a bush and falls to the ground with the fallen leaves. Jesus, as he makes his way to Golgotha—like this tree—is exhausted, spent, withering. The ordeal of the night before, the heaviness of the cross he carries, his knowledge of the torture he is facing have drained and depleted him. His weakness is on full view of the crowds. He falls. Like the leaves in my painting. Soon, like the tree, he will go dormant in death. But, trees do not stay barren and seemingly dead. Spring always comes with its new life. As I was meditating on this station, I was reminded of the things that had to take place before spring, and the new life of the resurrection and Easter can arrive. The tree of life can only be found via the tree of death.
The Rev. Nate Bostian, Reflection on Station 9
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter: and like a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he opened not his mouth.
It is often said in management that “Hope is not a strategy.” This is true, because hope is far more important than a strategy: it is the “why” we keep striving and making strategies to fulfill our greatest aspirations and heal our deepest wounds. It was hope that sustained our Lord in this hopeless situation. He fell once. Twice. A third time. Each time he got up and forced himself to walk to his final destination. And that destination seemed hopeless: death and oblivion. But something kept him moving. Something stopped him from giving up. Something assured him that his end was not the end. Despite all the seemingly meaningless pain and suffering, this was all part of something bigger. This something was hope.
Most of us know what it is like to “fall a third time”: The relationship that seems broken beyond repair. That illness that never seems to heal. The mistake that keeps haunting us. The sin we keep falling into time after time after time. But what we may not realize is that God also knows what it is like to keep falling down. God knows the yearning to give up and give in. God knows how it feels to get up from the mud and filth, with bruised hands and skinned knees, and keep on going, because God did that in Jesus.
This is why, when we are baptized into the death and life of Jesus, we are asked, “Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?” It is because we know that, in Christ, we will fall, fail, and suffer with Jesus. But that is not all. Because Jesus is with us, helping us through each and every collapse—whether it is our third, or thirty third, and three thousandth. By his Spirit, Christ never gives up on us, in hope that all of our pain and suffering is part of something bigger. Something we cannot currently imagine or conceive. Because in Christ, there is always hope.
STATION 10: JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS
Pen and Ink on Paper by Robert August
Robert August, Artist Statement
This short composition is intended to serve as a small piece in a larger framework. It is to serve as an extension of what already has been experienced, but also to create a sense of continuation. As such, this is not a stand-alone musical composition, but rather a moment of reflection. The music feels intentionally unresolved. The unsettling text is emphasized by word painting, as well as harmonic ambiguity, and avoidance of the tonic at the conclusion.
The Rev. Greg Pickens, Reflection on Station 10
They gave me gall to eat: and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
Jesus told his disciples to clothe the naked and for us, especially during a Texas winter, we just naturally assumed this teaching was about keeping people warm. Of course, being protected from the weather was important, but clothing was also about belonging to and participating in a community. For Jesus, it was the community’s responsibility to look out for and help the needy as a way of reminding all that everyone had been created by God and carried his sacred image within them. A community that fed and clothed their members demonstrated that a person still had dignity as a daughter or son of Abraham, even if they had struck hard times.
As we move through this service of the Stations, we know what awaits Jesus, even if our minds may have allowed us some hope for him. After all, there were several junctures where the sentence of crucifixion could have been set aside. It was clear to the authorities that Jesus was innocent, even if he did threaten their positions of power. But, instead of freeing him, frail humans failed the Son of God.
Meditation: Matthew 27:28
In our verse for this station, we see that the Roman soldiers had roughly removed the clothes from our Lord. On Golgotha, no one had any privileges; no one was to be thought a daughter or son of Abraham, but all were merely things to be killed. Here was Jesus, utterly exhausted and abused. Whatever flicker of hope we may have had through this journey now goes black. Some dignity could have been restored to him but instead, the soldiers surrounding Jesus simply went about their task. With Roman efficiency and without a thought, Our Lord’s clothing, the last shared symbol of community, was cast off to be sorted through after his death.
Jesus fully accepted these acts of degradation, separation, and death—all to repair the distance between humanity and God; to remind us of our call to respect and restore the dignity of every human being. How can we be a faith community that responds to this call?
STATION 11: JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
Acrylic on Wood by Travis Harvey
Travis Harvey, Artist Statement
When you think about the image of the cross today, what do you think of first? Often it is a simple symbol with two bars crossing perpendicular to one another; plain with nothing on it, and almost attractive in how clean it looks. Today, the cross has lost its harsh reality. It was a death sentence for criminals; a torturous, bloody, agonizing death penalty partnered with insurmountable public humiliation. Just think about a nail going through each hand and ankle. Imagine each hit of the hammer driving the nail through flesh, muscle, and bone. Think about being hoisted up and all your body weight ripping further the holes in your hands and ankles until you give your last breath. What an insufferable way to die.
Why is his hand vertical?
Galatians 1:4 comes to mind when Paul tells us Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Christ chose to be nailed to a cross for our sins. He took the humiliating, agonizing death on the cross voluntarily, and it was predestined from the beginning. Thus, I wanted to depict Christ raising his hand to take this punishment though he had no sin within him to justify his death.
Why would he do such a thing?
Grab the nail in the middle of Christ’s hand and pull it out. Looking through the hole will reveal why Christ took this pain…you. Christ gave himself up, “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8) and took the death we deserve. He took the humiliation, whipping, carrying the cross, nails through the hands and feet, and ultimately death—for you. This is the beautiful story of the gospel. This is the the free gift of salvation offered to you. Have you chosen to receive it?
The Rev. Christian Basel, Reflection on Station 11
They pierce my hands and my feet: they stare and gloat over me.
SIGHT: Do you think you could look away from seeing Christ nailed to the cross? We are drawn to the repulsiveness of this event. We are drawn to the spectacle. We are drawn to the disgust we feel, and we are compelled to look. History is littered with public executions, and we are drawn to the spectacle because it is not us on the cross.
In looking at Christ’s body we see the torment of sin that we should bear, as well as the horrors that humanity is ultimately capable of. Only in seeing the absolute worst of humanity laid bare in crucifixion can we begin to see the need to turn away from it totally and seek redemption. It is precisely our disgust that allows us to see the gravity of the violation that has been committed against an innocent man.
SOUND: Can you imagine the sound? The ringing of the hammer and nail like a death knell ripping through flesh and cracking through the wood of the cross. Maybe you hear an interior voice screaming for this to stop. Maybe you notice the cries of those gathered around, or perhaps the words of the criminal, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
TOUCH: What do you feel? The rough texture of wood; the earth, wet with blood below the cross beneath your feet; or perhaps your own hands clenched in alarm. Do you reach out now to touch the body of Christ?
SMELL: Death has a scent. And it assaults our senses in this scene. The smell of blood and sweat from those crucified, the toil of those soldiers lifting others onto the cross, the smell of open wounds and dying bodies—it is overpowering and permeates the air around us: a scent of danger. We realize now that we stand in the midst of death.
TASTE: The wine is sour. It is not the good wine at the wedding in Cana, it is no longer good—spent, worthless, opposite of its intent. It leaves only bitterness.
Do you still look?
STATION 12: JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Acrylic on Canvas by Donna Cozort, Ph.D.
Donna Cozort, Ph.D., Artist Statement
From the beginning, I felt a presence guiding me through an important task to complete for someone or something much greater than I, and questioned if it was hubris to think that I might take on the portrayal of Christ, especially at such a significant moment in his life. The significance for all Christians weighed on me heavily and felt like a responsibility and yet a privilege. When I entered my studio, I felt taken over by an intense energy that compelled me with an immediacy to paint Christ and all the circumstances surrounding his death.
Quickly, I picked up a canvas and began painting, starting with dark purple swirls, allowing my arms and hands to follow the spirit that was swirling in me. Purple is often used to symbolize transformation and royalty. At times, tears swelled as I worked, reflecting the darkness I felt the interjections of the angry crowds back then and the divisiveness, hatred, and animosity I feel in our world today.
After the foreboding background, I focused on the three male figures, including Christ on the cross. I drew with a small brush. In studying Jungian picture interpretation, I knew I wanted Christ and the two thieves facing toward the left, which represents the Father, as well as the unconscious in the lower quadrant. After painting Christ on the cross and the two thieves on either side, I painted in the two Marys. Mary the mother on Christ’s left, and Mary Magdalene just in front with outstretched arms reflecting her despair. A third woman, who was their companion, I painted on Christ’s right side. These three figures seemed to flow as I painted using a watercolor technique. This fluidity was continued in the crowd, to the viewer’s right. This group of people, perhaps, represents the saints who had gone before, and, perhaps all believers—including us—yet to come.
I worked quickly and purposefully and the painting seemed to flow out of me. The next day, I went back and felt myself again walking on holy ground, stopping to reflect on this very profound experience.
The Rev. Kenneth H. Brannon, Reflection on Station 12
Christ for us became obedient unto death: even death on a cross.
This station always takes my breath away. Jesus’ body finally succumbs to the indescribable violence of the cross and all the cruelty that came before.
Jesus didn’t just die. He was murdered: murdered by fearful religious leaders, murdered by uncaring politicians, murdered by soldiers doing their job, and murdered by the sin that infects every human heart. There was nothing passive about Jesus’ death; his life was taken from him.
And yet, he is not merely victim. He is also conquering King. According to the Gospel of John, right before he died, Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” He makes it clear to everyone standing there, and all of us reading the story today, that even in the face of violence and death, he put his full trust and hope in God. Whatever comes next, he knows he is safe and secure in those everlasting arms.
How could he have imagined the sweetness of the resurrection? When he was clothed with his new body, his heart must have been thrilled knowing that he was not only returning to God, but also bringing the whole sin-sick creation with him. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Contrary to the sentence at the top of this meditation, Jesus was not obedient unto death. Jesus was obedient unto God. That’s what enabled him to descend into the abyss, knowing that even there, God’s glory would be revealed.
STATION 13: JESUS IS PLACED IN THE ARMS OF HIS MOTHER
Charcoal & Watercolor on Paper by Dottie Lipscomb
Dottie Lipscomb, Artist Statement
With a significant nod to sculptor Michelangelo, I did this artwork to represent the 13th Station of the Cross. I had been ignorant of the meanings of the Stations and appreciated learning the differences in subject matter thereof. In my painting, the obvious subject matter is after Jesus’ crucifixion as he’s placed on Mary’s lap. I chose black, gray, and white hues instead of multi colors to convey the intense drama and tragedy of the event. The mediums utilized in my work include black carbon stick, and black and gray watercolors with some resist and textures. In several of my previous works,I have attempted to draw attention to the expression of hands. I hope to have achieved the same in this painting.
The Rev. Robin Hinkle, Reflection on Station 13
Her tears run down her cheeks: and she has none to comfort her.
When I was preparing this reflection, I began thinking of the mourning that took place on that day when Jesus died. And I thought of the mother and father of the one that died. We hear of God's love, and we hope in God's mercy, but I wonder if we ever dwell in the space of God's sorrow.
I wonder about God our father and Mary the mother of our Lord as they watched in agony as their beautiful, wise, perfect son died a humiliating, tortuous death on the cross. What words of comfort could have been given to them? The very God to whom we turn to for comfort in our own losses had to bear his grief by himself. I can also imagine Mary totally focused on her son. I can imagine her being oblivious to the crowds, praying and hoping for a miracle or something—something to stop this madness. God, please save this son you gave to me. Please save our beautiful wise healing prophetic son.
When you are with someone as they die, there can come a point when you cease praying for God’s miraculous intervention and healing, pleading with him to come fix this situation, when you leave those prayers and begin to pray for the end. You pray instead for God to bring peace, giving up trying to change his mind or understand his ways. Praying instead for God to bring peace to the poor soul who is in such pain and agony and torment.
That dark day, God acted by not acting. He allowed the extraordinary to occur. God contained his sorrow, contained his wrath against his enemies and instead provided the ultimate sacrifice of mercy and love. Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on us. And so, her extraordinary son, that Mary held in her arms at his birth, is returned to her arms at his death. And Mary wept.
We are Easter people. We live on this side of the resurrection, and we love living in the hope that Easter brings. But today I encourage you all to stay on the other side of Easter. Think about the cross without the resurrection. Put yourself in the place of Mary as she endured that dark day, with no thought, no hope of him coming back. Thankfully, we will soon move to the celebration of Easter when hope returns.
STATION 14: JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB
Acrylic, Ink, & Gold Leaf on Paper by the Rev. Christian Basel
The Rev. Christian Basel, Artist Statement
Probably the shortest liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer is that for Holy Saturday. Often overlooked, it falls between Good Friday and the joy of the Great Vigil of Easter. When I think of the last station, the Entombment, I think of this liturgy, which seems almost like a burial or committal service. It is a final pause, a reminder that even in the midst of death we are not alone, that life rests with Christ.
For this piece of art, I wanted to create something that connected the station to this liturgy. My inspiration draws heavily on the work of Allan Rohan Crite, whose illustrative art depicts different parts of the liturgy, reinterprets religious symbols, and shows faith interacting with a contemporary world. A Google search of his artwork is well worth your time—in particular the book “All Glory.”
The result is something more like an illustration or illuminated text that also borrows elements of iconography. There is no cross and there are no mourners here, only Christ in the tomb: the most intimate and final of human experiences. The Archangels Michael, on the left, and Gabriel, on the right, keep watch. At the center is the Collect for Holy Saturday. Above this is a depiction of God: the triangle is seldom seen in iconography and normally represents God as the Holy Trinity; here, holding a banner with the words from Luke 3:22, “You are my Son, the Beloved.”
The Rev. Dr. Chris Girata, Reflection on Station 14
You will not abandon me to the grave: nor let your holy One see corruption.
We can feel an overwhelming sense of shame when Jesus is laid in the tomb. The story of Jesus’ passion ends in the darkness of the tomb, and no matter how hard we wish the story to change, it remains the same.
As a child, I can remember hoping that this time—just this time—Jesus could reach Easter without going through the tomb. I didn’t like thinking of Jesus’s lifeless body being prepared for burial and left on the cold stone behind the rock. The desire to skip over the brutality of the cross and the darkness of the tomb is natural. None of us hope to experience pain and heartbreak, yet pain and heartbreak are a part of life, just as death is a part of life. The tomb cannot be skipped because we all must pass through the tomb. But the tomb is not the end.
Jesus is laid in the tomb so that we know with certainty that God understands what it’s like to be human. Jesus dies so that when we face death, God’s love for us swallows up any fear and anxiety we may hold. Jesus is laid in the tomb to show us that death does not have the last word. Jesus is laid in the tomb so that we have the assured confidence of God’s promise of life after death. Jesus is laid in the tomb because you and I are loved completely.
The passion of Christ goes through horrible twists and turns, and Jesus is bloodied, bruised, and buried. Yet the path does not stop with the tomb. And neither will ours. Even now, as we wait for Jesus’ return, God’s glory has begun to shine. Light will shine in the darkness. Love will win.