The Cross and the Resurrection Today
(Photo: Rev. Tim Rich, Rector at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, outside their community room, where people struggling with addictions come for mutual support)
For the past twenty years my church, the First Lutheran Church of East Greenwich, RI, has being doing a Stations of the Cross Walk on Good Friday. We stop at thirteen different “Stations,” where people are suffering today, where Christ, therefore, embodied in our sisters and brothers, continues to be crucified today. At each stop we read a verse from scripture, say a brief prayer, and do a symbolic action. As we carry three large crosses down Main Street, I am always struck by the fact that many people pay no attention!I realize that this is probably the way it actually was during Jesus’ walk to Calvary: shopkeepers and business owners and customers going about their daily lives as usual, oblivious to God’s saving love walking among us, suffering before our distracted or “closed” eyes. Our final stop is a cemetery, where we remember the women watching as Christ is laid in the tomb, and then going to prepare their ointments for anointing his body later. Our symbolic action, at that final stop, is to anoint one another with fragrant holy oil, and to proclaim defiantly, there among the tombstones, our hope in our own resurrection and new life in Christ.
(Tom Joyce, anointing his wife, Janet, and member of our youth group, Kassie McDonald)
This year I am also serving as the new Missioner at the Church Beyond the Walls, an outdoor street church in the nearby city of Providence, which ministers to and with persons from all walks of life, but mostly to and with persons who are suffering today, many of them persons experiencing homelessness. In this inner city setting, many of the Stations were particularly raw and jarring.
(Station 1: Members of the Church Beyond the Walls community, at our usual meeting place, Burnside Park, where we gather for worship every Saturday at 2 PM)
Ironically, although our group carried one huge cross and two smaller crosses, and knelt on occasion in the middle of the streets, many passed by without even seeming to notice us!
(Station 2: Sarah Davis, member of first Lutheran and Church Beyond the Walls, outside of the Supreme Courthouse)
For those of us who participated, however, these walks had a deep impact. It truly helped us to enter into the heart of our faith: the mystery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
(Station 3: Sarah and Catherine Thenault, member of Church Beyond the Walls, at Korean War Memorial)
(Station 4: Sarah and Pasquale Moretti, member of Church Beyond the Walls, and Catherine taking photo, at World War II Memorial)
(Our walk by the River, the Point Street Bridge in the distance)
(Station 5: Irish Famine Memorial)
(Station 5: Irish Famine Memorial. Is it not reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Pieta?)
(Looking back over Providence’s skyline)
(Station 6: Garden of Compassionate Friends, Parents who have lost children)
(Station 7: Former Site of “Tent City,” where many who were experiencing homelessness lived in tents. Note our cross leaning against the “cross” of the tree itself)
(Bearing the cross across “Tent City” field)
(Station 8: Former site of Confetti’s Nightclub, where many deaths by shooting took place)
(entrance to former Confetti’s Nightclub)
(Station 9: Outside Family Court. I realized after the large “parent” cross and the small “Child’s” cross)
It made us realize that Christ does indeed walk among us in our sisters and brothers who are suffering today, but also in the radiant faces of those who have been transformed by Christ, and who now live with Christ as new and resurrected people.
(Beautiful, radiant Catherine)
My hope and prayer for all of us in this Easter season is that we would rise with Christ, and live as Easter people, made new by Christ’s transforming love.
(Station 10: Site of former church, which turned into former strip club/brothel, now turned a very nice upscale pub)
(Station 11: This is the site, just feet away from where we gather weekly for worship, where a prostitution ring gathered, and members of our Church Beyond the Walls overheard young women complaining to their pimps that they had not been paid)
This day, may you see Christ’s suffering in your own suffering and in the suffering of all those you encounter, and may you experience Christ’s resurrection in your own life, and be a beacon of hope to all you encounter. May our lives reflect the new and transformed life that is indeed possible through Christ,
OUR resurrection, and OUR Life!
(Stations 11 and 12: Our final stop: The cemetery outside the Episcopal Diocese of RI: the cross becomes a Tree of Life for us)
Linda Forsberg, Copyright April6, 2016