It took me back to when I was in my 20s and a Catholic girlfriend of mine took me to an Easter service at her church where they had around 10 stations of the cross and people could walk around the church to each of the different 'stations' and pray where a carving depicted the various stages of the journey that Jesus had part taken in on his way to his crucifixion and then later resurrection.
Ours was a little different and in semi darkness, candles were lit and soft lighting bathed the space with contemplative instrumental music in the background. This set the scene for the 5 different spaces of:
- Finding your way home: remembering when God was in your life at it's darkest and also in the lighter moments; to write a letter to yourself from either past, present or future; noting the date of your salvation (the latter written on a paper and hung on a line).
- Your home: praying a silent prayer request but also acknowledging past hurts and writing those requests down to allow God to deal with them, especially any painful actions/memories etc. and (writing those requests on paper and rolling them up and pushed into a grid).
- Your street: praying for your 'zone of proximity' i.e. for neighbours on your street, acknowledging the influence that you have and praying for them. We then had to find our street place on a map and (pin a little pushpin into the space).
- Your city and nation: we then had to go to a long table and read short excerpts about 10 ministries that the church has in our neighbours and city and to pray especially for the one that touches your heart (there is a glass jar representing each ministry and you choose a large pebble to put into the one that touches your heart to pray for). The ministries are:
- Red Frogs (reaching out to Tertiary students ministering at events where alcohol is present)
- Streetreach (reaching out to those who are in prostitution) * My chosen prayer ministry
- Lifeway Houses (reaching out to those living in communal homes with disability/ies)
- The Giving Tree (reaching out to children with presents on Christmas whose parents are incarcerated in prison)
- Kiwi Contax (reaching out to those who are or have been asylum seekers from other countries)
- Assisted living (reaching out to those who are elderly and often living alone in elderly homes)
- Refresh (reaching out to those who are single parents bringing up a child or children)
- Soup Kitchen (reaching out to those who are in need of a meal around various areas)
- CAP (Christian Against Poverty) (reaching out to those who are in need of budgeting assistance).
- Christmas Box (reaching out to families with a Christmas box of treats in the Christmas period)
5. Communion: the final station held bread and a small communion drink where individuals, couples or small groups could come to have communion and complete this amazing journey (the bread and wine symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus celebrated and contemplated each Easter). I shared this last act with my beloved and youngest and it completed the neat journey of each station.
I also wrote the following:
At the first station:
Letter from the past to the present and future
He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end
He was with you in the beginning at your birth
He will be there to meet you at your death
He has never left you, nor forsaken you, nor denied you, nor ever given up on you
Even if your partner separates - He never will
Even when your children leave home - He never will
Even when you want to give up and give in - He never will
Even when things look bleak and insurmountable - He will always believe in you to overcome because he did
You cannot live with Him, yet you cannot live without Him
He will be there till the very end
and His name will be praised.
And at the last station:
... the forgiver of sins (when you confess it to him)
... the one who can take your pain away (when you give it to him)
... the one who can help you to fulfil your goals (when you ask him for direction)
... the one who never gives up on you (when you ask him for help)
... the one who can pick you up when you are down (when tell him your fears)
... the one you can run to when you are in pain and hurting (when you tell him your pain and worries)
... the one who has hopes and dreams for you (when you give him your heart's desires)
... the one who is waiting for you...
May you and your family, friends and loved ones be blessed this Easter season...