Introduction


What are stations?

Walking the way of the cross has been an established part of Christian devotion for centuries.  Beginning with Christian pilgrims from early days tracing the steps of Jesus’ final moments in Jerusalem, the practice was brought home and grew in popularity, particularly among those who could not make the journey.  In the latter part of the fourteenth century the Franciscans, who looked after the holy places in Jerusalem, erected tableaux to aid devotion, a practice that is now commonplace in many churches.

 

How many are there?

The number of stations has varied over the centuries, the now traditional fourteen only being established in 18th century.  These consist of nine scriptural stations and five which owe their origin to popular devotions.  These latter popular stations involve an imaginative reading between the lines of Christ’s journey to his crucifixion.  He falls three times, he meets his mother on the way and encounters a woman given the name of Veronica who wipes his face.  None of these are mentioned in the biblical accounts, but they can be entered into as an act of imagination that adds tone and colour to the gospel canvass.  Such imagination needs a reference point and they need to be held by the general tenor of the journey, not end points in themselves.  More recently, particularly due to a widening of the popularity of stations, there has been a desire for an entirely Scriptural set of Stations.

 

Three versions

The Church of England's services (Common Worship) provides for three schemes: a fully Scriptural set, the traditional Stations and Stations of the Resurrection.  The latter emerged in the latter part of the twentieth century and reflects the centrality of the resurrection to the Passion of Christ.  The resurrection should therefore form part of all of the schemes, except on Good Friday when it is appropriate to leave Jesus in the tomb so that we can greet the risen Lord for the first time at the Easter celebration.

 

Movement is intrinsic to all three Stations.  With their origin in following the route of Jesus the central idea is that pilgrims at home or in Jerusalem move between the ‘sites’.  At each one we pause to read an appropriate passage of Scripture, reflect and respond with prayer.  Alternatively, these schemes could form the basis of an audio-visual presentation, the movement coming in the changing imagery.  The drama could be heightened by different voices being stationed around the church or room.

 

These Stations follow those set out in the Church of England’s Common Worship provision for the Church’s Year in Times and Seasons.  The bible readings are the same, though Times and Seasons does not provide for the Traditional set, so readings have been chosen to match these.  The prayers at the end of each Station have been specially written and are deliberately simple in style.  This offers an alternative to those in Times and Seasons, similar to the difference between the Collects and Alternative Collects.

 

Private devotion and public worship

I have also given an outline liturgy for their use.  Again they can be easily assimilated into other liturgies.  Music and singing will complete the experience and the liturgy offers suggestions for where that would be particularly appropriate.

 

The reflections aim to form connections with the human emotions that the passion and resurrection engender.  They are brief because of the context in which they are intended to be used.  They can be used either as part of a private journey or corporately.  Either way, my prayer is that they will assist with an engagement with the love of God who gives his very life for us and draws us to share in his risen glory.


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Ian Black


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Resurrection