Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

I – Pilate condemns Jesus to die.

What is truth? he asked
and yet he could not see
that truth stood before him
Son of man, God incarnate
the most complex question
with the most simple answer
The baying of the crowd
the fear of loss, preservation
of his rank and station
sends another man to his death
almost nonchalant
like he has so many times before
yet with one striking difference
this man, this quiet, unassuming man
is not just free of any crime
but innocence personified.

II – Jesus accepts His cross

Wood on flesh.
Rough grain drags over
already tarnished skin.
He who was there
As words were whispered
over the deep, in the beginning
in the darkness of creation
now looks small
beneath the heavy tree
of His own making.
It is not just the wood
that weighs Him down
but me, and all that I have done,
He takes up His cross
And mine

III – Jesus Falls for the first time.

My Lord,
My God,
knees bent and legs buckled
under the weight of the wood
and my own transgression.
He, who with a word
brought all we see into being,
He, who with his breath,
sustains all life.
But He falls,
not because He is weak,
not because He cannot,
but because He is humble
and He is love
and He knows, if it is not Him
it will be me.

IV – Jesus meets his mother

With arms outstretched,
fingers curled,
toward the boy she knew.
Now a man
beaten and bloodied
pulled from her grasp,
ripped away from the bosom
that once cradled Him,
swaddled,
vulnerable and small
her tears match His
a mothers nightmare
to see her son so
and yet, powerless to help.
A mothers love
carries Him on.

V – Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

The pressed man,
the passing stranger,
the secret follower
clutches the wood that
the Saviour carries.
Their eyes meet
he speaks, as if to apologise
for his part, his sin,
his cowardice.
The silent, knowing reply
that says Our Lord
has already forgiven.
This momentary relief
allows Him to steady,
to carry the world
upon His shoulders
once more.

VI – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A courageous woman
overwhelmed
with compassion, with love
compelled to act
presses through the line,
past the iron clad soldiers
supervising state ordered murder.
Unveiling her head
ignoring shouts for modesty
to relieve the shame
far greater than her own
of an innocent man, condemned.
The sweat, blood and spittle
that marred His face
casts His visage on her scarf.
A relic of mercy.

VII – Jesus falls for the second time

My Lord,
My God,
those bent knees
and buckled legs
now give way again.
It is as though the sand
reaches up
grabs his robe
and pulls Him down.
Pressed upon the stones,
hauled over the grit
that finds every open wound,
every sore, every bleeding crack
and reminds Him,
viscerally,
of that inner pain.
Beaten again by guards
who see only the cross
and know not what
He truly carries.

VIII – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

They gather on the sidelines
they weep, they wail
but this is more
than cultural conformity.
They gather around His mother
and weep for her,
with her.
Witnesses to unspeakable horror.
Yet they do not flee
but draw closer
not to gawp at His broken body
unable to be balm
for those wounds
but offering more,
a dignified solidarity,
a recognition
of innocence stolen.
That paradox,
snatched but offered
by all, for all.

IX – Jesus falls for the third time.

My Lord,
My God,
not just a stumble,
not a momentary pause.
Exhaustion grips
His now wretched form.
Skin retreats further
from the wounds
that are cut deeply
into frail flesh.
Like marks made
by a mason
hewn in rock
as a monument
to suffering.
Shoulder wrenched,
dragged to His feet,
soldiers battle the ground
that draws Him to itself.
Limp between two forces
the cross now a scaffold
to keep Him alive,
just long enough to die.

X – Jesus is stripped of his clothes

His final footstep
as He reaches the summit.
And now,
the pinnacle of His shame
as the once seamless robe,
now ripped and ragged,
that barely covered His body
is pulled from Him
and cast aside.
He stands, barely
and barely stands
as those would be grave robbers
cast lots before He’s dead.
Celebrating their success
and triumph
as those that pass spit
or shake their heads
or jeer and mock.
They have taken it from Him
His attire, His dignity,
His life.

XI- Jesus is nailed to the cross

Pushed upon it,
that cross He carried.
Arms pulled, legs restrained.
Not that He can struggle,
strength depleted,
robbed by the death march
diminished by the taunts
stolen by the burden.
Gnarled hands are opened
fingers held back
the sharp tip scratches
a hint of all that follows.
The glint of light
hits the hammer head
as it gathers force,
strikes the nail
and pins Him
painfully to the tree.
The scream is just as piercing
agony and blood flow.
Some fall silent,
conscience pricked,
others cheer
rebellion suppressed.

XII – Jesus dies on the cross

Hoisted aloft.
Those three pins
through flesh, and bone,
carry the weight.
Crimson tears drop
falling in unison
with His mothers tears
with His brothers anguish.
Eyes aloft, He gasps,
barely breath to speak.
Behold your mother
His final act,
places His mother in John’s care
It is finished.
Those eyes close,
as the sky darkens.
It is not finished,
it has only just begun.

XIII – Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Chin on chest,
no longer moving.
Suspicious soldier,
holds his spear aloft,
thrusting callously
into His side.
Water.
Blood.
Those liquid life forces
spatter the earth below.
A hasty death confirmed.
Cross cut down,
its purpose served,
hands, feet,
pulled from nails,
pop free.
The corpse,
now lifeless,
is wrapped.
Dignity protected,
far too late,
as He returns to the ground.

XIV – Jesus is placed in the tomb.

Incoming Sabbath
prepared celebration.
His panicked followers
weep through practicalities.
A borrowed tomb
clean, fresh
a place of final rest.
If only they knew,
if only they could believe.
Spices, oils, balm,
crisp linen.
Cherished body,
lovingly cradled.
But they must let Him go.
Enormous stone, heaved,
rolled into place.
The final shafts of light,
banished from that body.
The final waft of outside air
stilled and stifled.
Desolation reigns
the forlorn retreat
unnerved, unknowing.
’til divine light dawns.

SJMC+
Written: 27th-28th Feb & 1st-2nd March 2018

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