Station One

Psalm 84:5

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

Welcome to The Way of the Cross: a spiritual prayer pilgrimage.  A pilgrimage is a journey, often to a holy place or shrine.  In the early centuries of Christianity many pilgrims visited the holy city of Jerusalem.  A popular practice was to visit the places where Jesus actually walked, especially the route he traveled as he carried his cross to the hill where he was crucified. 

In the middle ages it became less and less possible to actually travel to the holy land so practices were developed to allow the devout to take a symbolic spiritual  pilgrimage.  Tableaus representing the places and events of Jesus' life were erected in many churches and on special holidays the faithful would travel from scene to scene.  From this custom developed the modern day practice of traveling the Stations of the Cross.  Many also believe that the labyrinths that were inlaid into the floors of medieval cathedrals were another device designed to allow the faithful to take the same kind of spiritual pilgrimage. 

We have designed this event to allow you to take a spiritual pilgrimage, as well.  We have gathered here a number of "experiences" that illustrate the events of the last week of Jesus' life.  We have attempted to weave together symbols and objects--art, poetry, music--so that the true significance of the events can emerge.

We hope that this experience will be meaningful to you and that you will draw closer to God because of it.  In order to make this time as meaningful as possible we recommend that you enter this pilgrimage with an open heart.  Be open to learning more about the spiritual meaning of the events that are depicted.  Take your time.  We have placed chairs close to each station so that you can sit if you desire. If something "jumps out" or you have a suspicion that there is a deeper meaning that is just over the mental horizon, then stop.  Savor the experience and expectantly wait to see where it might lead.  Be sensitive.  You do not need to go to every station.  Pray and ask for God's leading.

In fact we call this a "prayer pilgrimage" because we expect that this experience will be most meaningful to you if it is done in an attitude of prayer--have your mind set on God and continually ask Him to bring you insight and to lead your reflection.  At each station we will suggest possible topics for your prayer and even offer a written prayer for you to pray, but don't let this limit you.  Please feel free to allow God, if He so desires, to lead you in a completely different direction!
So, would you pray right now? Ask God to make this experience meaningful and ask him to pour light into your spirit so that you might gain understanding and wisdom.

John Wesley was an Anglican priest and the founder of the Methodist movement.  He wrote this prayer sometime during the eighteenth century.  Will you pray with us?

O Lord, Let nothing divert our advance towards you, but in this dangerous labyrinth of the world and the whole course of our pilgrimage here, your heavenly dictates be our map and your holy life be our guide. Amen