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This page was last
updated on:
March 15, 2017


  

Trinity's Way of the Cross
The Story of Trinity's Way of the Cross...Guided by the Holy Spirit

Introduction

Station 1
Jesus in the garden

Station 2
The arrest of Jesus

Station 3
The trial of Jesus before the priests and teachers of the law

Station 4
Condemnation from the High Priest Caiaphas

Station 5
Pilate with Jesus

Station 6
The guards beat Jesus

Station 7
Jesus taken to Golgotha

Station 8
Jesus speaks on the way to the Cross

Station 9
Jesus is crucified

Station 10
It is dark

Station 11
Jesus speaks on the Cross

Station 12
Jesus dies

Station 13
Jesus is entombed

Station 14
The body in the tomb

Acknowledgements

The Story of Trinity's Way of the Cross

In telling the story of how Trinity’s Way of the Cross worship experience came into being, we are reminded of how the Holy Spirit works to bring about something that is far greater than any of the individual tasks involved. The Holy Spirit guides us and whispers inspiration often when we are least aware and when we seem to struggle in untapping creative ideas.

Jeff Weaver remembers that in her staff notes for the April 2006 Trinity Parish, Pastor Nancy Easton talked about retracing Jesus’ steps in our preparation for Holy Week and the events of that week. That article became the inspiration for Trinity’s Way of the Cross. From that initial inspiration, the concept of ‘doing’ the Way of the Cross during Holy Week using some already published devotional evolved into creating a Way of the Cross devotional that was unique to Trinity.

In the summer of 2006, Jeff emailed Maggie Ackerman who was spending the summer in Vermont with her daughter and family. At the time Maggie was very much "into" the Vermont way of life and feeling a bit disconnected from events at Trinity and home. Checking email at the library one day, she read Jeff’s invitation to be part of the Way of the Cross project and immediately was drawn to the possibilities of using Trinity’s artists to create works based on the events of Holy Week. Without hesitation she emailed him back that she’d love to help.

Well before the conception of this project, Christopher Couch had been writing poetry on the events of Holy Week. Ever since Christopher had experienced the Stations of the Cross, using a Way of the Cross text, several years at Saint Joseph Church in Mechanicsburg, he had thought about composing a Way of the Cross text himself. Many writers have done this. After meeting with Jeff and Maggie on preparing the Stations of the Cross experience at Trinity, Christopher realized that the stations themselves should probably be different in some ways from the traditional Roman Catholic stations. Having researched the stations that several Lutheran churches practice and finding them actually using the traditional stations, Christopher nonetheless felt that the Lutheran tradition and Trinity parish deserved its own stations and text for the practice.

So the stations were selected, all taken from Scripture referencing the last events in the mortal life of Christ from just after the Last Supper through to Christ's burial. Selections from those Scriptures were used in Trinity's Way of the Cross. Christopher decided to create the inner voice of the suffering Christ for the reflective text to accompany each station in the Way of the Cross. He chose to emphasize the human part of Christ's experiences and reactions, since the human part of Christ is the one we can know best and thus, through that, engage with the Passion itself. Guided prayer was added to the Scripture selections and the reflective text for the practitioner's use. These prayers were in part influenced by Christopher's interest and experiences in spiritual formation and direction.

Now began the task of deciding what kind of art to represent the Stations. A variety of art mediums were desired to be reflective of the variety of ways that each worshiper would experience the Stations. We wanted to stay within the Trinity family, knowing that we have artistic talent in many forms. A list was made and it was up to Maggie to contact the artists, explain the vision and invite them to participate. At this point, the exact Stations had not been finalized, so the artists were in effect being asked to create a work in response to scripture which would not be given to them until a later date. Virtually all the artists that were contacted said “yes” – some immediately and some after prayerful consideration. One even had created a piece years earlier that she knew would fit perfectly (the Spirit does work where we are least expecting and not in our timeline!). Maggie tried to explain that she felt this would be a walk with the Holy Spirit as a guide and to please allow that to happen.

The original plan was that the artists would be given their "assignment" and then they would create their work. Somehow, that didn’t fit – there was something missing. What was needed was a formal recognition and ‘sending’ of exactly what was happening – which this group of 14 people was being asked to set off on a journey with the Holy Spirit guiding their creativity and God-given talent. So it was proposed that they be formally commissioned at one of Trinity’s regular worship services on November 12, 2006.

The artists set to work. It’s interesting to note that some of the artists struggled and needed to do much research while others got a vision of what they were to do almost immediately. Some have included their stories here.

Throughout the process, it was strongly felt that this would not be an art exhibit and the question became: How do we create a worship experience with the artwork being only one part of the whole and yet display each Station so the worshiper could experience the scripture, meditation and the visual (or auditory)? Somehow we had to separate each station to give the participant space and privacy as well as an uncomplicated flow from one station to another. Through a series of creative meetings came the idea of constructing the illusion of flow plus separateness and privacy using gauzy panels hung from the ceiling.

It’s interesting to note that through a series of calculations and research on the Internet to find the right fabric at the right price, Maggie ended up ordering many bolts of fabric from Dharma Trading Company in Nebraska – they had just the fabric we needed. When the order came, it was 3 bolts short, but we had been charged the full amount. Maggie called the company immediately, they were shocked that that had happened (they even had the record of the mistake) and would right away either send the other bolts or a refund. Maggie wanted to go ahead and cut what we had to see exactly how much more was needed. It sort of felt like loaves and fishes when the cutting was done, because what was sent was exactly the amount needed for the 25 panels – Maggie had made the initial calculation error! The refund was sent immediately AND the company wanted a photo of the result because they had not heard of anyone using the fabric in this way. Holy Spirit….??

Palm Sunday 2007 arrived and immediately after morning services work began gathering components and props from all corners of the church. By 6:00 PM, we had created the first Way of the Cross experience. The day before, we had come together for a dry run to decide exactly the best most efficient way to hang the panels to minimize the set up time for Sunday. Devin Ackerman had been part of the group designing the setup and she brought her boyfriend with her on Sunday. Ryan Miller is an architecture student with a gift for creative space. He was instrumental in the final placement of the panels and visuals.

The following are reflections from some of the artists regarding their experience in creating their piece of artwork for the Way of the Cross. Please take time to read them and reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit.
 


“JESUS IS CARRIED TO THE CROSS”
Becky Enney

How cool! What a neat idea! I loved it from the very first mention of a “Way of the Cross” exhibit/worship experience! When I read the assigned scripture and words that Christopher Couch had written, I immediately had a concept. Not like immediately, within days, I mean immediately at that very second. It was all there in my head.

But because of the crunch of the upcoming (and much loved) Christmas express train that many of us experience in November and December each year, I put off even thinking about what and how I wanted to create “Jesus is Carried to the Cross.”

So I tucked my idea away in the wrinkles of my brain until January 1, 2007. New Year’s Day afternoon I got out some old Trinity church calendars (we’ve got them back to 1973!). These calendars feature biblical scenes and I set aside the ones that appealed to me for background scenery. I fell in love with the color and design on the calendar for 2000 with the work of Dr. He Qi, artist-in-residence and associate professor at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary in Nanjing, China.

Now that I had images to place into my concept (not sure how I had a concept without images, but I did . . .) I simply drew it on the clean side of some old computer paper and within days I took my drawing to the church copier and enlarged into REALLY BIG sections. Then I traced over the copies to make patterns, cut out my fabric and started sewing.

First I made the background with nine patches in a “blooming nine patch” pattern that blends color transitions nicely. There are well more than one thousand pieces in the background alone. Much of the foreground is hand appliquéd but I also used my brand new sewing machine to do some free motion appliqué (that means you “drop your feed dogs,” those jaggedy teeth near the bobbin that move the fabric). I hand-embroidered the letters on the bottom left after I machine-quilted the whole piece.

I worked on this project every day until the week after it was due! (Yes, I turned it in late!) I loved what was happening on this quilt! I wanted the facial expressions of sadness and grief to show how even we are carried into the death of Jesus Christ our Lord.

I was surprised at my feelings of embarrassment when family or friends would look at what I had sewn. It was kind of like I was allowing them to peer down into a private part of me, into a place where faith and grief and joy are quite personal.

In the summer of 2007 I entered this quilt into a nationally judged show called Quilt Odyssey in Hershey.

When I walked into the exhibition room at the Hershey Convention Center and saw my quilt, (my personal and private expression of faith) hanging with quilts that far exceeded my abilities in workmanship and design, I was indeed embarrassed! I was embarrassed now because I had only been looking at my quilt in faith and not with the open eyes of the qualified quilt judges! Alas, I am a rather mediocre quilter. But you can’t say my heart was not in it!
 


“JESUS IS CRUCIFIED”
Patty Marshall

Although the intensity of the Way of the Cross experience may have softened, I expect it will resurface as we approach Holy Week once again. I was more than honored when asked to create a work of art that reflected the above biblical passage, a monumental one at that.

My Heavenly Father has granted me the gift of living in the wonderful world of the visual arts my entire life. It is both my obligation and my desire to work hard and develop this gift to give back to Him. Through the years, there have been many and varied opportunities to do this. Not the least of which was the humbling experience that a chalice and paten of my hand were used in communion services. The Way of the Cross was also such an explicit Christian experience as most of my work is not overtly “Christian.” References, yes. Subtle, yes. Many of my deepest emotional faith experiences have been in His world of Nature thus influencing my art; but this, Luke 23:33, 34b-38, the magnitude of the Crucifixion, to me, called for a direct visual interpretation. I researched several aspects of this passage including “…the place called the skull…” which is Golgotha. The association was apparent in the photographs, especially as I studied the human skull. Through the grace of God, visual images were readily forthcoming, including the imagery and symbolism inside the human head. I love topography and how words, quotes, and proverbs are incorporated into visual presentations; and, I included those disturbing phrases as part of the makeup of the skull. These aspects, as well as some of the figurative images, were, however, uncomfortable for me. Rightly so, for I had to form the cruel, demeaning actions against our Jesus. I could not let it go at that; so, I included some faith details of my own. Searching for just the right size, I found a tiny berried branch that I included at the foot of the cross. This is to represent the “rod of Jesse” and hope for the remnant to carry on. Also, in a subtle way, I wanted to include a pencil drawing, another favorite form of art for me. Again, in the vein of hope among this turmoil, I drew a lamb’s head on the surface of the skull. Finally, the crude scenario did not call for a refined base so I found part of an old fence and laboriously sawed it for an appropriate mount, adding antique handmade nail to seal it (pun intended).

The challenge and thrill of developing this sculpture was superseded by the reactions and comments of the viewers. I was and am deeply touched that they appear to have experienced my intent. May God Bless.
 


“JESUS IN THE GARDEN”
Jane Eichenberger

When I was invited to participate in the Way of the Cross experience, I was a little apprehensive at first. Then, after reading my Scripture, it hit me like a ton of bricks: "Luke 22:43-46."

There were lots of cousins in our family, especially when we all congregated at my grandparents' cottage and woods "way out near Lewisberry." I must have been all of 5 or 6, when we got permission to go to the "woods" to play. There was a gentle spring where I remember trying to catch minnows with my little hands, the cold spring water making me squeal as I played in my bare feet. Most of all, I recall lying on the grass and squinting at sunbeams glistening through the trees above. But I had a few moments of unrest, because I was afraid that the other kids would run back to the cottage without me and I would not be able to find my way. They never did that, though. But when I read the Scripture in Luke, I had an immediate flashback to that experience.

Some years ago, while at the "Jerusalem Experience" in Disney, I took lots of photos of the scenes played out before me, especially the one of the actor portraying Christ - he was "really" convincing, walking through the crowds of all of us tourists. I put one photo aside as a subject to paint some day, and, well, the rest is history!

I created my painting from the woodland experience I had nearly 70 years ago - I will never forget it.
 


“THE ARREST OF JESUS”
Roger Smith

As I was thinking about creating something in wood to depict the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane several themes or visions emerged. The garden as I discern it, is a dark woody place made up of a grove of olive trees. Being an overnight resting place for Jesus and the disciples there was tranquility hence the sleeping disciples.

There were movement and confrontation between the soldiers and others to bring Jesus before the Jewish authorities. The kiss by Judas, the use of a sword, the calm words of Jesus during the commotion were all part of the unfolding of scripture.

The kiss on the side of one “cheek” bowl along with the sword and the emergence of a new flower from the center of a broken bowl filled with life's imperfections represented
 


"A work in fabric"
Catherine F. Nye

Inspiration and symbolism of the Way of the Cross Banner

Scripture passages: Matthew 26:57-67; Matthew 27:11-14, 24-25;
Mark 14:60-64; Luke 22:66-67, Luke 23:1-10, 22-25; John 18:14

Meditation on the scripture passages describing the trial of Jesus before the priests and teachers of the law led me to illustrate the Kingship of Christ in my work in fabric for the Way of the cross. There is a wealth of symbolism involved in the banner. Some of it I’ve described below. Hopefully, through your meditation, you will find even more. The symbols I’ve concentrated on are as follows:

There are three main fabrics used in the banner (three representing the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit). The dark denim background illustrates the darkness of our sins. The frayed side edges indicate our frayed and scattered thoughts and lives. The hemmed top and bottom show that the Lord is able to bring all the broken pieces of our lives back together through His love. The crown, done in light ultrasuede, emphasizes Jesus’ eternal kingship. It is the visual, and scriptural, focal point of the banner. The royal purple velvet stripe on the crown represents His royal ancestry and His all-encompassing love for all people. A dark gray, rough-sided leather was used to make the cross, the symbol of His suffering and sacrificial death so that we might be blessed with eternal life.

The buttons have symbolic messages as well. There are a total of ten buttons: three for the Holy Trinity, six for the six days of creation, and one for God’s day of rest after His creation was completed. The “creation and day of rest buttons” could also represent the seven continents, all of whose people Jesus died to save. The triangular button at the top is another representation of the Holy Trinity. The small purple-stoned button includes the Star of David, illustrating Jesus’ Jewish ancestry. The rose button in the center of the cross refers to Jesus’ sometimes being called the Rose of Sharon, as in the hymn, “Lo How a Rose e’er Blooming.” And finally, the three centered buttons represent the three crosses standing on Golgotha on that dark day.

May God bless you in your Lenten journey and fill your heart with Easter joy.

THE KING

“Are you the King, the Christ, Jehovah’s Son?” they asked. --- Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas

“Yes”, the reply. What could He have said? With that one word he would soon be dead. Dead, the man, but the King would rise. How could they have know?

How great their surprise!

The King lives on through my life and through yours. In our hearts, through our love, His love endures.

And the King awaits upon His throne to someday bring us safely home.

                                                             Catherine F. Nye
                                                             April, 2007
 

To Introduction
 
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

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