Via Dolorosa (“Way of Grief” in Latin) or Via Crucis – Way of the Cross, is a road in the old city of Jerusalem, a path where Jesus was led away in agony, carrying His cross through the streets after he had been judged, tried, tortured and condemned to be crucified on a cross on Golgotha Hill.
Christians around the world, and even in my small town of Cochrane, Alberta, will walk the “Way of the Cross” on Good Friday, in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. There are a total of 14 stations along this “walk”, where the Easter Story will be read and hymns of remembrance will be sung. For many years, my husband and I have attended this solemn walk, gathering alongside those in our community who choose to remember Christ’s life, death and His victory over death on Resurrection Sunday.
The traditional 14 Stations of the Cross originally began as a Roman Catholic devotion and is commonly done during the season of Lent, on Good Friday, however of the 14 Stations, only eight are explicitly mentioned in the Gospels. Thus, in 1991, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotions called the Scriptural Way of the Cross, that are grounded in Scripture. It is this devotion, that our ecumenical community adheres to each year, as we walk in procession down the main street of Cochrane. Our final stop is at the cenotaph, where the cross, that has been carried along by various members of the church congregations, is raised beside the bowed head of the bronze serviceman statue. A white cloth is draped over the cross brace as the crowd silently disperses. On the morning of Easter Sunday, the white cloth is replaced with a purple one and we greet one another with “HE IS RISEN!”
“He is Risen Indeed!”
Over these many years, I have lost loved ones to sickness and tragic circumstances. I have attended their funerals and I miss them. I grieve for a loved one’s passing, but I seldom remember the exact day someone died. I don’t feel the need to memorialize them every year, on their “death day” nor do I visit their graves. I’m not being heartless, I just firmly believe they have left the confines of their earthly bodies and are experiencing their eternal reward. They are not “present” on earth anymore. I rejoice for those who are in the arms of Jesus, and I grieve over those who are eternally separated from God because of their unbelief. I have confidence when I die, I will be reunited in Heaven with those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. I look forward to this reunion with great anticipation and joy. Death does not scare me.
Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection is my surety of life after death. If I believe the Scriptures to be true, and I wholeheartedly do, I do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope, for I believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again, and I believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. The Lord will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first, and those still alive will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever! (Paraphrased from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
“In Christ Alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm…”
(“In Christ Alone” written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)