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Friday, April 02, 2010

Children and their families walk with Jesus



Note: I put this together last year as a way to make the Stations of the Cross more accessible to the children in our community of faith.  Tonight, they will read all the parts - the scripture and the meditations "Look at Jesus," and "Look at your heart."

I'm still 'test driving' this model, so any comments or suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. Of course, you really can't tell until you've experienced it, but I appreciate any first impressions you might have.  If you have used it, please let me know what you think.

A word about the art: I took pictures of the Eight Stations of the Cross which we hang in the bays of the church. They were commissioned in 1984 by my predecessor, John Branson. The artist is a man named Carl Henry who was born in Baton Rouge but moved to Hartford, CT where he became, by an action of the Great Cosmic Comic, a parishioner at Trinity Church, Hartford Connecticut, where John Branson was then rector.

I understand these paintings were considered controversial in 1984. They remain controversial today, which is why we use them every other year. People either love or hate them, which, in my estimation, is the true testimony of art. I hope you enjoy them.

There is a note at the end about how this meditation came to be. You are free to use and adapt them. Proper attribution would be appreciated.



Stations of the Cross:
Children and Their Families Walk with Jesus

Introduction

Stations are places where people wait while they are going from one place to another. A school-bus stop is like a station. People wait at train stations or bus stations or airports.

Stations are also places where people take time to think about Jesus as he went to die on a cross. They are “Stations of the Cross.” They show us how much Jesus loved us.

We are about to walk the Stations of the Cross. People have done this for centuries in places all over the world. People who take a spiritual journey are often called ‘pilgrims’. We are pilgrims who are walking the Stations of the Cross, stopping briefly at each Station to look at Jesus and look into our own hearts.

Christian pilgrims everywhere join together on Good Friday to walk this Sacred Path. We walk the same path with Jesus, through the eight stations that are reported in the Gospels, to remember this part of the Sacred Story of Jesus with our whole minds and hearts, our whole souls and bodies.

You may want to think of these Stations at other times during the year. You do not have to think of all of the Stations of the Cross on one day. You may want to come back over this journey and stay at one Station with Jesus for a few moments before you move to another Station. Whatever you decide, Jesus is with you and he loves you.

Before we begin, let us pray:

Be with us, O God, as we walk the Way of the Cross. Help us to look at you and look into our hearts that we might find there the path to mercy and love, compassion, peace and truth. Help us to be better people in your world. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

All sing the first two verses of "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle."


First Station: Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Reading: Matthew 27:15-19, 20-24
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”
Look at Jesus

Jesus is standing before angry people who are yelling and saying mean, hurtful things to him. They scream at him. Some of them tell lies about him, saying that he did bad things.

But Jesus stays quiet, even though he knows that he will be hurt. He knows that God is with him. He even asks God to help him forgive the people who are yelling and telling lies about him.

Look at Your Heart

Has anyone ever said mean or hurtful things about you, or has anyone ever told a lie about you? If someone did that to you, look at your heart and see how you felt. Maybe you were scared, or hurt, or maybe you felt very angry.

When you see how you felt, show your heart to Jesus. See Jesus loving you when you show him what happens in your heart. Then, when you are ready, you can ask Jesus to help him make your heart more like his. Maybe you want to ask Jesus to help you to remember that God is always with you.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.

Second Station: Soldiers make Jesus
carry a heavy cross



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Reading: Matthew 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him an dput a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Them they led him away to crucify him.
Look at Jesus

When the soldiers put a big, heavy cross on Jesus' shoulders, Jesus doesn't fight with them or say angry words to them. He knows that he has to carry this cross a long way, and he knows that the way will be very hard for him at times. But Jesus knows that God is with him, and he asks God to help him to carry this cross, even though it is heavy.

Look at Your Heart

Have you ever had something happen that was very hard for you? Sometimes children are very sick, or someone in their family is very sick. Sometimes adults or older children do not treat younger children nicely. Sometimes we just can't have things the way we want them.

Take some time to look at what your heart is like when this happens. Then, when you see what your heart is like, show your heart to Jesus. See Jesus loving you when you show him what happens in your heart. When you are ready, you can ask Jesus to help make your heart more like his.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.

All sing verse three of “Sing, my tongue the glorious battle”
Third Station: A man named Simon helps Jesus carry his cross


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Reading: Matthew 27:32-34
As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his corss. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the Place of the Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.





Look at Jesus

Jesus is so tired that the soldiers know he cannot carry the heavy cross by himself. So they look around and see someone who looks strong enough to help Jesus carry this cross. This person's name is Simon.

Jesus just looks at Simon and quietly whispers, “Thank you” to Simon. Then they continue on the long road, carrying the cross together.

Look at Your Heart

Sometimes helping someone can be difficult, for so many different reasons. Maybe you haven't finished something that you like to do, when someone asks you for help. Or maybe you just don't feel like helping that person.

Can you think of a time when you were asked to help someone and did not want to help? Show Jesus what it was like when that happened, and picture Jesus loving you as you show him your heart. Maybe you can even hear Jesus whisper, “Thank you for helping.” When you are ready, you can ask Jesus to help you to have a helping heart. (5)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.


Fourth Station: Jesus meets women who are crying



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world


Reading Luke: 23:27-31
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Look at Jesus

After Jesus gets up, he continues on the road carrying his heavy cross. He passes some women who are crying because they are so sad to see Jesus suffer.

But instead of thinking only of himself and how bad he feels, Jesus tells the women not to keep crying because of him. He tells them, instead, to take care of others, and especially to take care of their children.

Look at Your Heart

Sometimes it is easy to just think about ourselves -- about what is not going the way we want it, or about problems that we have. It is very hard, then, to think about other people. How does your heart look when you do that, when you think only about yourself?

Show your heart to Jesus, and picture Jesus loving you with your heart that way. When you are ready, can you ask Jesus to help you have a heart like his, a heart that thinks about other people and remembers other people? That’s the kind of heart Jesus has. (8)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.

All sing verse 4 of “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle.”

Fifth Station: Jesus’ clothes are taken away


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reading: John 19:23-25a

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
“They divided my clothes among
themselves,
and for my clothing they
cast lots. (Psalm 22:18)
And that is what the soldiers did.


Look at Jesus

Finally Jesus reaches the hill that is the end of the road he has to walk. Jesus knows that he will die here. But before he dies, the soldiers will do more to him. They pull off his long robe, and almost all his clothes are taken from him.

Jesus stands in front of the crowd with only a small piece of cloth covering part of his body. Jesus asks God to help him remember that he is not alone, that God is with him through all this.

Look at Your Heart

Is it hard for you to share or to give away something that you like? Do you sometimes like to keep everything for yourself? Do you ever let something of yours be the reason for bad feelings or bad words between you and someone else?

If you remember a time when something like this happened, remember how your heart felt. Then, show your heart to Jesus. You can ask Jesus to help you to have a heart that is like his heart. (10)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.



Sixth Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Reading: Luke 23:33-34a


When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Look at Jesus

How much Jesus hurts as the soldiers nail him to the cross. He hurts all over; he is tired and thirsty; he knows that he is going to die. But he looks at the people who have hurt him and, instead of saying bad things to those people, Jesus asks God to forgive them.

He looks at his mother and tells her to take care of others. Even when he is dying, Jesus is thinking of other people.

Look at Your Heart


Can you think of a time when someone hurt you with unkind words or actions? Was it hard for you to forgive that person?

Jesus knows that forgiving is hard to do. That's why Jesus will help to change your heart when you ask him to help you to forgive someone. See how your heart looks after you ask Jesus to do this. (11)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.

All sing verse 5 of “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle.”

Seventh Station: Jesus dies on the cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Reading: John 19, 26, 30


When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”


A time of reverent silence is held.
Look at Jesus

Finally, after the long walk, after falling three times, after having the men beat him, after being nailed to the cross and suffering on the cross, Jesus bows his head and dies.

Now this part of his life is over. There is nothing left for Jesus to give or to do. Jesus has given his life for all of us.

Look at Your Heart


Did you ever feel that you wanted to make something better, or that if you only tried harder, something would change that you want to change? Or maybe you felt that you did not try hard enough at something, and something bad happened.

If you can think of a time like that, then show Jesus your heart, and let him love you. When you are ready, you can ask Jesus to help your heart be more like his heart. (12)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One

Eighth Station: Jesus is buried

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Reading Matthew 27:57-61


When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Look at Jesus

Jesus’ friends wash his body and wrap it in a clean sheet. They touch his body gently, and then they put his body into a tomb. When they are finished, they push a very large stone over the entrance, so that no one can go inside.

Now there is darkness in the tomb where Jesus’ body lies, and all of his friends go home because they are very sad and tired.

Look at Your Heart


Can you remember a time when you were very sad to say “Good-bye” to someone? Maybe you were leaving the person for only a short time, or maybe it was for a long time. Maybe you said “Good-bye” to someone you loved when that person died.

Take a few moments to think about one of those times you were sad saying “Good-bye,” and show Jesus how your heart felt then. Try to picture Jesus loving you, and being with you with your sad heart. Let Jesus love you a lot; Jesus knows how sad your heart is. (14)

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One
Have mercy upon us.


Concluding Prayers before the Altar

Let us pray:

Holy God, we stand before your altar where, week after week, we celebrate the true presence of our Risen Lord. Help us always to remember that as a seed falls into the earth to die before it blooms to new life, Jesus is alive in a new way for us, bringing us to new life. When we look into our hearts, help us to find thanksgiving for the gifts you give to us, that we might become, more and more, the people you created us to be. Help us find you in our hearts and in the hearts of others, that together we may make the world a better place for everyone. We ask all these things in the name of Jesus, whose sacred body we are. Amen.


All sing verse 6 of “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle.”

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About the Stations of the Cross

These Stations of the Cross, meditations and prayers were adapted by the Rev’d Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, rector of The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham, NJ, from a work by Lucille Perrotta Castro, with consultation from Melissa Brandes, Linda Coogan, Brandon Dumas, Randy Johnson and Tim Wong, staff members at St. Paul.

They are designed to help children and families re-discover tradition of The Stations of the Cross and sacred hymns of the church for a new day and time in a personal walk with Jesus during Holy Week and throughout the year. It replaces the Service of the Word and the Reading of the Passion for the Traditional Good Friday Service. However, it can be used as a private meditation.

When this is used as part of the Good Friday liturgy, the first two verses of Hymn 166 “Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle” are sung as the congregation moves to the first station. Verse 3 is sung after the first two stations; verse 4 after stations three and four; verse 5 after stations five and six; verse 6 after stations seven and eight and the concluding prayers at the front of the altar.

© Elizabeth Kaeton 2009

16 comments:

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Amen.

They may be for children, but this grownup finds them pretty powerful. Thank you for posting them.

Anonymous said...

What's the background for these stations ?
no.4 I can recognise.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

They are meant by the artist to depict the scene in the gospel associated with the station.

Roland said...

I have an excruciatingly painful 'truth' to tell and, at the same time, one of divine blessedness...

Although you have touched upon and immediately gloss-over its profound significance, -without even so much as a moment's pause to ponder: Jesus Barabbas.

As one who was raised in the 'Church', it never even occurred to me to doubt "Jesus Christ" and all that attended to him. That said, I have since come to learn that nearly all of that which is contained in both the Holy Gospels and the New Testaments is a subtle misrepresentation of the actual truth. That revelation was certainly not easy to deal with, -indeed, it was fundamentally traumatic for me.

It was not enough for me to merely know and understand that Jesus [Barabbas] was as His Aramaic appellation implies i.e. 'Son of the Father' or 'God' and that He has been 'switched', scorned, denied, anathematized, if you will.

But it is not my intention to argue for or against either man, -more important that tell you truly the 'secret'... He did not die. Oh, the body 'dies', for sure, but like a Lit Candle (He Himself having been Lighted by John) Lights Another and then He is no more nevertheless, the Light is as it was before. Thus, as it was in the beginning, is now and always shall be... it is the Law.
The practical realization of the fact that He, in one human form and then another, continues to walk among His children... even to this day is the 'secret' to know. (This 'secret' is not written in any 'book' and, it is foolish to even look for Him in a 'book'.)

Our birthright is to know Him in the flesh... to see with our own eyes, to hear Him with our own ears.

Peace to you and Godspeed.

Roland, -a reluctant iconoclast.

Anonymous said...

What I meant was, why are they felt to be controversial ?

Anonymous said...

No. 4 is based on the iconic picture of the dustbowl.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Roland - I'm delighted by your post because it says to me that the power of this story is so strong that it stayed with you all these years so you could get the message beyond the Garden and Golgotha to the empty tomb. I only hope that these meditations for children will inspire the same kind of religious curiosity and lead them to a place of deeper faith.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Anon - I apologize for not understanding your question. I'm not sure of the background for these stations. I have not spoken with the artist nor did he leave any printed information. No.4 is very recognizable in an almost startling way. They are controversial for several reasons - well, in my community, anyway: they are a modern interpretation of the gospels which make people uncomfortable. They are abstract, and abstract art is a form that is unsettling to many who like their trees to look like trees and have a brown trunk and green leaves. Finally, some of the parents object to the violence of some of the scenes, saying that it is disturbing to their young children. One parent said she would not bring her child into church as long as those pictures were on display. Other people absolutely, positively love them.

Hence, controversial.

Anonymous said...

So would you say they are controversial because they connect not with ordinary reality - appearance - but with something mythological or the subconscious if you will ?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Maybe, Anon. Maybe.

Some of them find them disturbing because they don't like their religion to be disturbing.

romelover said...

Elizabeth--this is a wonderful way to walk children through the stations. We have done a shorter version (aimed at smaller children--most of whom are under 8) but I think the look at Jesus/look at your heart is right where our intentions are.

I love the art. It's profound.

I created the stations we used to use for the children, and while not quite this graphic, I didn't shy away from the violence that's there. In our experience, parents sometimes underestimate the ability of their children to "not mind" being disturbed. I hesitate to say "enjoy" but our little ones certainly engage in the story and ask a gazillion questions.
(We always estimate our service will be about an hour...because we do all 14 stations (there are permanent ones in the church, so we feel we should honor the tradition) and we ask between each station--"who will carry the cross for Christ?" and THAT takes time.

I find that the more we do Stations with the children (and our youth), the better they understand all the parts of the story. And BOY, can they retell it.

Thanks for posting this.

chrissie

Pam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

I don't see the link in no. 3.
And what's with the psycho-clown in no.5 ?

Mike said...

Heh, in nr.1 they look like they're wearing bishop's mitres !

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ah, and now you see why these paintings are so controversial

Bill said...

Anonymous said...
So would you say they are controversial because they connect not with ordinary reality - appearance - but with something mythological or the subconscious if you will ?


I would say they are controversial because they absolutely do connect with ordinary reality. People do not like being reminded that they are fully capable of such barbarism. We like to think we are civilized. This human propensity for violence, torture and inhumane acts has marched with us side by side down through our history. We like to think we are beyond it but it comes back to haunt us in the media. People do terrible things to other people. They did it in the time of Christ and they continue to do it even now. Jesus taught us that there is a better way. God, are we slow learners!