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A Message for Holy Week from Bishop Bryan: Journey to the Cross


As we join Jesus’ journey through Holy Week we all bring with us heavy burdens of grief. The path Jesus walked to his crucifixion is traditionally referred to as The Via Dolorosa—the way of sorrows. It is marked by “Stations of the Cross” commemorating specific actions that occurred on the way to the cross. I encourage us to embrace the image of The Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross as guiding images for our observance of Holy Week.  

The title, “The Way of Sorrows” points to the suffering, rejection, and death of Jesus. It also seems particularly appropriate for the many layers of loss we have suffered due to COVID-19. This includes the death of loved ones, the economic loss due to business closures, and the loss of human connection due to physical distancing. Churches are the glue that hold communities together, and we have all been walking “the way of sorrows” as COVID-19 has directly impacted what we do best: bring people together in the name of Jesus. 

The phrase “Stations of the Cross” refers to stops along the path Jesus walked in Jerusalem. At each of the 14 stops we meditate on one element of Jesus’ sorrow. For example: Jesus takes up his cross, Jesus falls for the first time, Jesus meets his mother, and on it continues through the last station where Jesus is laid in the tomb. What Stations of the Cross are we walking during Holy Week 2021? My own list includes:  

  • lamenting the violence of mass shootings such as the Asian women killed recently in Atlanta and the killing of 10 people at a store in Boulder, Colorado;  
  • recognizing the futility of perpetuating racism, sexism, ageism, and other ways of living that disrespect the image of God in which all persons are created;  
  • thanking God for the adaptive spirit our local churches have shown over the past year; 
  • releasing any concern over General Conference and giving full attention to the wounds and sorrows of the those in the communities where we live;
  • praising God for those who have given an extra measure of service to others during the global pandemic: medical personnel, teachers, care givers, and others whose sacrificial work may only be known to God; 
  • hearing the cries of children, youth, and adults coming from domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide, poverty, and mental health needs.
Finally, remember the request of the Greeks who came to the Passover festival? They came to Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” And their request was answered when Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Now all people in all time periods can see Jesus, the Crucified One. And in his suffering, death, and resurrection, we make this great discovery:

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.            

They called him every name in the book, and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became our healing. 

The way of sorrows, painful as it is, leads to the cross. And there we meet the good news expressed by Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24: By his wounds we are healed.

Alive Together at the Table,

R. Lawson Bryan

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