First Baptist Church Wheaton has planned a different way (for them) of worshipping tonight. "The way to the Cross" will involve the congregation breaking into four groups which move to different parts of the church building, in order to remember howJesus journeys to the cross. Paintings (by church members) will help focus attention, and worship leaders have planned a variety of ways to help us all respond.
I am thrilled to be involved, helping lead a group. The journey begins with Jesus condemned to death (Luke 23:13-25), follows as he carries the cross helped by Simon the Cyrene (Luke 23:26-31), through to his crucifixion and being taken down from the cross (Matthew 27:27-61). So much happens on this terrible day we dare to call "good."
In personal preparation, among other things, I have spent some time visualizing bible events with the help of a book: The Bible and its Painters. Sometimes its pictures grab you, forcing you to think and pray anew. One such painting is "Christ carrying the Cross" by Hieronymus Bosch. It shows Jesus packed in a crowd, barely holding up the cross. Every face in the crowd is malevolent apart from three. Bosch really knows how to paint ugly people! But the three faces are extraordinary. Jesus, is in the center, tired yet serene with eyes closed, under the weight of the cross. The black face of Simon of Cyrene is filled with sadness and willingness. And, in the corner, a pious woman mourns. All the other faces speak of the worst of human nature that Christ goes to redeem.
It reminds me of a pilgrimage I once led to the Holy Land at Easter time. As we retraced the steps of Jesus down the Via Dolorosa, actually o Good Friday, Jerusalem was packed and noisy as a largely uncaring, unnoticing public went about its normal business. Thus it was on the first Good Friday. Yet this is THE day when everything changes, as Christ goes to die for the sake of ugliest and meanest in the crowd. And I know I am there somewhere too.