Stations of the Cross

Preparations – you may want to gather some of the following in preparation for your time of prayer:
* Hammer and wood     * Thorn or sharp nail
* Cross you can hold     * Note paper and pen/pencil
* Small rocks                * Bowl of Water
* Mirror and tissue       * Vinegar and cotton swab

Pray: Dear Jesus, I love you and thank you for loving me. I am often so busy with work and play that I ignore you. Today I want to follow you up the hill to the cross so that I may know a little better at each station what you gave for me, God’s child. If I had been the only person in the world, you would have been willing to suffer in just the same way. I come now to rest and listen to you, O God of my salvation. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

1st Station: Jesus is Condemned
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate and condemned him, saying, “He deserves to be crucified.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and handed him over to be crucified.

**Take the mallet and strike the wood, saying “Behold the man. Do with Him as you wish.” **

Pray: Dear Jesus, there you stand a prisoner, having done no wrong. You spent your whole life doing good. Help me to remember that you gave yourself so that we might have peace, through the way of the cross. Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

2nd Station: Jesus receives a Crown of Thorns
It was a cruel thing to do, to make a crown out of sharp thorns and then pound it onto Jesus’ head. That must have hurt a lot. But what hurt even more was knowing that he deserved a different crown the finest one of all. For Jesus is the King of everything, And He promises to give everyone who trusts in Him a crown of everlasting life. To make that possible, He wore that awful crown for me.

** Touch the crown of thorns. Imagine the pain it would have caused Jesus.

Pray: Most holy Lord, our lives are filled with things that seem so unholy: television, automobiles, business and busy ness, worries and fears; money: making it, spending it, not having it. Sometimes we become overwhelmed, and there’s not much left for you: church when we have no other plans, prayer when we have no other hope, offering when me have no other bills. To walk the straight path, we must walk step by step, but still our feet often trip. You are always with us, even when we fail. Lord Jesus Christ – Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner Amen.

3rd Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross
Jesus went out ~ carrying His own cross, to the place called “The Place of the Skull,” Golgotha. Although He was the Son of God, He learned to be strong through what He suffered. The cross they lay upon His shoulders was so heavy. How it must have hurt. He was already tired and wounded, how could He carry it up that steep hill? The Scriptures tell us: “The Lord laid on Him the burdens of us all. For the sins of the world He was wounded. “

**Touch the cross. Lift and hold it and silently pray for God’s help.””

Pray: Dear Jesus, help me to recognize that the crosses in my life lead to You. I begin to understand that I too must be changed into your image. May all the people I encounter this week find You in me. May I hear Your voice in their needs, their pain, their hopes. And may I respond with Your loving compassion. Be with me on my journey, loving God. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

4th Station: Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother
Along the way, close to where Jesus must pass, stands His mother, watching Him following Him. What does He read in her soul? Her heart is breaking as His body is being broken. And she can do nothing but try to stay near Him, to be with Him in this desperate hour as the soldiers and the crowd push and shove Him up the hill. She is there, with Him, looking upon the Holy of Holies. The Scriptures tell us: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The Lord will be your everlasting Light and your days of sorrow shall end”

** Take a moment and pray for all mothers, yours in particular. Write their names.

Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

5th Station: Jesus Falls

It is not the stone underfoot, nor the ropes which tie Him to the cross… it is the spirit which suddenly fails. O center of my life! O unresisted fall…stretching forth His arms, He falls not on His knees, but on His face … the body falls as the spirit consents…

** As you are able, kneel on the floor. **

Pray: Dear Jesus, in the quiet of my heart, I hear Your call to follow. I see You bearing the cross, and I am both afraid and encouraged: afraid of the call to service and self denial; encouraged by Your promises to eternal love and life and the compassion that calms our fears. Jesus, help me always to hear Your call, and to respond with a loving and ready heart. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner Amen.

6th Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
So comes the moment when Jesus stops. He can go no further alone. This is the moment when we become involved. The moment when He allows us to be used, to help carry His cross. And so Simon of Cyrene was harnessed to His cross. The cross must not be dragged. The cross must not be lost. Jesus had said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Faith searches for Him. Only the world blocks out the call. Listen to Jesus, Love and service direct the way. Only the listening ones hear the call … Will you follow? Must I respond? Or else who will?

** With whom will you share God’s love. Write their name and pray for that person**

Pray: Lord, Jesus Christ ~ Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

7th Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
As Jesus ascended the dreadful hill, He turns and sees the women who have followed Him. They are weeping, crying to see Him so hurt and abused. He turns to them and says, “Don’t cry for me, but for yourselves and for your children.” What is the salvation of man that to accomplish it, the Son must tear Himself from the heart of the Father?

** Dip your hand in the bowl of water, signifying tears. Draw the sign of the cross on your cheek.

Pray: Dear Jesus, help us to be truly sorry for how we hurt you and other people, and to turn to you for the grace to live our lives with the same love that you had for us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

8th Station: A Woman Wipes the Face of Jesus
All the disciples but one have left Him. Peter himself denied he knew Him. And Jesus’ face was all covered with dust and blood from the crown of thorns. People kicked Him, hated Him, spat upon Him. Into the rain of insults came a woman, taking His sore, wounded head into her hands, and gently, oh so gently, wiping the stains from His face. He looked into her eyes, thankful that she had been so brave, and was not afraid to show that she loved Him.

** Take a tissue, and wipe your face as if it had been Jesus ~ Think of how very much H
e loves you.

Pray: Turn us to you again, O God, Show us the light of Your face, and we shall be made whole. Help us to remember, Jesus, that we are all made in Your image, and that every person we meet bears the reflection of the awesome, loving face of God within his or her heart. Help us to show our love for You openly, and not be afraid to say we belong to You and that we are Your children. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

9th Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time
For the last time, Jesus stumbles and falls to the ground. Shall He ever be able to get up again? Is there a way? The cross crushes Him with its weight. The people around wonder if He is not dead already. Maybe it would be easier to lie down than to stand; harder to live and finish this journey than to give up harder to die on the cross than beneath it. The Scriptures tell us: “He was led like a sheep to be killed, and like a lamb silent before his sheerer, he opened not His mouth in protest.”

Pray: Dear Jesus, help us not be discouraged, even when we feel despair and keep falling into the same hurtful sins. Give us the strength to begin again, knowing that you love us and are with us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

10th Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
Now, at the top of the hill, the soldiers lay their hands upon Jesus. They take His tunic and seamless robe … they dare to look upon His nakedness. They have left Him nothing; they have taken everything from Him. There is no hiding place. He has no defense. Where now is the mighty God? All we see is a man of sorrows, weeping and beaten. They gave Him bitterness to eat, and when He was thirsty, they gave Him vinegar to drink.

** Dip a swab in the bowl of vinegar and taste it.

Pray: Lord Jesus, in Your humiliation, in Your shame, have pity on those who are beaten by the strong. Have mercy on those who have broken and torn relationships. Have mercy on those who are alone. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

11th Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Now the time has come. Now the deed is done. His feet and hands are stretched out against the hard, splintered wood. He can no longer escape. He is nailed to the cross by His hands and feet. The Scriptures say. “They pierced His hands and feet; they stare at Him and mock Him”

** Take a nail; hold it in your hand and squeeze, feeling the sharpness against your palm.

Pray: Dearest Jesus, who did stretch out Your arms of Love on the hard wood of the Cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: so clothe us in Your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in Love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and Love of You, for the honor of Your name. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

12th Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Pray: Dear Jesus, You are hanging on the cross and dying, You are dying for me, so that I can be God’s child. You are not angry with the men who killed you … You have forgiven them, and asked Your Father to forgive them. Everyone has left you, except your mother and a few friends … I will stay too, and wait with you, for these very… few… minutes… The Scriptures say: “Christ became obedient unto death for our sake, even death on a cross.”

** In the silence, pray for someone you need to forgive. Write a prayer to express your experience. **

Pray: Dearest Lord, mercifully grant that I, walking in the way of the cross, may daily turn away from my sins and learn to walk with You in the life, Love, and Joy of Your resurrection. Savior of the World, by Your cross and precious blood, you have redeemed me. Thank You that You have delivered me from the power of sin and death and brought me into the kingdom of Your Son; I pray that, as by His death He has called me to Life, so by His Love may I be raised with Him to eternal Joy. To Christ Jesus, our Lord be glory, honor, and blessing forever and ever. Amen.

Easter Prayer Vigil – Good Friday evening through Easter Sunday morning

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.” Phil 3:10

We gather to pray. We pray to hear God.
We pray for our friends and family in need.
We pray for those who need to know God.
We pray to be conformed to the image of his Son.

We pray because He prayed.

Jesus asked his disciples in his darkest moment,
“Could you not watch with me one hour?’ (Mt 26.40)

Let your answer be, “YES!”

Our congregation joins with Christians around the world who gather to pray especially during this time. The Easter Prayer Vigil tradition goes back at least to the second century AD, during which time new believers made their final preparation for baptism. Please include others – friends, neighbors, family, co-workers – in this powerful time of prayer as we seek to draw closer to God.

* You may register for more than one 30 minute time slot.
* You will be provided with a printed prayer guide beginning Palm Sunday.
* You can call the church to have your name written in on a time slot.
* You are welcome to come to the church to pray, or pray wherever you are at your chosen time.

You will also find several prayer guides:
• covering the scripture passages for Lent and Easter
• Giving general guidance for prayer
• Outlining how to pray the stations of the cross
• Outlining how to pray the seven last words of Christ from the Cross
In addition, you may find it useful to pray through lists of folks you know, such as address books and phone directories from church, school, work, etc.

Take this time to quiet your heart and mind and allow God the opportunity to speak into you.

Repent and turn to God
So that times of
may come
It is no longer
my life,
but Christ lives in me
and I live my life
for God.

Sermon Study for Sunday 04102011 – Ezekiel 37 vs1-14 Repent and Turn back to God: Can these dry bones live?

Season Theme Scripture – Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21 who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.

Call to Worship – Psalm 130 –
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive
     to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
     Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
     so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
     and in his word I hope;

6 my soul waits for the Lord
     more than those who watch for the morning,
     more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
     For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
     and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. 
John 11: 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” …
11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” …
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Romans 8: 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Ezekiel 37: 1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”
Repent and Turn back to God: Can these dry bones live?
Notes for reflection: Sometimes things look dead, but they are not. Other times thing are dead, and look hopeless, but again, they are not. As we heard in 1 Samuel 16, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. And Jesus said, “Unless a seed fall to the ground and die, it can not bear fruit.” (John 12:24)
1. When have you experienced something restored to new life? Have you ever restored a car, a house, a piece of antique furniture?
2. Do you recognize ‘a diamond in the rough’ – that thing which is truly valuable, but just needs to have the life breathed back into it?
3. What in your life looks like a lost cause? A relationship? A job? Health? A project? An organization?
4. When things look and feel hopeless, where are we looking as our source of hope? In what do we hope?

5. Read the story of Elijah, the widow of Zarephath and her son – What does it say to you? How can you serve another in your time of need?