>The Stations of the Resurrection–Fourteenth Station–The Holy Spirit Descends at Pentecost

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(“Pentecost,” quilt by Linda Schmidt)

The Fourteenth Station–The Holy Spirit Descends at Pentecost

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: God’s plan for the disciples was made known in tongues of fire.

As the disciples pondered what God had in store for them next, they were more than likely not prepared for quite so dramatic an answer. As they were together in one place, a noise started to build–a rush of wind. Some of them must have looked up–was a storm brewing? There had been no distant noise of wind, no stillness before the storm, as one would expect.

Suddenly, the entire house was filled with the roaring noise of wind, as if a tornado had burst into the house–but instead of everything in the house blowing around, tongues of fire sprang from the air and landed on each of them. Many of them jumped, thinking they themselves were on fire, but the flames could not be patted or smothered out, and they did not wipe off. What was happening?

Certainly they were also noticing these tongues of fire on each other. Perhaps the one who spoke first looked at another and said, “Hey, you’re on fire!” But his utterance didn’t come out in Aramaic; it came out in some other language. Yet both the speaker and the listener understood each other. They must have all tried speaking after that–did each of them suddenly have this gift? As it turns out, they did, and the room must have been a marvelous hubbub of many languages and smiling faces as their bewilderment and fear turned to amazement.

Not only was the Holy Spirit in the room, she had distributed herself to each of the disciples. Suddenly, Jesus’ having left them was not so worrisome, because it was apparent that they would not simply have to “soldier on without him.” A power bigger than themselves would accompany them, and they would not be doing this alone.

Leader: God distributed his Holy Spirit among all the disciples;
People: Just as God has distributed the Holy Spirit among each of us.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

God of power and might,
sometimes we long for your small still voice,
but instead, you answer us in the rush of a whirlwind.
You distribute among each of us gifts and talents,
skills that land on us like tongues of fire,
that we cannot brush off, no matter how hard we try.
Give us a sense of awe about them and speak to them
instead of stomping around trying to extinguish them.
When we see your gifts that you have distributed to others,
open our mouths to praise them, no matter what language we use,
with the trust that our words are capable of being understood.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Concluding prayers:

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, you rose again, conquering sin and death;
People: Empower us to be messengers of your light and glory.

Leader: We thank you, Lord God Almighty, for the miracles of Easter–stories of resurrection, recognition of your power, and the realization of the Incarnation of your Son that resides in each of us.

Remind us that we truly are an Easter people–that in each of our life chapters of exodus, exile, and repentance, resides a resurrection and a restoration.

When we feel the wind of your Holy Spirit, persuade us to merely hold out our hand and catch what your divine wind blows into it, to close our hand and hold it close, ingest it, and continue to spread it throughout the world. Make every day of our lives a Pentecost, to hear your word and speak it in many languages–the language of our willing hands, the language of our actions, and the language of a humble heart.

We ask these things of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever,

People: Amen.

Leader: This concludes our Stations of the Resurrection. Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Thirteenth Station–Mary and the Disciples Wait in Prayer

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(“Pentecost,” by Sadao Watanabe)

The Thirteenth Station–Mary and the Disciples Wait in Prayer

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: Your mother and the eleven waited, but they were not sure why.

The disciples still could not wrap their brains around what just had happened. Jesus was gone again, but this time there was hope. Not knowing what else to do, they returned to Jerusalem, to the upper room, with Mary, and Jesus’ brothers, and prayed–and waited–and prayed some more–and waited some more.

What did this all mean? What were they to do? Where were they to go? All eyes in the room looked at Mary. She was the closest thing they had to Jesus now. Mary looked back at them, trying to hold her composure, trying to appear steady for them. She had no idea what to tell them. She again thought back to that day the angel had announced that she was with child, and told her about Jesus. She knew this was finally all coming true. But what was she to tell the disciples? She had not received any special signs. But she knew the most important thing she could do right now is be their mother. She could not be Jesus, but she could be their mother, the mother of Jesus, and what these men needed most was a calm, unfluttered mother in the room.

Mary sat, and she prayed. She thanked God for the gift of her son. She asked God to speak to all in the room. She asked God to simply reveal his will. She had no worries about these sorts of things, she’d been in this territory before. But her heart ached for these young men. She could feel the yearning they had to follow Jesus in a way they knew he would be pleased. She could not speak for her son–but she could pray for his work to go forward in the disciples.

Once in a while she would peek at them during her prayers, and she breathed a sigh of relief. They did not appear anxious. They were earnestly prayerful, but not anxious, or fighting, or high-strung. Mary could not know exactly what was going to happen, but she knew something was in the air, in that age-old maternal way that mothers “just know.”

Leader: Mary and the disciples sat, waited, and prayed;
People: They were unsure, but they were not fearful; hope filled the air.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Ever-patient God,
we thank you for that wonderous mixture
of Incarnation and humanity within us,
but sometimes we don’t know what to do with it.
Teach us to wait and listen.
Patience is not a natural state for us,
but we desire to do your will.
When we are unsure,
comfort us to the place where we can sit still and pray.
Calm us enough to simply attune the ear of our hearts to you.
Let us look up in our apprehension
and see your Son’s Blessed Mother,
a calm and consoling parent to our souls.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Twelfth Station–The Ascension of Jesus

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(“The Ascension of Christ,” by Salvador Dali)

The Twelfth Station–The Ascension of Jesus

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You left our mortal coil again, but this time, in glory.

The disciples knew, as they stood there on the mountain with Jesus, that something was about to change. It brought an electric sense of excitement to the group, but it was excitement tinged with fear. Was he going to leave to create new bands of disciples? Was he going to give each of them God-like powers? What would be the chain of command among those who remained? Peter had been given a specific charge, but what about the rest of them? Certainly Jesus would explain this to them.

As they were rolling these thoughts around in their heads, suddenly a cloud appeared, and when the cloud was out of sight, so was Jesus. Instead, two men in white robes had appeared. Were they angels? “Men of Galilee,” they told them, “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who had been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus had left them, with no further instructions. They were to figure it out on their own. But this time he had left them in glory, rather than through an indignant death. He had left them in the hope of new life rather than the darkness of death.

Leader: The cloud took Jesus from the disciples,
People: But the disciples were not abandoned; God’s holy presence remained.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Mysterious God,
Just as the disciples were left with the presence of angels,
we are left in our daily walk not with your physical Son,
but with his presence and your presence.
We are also left with your trust–trust that we,
using our hearts and minds, can discern your will and your desires for us.
Sharpen our skills to sense your presence within us
and to willingly be led by it.
Help us to feel the glimmer of your Incarnation
when we find ourselves walking in places
that we would never take ourselves on our own.
Show us the angels in our midst.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Eleventh Station–Jesus Commissions the Disciples Upon the Mountain

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(Icon by Andrej Rublëv, 1408)

The Eleventh Station–Jesus Commissions the Disciples Upon the Mountain

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You told the eleven to make disciples of all nations.

Jesus took the eleven to the mountaintop and told them, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Not everyone heard the message fully in their hearts. The passage says that “When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.” We are not given a glimpse at which disciples doubted, but it’s important to note that “they worshiped him anyway.” They somehow were able not to let their doubts get in the way of believing in the reality of the risen Jesus.

Mixed emotions must have run high in the group that day. It probably wasn’t hard to scan the faces of the group and see who was more pious, who was more doubtful, who was more attuned to a new state of being, and who was more apprehensive. The ones with doubts must have looked at the ones with stronger belief and thought, “What do those guys have what I don’t? Or have they lost their mind?” The ones more committed to Jesus’ message must have looked at the doubters, and thought, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you just do what Jesus says?” Perhaps they looked at each other and wondered how in the world they were going to stay together if Jesus was not around. He was sort of hinting he was going elsewhere. Why would he say, “I am with you always,” if he wasn’t planning to leave? Many of the disciples felt a gnawing in their gut that something was about to change, and it was a fearful gnawing. But it seemed important, somehow, that part of this was that they were to continue to worship Jesus together.

Leader: Jesus told the disciples he would be with them always,
People: And the disciples pondered the full meaning of his message.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Ever-present and living God,
your disciples worshiped together even they were not all of one mind
or one accord.
They could not totally understand each other’s feelings,
but they somehow knew that worshiping Jesus together
was bigger than their individual differences.
Empower us each time we are called to worship
to put aside what separates each of us from the other,
and to trust in the power of a holy meal in shared sacred space,
to build bridges between us.
Turn our heads to fix our eyes upon your Son
instead of examining each other.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Tenth Station–Jesus Forgives Peter and Commands him to Feed His Sheep

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(“Jesus’ Charge to Peter,” stained glass window, St. Edith Church, Bishop Wilton, photo by Roger Walton)

The Tenth Station–Jesus Forgives Peter and Commands him to Feed His Sheep

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You forgave Peter and called him to greater things.

As Peter stayed in the periphery of the group, his heart ached and his mind was going back and forth. He wanted to be in the middle of it all and be his boisterous self. But his mind kept replaying the three times he had denied Jesus, the times he hid in the shadows, the times he feared for his own life instead of sticking up for Jesus. Loyalty was important to Peter, and he struggled with his own feelings of disloyalty to Jesus and to himself.

Jesus had noticed that Peter had been strangely quiet and a little distant. Sometimes he would notice Peter sitting at the far edge with that look of a person wanting to say something, wanting to express joy, but being “held back.” He came up to Peter, put his hands on both his shoulders, looked him square in the eye, and said, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Peter dropped his eyes obediently, partly because he started feeling tears well up in them. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus replied. He took a hand and placed it under Peter’s chin, so their eyes met, and cocked his head forward with a serious look. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Now Peter could not hold back his tears. He felt exposed and embarrassed that Jesus was calling attention to him in front of the others. He shook his head up and down emphatically. He didn’t dare look anywhere except Jesus’ face. He didn’t want to see the looks of the others bearing down on him. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

As Jesus let Peter’s hot tears of embarrassment fall on his hand, he replied, “Tend my sheep.” Then he placed both hands square on Peter’s shoulders and for a third time asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

For a few moments, Peter said nothing and his chest heaved with each breath. Didn’t Jesus get it? Didn’t he understand how hard it was for him to answer when his own heart felt broken by his own feelings of betrayal? That he had denied him and hidden from the truth of who he was as one of his disciples, and now he was being put on the spot? The words came out this time in an explosive, painful sob. “Lord, you know everything; YOU KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU.”

A huge smile crossed Jesus’ face and Peter breathed a sigh of relief as Jesus squeezed his shoulders and nodded at him. “Then feed my sheep.”

Peter’s frustrated look also turned into a big grin. What he thought Jesus “wasn’t getting,” Peter realized HE was finally “getting it.” Jesus was telling to stop worrying about what feelings were between THEM, but to pay that love for him forward.

Leader: Peter told Jesus that he loved him three times,
People: And his three denials no longer mattered.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Dearest Lord, you know everything there is to know about us,
yet sometimes we act like we are afraid you will see us at our worst.
We act like that recognition of us is a big surprise to you,
and will somehow separate us from you.
We know we are human,
yet think we can live up to the reputation of a deity.
In those moments, dear Lord,
call us out of the shadows,
Put your hands on our shoulders,
and remind us you only wish for us to say we love you
and embody the love of your Son in the world.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Ninth Station–Jesus Appears by the Sea of Tiberias

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(“Christ at the Sea of Galilee,” by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto)

The Ninth Station–Jesus Appears by the Sea of Tiberias

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You provided bounty for the disciples when none was expected.

Simon Peter sat and pondered all these events. The last few weeks had felt like a crazy dream. It was all so confusing. His emotions had been torn every which way, from fear to guilt to amazement. He knew he should feel joyful about seeing Jesus again–but it seemed all it did was stir up his own shame and guilt for denying Jesus three times. He needed some space to just think it all over.

He looked over at some of the disciples. “This all seems confusing, but I know what I need to do to sort it all out. I don’t know about you all, but boys, I’m going fishing. Who wants to come?” Some of them thought that was a great idea. They could go out in the boat and just relax and be with each other but be involved more with the task.

As they were out there in the boat, Peter thought about how comforting it felt to simply be doing what he used to do before all this “disciple stuff” came about in his life. He didn’t really care that he wasn’t having a good day in terms of their catch. He peeled off his clothes and just enjoyed the dawning sun warming his naked skin.

Someone on the beach was calling to them. “Children, you have no fish, have you? Then cast your nets on the right side of the boat.” They did, and suddenly they had more fish than they could manage. As the morning light grew, they recognized the man on the beach was Jesus. Suddenly, Peter became embarrassed again, threw on his robe and jumped into the sea.

Jesus called for them to bring their catch back to shore. The disciples coaxed Peter back into the boat, and they returned to shore with their huge haul of fish. As they cooked and ate them on the beach, Peter was unusually quiet, and hanging in the background. He was glad to be there. He was glad to be with Jesus. But he just wasn’t entirely sure how to feel the full joy of Christ’s presence, because he was not yet glad to be with himself.

Leader: When Jesus called for the disciples to return,
People: Peter still obeyed, despite his apprehension.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

O God, author of the universe, provider of all things,
you place abundant bounty before us when we neither asked for it nor expected it.
Sometimes we are so inwardly focused on our own flaws
that we feel we are unworthy of such bounty
and feel too guilty to experience joy.
Embolden us to simply follow your call obediently
when we feel that way.
Meet us where we are, trepidation and all,
and help us to feel the safety that resides in your Son’s presence
that can eventually overpower our discomfort.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

>The Stations of the Resurrection–Eighth Station–Jesus Strengthens the Faith of Thomas

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(“The Incredulity of Thomas,” by Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio)

The Eighth Station–Jesus Strengthens the Faith of Thomas

Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You allowed Thomas to believe in the way he understood best.

Thomas had been absent from the other disciples when Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. When they told him of their encounter with Jesus, Thomas just glared at them and did not say anything for a long time. He had no doubt his companions had experienced something–but wondered if their desire and wishes to see Jesus again had not clouded reality for them. Perhaps they had met someone who reminded them of Jesus and they wished it so. Perhaps someone had played a cruel trick on them. Perhaps they were so grief-stricken they were having delusions.

Thomas was still grieving terribly himself. He simply did not want to hurt any more than he was hurting already. He didn’t want to hear these stories–it did not make his own pain any better. So finally, he growled back, “You know what? I don’t want to disagree with you, but I just can’t buy it, as much as I love and believe in you. I won’t believe it until I see it–and I’d have to feel the nail marks and the hole in his side myself before I could even begin to believe it.”

A week later, the disciples were again behind closed doors and Thomas was among them. Suddenly, Jesus was again in their midst! “Peace be with you,” repeated Jesus. He looked squarely at Thomas, holding out his hands. “Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.”

The Gospel of John doesn’t say whether Thomas actually did touch Jesus–that is left up to our imaginations–but whatever did happen caused Thomas to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” What is clear, though, is that Jesus understood exactly what it took to come to Thomas on his own terms–and he was perfectly willing to do that.

Leader: Jesus came to Thomas to the way of his own understanding,
People: Just as Christ can come to us in the way of our own understanding.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Lord God, perceiver of all things,
Sometimes it hurts too much to simply accept and believe your truth.
Sometimes when our worries and fears overtake us,
the gentle touch of your loving hand sears our flesh like acid.
It becomes easier to doubt than to believe.
Remind us in those moments
that we are loved by a Son with nail holes in his own hands
and a gash in his side, a Son who cries and bleeds,
and will not ask anything of us in our pain
but to simply touch his own wounds and feel one with them.

People: Amen.

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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