About 4 weeks ago I was in Jerusalem.
When you visit Jerusalem,
what you do on the first day of your visit is walk Jesus’ last steps.
You begin up on a hill at the Mount of Olives looking down at the city.
You wind your way down the path that is the Palm Sunday parade route.
You stop at the Garden of Gethsemene
You arrive at the city gates and enter the Lion’s Gate into Jerusalem.
You walk on cobblestone streets, some as old as and older than Jesus.
And you arrive at a courtyard of two churches and there begins the Via Delarosa.
Via Delarosa in Latin means the “Way of Grief” or “The Way of Sorrow”.
There are 14 stations on the Via Delarosa….
14 places to stop and re-member or join in the Friday procession of Jesus
the first station is Jesus’ condemnation by Pontius Pilate.
At the second, he takes up his cross.
The stations follow the story you will hear today in our four gospel accounts.
Jesus is called the son of man,
Mary watches her son go to the cross,
Jesus falls and Simon of Cyrene carries his cross,
and on you walk as Jesus is stripped and beaten
and nailed to die
removed from the cross
and laid in the tomb.
What is striking to me about walking this walk, is that there is a lot going on….
people, crowds, sellers, smells, cats running around,
tour guides and groups, kids playing up and down the alleys,
laundry being done.
It is hard to attend to what is going on.
It is hard to pay attention on the Via Delarosa.
It is hard to pay attention to the way of grief.
That is where I find myself today.
Today, as I went about my regular routine,
(with the added pieces that children are out of school and there is a worship service in the middle of the day),
it occurred to me that it is hard to pay attention to Good Friday.
We don’t want to pay attention to the way of grief.
So it is good and right to come here together.
It is good and right to be here in the quiet of this sanctuary.
It is good and right to stop and pay attention to what is going on, on this day.
So for now:
We stand with Judas in his jealousy
Peter in his fear,
with Thomas in his doubt,
with the crowds in Jerusalem,
with Pilate in his “wanting it to be over with”
with Mary in her sorrow
with Jesus in his pain. Friends, welcome to the Way of Sorrow.
Let us worship God.