Art and the Stations of the Cross

For a few years now our church has invited everyone to make a Lenten art work--either one of the Stations of the Cross or a scene from the last week of Jesus' life depending on the year's focus. This year is the Stations of the Cross. Normally Anders, our constantly-drawing eight-year old, is the one who has made his own station. This year he didn't want to but our Kindergartener did.

He chose to do the scene where Jesus dies on the cross. He wasn't sure how to do it. He thought about drawing, but he wasn't sure that's what he wanted to do.

We've seen some creative stations in the past. There's usually one made from Legos every time. I brought up making some salt dough and sculpting the scene. First he started sculpting a stand-up scene. It took a while to convince him that the dough wouldn't make it standing up through the baking process and would likely get broken later if it did.

So he made a relief scene. It was important to him to include the two thieves dying on the cross next to Jesus since they were there when he died.

Mine was the station where John and Mary are in front of the cross. I don't paint well-enough to capture the scene, so I thought I'd go for a more representational approach. I don't confess to it entirely being a by-product of my own creative forces--I looked at some ideas online.

We were encouraged to think of a reflective question for the scene. For me it asks, "Who does Jesus ask you to take care of in their time of suffering? Who does Jesus give to take care of you when you are going through hardships?" Facing death, Jesus gave his mother to his dearest disciple; He told John to love Mary as his own mother. I think it was an intentional example as much as a practical need.

I haven't prayed through the prayer stations yet. The artistic process was a prayer for me. Not necessarily a good prayer, but a prayer nonetheless. 

Sometimes the prayer is having that part of the Lenten journey stay with us. I think for Nils, that's the case. He is beginning to know the story more deeply.

That may be part of the point of the Stations of the Cross--that those stories become part of our story, that the pain and suffering Jesus went through is something we can identify with in our pain and suffering. We know we're not alone. We begin to understand how greatly we are loved. We begin to belong in community. We begin to find the hope that is produced through the Lenten journey.

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