As they led Jesus away, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross to carry It behind Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus carried the heavy cross, and he fell. He carried the heavy burden, wrought in wood, and saw the eyes of his mother, weeping for him.
The earth shook and shuttered, and the walls came tumbling down; the ocean swelled, the sky dropped down from the heavens. If we could but hear the wailing of mothers whose children were lost, perhaps we would have known that their burden was of a kind too deep to bear. Perhaps we would have done more to help if we knew the true depth of those disasters.
The terrible pain that came that day has not gone away. The road to Golgotha is littered with the debris of fallen buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and still unsafe food and water. It is a road in many cities, all over the world. Their lives may never be the same again.
Taking up Jesus’ cross, Simon of Cyrene comforted Jesus—whose body is already broken—by taking up his burden for a time. Simon comforted Jesus’ mother, who saw her son’s burden lifted. Let us be your heart reaching out to those who grieve. Let us be your hands reaching out to lighten the burden of those still living.
We cannot know when or why disaster strikes. We only know that God weeps at the devastation of the earth and its children. God as told us through the ages, “fear not.” God, that you would whisper it again in our ears, and write it on our hearts, so that in the face of the next devastation, we may lighten the burden without fear.
Let us Pray:
Heavenly God, whose blessed Child came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy, whether animal, plant, or mineral, for we are all bound together in the great web of life, for the love of the One who gave up life itself for us, your Child our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
The fourth station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
(All station artwork was produced by members of the Vanderbilt Divinity community from found and reclaimed objects. Liturgy adapted from St. Brendan the Navigator Episcopal Church, Stonington, Maine, 1993. The original version of this liturgy can be found at earthministry.org)