We are in the midst of Holy Week and will soon celebrate Good Friday, a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary.
Christ agonized on the cross for six hours. During his last thee hours there, from noon to 3 p.m., darkness fell over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gave up his spirit. There was an earthquake, tombs broke open and the curtain in the Temple was torn apart (rent in twain) from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declared, “Truly this was God’s Son!”
The Stations of the Cross are a veneration of the final hours of the life of Christ, depicting various events, persons and locations. The recreation or meditation at each station is intended to honor the historical sequence leading to the crucifixion. In most Catholic churches you will see 14 pictures depicting Jesus’ last hours, death and burial. Catholics will meditate on these fourteen stations, and pray at each one. Structurally, Mel Gibson’s excellent 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” replicates the Stations of the Cross.
Many other Protestant folks hold special services on Good Friday as well. It is not uncommon for many communities to hold interdenominational services to mark the day. Just such a service will be held in downtown Harlan this Friday at noon. For 17 years, Christians have gathered at the courthouse to walk, sing and pray together. Our local “Way of the Cross” was started by Holy Trinity Church parishioner Dawn Nunez and pastor Bro. Mark. Even though Dawn has passed, her children and grandchildren will faithfully continue the tradition she started all those years ago.
The desire to commemorate the “Way of the Cross” in such a public way is to testify to the fact of Christ’s victory for the entire world. To walk the way of our Lord in the midst of the city, with all its noise and distractions, is a mark of respect for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during his Passion.
It has been my privilege, lo these many years, to take part in the walk and to read from the eighth station, which explains Christ’s final moment as a living human being. In agony and in a loud voice, he commends his soul to God and asks his Father to forgive his tormentors in these words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
This year’s walk will certainly be a continuation of Dawn Nunez’s fervent desire to include our entire community in such a remarkable event. If you feel moved to join in the walk, by all means gather with us for a truly inspiring experience. The walk begins in front of the Harlan County Courthouse at high noon on Good Friday. Participants are given a printed program, then the group walks and sings until all the stations have been honored and recognized. The route is short, only encircling one block and can easily be traversed. Everyone is welcome. It is definitely an inspirational way to usher in Easter.