By Stori Long
Regardless of status, race or denomination, many Christians all over the world are observing the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter.
Baylor’s Spiritual Life Center is providing students with an opportunity to experience both Lent and prayer in a different kind of way.
A room at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center houses the Stations of the Cross. The room is quiet and dimly lit, and lining the walls are pictures depicting the path Jesus took to the cross, from Jesus in the garden at Gethsemane to his crucifixion.
“The stations allow us to experience walking along with Jesus as he makes his way to the cross,” Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain, said. The idea of the stations is for the person to physically move from one picture to the next, incorporating movement with prayer.
“The stations are a form of prayer that is centered in the idea of pilgrimage,” Burleson said. “The prayer station involves us in journey and movement. It is in the DNA of our faith to move. Early Christians were even called ‘the people of the Way.’”
As people makes their way around the room, each picture and each station serves to inspire something different.
“Each station leads you to a different prayer,” Burleson said. “‘How Have I betrayed Jesus?’ It’s not just Judas. ‘How have I denied Jesus?’ it’s not just Peter. ‘What does it mean to bear the weight of the cross?’ It’s not just Simon.”
The notion of prayer stations and observing the way of the cross is not a new one. According to the Vatican’s website, it was toward the end of the 13th century when the Stations of the Cross are first mentioned as the path that Jesus walked.
Since then, it has progressed into a Catholic tradition of observing and praying at each station, with each station representing a different step in Jesus’ path to the cross. Now, other Christian denominations are incorporating the Stations of the Cross into prayer and worship.
“The goodness of being in a post-denomination era is that we are open to learning from each other,” Burleson said. “Evangelicals are learning different kinds of prayer, worship and different ways to read Scripture.”
The Stations of the Cross also provides an opportunity to observe the cross and the story of Jesus in a different way.
“It’s really helpful for understanding the story of Jesus,” Carole Meriwether, ministry associate for urban missions, said. “A lot of times we focus on the theology of the cross, but the story gives us a new perspective on it.”
Each Friday at 3:30 p.m., a group prays through the stations together. The room is also open for individual prayer and reflection at any time.