Last night I felt peace and joy like no other by visiting out church’s annual prayer path that commemorates Easter. The prayer path is a series of different stations setup in the worship center of our church that serve to take you through various events of Holy Week and to focus your praise on Easter and its true meaning. It is amazing how something that starts out so simple, truly turns into something beautiful after 30-45 minutes. And in some cases, leads to tears. *raises hand* Year after year I can’t make it through without some tear duct action. Who can blame me?
It is the most glorious thing to remember and truly puts things into perspective and makes me grateful. I enjoy this experience so much, I just had to share it with you all. Forgive the poor quality pictures as it was dark inside and I wanted to be as discreet as possible in capturing it all (aka take one quick shot instead of a few to get the perfect one). But I hope it will give you the same sort of feeling and recollection of what happened this week many years ago. Join me on the short journey, will you?
We start the path with a few minutes of quiet. This is a time to calm your mind and become prepared for the remainder of the path. Take the time to really focus your mind and leave behind any outside distractions.
The next stop relives the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Remember the people waving the palms to glorify him and shouting praises for his good works. Take the time to think about all the reasons God deserves praise from your life. From the little blessings to the big ones, we all have reasons to be thankful. Consider all of those blessings and really say thank you to God.
Think of one word or phrase that describes God to you and ways He is worthy of praise. Write it down on the pillar as a testament of God’s strength and steadfastness in His love for us.
Following his entry, Jesus broke bread with his disciples at The Last Supper. He served them and gave them guidance. He warned them of his upcoming death and what it all meant. At this station, participate in communion by taking the bread and the wine as symbols of what Christ has given to you. His death for your life.
Fourth on the path, is the visit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed right before his trial and persecution. He cried out to his Father God and laid all of his burdens out for Him to hear. He received comfort after his prayers, and although Jesus knew he faced something very difficult, he trusted God’s plan and His duty in order to save us all.
Here, you are to consider something you hold onto that removes the focus from God in your life. Write it on a rock, and place it at the foot of the cross to physically show the act of letting go. I chose to let go of worry.
Following this is when Jesus was tried under Pontius Pilate and convicted to be crucified. Even though Jesus could have easily saved himself, he didn’t. He died so we could be set free. After this we no longer lived in a world of law, but instead a world of grace and mercy. We are set free. To represent this, you are to walk through the barred iron gate and show you are free.
The next stop was where the tears came for me. I don’t think anything more needs to be said than to look up at a cross with nails driven into it and a crown of thorns on top.
He went through that for me. And you. How amazing! And how could I not appreciate that? And to drive the point home…take a nail and hammer it in yourself to show that he took one for you.
Immediately afterwards, joy is restored when you stop to consider the Resurrection. He came back to show he was the perfect sacrifice, the son of God, and that His promises would be kept. Now we can know that there is abundant and joyful life in believing in Him. To demonstrate this, each person is to write a blessing on a sheet of paper to put in a dish…which will overflow, just as God’s blessings overflow in our lives.
The path ends with Jesus’ visit with the disciples. Here, he instructs them to go out and share about him. To share his love and show people a life of mercy and grace and peace. How are we to reflect that same commitment as the disciples did? By being lights to the world in how you act, how you love, and how you praise God for who He is. Light a candle and exit the building to show that you are bringing your light into the world, to share with everyone.
Isn’t that amazing? And it only reiterated my thoughts on a recent post by Averie. She asked how people got involved in their various religions. What brought them to it? What keeps you in it? I have to say that religion is not what matters. Religion, in my opinion, is a focus on the organization, the guidelines, the rules, etc. Faith is what truly matters. There is a big difference in my opinion. Religion is important to know the basics of a particular belief, but the thing that can change your life for the better is faith. Religion will send you to church on Sunday and then home to move on with your life. Religion is possibly a compartment in your life, a checkbox to fill for being a “good person”, etc. Religion is where hypocrisy and negative reflections come into play because your beliefs don’t spill into everything in your life. Religion is not living, breathing, praising faith and belief in something. It is going through the motions of what is expected. Faith is the deep down, heart and soul, my-life-is-incomplete-without-it TRUTH that makes a difference. Do you have faith? Or do you have religion? Faith is the relationship with God and understanding of what he does for you. Religion is saying you believe in something and not acting it out. You might think religion or no religion is enough, but if you lived with faith, you would come to realize it is not. Not even close. Follow a path of faith. It will do things for you that you could not even imagine.