Yesterday I was worship leader for Stations of the Cross at St. Martin's. This is offered on Friday nights in Lent.
I got there early to open the building, vest, and choose a liturgy (we have several). While I did those things, I chatted with members of Narcotics Anonymous, whose meeting in the building started at the same time as the service.
I've written about Stations many times. Briefly, I never encountered it in the Diocese of Texas where I grew up. It feels foreign to me, and I just don't resonate with it. Heck, it's not in The Book of Common Prayer! Ever since I've been active in higher church dioceses, I have tried attending Stations during Lent, feeling that there must be something there for me. Frankly, though, it's very much penal substitutionary atonement, which is not how I understand the point of the Gospel of Christ. I keep trying.
It's a very small service, and sometimes no one shows up but the worship leader and the acolyte. Last night, I didn't even have an acolyte. But I did have three people attend.
We entered and left in silence. We circled the church, looking at the beautiful wood carvings that represent the fourteen events on the Via Dolorosa, from Christs's condemnation to his body being placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. We read responsively from the booklet containing scripture and the ancient Trisagion.
I was mindful, during our procession, of the group meeting in the chapel just behind us. They were a lively bunch, laughing and talking as they got started. After the service, as I hung up my vestments and prepared to leave the church, I could hear their sharing become quiet and earnest.
It occurred to me: they were sharing their stories as if their lives depended on it. Because their lives DO depend on it. As someone who's spent a good bit of time in 12 step rooms, I have great respect for the Program.
I locked the church, extinguished the lights, and left them there. I realized that the four of us in the nave had, also, been sharing a different "story of our lives" and both types of story surely had the grit of ashes to them.
I don't like Stations. But I am pretty sure that's not the point. I'm going to keep listening.