As the sound of crickets broke the silence of a dimly-lit crafted garden, I sat among other sojourners – immersed in the surrounds and transported to a distant land in time past. Nearby, someone was on his knees uttering arduously and in total surrender, “Not as I will, but as You will.” That was the Garden of Gethsemane, the first of four prayer stations in “Journey to the Cross.”
Put together by staff, laity and volunteers of Wesley Methodist Church, “Journey to the Cross” was held from 3 – 6 April 2023. Described as a ‘self-guided spiritual exercise’, it presented a unique opportunity for members, families and friends to walk alongside Jesus in the final hours of His agonising journey to crucifixion on the cross.
Transformed by various means including homemade props, plants, paintings, lighting and audio-visual projections, etc., each of the four stations was made to depict specific events and scenarios along the road to Calvary. Informational posters provided visitors with relevant scripture, and reflection points to ponder and respond.
Participants embarked on their journey here in the Prayer Room, representing the Garden of Gethsemane – replete with carpet grass, wooden platforms, plants, props and dim lamps with a cut-out image of Jesus kneeling in prayer. Seated on chairs, benches and cushions, participants sat quietly to reflect and pray. It was a fitting start to the journey, allowing one to draw away from the busyness of everyday life to begin a personal time with God.
In the Plaza Hall were three sections set up for participants to experience how it felt to be rejected and forsaken. Looking from the stage at the display panels showing jeering, abusive mockers, one could feel the injustice, dismay, hurt, abandonment and loneliness Jesus felt. Yet, I pondered if we too have not shouted, “Crucify him!” through our thoughts, words and deeds?
Another display showed 30 silver coins on a tray – all the amount it took to condemn Christ. Quoting the accompanying poster, “Yet when we are faithless, He remains faithful. When we fail Him, He fails us not.” How much do we value our Redeemer? What does it take to lure us away from God?
Then there was Peter’s response, complete with a rooster’s crow, when his association with Jesus was questioned. Participants were to write, ‘I do not know him!’ on sheets of paper and pin them to a board. This simple act allowed us to reflect on areas that we, too, have denied and failed to obey Christ. Clearly, some were not able to pen those words – evident from the notes of confession and repentance displayed on the board.
Here in Wesley Hall – amid a crown of thorns and Roman crucifixion nails, participants could reflect on the last seven sayings of Jesus. Accompanying the agonising scene of Christ’s crucifixion in the feature presentation were the noisy sounds of a disorderly crowd, cruel flogging and torture, unbridled screams of insults, and painful cries of affliction.
I felt the pain and suffering Christ went through as I held and felt a Roman nail and the crown of thorns in my hands; imagined the nails piercing through His skin, flesh and bones. It was also difficult not to cringe as I took in the sights and sounds of the 10-minute scenography experience of the Crucifixion. Some were moved to tears – spending time at the foot of the cross with heads bowed in silent prayer.
Before exiting, I was encouraged to pick up a cross as a reminder of God’s redemption plan for me, and the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Leaving the Hall, one enters the Atrium and is greeted by a painting of The Crucifixion – one of several art pieces chosen to reflect the Church’s theme for the year, “Discipleship in the Family”. There was an oil-on-canvass painting showing Jesus with children, one featuring a family walking with Jesus, and another a Chinese ink painting of the Last Supper.
In keeping with the Family theme was the Wesley Palm Tree, where participants were encouraged to pen a prayer for their biological or spiritual families and hang these on three small palm plants. It was heart-warming to see Wesleyans coming together to dedicate their handwritten prayers for families and the Church.
It took little more than an hour at the four stations to experience and respond spiritually. At each station, I was encouraged to be still in the moment and to commune with God. The various hand-crafted displays were much appreciated for the ambience they created.
Contemplating on Christ’s final moments in His journey, and the ultimate price He paid on the Cross, I experienced the warmth and wonder of the grace, sacrificial love, and forgiveness of our Lord and Saviour: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
*Wesley Methodist Church would like to thank the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the Journey to the Cross experience possible.
Photos by Gaius Ho.
Mournful, contemplative soul searching. This was the experience for Seniors from Wesley Glowing Years Ministry as they journeyed with each other through the four stations during Lenten Holy Week.
(Compiled and edited by Marjorie Tan)
“It was meaningful to experience what Jesus endured as He willingly submitted to His Father’s will to die on the cross for us. I am daily reminded and thankful for Christ’s sacrifice, so that no matter what life brings I can look ahead with eternal hope. Each station scene was painstakingly set up to depict the sights and sounds that Jesus experienced – enhancing my reading of scripture. The acoustics of nails hammering into the cross left a deep impact on me as I felt the anguish and pain Jesus took on for me.” ~ Koh Geok Cheng (GYM Vice Chairperson)
“Listening to the mockery and jeers, I saw how Jesus, though humiliated, did not retaliate. So, in moments when I’m hurt or ridiculed, may I return to the Cross and remember how Jesus behaved – His restraint not to accuse His mockers. I pray to REST in Christ, and care for others around me as the Son of God did for John and Mary – while dying, crucified.” ~ Ng Swee Mun (Children’s Ministry, English/Mandarin)
“The Journey was a spiritual one for me. The setting gave me a solemn and melancholic experience. It gave me a sense of guilt, betrayal, and hope. The nails reflect for me the suffering of Christ on the cross for the sake of my sins.” ~ Liew Yuen Loong
“I found the Garden of Gethsemane station too open and bright – not quiet enough for me to meditate on the struggle Jesus went through regarding the cup of suffering. However, entering Station 2, I deeply felt what Jesus must have felt. I began to sob uncontrollably as I recollected how Judas had betrayed His Master for 30 pieces of silver; and how Peter, leader of the twelve Apostles, had denied the LORD three times. It led me to confess my sins there and then.” ~ Theresa Ng
“As I journeyed through the 4 stations, I felt so sorrowful that tears rolled uncontrollably from my eyes. Jesus loved us so greatly, He willingly and obediently journeyed to the Cross – to be tortured and to die for the world. What a great sacrifice! Jesus died for our benefit. I am encouraged to be honest with my sins, and to embrace the Cross of Christ – which assures me of God’s mercy and grace. I pray for the LORD’s forgiveness and help to journey all the days of my life for His glory, and to make Him known to others. I’m thankful to have served as an usher at Station 2 – where Jesus was mocked and betrayed. Upon reflection, I have to repent inwardly, and be more sensitive to what God is calling me to do. The nature of Jesus’ death shows me how I am to live today. To GOD be all praise and glory in His mighty name.” ~ Christine Chia (JTTC station volunteer)
“Thank you for inviting me. I was very happy to participate in this programme where I got to reflect on how our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ suffered. He was flogged by the Roman soldiers before being crucified. He was humiliated by His own people who jeered at Him even though they had been following Him for years. Even Judas Iscariot, a chosen disciple, betrayed Him. I broke into tears of sadness; but I also thank God my Heavenly Father for accepting me as His child.“ ~ Rita Leo (Homebound participant)
“It was a very meaningful journey which stirred my feelings very much. I now have a better understanding of the whole crucifixion story. Thank God for the excellent detailed presentation.” ~ Mary Loh (Homebound participant)
“I felt pain for Jesus my Saviour. Especially at Station 3, when I looked at the iron nails that crucified and hung Him to the cross. It was the saddest station for me. The whole Journey was a very good reminder of how GREAT God is to die for us.“ ~ Esther Chan
“I’m thankful for all the hard work that went into bringing us closer to the Cross. Everyone – staff and volunteers, was very kind and helpful. I also appreciate the thoughtful refreshment given as I’m diabetic. As I am slightly hard of hearing and my eye sight isn’t so good…. Station 2 was rather confusing, while directions at Station 4 could have been clearer. The audio sounds in Station 3 could have been less jarring if replaced with more short video snippets – of Jesus carrying the Cross, and the cruelty of the Roman soldiers and bystanders.“ ~ Anonymous
“I was particularly emotional at two sites. At the first station, I reflected on my life and the journey I had with my husband of 52 years. At the third station, I felt Jesus’ pain when He was betrayed. The video that accompanied the betrayal and crucifixion was very touching. I’m glad I came to participate in this Journey.“ ~ Daisy Leng (Homebound participant)
“Throughout His journey to the cross we saw that Jesus focused on God the Father. We are reminded that as we walk the narrow road, Jesus will strengthen us in our weaknesses, as long as we keep our focus on Him. Christ’s earnest prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane encourages us to keep alert, and pray – for willing hearts to serve the least of God’s people for His glory.
~ Peter & Doris Chow (Worship & Music Ministry)
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