Reflection on Passion
Written by Sarah Nolan
Jubilee EUIP alum
“God of gift and abundance, Jesus took up the cross so that a broken system could be transformed.
The year I served as an intern with the Episcopal Urban Intern Program (EUIP) in Inglewood, CA, was the first time I walked “The Way of the Cross” (Stations of the Cross). Housed in the multicultural and multilingual community of Holy Faith Church, Good Friday’s Passion service engaged both my limited fluency in Spanish and even more limited fluency in this unique liturgical world. It was the beginning of a love affair with liturgy as movement and a re-telling/framing of our sacred stories.
Yet, the crosses we bear in our food system perpetuate its brokenness.
Five years later, on April 22, Good Friday and Earth Day aligned…something that will not occur again until 2095. By this time, I was working as the Program Director for the ESC intern program, The Abundant Table. Along with fellow EUIP alumna the Rev. Julie Morris and our interns, we asked what would it look like to not only re-frame the telling of the Passion, but express “The Way of the Cross,” through the eyes of environmental degradation and human suffering connected to our broken food system.
Help us bear witness to the crosses taken by Earth and our brothers and sisters who suffer in our food system
The practice of public liturgy holds the possibility of imprinting these sacred stories onto our bodies and at the same time bearing witness to their transformational power in our current context. For the Abundant Table, this was manifested on our farm and in our community. The Way of the Cross that we walk in our local context exposes the suffering of our farm worker neighbors, increasing diet related disease, and significant environmental degradation due to agriculture.
Help our hearts feel the weight of these crosses so that we may bring light into the system and make choices to support a healthy food system that can shatter the unjust crosses.
In looking back on both my intern year and the years I have served as a program director for an ESC program, I have been awakened to the expansive forms liturgy can take. The lives our ESC members lead and the intentionality our Directors put into crafting their programs reflect a liturgical presence in the world that bears witness to the transformative power that lives of faith committed to service, justice, and community have.
Good Friday invites us to walk the “The Way of the Cross” and be present to the suffering of The One who suffers with us; to allow Christ’s passion to imprint on us his witness of love, compassion and renewal to a world that carries many crosses.
God of mercy and truth, we prefer to ignore death, especially untimely death, because facing the truth may require us to change. Let our contemplation of the death of Jesus inspire in us the courage to recognize the dignity of all victims and the creativity to live in ways that do not require victims – human or non-human; through Jesus Christ who suffers with all creation. Amen.
You can read more about The Abundant Table’s Earth Day Stations of the Cross liturgy here.
Prayers were created for the Earth Day Stations of the Cross in 2011:
First prayer – “God of gift and abundance…” written by Erynn Smith (Abundant Table ’09-’10)
Second prayer – “God of mercy and truth…” written by The Rev. Julie Morris (EUIP ’94-’95)