Following the Way of Jesus in Downtown Duluth, MN
by Mark Daniel Hakes and Chelsea Froemke (from the Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker)
First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
Reading – Matthew 27:22-26
Pilate said, “What would you have me do with this Jesus, whom some call the Anointed One?”
The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”
Pilate responded, “Why? What crime has this man committed?”
Still the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”
Pilate saw that unless he wanted a riot on his hands, he now had to bow to their wishes. So he took a pitcher of water, stood before the crowd, and washed his hands.
“You will see to this crucifixion, for this man’s blood will be upon you and not upon me. I wash myself of it.”
The crowd responded, “Indeed, let His blood be upon us—upon us and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas, and he had Jesus flogged and handed over to be crucified.
God of justice and mercy, we ask forgiveness for the many ways we wash our hands of the suffering of those around us. As a society, as Christians, and as individuals we have ignored injustice and condemned our siblings to live lives marred by addiction, violence, physical and mental health issues, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and so much more all perpetrated through our complacency with oppressive systems and structures. Today, we ask that our eyes, our ears, and our hearts be opened and that as we walk with Jesus to his crucifixion, we might learn to walk more closely with our neighbors.
Second Station: Scourging and Crowning with Thorns
Location: Sacred Heart Center
Reading – Matthew 27:27-31
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into a great hall, gathered a great crowd, and stripped Jesus of His clothes, draping Him in a bold scarlet cloak, the kind that soldiers sometimes wore. They gathered some thorny vines, wove them into a crown, and perched that crown upon His head. They stuck a reed in His right hand, and then they knelt before Him, this inside-out, upside-down King. They mocked Him with catcalls, saying “Hail, the King of the Jews!” They spat on Him and whipped Him on the head with His scepter of reeds, and when they had their fill, they pulled off the bold scarlet cloak, dressed Him in His own simple clothes, and led Him off to be crucified.
Creator God, we acknowledge that we are on occupied land. Here, in front of a building that symbolizes the forced assimilation of Native people, we ask forgiveness for the ways we have stripped Native communities of land, culture, language, and religion. Disregarding the humanity of the people before us we have mocked them and attempted to cloth them in the trappings of the dominant white culture. Help us to notice how we continue to participate in the scourging of our Native siblings. May we link arms with them against those things that threaten our common home and work to finally end the exploitation of native lands and lives.
Third Station: Simon of Cyrene and Wine with Bitter Herbs
Reading – Matthew 27:32-34
As they were walking, they found a man called Simon of Cyrene and forced him to carry the cross. Eventually they came to a place called Golgotha, which means “Place of the Skull.” There they gave Him a drink—wine mixed with bitter herbs. He tasted it but refused to drink it.
Sheltering God, we stop here to notice our friends who are forced to carry their belongings, everything they possess from place to place. We give thanks for the many people among us and in this community that offer those who find themselves homeless shelter, food, and hospitality. May we strive to not forget people’s humanity and remember to give them more than just our leftovers.
Fourth Station: Peter’s Denial
Location: The Flame Nightclub
Reading – Matthew 26:33-35
Peter said, “Lord, maybe everyone else will trip and fall tonight, but I will not. I’ll be beside You. I won’t falter.”
Jesus looked at him with compassion and replied, “If only that were true. In fact, this very night, before the rooster crows in the morning, you will disown Me three times.”
“No!” said Peter, “I won’t deny You. Even if that means I have to die with You!” And each of the disciples echoed Peter.
God of many names and many identities, too often we have we denied our queer siblings, disowning them from our families, churches, and lives. We give thanks for places like this that have provided a sanctuary for people who are hiding their identities out of fear of revealing who they are. May we strive to make our churches and homes places of radical refuge. Help us learn how to be people who welcome, accept, and embrace the rainbowed diversity you have created.
Fifth Station: Jesus is Crucified
Location: Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial
Reading – Matthew 27:35-39
And so they had Him crucified. They divided the clothes off His back by drawing lots, and they sat on the ground and watched Him hang. They placed a sign over His head: “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.” And then they crucified two thieves next to Him, one at His right hand and one at His left hand.
Passersby shouted curses and blasphemies at Jesus. They wagged their heads at Him and hissed.
God of the innocent condemned, as we contemplate Jesus’s death, we remember the crucifixion of three innocent men on this spot; Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie. We decry the continued lynching of our black and brown siblings, often at the hands of those sworn to protect all of our community. We declare with full-throated conviction that Black. Lives. Matter. and we call on all people, but especially those of us with power and privilege, to work to dismantle the racist systems our country, state, city, and churches are built on.
Sixth Station: Repentant Thief
Location: Building for Women
Reading – Luke 23:37-43
The soldiers at the cross called out, “Hey, if You’re the King of the Jews, why don’t You free Yourself!” Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him—“This is the King of the Jews!” [This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.]
One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk, saying, “You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well—do it! Rescue Yourself and us!”
But the other criminal told him to be quiet. “Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is! We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all!” Then turning to Jesus, he said, “Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.”
Jesus responded, “I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.”
Mother God, we ask forgiveness for the ways we are often like the cynical thief subjecting women to ridicule and public humiliation when they’ve made decisions about their own health and their bodies or when they have come forward to speak their truths and expose the sins of others. May we be like the repentant thief who calls out injustice and centers the stories of those oppressed and victimized. Help us to stand firm in our faith, trusting women with their own health and stories, and embolden us to work to end sexual violence and intimidation whenever it occurs in our churches, our community, and our world.
Seventh Station: Jesus entrusts Mary and John to one another
Location: Federal Building
Reading – John 19:25-28a
Jesus’ mother was standing next to His cross along with her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus looked to see His mother and the disciple He loved standing nearby. Jesus called to his mother, “Dear woman, this is your son (motioning to the beloved disciple)!”And then to John, His disciple, He said, “This is now your mother.” From that moment, the disciple treated her like his own mother and welcomed her into his house.
God of borderless love, we stand in front of the Federal Building which houses the offices of Border Control. Open our ears to hear the cries of your children who, seeking security, safety, and a new home, are instead separated, rounded up in raids, led to detention centers, and deported. Give us courage to resist and the strength to stand with and for your inclusive love. May we embrace them and welcome them into our common home, just as John did Mary. This is the work that Jesus calls us to. This is the Way of Jesus.
Final Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Location: City Hall
Reading – Luke 23:44-46
At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.
Then, Jesus shouted loudly, “Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!”
And with those words, He exhaled—and breathed no more.
God of the voiceless, the people we have lifted up today are often silenced by conditions outside of their control. Here on the steps of City Hall, we call on all of our leaders to work for an end to the structures and systems that marginalize and oppress. We recognize, however, that like Pilate, our leaders are often swayed towards injustice by the screaming voices of hate. As we prepare once more to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection and the recreating power of Jesus’s Way of Love, may we be strengthened to continue building a new world in the shell of the old and may we recognize the face of our Savior in those around us. Amen.
Go in peace, friends.
- Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.
- We adore you, Jesus Christ, and we bless your Holy Name; truly your cross and passion bring us life and healing.
- Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord: keep watch, take heart.
- O God hear our prayer, O God hear our prayer, when we call answer us. O God hear our prayer, O God hear our prayer, come and listen to us.