April 7, 2017 Column
CrossWalking: Showing our Love for the City
Rev. Yme Woensdregt
On Good Friday again this year, Christians from different churches in Cranbrook will join together for our thirteenth Good Friday CrossWalk. We make a spiritual pilgrimage through the streets of downtown Cranbrook. This is worship in the streets! We pray for our city, its leaders and all who live here. We pray for our nation and for the world.
The CrossWalk begins at 10 am on Good Friday at the Clock Tower. From there, we will carry a cross through the downtown core of the city and stop at several locations. At each stop, we read a passage from Scripture and we pray together.
Our prayers will embrace the city and its people, leaders and governments around the world, our legal system, our health care system, caregivers of all sorts and those who need to be surrounded with prayer and compassion and grace. We pray for the victims and perpetrators of war and hatred. We pray for all whose lives need to be held up in the light of God’s love. We end with prayers for the churches and other faith groups, all who seek to live with peace and compassion in the world. We pray that we might learn to live and work together with compassion for the good of all people.
Why do we do this?
We do it as a faithful witness to the grace and compassion of God. We hold up our city in prayer so that God’s love might surround and embrace us all with healing grace. We journey together, bearing witness to Jesus who comes to our world with a different vision of what a whole and healthy life looks like. God’s vision for the world is of a community of compassion and companionship. It’s a world where power resides in service and self–giving love, not in might and coercion. It’s a vision of healing and restoration so that all people may live together in peace with justice.
For faithful Christians, the cross is about an alternative vision of what life could be like. Jesus didn’t die on the cross primarily so that we could get to heaven. Rather, he was executed by the state because his vision of life was so radically different that he was seen as a threat. In the cross, we see the depth of Jesus’ passion for a world based on a radical equality among all people. We see the power of God’s love, which holds us up even in the midst of the most painful suffering.
In our CrossWalk, in our prayers, we give voice to that vision. We don’t ask God to come crashing into our world to set everything right. Rather, as we pray, we make a fresh commitment to live by the gospel values of compassion, peace, justice and wholeness. We make a public act of witness that we walk with Jesus, that we share that same vision of a life made whole and new.
Canadian theologian Douglas John Hall talks about prayer as “learning to see the world through God’s eyes.” As we pray, we learn to view the world with compassion and grace. We learn to seek justice for all people. We seek to live on this earth as responsible and faithful people who care for one another and who care for the earth as well.
CrossWalking is one way in which we renew our commitment to walk in the way of Jesus. It is a way that leads to a cross, since walking this path faithfully will bring us into conflict with the world and its values.
God invites us to be partners in what John Dominic Crossan calls “God’s great cleanup of the world”. We work in partnership with God, so that the gospel values of love and compassion and justice might triumph in our own lives and in the world.
God has a deep, abiding and profound love for the world. Our prayers for the city and all its people, for peace and justice, for hope and healing, reflects our longing to participate in God’s passionate love affair with the world.
As we journey through the city, we feel the burden of the cross we carry. At the same time, we experience the reality of its liberating power. We renew our commitment to the crucified and risen Christ as we commit ourselves to serve Cranbrook in love.
Join us on Good Friday, April 14. We begin at the Clock Tower at 10 am, and end with fellowship and refreshments at Christ Church. I invite you to journey with us. Come pray with us. Come show your love for Cranbrook. Come carry the cross with us. Come and give witness to an alternative vision of what life could be like.