Transcript of Introduction to the Season
Karl: Hey everyone, welcome to season two of Centered: a podcast exploring spiritual practices for everyday living. We are really glad that you’re here. Now, no matter your experiences are with God or faith or prayer or spiritual practice, this is a podcast designed for you. Really, it’s for anyone who would like to live life with just a little more balance and peace. If you would like a little more centeredness and less distraction, a little more compassion and less anxiety, then this is a place you are going to want to be, and we’re so glad you’re here. I’m Karl Helvig.
David: I’m David Dillon.
Kaley: And I’m Kaley Rodda.
David: In season one, we introduced a number of different practices. Breath prayer, engaging our physical bodies in prayer, and two forms of praying with scripture, one called Lectio Divina and one called Imaginative Prayer. We hope you found and will continue to find those as valuable resources for prayer, and if you haven’t listened to season one, we’d encourage you to do so. That whole season will be foundational to season two.
Kaley: That said, season two stands on its own so if you haven’t listened to season one and want to continue, that is just fine as well. Over the next eight weeks, we are going to be focusing on just one practice. Like many of the others, this form of prayer is thousands of years old and as David will explain in a minute, can be traced back to a practice of Jesus’ own mother.
The prayer we will be learning is called The Stations of the Cross. While it is a single practice, we are really excited about the diversity of ways we will be engaging it throughout this season.
David: The reason we are learning the Stations at this particular time is that the next eight weeks are actually a specific season in the life of the church. That season is called Lent. So, in this episode, we want to introduce you both to what Lent is and why we mark this particular season and also introduce you more to the practice of the Stations of the Cross and how we will be growing in our prayer life through this practice.
Karl: Before we get into that content, though, we actually have a pretty exciting announcement to make. We’ve created a new resource you can use along with the audio of this podcast. Namely, Centered now has a website. CCC-Centered.org. Let me say it again: CCC-Centered.org. I’d love you to actually just go there right now, unless you’re driving of course, don’t go there while you’re driving. But as soon as you can go there, check out the new website, because that website goes hand-in-hand with this season of the podcast. David’s going to be explaining a little more when he introduces you to the Stations, but I’ll simply say that along with every episode there’s going to be some unique artwork created by artists here at Centennial Covenant Church, there’s going to be some pieces of creative writing, and there’s going to be other ways for anyone to more immersively engage with our practice of the stations together. So please be sure to spend some time on our website as you’re spending time with us in the podcast.
A special note also here to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, both here at CCC and anyone else that might connect with this content. We’ve designed the website to make sure that listening to the podcast, the exact same full experience can be had by people who are deaf or hard of hearing by going to the website. The website is going to be your go to place to get a full experience of the stations of the cross.
With that, let’s dive into our introduction to this season’s content. Kaley, why don’t you tell us a little more about this church season we’re coming up to called Lent.
Introduction to Lent:
Kaley: All right, well, let’s talk about Lent! Lent is something that has been taught in Christianity for generations. It’s a tradition that encourages people to evaluate their lives and reflect on how they can be more intentional about inviting Christ into their day to day activity. Practically, this tends to take the form of fasting. Fasting is an act of purposefully giving up or staying away from a part of your life, so that you can focus more on God. You take the time that you would be spending doing something, and you change that time to be used for prayer. Most people understand fasting as not eating food for a period of time and instead using the times you feel hungry to pray. However, during Lent, many people choose other things in life to give up, such as sugar or social media. Because, you know, it turns out that most of our lives are a little more complex than just eating food.
Karl: Interesting that you say that, too, Kaley, because we’ve been doing some fasting here at church and it’s been fun seeing people learn how meaningful all sorts of different experiences of fasting can be. So I love that encouragement for people to just open their minds a little bit for different ways to practice prayer during Lent.
Kaley: So, with all that in mind, here is why we believe Lent is a beneficial tradition:
I think we can all agree that life gets a little busy. We spend a lot of time worrying, and the signs of a stressed out society are becoming more and more obvious- in increased physical and mental health crises. Now I don’t know about you, but I tend to disguise my worrying as prayers. I’ll spend an hour stressing or worrying over decisions I have to make, conversations I have to have, and I try to plan out every single moment and fix the issue on my own. But as it turns out- those conversations never actually sound the way they do in my head, and no amount of planning could help that.
But I try to convince myself that I just spent the last hour praying. That by overthinking and stressing, I was actually praying and so it was fine. But here’s the thing- I ALWAYS feel worse instead of better when I do that. I think if I slowed down long enough to let God speak and not just stress myself out over solving my problems, maybe I would feel better instead of worse.
So, Lent- it’s a way for us to take our worries and actually pray over them instead of stress. By choosing to modify your life so that you can spend more time with God, our hope is that
1. You will have a clearer vision of who God is and how we need to depend on Him daily and
2. That you would be able to walk into this season with fresh eyes, and a new appreciation for what Christ has done for each of us.
So I’m challenging you (and myself) to take the challenge of Lent, and see all that God has waiting for each of us as we take time to appreciate and learn about the significance of Jesus, and what He’s done, through the Stations of the Cross.
Karl: Kaley, I really appreciate your honesty about some of your experiences in prayer, and I really love that challenge both to all of us here and to all of our listeners. So thank you.
With that, David, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the practice of the Stations of the Cross?
Introduction to Stations of the Cross:
David: Yeah, Kaley, that is a great tee-up. Because, yeah, left to our own devices we tend to worry too much and we tend to try to solve problems, and so during Lent there’s lots of wonderful tools that have been provided throughout church history to help us engage with God and to help us get to the core of what a relationship with Him is all about. One of those being Stations of the Cross.
Stations of the Cross are a tool for contemplative prayer. The neat thing about them is they really engage the body, they engage the imagination, and they engage most important Jesus’ work on the cross.
First of all, the body. Since the stations are usually set up in a space where one walks from one station to the other, that walking can even be sort of a pause between the stations. And when you say stations, think of a train station, where a train on a journey stops periodically, and that’s what the stations represent. Periodic stops where we get to reflect on different elements.
The stations also engage the imagination because there is no set liturgy or prayers written on the various stations. These are visual representations, and they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so that as you look at these either paintings, or drawings, or sculptures, we’re left to our own imaginations to take that to God and let God do business with us.
Finally, they do confront us with Jesus’ final hours and the events as He experienced, as He bore the full weight of our sin. Many of these events in the stations come directly from Scripture, and others come to us through the prayerful followers of Jesus, who imagined various encounters He may have had on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows.
The stations have a long and rich history. Kaley mentioned that they begin with Mary. And we don’t know that for sure but you can imagine that after her son was crucified, the story goes that she would periodically go back and walk the way through Jerusalem that Jesus walked- from Pilate’s courts to Golgotha, the hill where He was crucified.
And not only she, but other followers began to trace this same path through Jerusalem. And over time it became a point of pilgrimage, that is, people from other parts of the world would make a journey to Jerusalem so that they could walk that same way.
Karl: You know, David I really love that image, and I think that’s a great picture to have in mind, is just that image of in the last moments of Jesus’ life, He walked a physical path, and so all of these Stations of the Cross are going to be a re-creation, and an invitation from far away and in a different time, to sort of participate in that exact same series of steps that Jesus himself took. I think that’s a really powerful starting point.
David: That’s exactly right, yeah. And, if you know history, you know that Jerusalem became quiet a hot spot between Christians and the religion of Islam. And, therefore, pilgrimages to Jerusalem became a very dangerous undertaking, and not to mention costly as well both in time and resources. So, pretty soon in Europe, towns started to recreate the Via Dolorosa in their own setting, and people could walk through their own town and periodically stop at these places and reflect on the different aspects of the last hours of Jesus’ life.
And then project on a little further, and churches began to incorporate that into their own worship space. And so you’d have stations around the perimeter of the sanctuary that people could pray...
Karl: There’s actually a church in my hometown that I’m pretty sure had giant stained-glass windows around the whole sanctuary that were the different Stations of the Cross.
David: Yeah, yeah, and sometimes that’s inside - I know of a retreat center that has a beautiful walk around the whole ground that has beautiful sculptures depicting the stations, so there’s a lot of creative ways of engaging this prayer practice.
As far as the number of stations, history tells us that there were a wide range - all the way from seven to upwards of 40 different things. But pretty soon the church locked in to 14, and most churches that do have the stations will have 14 or 15, the 15th being the resurrection of Jesus. One interesting point about Lent, is that you don’t pray the 15th station until Easter comes. And I think that’s a real good, important thing to mark in our own rhythms because especially we Protestants can rush too quickly to the resurrection and not really take in the full glory of what the suffering of Jesus was all about, too.
Now, we’re going to do 15 stations in our own time here but we’re going to release the 15th on Easter Sunday, so we’ll have that to look forward to.
Just a couple words about what we’re doing with our season two podcast here. Karl alluded to this, but we’ve engaged a lot of help from friends here at our church. We’ve got nine artists that are participating, we’ve got five or six writers that are going to be contributing, and so this is a real collaborative effort, and I’m excited to see how God uses this.
And then, also, this being the time of Lent, as Kaley said, this is a time to really reflect on our own mortality, our own sin, and our need of something beyond ourselves to solve this problem. So we pray, our prayer is that as you engage with us that this is a way that you find connection with God himself.
Invitation to a Shared Journey:
Karl: Well, thanks David and Kaley for just kind of setting the scene for how we came to choose the Stations of the Cross during the season of Lent, and kind of with that introduction in mind, here’s the challenge that I want to make to each one of us.
I challenge you right now to consider: will you let this podcast, will you make our shared practice of the Stations of the Cross, a committed part of your life for the next eight weeks? We’re going to have 15 episodes following this. We’ve got a couple ideas for maybe even a couple sort of interludes - bonus episodes in there. Who knows what will really happen. But here’s what we would really love. We just know that if we make a commitment to a certain practice for a certain amount of time, that’s how growth happens.
So even as Kaley shared about her own life, and as we know is so common, if you feel like your life is filled with a little too much busyness and distraction and worry and anxiety or whatever it is that’s pulling you down, make a commitment to let this practice help guide you and grow you over the next couple of months together. We think it’s going to be a really fantastic time.
When you come back to the next episode, which we will be releasing episodes every Wednesday and Sunday from here on out, what you’re going to find is we’ll introduce that day’s Station of the Cross, we’ll prompt you to go to the website and open up the visual piece of artwork to interact with, or, if you can’t be on the website, to create in your own mind and imagination an image that you can interact with, and then there will be a space of guided reflection and prayer on that week’s station. Then some of our other artists are going to create their own feedback with creative writing, maybe some music pieces, we’ve got different things in the works, simply to round out and compliment your own reflections on that Station of the Cross.
So like I said, we’ll be going from now for the next 15 weeks. We’re really excited to be on this journey with you. Please consider making this a regular part of your spiritual practice over the months ahead. And we look forward to seeing you in episode one, at the first Station of the Cross. Grace and peace.