On Good Friday, 2011 Trinity was blessed to commission ten pieces of art from ten local artists, some of whom were Christians and some of whom were non-Christians. Each artist was given a piece of scripture and a brief summary of the scripture. The artists were given free reign to interpret the text anyway they liked. The artwork was presented in our version of the stations of the cross, which were on display in the fellowship hall. The heavy publicity we got from this event drew numerous Christians and non-Christians to the church to see great art and hear the story of salvation history from the Exodus to Jesus. Perhaps you missed the chance to come in person so I’ve copied and pasted the guidebook we gave to all our visitors in full below. If you see any pieces you might like, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase them on May 4th, 6:00 p.m. at a dinner and auction at Cagney’s in Myrtle Beach. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be bought through the church at 843-448-8426.
The Stations of the Cross: An Introduction
2000 years ago an event occurred in Jerusalem that would shape Western thought, art, music, literature and philosophy for centuries to come. This event was the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish carpenter who claimed to be the Messiah and Son of God. In ancient times it was common for pilgrims to travel to the site of Jesus’ crucifixion to see with their own eyes the sites where this remarkable event occurred. These sites eventually became the “Stations of the Cross.”
Traditionally the Stations of the Cross focused on the significant moments of the suffering of Jesus. These Stations before you
today focus on something quite different. Jesus understood his
sufferings to be the fulfillment of an ancient and important story. This story was the story of the Exodus, and it is this story which is the focal point of our Stations today.
The story of the Exodus is about how the people of Israel were
redeemed from slavery in Egypt through a mighty act of God. This redemption was central to the Jewish faith for centuries and
remains so to this day. The most important element of this story was the Passover. During the Passover, one male lamb was slaughtered and its blood was painted on the doorposts of the houses of Israel. When God came to destroy the slave masters of Israel, he would “pass over” the homes that had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. Thus the slaves were spared and the slave masters were struck down.
The Passover and the Lord’s Supper
Over a thousand years later, in approximately 33 A.D., Jesus was celebrating this event with his friends at a Passover meal. During this meal, Jesus declared that there was a greater bondage than slavery in Egypt. This greater bondage was slavery to sin, death, and guilt. Because this is a greater bondage, Jesus also promised a greater redemption. Just as God led his people into freedom from slavery, so too would Jesus now lead his people into freedom from sin, death and guilt. Just as the Passover Lamb was
slaughtered before the slaves were redeemed from Egypt, Jesus indicated that he would be slaughtered to bring about freedom for his people.
Each station conveys an important aspect of this story. Ten
artists have graciously volunteered their talent for this effort. Some are Christians and some are not. Whether you are Christian or not, we believe as you experience these stations the art will powerfully convey a special truth about the help God offers to those in bondage, whether it be physical or spiritual.
Redemption from Poverty
Our theme today is redemption and it is our prayer that God will use this art and your generosity to work a new redemption in the lives of those trapped in the bondage of poverty. All art will be auctioned to benefit Habitat for Humanity on May 4th, 6:00 p.m. at Cagney’s Restaurant. You can purchase tickets for $50 or make a small contribution towards Habitat today at Trinity Church.
How to use this book
Each station features an artistic interpretation of an important piece of Scripture from the Exodus story. In this book you will see the art, the artist’s name, and a brief paragraph explaining the significance of the story. Each artist was given free reign in regards to interpretation, so we encourage you to take your time and try to absorb what the artist was communicating.
In addition to this, some stations feature an activity that you can participate in. Instructions for this will be located in this booklet. It was Michelangelo who remarked that “art is simply a shadow of the divine.” Please take the time to prepare yourself properly for what we pray will be a moving, spiritual experience.
A Prayer for Preparation
Almighty God, unto Whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Station 1: Oppression
Tommy Simpson (Exodus 1.8-22)
It has been said that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Throughout history there has been the unhappy experience of those with absolute power, having been absolutely corrupted, oppressing and exploiting the weak and vulnerable. In this station the people of Israel suffer under the severe weight of oppression imposed upon them by their Egyptian slave masters. This section of Exodus sets up the climax of the story where God in power overthrows the oppressors and liberates those in captivity.
There are more ways to be enslaved than by a secular power. Some are enslaved to anger, others to envy. Some are enslaved to power, or money. Still some are enslaved to chemicals such as alcohol or drugs which hold an oppressive power over their lives. Could God lead captives such as these free as he did for Israel?
Station II: The Violence of the Oppressor
Trey Martin (Exodus 1.15-17)
What the powerful fear most is the loss of power. Though Pharaoh tries to subdue and oppress the vulnerable Israelites, they nevertheless flourish in the land of Egypt. Fearing that one day the Israelites would outnumber the Egyptians, giving the slaves a numerical advantage over their slave masters, Pharaoh mandated that all the male children of Israel be drowned in the Nile. Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked that evil holds the seed of its own destruction. Just as Pharaoh is ultimately provoking his own destruction, so too does slavery to anger, envy, power, money, sex etc. hold the seeds to the destruction of human life. Slavery, whether it be to a human power or to a personal sin always brings violence into our life.
Meditate: Is there a bondage that is bringing pain into your life? What is it?
Station III: The People of Israel Cry Out to God Jennie Hines (2.23-25)
It is the natural reaction of those who are oppressed to cry out for help. The most recent example of this has been the popular uprisings in the Middle East, where in Libya protesters were seen carrying signs that said “do you stand with us America?” In the story of Exodus, the people of Israel have no secular power to appeal to, so they cry out to God. The text makes clear this is a painful, groaning to God almost as if it is their last desperate attempt. God hears the cry of his people and hears the cry of the oppressed. The final verse says that “God saw the people of Israel- and God knew.”
Pray: Do you have a cry that God needs to hear? Stop here for a moment and cry out to God in the quiet of your heart. He will hear you. If you need help praying, ask one of our clergy who are here to help.
Station IV: God sends a deliverer
Marcia Martin (Exodus chs. 3 & 4)
In these chapters we read that God has chosen a deliverer to send to Israel. We see that the deliverer that God chooses is not a morally upright man. Moses was in fact a murderer. We read that God does not choose an especially courageous man as Moses tries to back out. We read that God does not choose an especially gifted leader, as Moses is not a competent speaker. God chooses a weak man, but the weak man has the promise that God will be with him (3.12). This leads us to look not towards the man, but to God for deliverance. Furthermore, it makes us think that God might one day send a more perfect deliverer, that is one who is innocent, courageous, and a gifted. It is Jesus, who comes to the same people over a 1000 years later, who claims to be the more perfect deliverer who brings about a more perfect redemption.
Station V: The Deliverer Confronts the Oppressor Emily Miller (Exodus 5 & 7.1-13)
When God sends a deliverer, he does not send a deliverer who can merely bring inward spiritual comfort to the oppressed, but he sends a deliverer who actually confronts the oppressor. Moses, even in his weakness stands courageously before Pharaoh and demands justice for the people of Israel. Moses is not sent merely to encourage the downtrodden, but to bring about the tangible benefit of their freedom. And yet, freedom merely from Pharaoh will not be enough for the people of Israel. They have spiritual slave masters, who they serve under just as much of a burden as they did under Pharaoh. Some are slaves to anger, some to power, some to money. Each of these needs tangible freedom. So too, when Jesus came he claimed to be able to set people free from whatever bondage they were currently held captive by. Jesus confronts these slave masters face to face and gives them an ultimatum. Let my people go, or else.
Station VI: God Judges Oppression
Jen Pierce (Exodus 7.14-11)
In Egypt, God’s people were helpless against their plight. It was not only that life’s circumstances were difficult, they actually had an enemy who was actively causing woe in their lives, refusing to allow them the freedom that they had requested. God is not removed from their plight, but He cares deeply about it. Like any father whose children have been hurt, God is protective and loves His people. Because He loves them, He can’t let Pharaoh get away with oppressing His people. We’ve all heard of the 10 Plagues in Exodus, and sometimes it seems like the ravings of a mad and wrathful God. In fact, God is showing His love for His poor and oppressed people by judging their oppressors. The Bible assures us that God will judge all who oppress the poor, because God loves them. This story takes on new meaning in the New Testament, however. In the plagues, God shows His love by judging the oppressor with an act of mighty power. On the cross, God shows His love in an act of infinite humility by receiving the judgment for our sin on Himself. On the cross, we are freed from selfishness, pride and vanity to serve the supreme God of the Universe.
Station VII: The Lord’s Passover
Trey Martin (Exodus ch. 12)
The final plague that visited the people of Egypt was the killing of the firstborn. Interestingly, in the book of Exodus, the people of Israel weren’t excluded from this killing. They were, however, given an escape. They were to sacrifice a pure and spotless lamb, and mark their doors with the blood of the lamb. When the avenging angel saw the blood of the lamb, he recognized that the price had been paid for the life of the firstborn in that house. This was done to point to something greater. In the Gospel, God doesn’t require for us to pay for our sins by giving up what is most dear to us. In the Gospel, God doesn’t take our firstborn, but gives up His own firstborn. Jesus is the lamb that was sacrificed as our Passover. It is His blood that covers us and protects us from the judgment of God. It is because of His blood that we don’t have to fear God any longer, but can now love Him. As John the Baptist recognized in John 1:29-36, Jesus is the true Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Station VIII: The Red Sea
Tommy Davis (Exodus chs 14-15.21)
It has been said that the people of Israel entered Egypt as Hebrews and came out as Jews. In other words, they entered as a loosely tied together ethnic group. After letting the people go, Pharaoh repented and sent his army after them to destroy them. Cornered at the shore of the sea, God showed His might in a miraculous demonstration of power. He parted the sea for the people to walk through safely. When the Egyptians tried to chase after them, they were destroyed. As they walked through the Red Sea, the Israelites became something new. Through the Red Sea, they became the people of God. In the Gospel, Jesus is punished under the wrath of God so that we can walk through safe. On the cross, Jesus is doing miraculously with us what God did for the people of Israel in the Red Sea. In the cross, Jesus is making us a new people.
Meditate: If I were to walk across the Red Sea, what things might I leave behind to become a new person?
Station IX: A Greater Oppression than Egypt Emily Veil (Exodus chs 16.1-3)
After they left Egypt, the Jewish people’s problems were all solved. Or at least you would think. Even though they’re fed, clothed, and protected, they aren’t satisfied. In fact, before long, they began to wish that they were back in Egypt. Needless to say, there’s something wrong with someone who chooses slavery over freedom and oppression over providence. What about us? We constantly call wants needs. Although we see it destroying our planet, we can’t stop consuming. We throw away food while people all over the worlds starve. Is their something wrong with us? The New Testament says ‘Yes.’ John 8:34 tells us, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” The main problem for the Israelites was not external, the oppression of Pharaoh, but internal, the power of sin to keep them from the joy God intended for them. Likewise, Jesus says “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”(John 15:11 ESV) Jesus has come because we have an interior bondage. Because of this bondage to sin, we keep ourselves from the fullness of joy that God would have for us. Jesus came to set us free.
Station X: A Greater Redemption
Dot Herron (Matt ch. 26.26-28)
Every year the Jews commemorated their deliverance from Egypt with the Passover meal. In this meal they remembered that God had heard their prayer, judged their enemies, and delivered them from slavery. Jesus celebrated this Passover for over thirty years. On the last night that He celebrated it, He said something astonishing. Taking the bread, He said, “This is my body.” And taking the wine He said, “This is my blood.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “this meal that you have eaten for centuries is all about me. I am the fulfillment of all that it ever meant. I am the one who has heard your cries for mercy. I am the one who will judge your enemies. I am the one who will deliver you.” The very next day, Jesus fulfilled His words by being sacrificed just like the Passover Lamb, showing Himself to be the fulfillment of every good thing God did for His people throughout the Old Testament. Jesus’ deliverance is more than a political deliverance that only lasts the lifetime of an individual or society. Jesus’ deliverance is a spiritual deliverance that lasts for eternity.
The Story Continues
In the 2008 Summer Olympics the opening ceremony played host to a remarkable site. A Sudanese “Lost Boy,” Lopez Lomong carried the American flag into the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. Unlike those who previously had this honor, Lomong actively campaigned to carry the flag of the U.S.A. When asked why this honor was so important to him, he replied that it was out of gratitude for the country who redeemed his life from certain death in the Sudan that he so desperately wanted the honor of carrying the nation’s flag.
The story that you have just experienced through art and word is more than inspirational to those of us at Trinity. To us, this story is a true story and it has profoundly affected us. Not one of the pastoral staff here at Trinity grew up in Christian homes. However, at just the right time for each of us, we grasped hold of this story and experienced the redemption described in this booklet. While this experience is deeply spiritual, it is also intensely practical. Like Lopez Lomong, we seek to carry the banner of our redeemer in the stadium of the world.
One practical way we can carry the banner of our redeemer is by being instruments for the redemption of others. Whether you share our faith or not, you can help us be instruments for redemption in Horry County. On the last page of this booklet is information on how to donate your time, talent, and money to Habitat for Humanity, a wonderful organization that helps move people from the bondage of poverty to the freedom of homeownership. Also, at the end of this presentation you will have the opportunity to hear from a member of our pastoral staff how you could be written into the story of redemption as told above. Your viewing will conclude with a brief discussion on what Jesus thought he was accomplishing on the cross on how this relates to a profound spiritual redemption that you could experience today.